After 1+ seasons as their manager, the Royals brass decided to go ahead and pick up Ned Yost’s option for the 2013 season.
Under Ned, the Royals have gathered up a record of 126-163. Now, the casual fan might look at that and think “WTF! Why would they want to keep around a loser?!” So for you casual fans, I suggest you take a look at Yost’s managerial career so you can see just exactly WTF the Royals management was thinking.
Before coming to Kansas City, Ned was the manager for the Brewers from 2003-08, compiling another losing record of 457-502. His team never won the NL Central (which featured the 2004, 2005, and 2006 St. Louis Cards and the 2005 Astros). Respectively, his teams finished like this:
2003: 68-94 6th place
2004: 67-94 6th place
2005: 81-81 3rd place
2006: 75-87 4th place
2007: 83-79 2nd place
*2008: 83-67 (team finished 90-72) 2nd place, Wild Card
*was fired with 12 games to go
The Brewers that Ned took over in 2003 were just atrocious. As was the 2004 team.
2005 is where Yost’s reputation really started to take it’s shape. In May of that season, the Brew Crew called up a young, thick 1B named Prince Fielder; a quick, powerful 2B named Rickie Weeks; a sure-handed SS with some pop named J.J. Hardy; and a tall, lanky OF with potential by the name of Corey Hart. In that same summer, they drafted Ryan Braun: a pure-hitting 3B out of the U of Miami. The team finished at .500 for the season, but showed a remarkable 14 game improvement from 2004.
Milwaukee slipped a little bit in 2006, finishing 6 games worse than the year before at 75-87.
On May 24, 2007, Milwaukee called up it’s top prospect, Ryan Braun, to take over at 3B and placed him in the 3-hole, ahead of Prince Fielder. Together, Braun and Fielder combined for a .304 AVG, 84 HR, 61 2B, 216 RBI, and 200 R. Not to mention the rest of the lineup was pretty jacked, too. They managed to finish the season at 83-79, just 2 games behind the Cubs for the division title. But the Brewers accomplished something they hadn’t done since the days of Yount by finishing with a winning record for the first time since 1992.
2008 was the year the Brewers were supposed to take it all the way, featuring a young nucleus of Braun, Fielder, Hart, Weeks, and Hardy and veterans like Jason Kendall, Ben Sheets, and Jeff Suppan. In an all-in move at the trade deadline of 2008, the Brewers acquired Cy Young-er C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia provided the Milwaukee the fuel it needed to make it to the post-season as the NL Wild Card. However, Ned was relieved of his managerial duties with 12 games left in the regular season due to the team’s nearly fatal slump (3-10 from Sept. 1-16), nearly knocking them out of contention.
Skip ahead to May of 2010, when Yost was hired by Dayton Moore to take over for
Wyatt Earp Trey Hillman. He took the reigns of another struggling team, mixed with young potential (Butler, Gordon, Greinke, Soria, Hochevar, Aviles, DeJesus), slowing vets (Meche, Guillen, Kendall), one-year contracts/trade pieces (Ankiel, Podsednik, Farnsworth), role players (Bloomquist, Callaspo, Betemit) and bad-attitudes (Guillen, Greinke). Ned had to play with the hand he was dealt, going 55-72 the rest of the way.
In 2011, the Royals prized prospects were given the chance to make an impact at the big league level, as 12 rookies made their big league debuts (Hosmer, Moustakas, Giavotella, Perez, Pina, Adcock, Collins, Coleman, Crow, Duffy, Teaford, and Herrera). Ned allowed these guys to take their lumps at the big league level (i.e. Moose, Gio, Collins, Duff), because he wanted them to learn how to adjust in the pros. If he sat them for any extended period, he would risk stunting their potential growth. Thus, Moose and Gio went through their respective slumps, while Collins and Duffy struggled with their command. The Royals went an unimpressive 71-91, but their Pythagorean Winning Percentage shows the team should have gone 78-84, a truly positive sign that the “Process” was working.
If you’ve made it all the way here, I congratulate you! You should have deciphered by now why extending Ned Yost through 2013 was a great decision. Yost has been given teams that needed to be reshaped and remolded, by both obtaining/dealing valuable veterans for younger, future pieces and by promoting and playing young talent. He’s been through this before, and the Brew Crew have him to thank for helping shape the core players they have today. The Royals are in a similar position now that the small-market Brewers were in just a few years ago. If all goes according to plan, the Royals will improve upon last season’s exciting finish and prove that championship dreams are nearer now than they have been in a log, long time.