Billy Butler is a 6-foot-1, 240-pound first baseman who should probably be a designated hitter, could best be described as “lumbering,” and has a grand total of one stolen base in 533 games. Yet for some reason the Royals are convinced he should be running more this season.
Butler stole a base in yesterday’s game against the Rangers and said afterward that manager Ned Yost “has pretty much turned us loose” as base-stealers.
Dick Kaegel of MLB.com writes that “Yost figures that Butler could get up to 10 steals a season by picking his spots,” which is sort of hilarious for a guy who has three steals in his last 856 games dating back to the minors and grounded into 32 double plays last season for the third-highest total in baseball history.
Kansas City has an incredible amount of young talent coming up through the farm system and has a chance to emerge as long-term contenders relatively soon, but for now the Royals are going to be a very, very bad team and Yost trying to make base-stealers out of everyone on the roster isn’t going to help.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Nationals are expected to consider Cal Ripken Jr. for their managerial vacancy. Ripken, of course, was recently reported to have been considered by the club the last time the job was open.
This could be a courtesy. And if you’re a Nats fan, you have to hope it is, right? Because the single biggest argument in favor of Matt Williams when he was hired was that he was a top player in his day, wasn’t too far removed from his playing career and could be a good clubhouse guy who understood what made major leaguers tick. His lack of experience was brushed off. All of which would be the same thing for Ripken, except he doesn’t even have the coaching experience Williams had and is even farther removed from his playing days.
I know he’s famous and everything, but if the Nationals’ 2015 season is evidence of anything, perhaps it should be evidence that sometimes it’s useful to have a manager who has actually, you know, made a pitching change once in his professional life.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired Williams and his entire coaching staff following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.