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The trades made by Dayton Moore this weekend pointed out the wide disparity of opinions that one fan base can have.   While the majority of us blogging about the team and those who read what we spew out were in favor of moving veterans like Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel, it was interesting to read or hear the reactions of many other fans (casual or serious) who hated the moves.  

While finding a united opinion amongst a fan base might be impossible, I would wager that if you went back in time to early 2007, we Royals’ fans had visions of lots of series like this:

  • Friday night – a walkoff home run by Alex Gordon
  • Saturday night – a two run go ahead homer by Billy Butler in the 8th
  • Sunday afternoon – a run scoring double in the first from Butler and a home run from Gordon in the fourth

Never mind that the games were against the Orioles and never mind that the sweep only got the Royals within 15 games of .500:  THIS is what we thought/hoped would be the norm by now.   Maybe it was just a good weekend against a bad team, but maybe, just maybe, it is the start of something good.

At any rate, for most of us, this was a fun weekend to be a fan of the Kansas City Royals.   In addition to the Gordon-Butler heroics, we saw the organization, for maybe the first time, really embrace the future as opposed to paying it just lip service.

Alberto Callaspo and Scott Podsednik were both good enough players that the Royals could have kept them, ran out the ‘not enough value coming back to trade’ line and ground out a couple of more wins between now and October, but instead they shipped them out for four younger players.   One of those younger players is Sean O’Sullivan, who 11 innings into his Royals’ career, I am already more confident in than Brian Bannister or Kyle Davies.

What the above two moves really did, however, was solidify an everyday spot in the lineup for Alex Gordon’s next last chance and opened up third base for Mike Moustakas whenever he is ready to take on major league pitching (the over under is May 22, 2011, who’s in?).

Dayton Moore followed up those two deals by doing what all the old crusty columnists say cannot be done:  trade garbage for value.   Nothing personally against, Ankiel and Farnsworth, but they have enough warts on their professional baseball resumes that trading them seemed pretty illogical.   Instead, Moore went to the Braves’ well once more and pulled out an unconventional reliever with real upside (Tim Collins) and a serviceable centerfielder (Gregor Blanco), plus another reliever.   Return aside, the upside of that deal is that it clears out one more veteran who was just going to take at-bats from players who need them (Maier, for example) and another who was in the way of letting the Royals have a look at the crop of young relievers coming up in the system.

After all that, the Royals still found themselves with one Jose Guillen too many, but that did not deter them from recalling Kila Kaa’ihue from Omaha.   The long awaited and much deserved promotion was welcome news, even if the plan to get him at-bats was less than pleasing.   

This will be a test of what Ned Yost is about as, fresh off signing a two year deal to manage the Royals, he should be ready to find at-bats for Kaa’ihue at the expense of Jose Guillen and, to a smaller extent, Willie Bloomquist (which means Guillen in right field, but who doesn’t need to see that a couple times a week?!).    With the trade of Podsednik, it’s easy to put Gordon in left and ‘find out’, but it’s going to take a little intestinal fortitude to right Kaa’ihue in the lineup everyday with Jose Guillen glaring at you from across the locker room.

Of course, the idea of trading Guillen in August is very much alive.   With all the activity over the weekend, there are teams out there who woke up Sunday morning and wondered if they could have/should have done more.   Guillen will clear waivers and hence tradable all the way through August to whomever might be in panic mode.   The key for Yost and Moore is to not wait for Guillen to be moved before installing Kaa’ihue in the everyday lineup.    

Hey, no one said being general manager or manager of a major league team is all sunshine and roses (although it has to be pretty sweet gig).   Sometimes you have to get called an SOB by an angry veteran for the good of the team’s future.    You got the new contract Ned – now go out there and write down the lineup that will help you win meaningful games in 2011 and 2012 and not meaningless games this August.

Myself and many Royals fans were waiting with baited breath, in desperate hopes that they would move some of the unnecessary veterans on this team for some younger talent.  Moving Callaspo and Podsednik earlier was a nice start, but with guys like Guillen, Ankiel and Farnsworth on the team there was still lots of potential moves out there. Very few rumors had been floated at all today and I felt that portended no activity.  However at the very last moment, it was announced that the Royals traded Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel to the Braves for Gregor Blanco, Jessie Chavez and Tim Collins.  With the absolute dearth of information out there prior to this going down, I think we can safely assume that Dayton picked up his theories on loose lips from his old organization.

Other than keeping Guillen*, I think Dayton handled this trading deadline masterfully.  He clearly realized that there was a long list of players on this team who have no future with this team, so getting something, anything for them at this point in time was a net benefit to the organization.  Not only that, but it allows younger guys like Getz, Aviles, Gordon, Maier and dear God I hope Kila Ka’aihue to get some playing time.

*Guillen will likely be put through waivers in an attempt to trade him after the deadline, so he isn’t quite here to stay just yet.

So, what did the Royals get in this latest deal?

Jessie Chavez

Chavez is a 26 year old relief pitcher who hasn’t been particularly effective. He will probably move into the bullpen immediately to replace Farnsworth.  He has a good K/9 of 7.0 and also a good BB/9 of 3.33 in his 119 innings of work in the majors.  However he is a big-time flyball pitcher with 43% of the hits being of that variety.  That might play well at spacious Kauffman Stadium,  but it remains to be seen.  Right now he is just a bullpen guy who is cheaper than Farnsworth and under team control for longer.

Gregor Blanco

Blanco is a 26 year old lefty outfielder.  He has a higher carrer OBP .361 than Scott Podsednik .341.  He has never shown the ability to hit with power, but seems to be a leadoff type of guy.  His numbers show some speed and he has started more games at the leadoff spot than any other slot in the lineup.  My guess is that he will take the place of Ankiel on the MLB roster, and will be a filler or 4th outfielder type.

Tim Collins

Collins is clearly the most intriguing part of this trade.  He is listed at 5’7 155, but word on the street is that he is more likely 5’5.  So in a word, he is short.  But what he lacks in height he makes up for in stuff.   He has a 2.29 ERA this year  in 51 IP, with 87 strikeouts to 19 walks.  He can hit 93mph on the radar gun and has a nice curveball and changeup.  He projects as a potential setup man in the majors.  This is the guy who is most important in this whole trade.  He has the highest ceiling and the best chance at being an impact major leaguer.  Beyond that, can you imagine what kind of fan favorite a 5’5 fireballer out of the pen would be?  At the risk of blowing the papers headline pre-emptively, I see something like “Tiny Tim Saves The Day”.  For a good article about Collins read this.

All in all, I am completely happy with the return for a couple of months of Ankiel and Farnsworth.  However, it’s the big picture that is of more importance.  The Royals have added 7 players to their organization in return for Alberto Callaspo and 2 months of Podsednik, Farnsworth and Ankiel.   There has been lots of talk about the Royals youth movement (for a decade now), but this team was actually kind of old.  Jettisoning these veterans, giving younger guys a chance to prove themselves and continuing to stock the minors is the true beginning of this youth movement.

In an additional move, which suprised me, the Royals signed Ned Yost through 2012.  I was beginning to believe that the Royals wouldn’t sign Ned Yost, but I also couldn’t imagine that they would want to go through a manager search in the offseason.  I like Ned Yost more than Trey Hillman.  He has some things that annoy me (Kendall batting 2nd), but overall he is a fine manager in my eyes.  I don’t believe the manager does much in the way of strategy anyway, so how he handles the clubhouse is probably of the most importance.  I can’t pretend that I have any clue as to how he does at that job, but my guess is that Dayton does and signing him through 2012 should tell you what he thinks.

Busy day for the Royals, what do you think of the moves?

Episode #026 – Nick discusses the Callaspo trade, why on earth Rick Ankiel is back on the team, would it matter if Yost is gone after the season and what keeps you interested in Royals games?

[audio:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs026.mp3|titles=BBS Royals Podcast #026]

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So, we’re about 10 days from the trade deadline, so why not handicap the Royals and the chances they’ll be moved in the next week and a half.

Kyle Farnsworth – 35%

Kerosene Kyle has been effective out of the pen this year and teams are always looking for relief.  He could get dealt for a grade C prospect.

Jose Guillen – 5%

It’s not that Dayton Moore won’t trade him.  It’s that he can’t trade him.

Alberto Callaspo – 20%

Reports on Tuesday had the Angels offering Sean O’Sullivan and a fringe prospect.  Once upon a time, O’Sullivan was the Angels fifth rated prospect, but has struggled since moving past Single-A.  I don’t blame Dayton – if the reports are true and he turned this offer down.  However, if that’s the best bounty Callaspo will bring, he’s not going anywhere.  Although the Angels seem like a fit.

Willie Bloomquist – 15%

He would return a PTBNL.  At most.

Zack Greinke, Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies – 0%

The rotation is thin with Gil Meche and Luke Hochevar on the DL.  There’s absolutely zero chance Dayton guts his rotation.

Joakim Soria – 5%

He’s signed at to a club-friendly deal and is a closer.  Both points matter a great deal to management.  Those Soria to New York rumors (and for Jesus Montero!) were so laughable, I’m not even sure they need to be addressed.

Bottom line: This is baseball’s silly season.  I get the feeling there are a few national writers who scour losing teams for quality players on low dollar contracts.  In other words, bargains.  And those writers immediately throw those names into the trade cauldron.  We get it… The Royals are the chum and the Yankees are the sharks.  It’s lazy and unprofessional and total B.S.  It’s like closing your eyes and throwing a dart and guessing where it will land.  So the Yankees covet Soria.  Really?  If I had to guess, I’d say there are 28 other teams who covet the guy.

Soria isn’t going anywhere. Yet.

David DeJesus – 20%

This is the one guy who the Royals are willing to part with (although no one on this team should be “untouchable”) and he’s the one who would net the greatest return, so his odds are the highest outside of Farnsworth.

I could see him headed to Tampa or the Giants.  And yes, I could see him in Boston.  The Royals will have to lower their asking price though.  No, he’s not a fourth outfielder, but he’s much more valuable to the Royals than he would be to say the Rays.  That’s not a knock on DeJesus, it’s just a fact.  And because that’s the case, teams aren’t going to want to give up a ton.  Although if Jeff Passan’s report that the Royals are seeking a major league ready prospect and a mid level prospect is accurate, that seems fair to me.

It will take a savvy GM to get a team to pony up what the Royals are looking for.  I don’t think we have that GM.

The Field – 15%

Overall, I think the odds that GMDM and the Royals make a trade is around 15%.  I just don’t see much happening at the deadline.

I hope I’m wrong.


Really not much to analyze in a 13-1 beatdown.

— It was one of those nights when Anthony Lerew looked like a Triple-A pitcher and the Blue Jays looked like the team leading the AL in home runs and second in slugging.  The Jays were ripping Lerew all over the park.  It was the Laser Show prelude to the Lightening Show.

It was only a matter of time before someone lined one up the middle and off the pitcher.  Honestly, Lerew was throwing BP out there – he probably should have had the screen in front of him.  At the time, I thought that was the last thing the Jays wanted to do… Why knock out the pitcher who has nothing?  Turns out it didn’t hurt as Kanekoa Texeira wasn’t any better, allowing both inherited runners to score before allowing two more to plate in the third inning.

Early word on Lerew was a bruised rib cage and bicep.  I bet.  He’s feeling the pain right about now.

— Speaking of BP, that was exactly what Blake Wood was throwing.  That 95 mph on a string… No way a slugging team like the Jays doesn’t just crush the ball against a pitcher like Wood.  And crush him they did.  Bautista smoked a double off the Royals reliever and Lind hit a liner that bounced off the top of the wall for a home run.  In both instances, the hitters were sitting fastball.  In both instances, Wood obliged.

— If you were a major league player and your best chance at getting on base was to make like a fastpitch softball player and execute a swinging bunt, would you be embarrassed?  Just asking…

—  There was a Brayan Pena sighting as he entered the game in the eighth as a pinch runner for Jose Guillen with the Royals down by 10 at that point.  Love the strategic maneuvering.  Gotta keep Guillen fresh.  And it was muddy out there, too.  Gotta keep him safe.

—  If you love spectacular defensive plays, this was your game.  The Jays had Web Gems all around the infield on Tuesday.  And Alberto Callaspo turned in a couple of nifty plays to his left as well.

— The Blue Jays had 16 hits, while the Royals had 11.  Yet the Jays scored 13 runs, while the Royals could only muster a run.

Perhaps the difference was that the Jays had 10 extra base hits to the Royals one.

That seems to be the story of the Royals offense in a nutshell.

When I hear someone say Kevin Seitzer has done a great job with this team, I just shake my head.  Not that he’s done anything wrong or horrible… But he hasn’t done anything to really make a bit of difference with this offense.

The point of the offense is to score runs.  The end.  I could care less that the Royals are leading the league in batting average.  They’re second to last in walks and their 4.37 runs per game are 10th.  They rank seventh in OBP (at .335, which is actually a surprise given the lack of walks… And a good thing) and 11th in slugging at .402.

It’s not like Seitzer can teach guys power, so I’m not going to dock him points for the Royals team slugging percentage.  But when you depend on guys to string together three singles to score one run, it’s going to be difficult to get the runs across the plate.

The Ned Yost Bump is officially over.  Part of it is the team’s natural regression.  They aren’t a .500 team.  They just aren’t.  It was nice of them to win 17 of Yost’s first 32 games in charge or whatever, but that wasn’t going to last.  They’ve now rolled off five straight losses to teams from the National League East.  I thought the Royals kicked NL ass.  Guess not anymore.

— I was mildly impressed by Anthony Lerew on Tuesday.  He gave up a couple of solo home runs (which apparently is how the Royals plan to handle the Nats in this series) but worked out of his only real rough patch in the fourth by allowing only one run. I wouldn’t want him making 30 odd starts for this team, but he did a nice job in a spot start.

He threw 71% of his fastballs for strikes which was setting up a few swing and misses on his change.  He mixed in a handful of sliders, but otherwise he relied on his fastball/change combo.  His fastest pitch on the night was his second to last offering – a 93 mph fastball to Alberto Gonzalez that was fouled off.  Mix a rain delay in, and it was a good start for Lerew.

The Royals have been lucky.  They’ve received some quality starts from Bruce Chen and Lerew while Luke Hochevar and Gil Meche have been on the DL.  OK… I’ll point out the obvious:  Chen and Lerew have outpitched the guys they replaced.

That’s what you would call a bonus.

— Kendall Watch: In 77 plate appearances since assuming the number two spot in the lineup on June 3, Jason Kendall is hitting .176/.237/.191. The 12 RBI are nice, but he’s made three outs on the bases during this time and scored only three runs.

If Ned Yost wants me to turn against him, his diabolical plan is working.

There is just no reason for him to a) play Kendall every freaking day and b) hit him second.  Enough.

— Jose Guillen picked up a pair of hits on Tuesday and has now hit in 17 consecutive games.  If you follow the Royals PR people and the beat writers on Twitter, they’re always quick to point out these hitting streaks.  For some reason, that’s annoying me these days.

Look, I appreciate that Guillen has raised his batting average almost 30 points this month.  It’s great that he’s getting on base at a .385 clip during this streak.  However THE STREAK glosses over a very important fact:

Guillen’s power has once again disappeared.  Vanished.

Yes, he’s swinging a hot bat.  A hot singles bat.  This month he’s collected just five extra base hits – two doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs.  His last extra base hit was back on June 11.  His last home run was June 6.

So while it’s great that Guillen is stringing together a bunch of hits, we need to keep this in perspective.  Something is sapping his power.  I’m thinking he won’t start on Wednesday (day game, Strasburg pitching… all that) but playing in the field for five consecutive days is going to take a toll as well.  Is it a coincidence that his power took a vacation when Guillen started playing in the field?  I don’t know about that, but in this case, the numbers don’t lie.

I still think the impending Guillen Winter is going to be particularly harsh.  I figure once his streak ends, he’ll go completely into the tank.  If there are any trade offers out there after the Royals have “showcased” him in right, they have to pull the trigger.  Take whatever you can get and move on.

— Wednesday is Strasburg day.  I’m looking forward to this game.  I’ve watched a couple of Strasburg’s starts and the hype is justified.  It will be interesting to see how the Royals fare.  Let’s keep expectations low.

For those of you keeping track (and who isn’t?) that was the fourth time this season the bullpen has coughed up a lead in a Zack Greinke start.  Four times in nine starts.  Unreal.  And the Royals are now 2-7 in Greinke’s starts in 2010.

On Tuesday, it was Blake Wood’s turn to gack the lead.  Wood’s been with the team for what, a week?  He earned his stripes tonight, blowing Greinke’s game.  You aren’t a full fledged member of the Royals bullpen until you contribute to the destruction of a Greinke quality start.

So for that matter, Bryan Bullington got his membership papers as well.


Thoughts… Some random… Some not… All with a point…

If you’re Zack Greinke, are you pissed when the new manager rolls out a lineup that excludes Mike Aviles?

There are three hitters who have carried the Royals to their six wins this month.  Three.

Billy Butler – .367/.418/.517
Mike Aviles – .377/.377/.509
Alberto Callaspo – .303/.313/.485

Let’s identify some tangible ways these three have effected the Royals this month.

May 1 – Callaspo hits a double in the top of the 11th, scoring two.  Royals beat the Rays 4-2.
May 4 – Aviles collects three hits, including a home run.  Butler and Callaspo chip in with two hits each.  Royals beat White Sox 7-2.
May 13 – Callaspo hits a three-run home run to tie the game and Butler adds a run scoring double in the two run seventh to get Greinke his first win of the year.  Royals beat the Indians 6-4.
May 14 – The stars of this game were actually Yuniesky Betancourt and Mitch Maier.
May 16 – Aviles and Butler each reach base in rallies in the fourth and fifth innings as the Royals erase a 2-0 deficit to beat the White Sox 5-2.
May 17 – Butler singles to drive in the first run of the game, then doubles home an insurance run in the seventh.  The Royals need it as they edge the Orioles 4-3.

Key roles in five of the six wins.  It’s no surprise to us… We’ve seen these guys play.  They are clearly the three best hitters the Royals have.

So why wouldn’t you play them in games where your best pitcher is starting?

And the only time Jason Kendall should ever hit second is if they start cloning humans and we end up with eight Betancourts by mistake.


Speaking of Greinke, his strikeouts are down this year.  He was whiffing 9.5 batters per nine innings last year and is down to 7.5 per nine this season.  We’re a quarter of the way through his season, so for him to be down two strikeouts a game qualifies as big news.

Greinke’s five most common plate appearance outcomes, through his first eight starts in 2009:

Strikeout – 28.6%
Fly Out – 17.2%
Ground Out – 16.7%
Single – 11.9%
Double – 5.3%

Zack Greinke’s five most common plate appearance outcomes, through his first eight starts in 2009:

Strikeout – 19.6%
Fly Out – 19.6%
Single – 16.4%
Groundout – 15.9%
Walk – 4.6%

So what’s the difference?  Hitters are really laying off his slider.  We all know about Greinke’s devistating slider – how it breaks down and away, out of the zone.  It’s a great strikeout pitch, because it can rarely be touched.  That was the case last year, when the opposition offered at 54% of all sliders Greinke threw and missed on 25% of those swings.

This year, hitters aren’t taking as many swings at his slider, moving the bat only 44% of the time when Greinke throws that pitch.  And since he’s getting a miss on only 12% of those swings, I’m guessing most hitters have an idea when that slider is going to fall out of the zone.

Greinke struck out six tonight.  His season high for strikeouts in a game this year is eight, which he’s reached twice.  Last year at this time, he had struck out eight or more in a game six times.


Ned Yost has shown a couple of things that I liked since he became manager.  But it was almost as if the Ghost of Trey Hillman was piloting the ship on Tuesday.  First, as noted above, the lineup was destined for failure.

Second, the “by the numbers” use of the bullpen meant Wood was the eighth inning guy based on his past week of strong work.  Really, he’s been great since his call-up.  But this was his third day of work in a row and he’s now appeared in five of the seven games since he arrived.  That seems a little excessive.  And a little SABR Trey-esque.  SABR Ned?

Third, the bullheaded resistance to using your best pitcher in a tie ballgame.  Honestly, when you’re on the road and the game is tied in the late innings, forget about the freaking save opportunity.  Think about keeping your team in the game.  Please.

Fourth, the stubborn refusal to use the bench.  Basically, I never, ever want to see Chris Getz or Yuniesky Betancourt with a bat in their hands in the late innings of a tie game.  Please.  Yost should have pinch hit Mike Aviles for Betancourt with one out and if he had reached, he could have brought up Brayan Pena.  Then defensively, he could have left Aviles in at short and bought Wee Willie Bloomquist in to play second.

How in the hell can you go down in a one run game to the worst team in the AL and not use your hottest hitter?  Frustrating.

The four items I outlined above were all hallmarks of Hillman’s failed tenure.

I know I wrote an article last week, knocking Yost as being more of the same.  I was hoping he would prove me wrong.  (Although, let’s be honest… Most managers are going to manage a ballgame exactly the same way.  There’s little room for free thinkers or innovators in dugouts across the country.  I was hoping he would do more things like pull Gil Meche when he was clearly out of gas.  That was nice.  More, please.)

There’s still time, but Yost is going to have to do some heavy lifting to bring me on board.

Dear Ned Yost,

Congratulations on becoming the manager of the Kansas City Royals.  I know you likely feel pretty happy to be getting a second chance at managing a big league ball club.  I am still not sure what to make of the end of your tenure in Milwaukee.  On the surface it seems like you may have been a sacrificial lamb, but I wasn’t close enough to the situation to know.  Regardless, you have a very coveted position, even though the club you’ve inherited isn’t particularly good.

You are in a very unique and interesting situation.  You will be the manager for a good portion of the 2010 season, which is relatively rare for an “interim” manager.  So, my guess is you have a decent chance of becoming more than the interim if you do a good job for the remainder of the season.  I know that Dayton Moore is a loyal guy and he very well could tap you as the full time manager for 2011 and beyond.

However, beyond Dayton Moore you will be evaluated by the extremely dedicated fans of the Royals and the extremely hard-working and talented media.  I know that in many ways, a manager is hired merely to be fired but nobody wants that to be the case.  Both fans and media usually want the newest manager to become the next Bobby Cox or Whitey Herzog.

You’ve been given a very extraordinary set of circumstances to manage.  First, your team is already in last place and at this point, very little is expected of them.  Also, you are not officially the full-time manager of the team but you have a lot of games to manage this season.  So, I thought I would send you some advice in how to take the best advantage of the situation and hopefully endear yourself to the fans, the media and maybe even Dayton Moore, because let’s not kid ourselves.  Even though this team isn’t very good, you want to become the full time manager.

First, you HAVE to play the young guys and you need to play them a lot.  That means Aviles, Ka’aahue, Pena, Maier and Getz.  Trey lost a lot of fans when he continued to play veterans day after day after day when they weren’t performing, the team wasn’t winning and there were younger options who could have made a difference.  We both know that this team isn’t built to win today and guys like Ankiel, Guillen, Podsednik and Betancourt are not a part of this franchises future.  I understand if Dayton is forcing you to play those old guys in hopes that he can swing a trade, but you still manage the club day to day and you need to run the lineup out that is best for the franchise.

I’ve read that one of the things you tend to do is run a guy out there for a long period of time, even if he isn’t performing.  You know what, I get that.  It’s a statistical thing, we call it sample size.  You need to have a guy get enough innings pitched and enough at bats to really know if he can hack it.  We are totally cool, with that…as long as it is with young guys.  If you put Kila out there and he struggles for a month, but you keep running him out there for another month. I can promise you that you won’t find many people who will be angry with that.  Heck, I will post your praises at this very site.

Protect your pitchers.   You have a bullpen full of guys, so use them.  Gil Meche does not need to be throwing 130 pitches this season.  If this were a playoff run and getting another good inning out of him was the best move in a game, then go for it.  But what is one inning in this season, for this team?  Protect the pitchers for 2011 and beyond.  Heck, maybe you will be the manger then and you might need Gil.

Experiment.  Try things you’ve always wanted to try.  Again this is a lost season, so you don’t really lose anything by trying out things to see how they work.  Oh, and if you do this…admit it.  Tell the media that you are trying something different.  Say you want to change the game and this might be something that works.  What the hell, right?  I know we talked earlier about you becoming the full time manager later but it may never happen.  But I can tell you that if you try something different and it works, your chances of continuing in the job are better than being a clone of every other manager out there.

Endear yourself to the statistics community.  Try things they’ve suggested and back up your actions with numbers.  Trust me, this will be very good for your public image.  So how about some examples?  Don’t just use your best relief pitcher as a closer.  It’s a dumb role, especially for this team.  Bring him in when the game is on the line, if it works great.  But sometimes it won’t. You need to stick with it though.  In the end, I think it makes your ballclub better.  Bunt only in situations where it can actually help your team (not the 1st inning).

Don’t throw your players under the bus.  We know when things are the fault of players, we aren’t stupid.  But you don’t need to say that they are at fault.  The role of any good superior is to take the blame when one of your employees does a bad job.  Then you bring him in and get him to change, or try someone different.  Nothing good comes from selling ones underlings up the river.

Have  a personality.  We don’t have enough personalities in baseball.  Yeah, we care when you make decisions we don’t agree with.  Yes we get upset when the team loses, and yes we probably blame it on you even though it mostly isn’t your fault.  But it is much harder to want to get rid of guys who have a good personality.  I am pretty sure that Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella have helped themselves out tremendously by having personalities.  I am not saying to be someone who you are not, but let the media and fans know who you are.  They will appreciate it and probably more likely be on your side.

Get kicked out of games.  Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t your style.  But you have to get kicked out of games.  Maybe it is a silly thing, but trust me.  Fans will say you have fire and really care if you get kicked out.   Even if you DO have fire and you DO care, but don’t like getting kicked out.  It does’nt matter.  Again, it’s silly.  But you have to do it.

Try and be cordial with the media.  They are just trying to do their job.  They are the guys who are there to ask the questions the fans have, and sometimes fans have stupid questions.  I can’t imagine how annoying it is to have a bunch of writers question your moves after a frustrating loss.  I imagine, that I wouldn’t be very good at that part of the job myself, but treat those guys with respect.  The fans will appreciate it, and the media will almost certainly help you out more as well.

I honestly hope that you will be a great Royals manager and can hold that job for the next 10 years or more.  We don’t like to have failed manager after failed manager at the helm of the team.


Nick Scott

If you have ever gotten a new boss or been the new boss, you know that the first few days the new one always seems great.   Well, either that, or you resign immediately because you want to punch the new boss in the face.   Given that I have not heard anything about anyone wanting to physically accost new Royals’ skipper Ned Yost, I think it’s safe to assume he is officially in the honeymoon period of his job.

That, of course, has been helped in no small part by the fact that Yost won two of three in his first series at the helm –    Even if it was against the White Sox and even if it was accomplished basically using Trey Hillman’s lineup.    Still, you have to like what we have seen and, more particularly, heard just three short days into the Yost era.

  • On Friday night, Gil Meche had pitched an effective, if not efficient, six innings and signalled to Yost that he wanted to pitch one more inning.   Now, let me interject that I want pitchers on my team that don’t want to come out of games – too many guys these days are content to throw five or six innings and pack it in.   The key, of course, is having a manager who knows when to say when.     Yost did so by simply shaking his head ‘no’.
  • On Saturday, Yost left Luke Hochevar in as he struggled (and eventually lost the game) in the seventh inning.  Instead of a Hillman-esque cover-your-ass-for-godssake-don’t-tell-the-media-the-real-story sort of explanation, Yost simply announced that he had to manage both for the current situation AND the future.  Basically, if Luke Hochevar is going to develop into a real bonafide major league starter (in Ned’s words: a number two or three type starter), he needs to learn how to get out of jams without looking to the dugout for help.   It might have cost the Royals the game on Saturday, but it might pay off in the long run.
  • On Sunday, the Royals optioned Kila Kaaihue back to Omaha.   Now, the recall of Bryan Bullington to essentially take Robinson Tejeda’s bullpen spot due to Tejeda’s injury and the Royals certaintythat he does not need to be put on the disabled list is a whole other store, but what Yost said about Kila is telling.   Among other things, Yost indicated that it was ‘killing him’ to see Kaaihue sitting on the bench and also that Kila was definitely going to a part of the club’s future.   We didn’t have to hear about how Kila ‘needed more seasoning’ or ‘how they just wanted to give him a taste of the majors’.  Instead, we got the truth (or as much as can be reasonably told):  Kila was not going to play and it was far better to get him at-bats in Omaha than have him wear a sweatshirt in Kansas City.
  • Without question, the move most popular amongst the Royal fandom was the dismissal of Dave Owen as third base coach even before Yost managed a game.  No fanfare, no niceties, no ‘let me have a look with my own eyes’.   Simply, get out, you are not good at your job.

Of course, all that seems fresh and good and right with the world when one has not had a chance to see any of Ned Yost’s failings.  A month from now, on the heels of an eight game losing streak, we might well be lamenting Yost’s stubborn aversion to taking Hochevar out of a game or yanking Meche too early or not bunting (which Ned dislikes, by the way).

Come July, if the Royals have not traded Guillen and Kaaihue is still rotting in Omaha, we will no longer believe the Kila is ‘a big part of the future’ talk.   If we have actually forgotten what Brayan Pena looks like because Jason Kendall has caught 31 straight games and we are still hearing about how we all don’t understand just how good Yuniesky Betancourt really is in the field, than all the warm fuzzy Ned Yost feelings many of us have now will be long gone.

Without question, it is good to be the new guy, but the ‘new’ only lasts so long and in today’s modern world, it is a fairly short period of time.   We will get a better look into Ned Yost tonight in Baltimore as he has hinted at some lineup changes and with Kyle Davies on the moung, we will also get another look at his bullpen management style.   It is certainly possible what we see, we may not like.

For now, however, the first impression of Ned Yost is a good one.

So Ned Yost is the new man on the hot seat. Honestly, I’m surprised Dayton Moore pulled the trigger this early in the season.  I fell firmly into the camp that Moore was convinced Hillman was his guy and he would give him the full three years.

Surprised, but happy.  The change simply had to be made.

A couple of thoughts:

— There are rumblings this firing came from above.  I suppose that’s possible.  The Glass family has been known to meddle from time to time.  However, if this is true and this was a Glass family hit, this is the first time since GMDM assumed his role that they have gotten involved in the day to day operations.

One reason GMDM took this job was because he had assurances that he could run the team his way.  What’s going through his mind if he was ordered to fire Hillman, less than 48 hours after declaring he was, “The right man for the job.”

If this is true, this can’t be a good sign for GMDM.  As a fan, I hope this was entirely Moore’s call because if the Glass family becomes involved in the day to day operations, this is going to get much worse before it will ever get better.

Whatever happened, GMDM was visibly upset… Taking a few moments to compose himself at the start of the press conference.  That was kind of bizarre.  You can listen to his comments here:

[audio:http://royals.server310.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Dayton-Moore_PressMP3.mp3|titles=GMDM Press Conference]

— Trey Hillman is an odd guy… The unicycle, the long walks alone in the outfield, However, there’s no denying he handled his firing with class.  Told the night before there was basically no way he could survive, he went out and managed (a win!) and faced the music following the game.

His press conference was strange – as you would expect.  He opened by discussing the game and then addressed his firing.  It was part Academy Award acceptance speech (he thanked the grounds crew) and part exercise in humility.

I’m glad he didn’t use the opportunity to drive the team bus over Billy Butler one more time.

I kid… It was a surreal, yet classy final exit.  Listen here:

[audio:http://royals.server310.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Hillman_Press.mp3|titles=Hillman Press Conference]

— How about Ned Yost?  What do we know about the new manager of the Royals apart from the press release details?

Yost is remembered for the 2007 Brewers.  And not too fondly in Milwaukee.

That team charged to an eight game lead in late June, only to cough it all up with a dreadful July.  By August 1, they were tied with Cubs for first.  The two teams traded spots in the division for most of August and into September.  However, by the middle of the month, the Cubs had put some space between themselves and the Brewers.

With the Brewers fighting for their post season lives, trailing the Cubs by three games with seven left to play, the St. Louis Cardinals rolled into Milwaukee.  That’s when all hell broke loose.  Yost, who had been ejected in the Brewers game the Sunday prior and then blamed the umpires for his teams loss, was tossed while arguing a call at the plate involving current Royal Rick Ankiel.  The next evening, Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa thought the Brewers were throwing at Albert Pujols and Yost and LaRussa yelled at each other from their respective dugouts.

Since this was LaRussa, and LaRussa is a jerk, he needed retribution.  So he called on current Royal Brad Thompson to throw at Prince Fielder the following night.  Warnings were issued, but Yost wasn’t happy and he wasn’t finished.  He decided to get his pound of flesh and had Seth McClung plunk Pujols in the back later in the game.

This is where you have to question Yost’s thought process.  He’s going to engage in a beanball war? His team had just taken the first two games of the series and was just two games back of the Cubs.  The score was 3-2 in favor of the Cardinals, so while the Brewers were losing, they were still very much part of the game.  Of course, after McClung hit Pujols (and was ejected – along with Yost.  His third ejection in four games.) the bullpen couldn’t work around the base runner.  The Cardinals broke the game open with four runs. Had the Brewers and Yost controlled their emotions, they could have pulled to within a game of the Cubs, who lost that night.

The Brewers would go on to drop three in a row and eliminate themselves from contention.

Why in the world would Yost fall to LaRussa’s level?  And to the point where it possibly cost them games they absolutely had to win?  It was a foolish move.

There were plenty of fans who wanted Yost out following the collapse of ’07.  Not only did the Brewers bring him back, they exercised his option for 2009.

In 2008, the Brewers were once again in contention – this time for the Wild Card.  And once again, they were fading.

They entered September with a six and a half game lead, but after winning only three of 14 games – including a four game sweep at the hands of the Phillies who pulled even with Milwaukee in the wild card race, Yost got the axe.  It was an unbelievable move… No one could recall a team in a pennant race firing their manager with two weeks left in the season.

That the Brewers felt this firing was necessary now scares the hell out of me.  Basically, they thought he was choking away another post season.  Wow.

Yost frequently came under fire in Milwaukee for the way he used his bullpen.  Great.  Early in his 2007 season, he came up with a bullpen rotation that was initially successful.  That success faded in the second half as he leaned on his relief corps too heavily and they ultimately became ineffective.  Once the relievers started breaking down, Yost couldn’t come up with a way to patch together a successful bullpen and stuck to his plan for far too long.  Despite evidence that the bullpen was broken, Yost did little to shake up his reliever rotation.  This was a key reason the Brewers sputtered down the stretch.

See if this sounds familiar.  From 2008:

Ned Yost had used reliever Guillermo Mota 15 times this season in the eighth inning. So, when that frame rolled around Friday night with the Brewers holding a three-run lead, Yost made the call for Mota once again.

In the process, he removed the hottest pitcher in his bullpen, Carlos Villanueva, who cruised through a 10-pitch seventh inning with two strikeouts. The results were nothing short of disastrous.

I swear, change the names and you could be talking about the Royals.  This kind of reflexive bullpen management screams SABR Trey. (I had to drop that in there one final time.)

I don’t think Yost is the right guy for this job.  While I like the fact he comes with major league managerial experience, it’s not like he’s won.  Yost inherited a team with veterans (Royce Clayton, Eric Young) and young players who never fulfilled expectations (Richie Sexson, Geoff Jenkins) with a rotation that had only one quality arm in Ben Sheets.  Sound familiar?  He didn’t approach .500 until his farm system started reaping the benefits of some quality drafts with Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.

But when he was twice on the verge of winning, his teams literally melted down.

However, when you are looking for a manager in the middle of May, there’s not a ton of available candidates.  And make no mistake.  Yost was hired back in January for this very reason.  He was GMDM’s safety.

While I’m not thrilled with this hire, this is more than the proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs.  Hillman’s time played out.  He was finished.  Through a series of increasingly bizarre moves, he lost the fans and I’m certain he lost the players.  He had to go.

It’s possible Yost will have learned from his mistakes in Milwaukee and will be an improved manager. Time will tell.

Right now, this just feels kind of like a lateral move.  He’s going to have trouble with the bullpen, he’ll struggle to find time for guys like Kila and he’ll move his players around with no rhyme or reason.

Still, it was a move that had to be made.

Trey Hillman is out.

Ned Yost is in.

Dayton Moore is having a difficult time getting through his press conference.  “There comes a point in time when you need to make changes.”


Apparently, Hillman was approached following the game on Wednesday and told his days were numbered.  In between rain delays, it felt to me that the Royals were lifeless… Moreso than usual.  I wondered if the team had quit on Hillman.  Despite Moore’s assertions that Hillman is a “great leader,” you have to wonder… This is a veteran team (why this is the case, I have no idea) and when the losses pile up, the older players start to question the direction of the team.  Moore was asked if the Texas series was the tipping point.  I think it was the first two Cleveland games.  This team laid down.

The one reason Hillman wasn’t axed after Wednesday’s game was because Moore didn’t have a replacement lined up.  He certainly had a pair of candidates in ex-managers Ned Yost and John Gibbons.  Yost is an obvious choice, given his pedigree, both as a former member of Bobby Cox’s staff and as a manager who has led a team to the post season.  Moore said he didn’t approach Yost until today about possibly taking over the team.

Once Yost was onboard, GMDM pulled the trigger.

From the release:

KANSAS CITY, MO (May 13, 2010) – The Kansas City Royals today dismissed Trey Hillman from his role as manager and he will be replaced immediately by Ned Yost, as announced by Dayton Moore, Royals Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager following Thursday’s game with Cleveland.
Hillman, 47, compiled a 151-207 record in two-plus seasons at the helm.  Kansas City was his first Major League managerial assignment after spending five seasons (2003-2007) with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan’s Pacific League, highlighted by three post-season appearances.
Yost, 55, joined the Royals as a Special Advisor to Baseball Operations on January, 13, 2010.  He was manager of the Milwaukee Brewers from 2003-08, compiling a 457-502 record (.477 winning pct.) before being relieved of his duties on September 15, 2008.  Yost had a combined 166-146 ledger his last two seasons at the helm in Milwaukee.
The Marietta, GA, resident served Atlanta’s Bobby Cox as bullpen coach from 1991-98 and as the third base coach from 1999-2002 before being named manager in Milwaukee. During his stint with the Brewers, Yost was part of Tony LaRussa’s National League coaching staff for the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit.  He caught for parts of six seasons in the Majors from 1980-85 with Milwaukee, Texas and Montreal.

More later…

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