Inside Ned Yost’s head

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Have you ever wondered what Royals manager Ned Yost is thinking when he puts in pinch-runner after pinch-runner, rather than maybe hitting for the guy who was arguably the league’s worst hitter last year?

Well, you’re in luck.

According to the Kansas City Star’s Andy McCullough, here is what Yost replied when asked why he didn’t hit for Alcides Escobar with the tying run on second and two outs in the eighth inning in Wednesday’s game against the Tigers.

“Until these guys show trends, that’s when you start doing it,” Yost said. “It’s way too early to start getting in guys’ heads about pinch-hitting. Especially when you’re struggling as a team offensively. We were going to pinch-hit for Escobar in the ninth inning, if it came up that the score was still 1-0, a chance to hit a home run. But not in that situation.”

So, remember, it’s way too early to get into the head of a bad hitter by hitting for him in the eighth inning of game two, but it’s just fine to do it in the ninth inning of game two, except by that time you’ve run through your entire bench anyway because you’ve pinch-ran for Salvador Perez, Omar Infante and Billy Butler.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.