What can the Royals expect from Ned Yost?

1 Comment

Ned Yost.jpgThe Royals’ obsession with former Braves continued when they named Ned Yost to replace Trey Hillman yesterday. Yost was a Braves coach back during the 90s run, and Dayton Moore knows him well.  In that respect this move fits in with other plates of comfort food Moore has ordered like Tony Pena, Jr., Kyle Davies, Horacio Ramirez, Odalis Perez, Bryan Pena.

Of course, contrary to conventional wisdom, those re-acquisitions by Dayton Moore have actually paid off pretty well.  Inspiring moves? Nah. And no, they haven’t resulted in anything spectacular, but they haven’t burnt the team too bad, either because the performance of the acquisition was moderately acceptable or because the cost was not too great.

Which pretty much describes Ned Yost.  Yost was lauded in his early years with the Brewers for creating a good atmosphere for young players. True, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder would have hit under any manager, but a lot of the other guys —  guys like Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Bill Hall — got more or less regular playing time and a stable environment in which to play as they came up.  Yost deserves credit for that, and for smootly transitioning the Brewers from a team of bad old players into an up and coming squad during his tenure.

On the other hand, he appeared to lose the Brewers’ clubhouse as those players got a bit older, and some have questioned whether veterans will listen to him.

Yost also had great difficulty managing the Brewers’ bullpen — especially during the team’s collapse down the stretch in 2007 — and appeared to have some problems with his temper and possibly even his sanity, getting tossed out of three games in a week at one point and engaging in a silly war of beanballs and bad blood with the Cardinals when cooler heads would have let it all go.

But pressure isn’t going to be an immediate problem for the Royals, because they’re not in danger of facing any, at least from a baseball perspective, any time soon.  There are a lot of veterans on this team who may try Yost’s patience — Jose Guillen and Yuniesky Bentancourt spring to mind — but it’s not like anyone not named Grienke, Soria or Butler has a lot of room to make waves. Basically anyone is expendable.

The Royals do have an improving farm system and, if he holds on long enough, Yost might be the man to ease the youngins’ transition into the major leagues.  But like I said this morning, I think Yost is a bridge-the-gap guy, and just don’t think he’s going to last long enough to see that really happen.

Still, he’s a pleasant enough fellow to have around for the time being.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
1 Comment

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Leave a comment

After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.