Is it time for Ned Yost to get the axe?

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Expectations can be a drag. It’s not Ned Yost’s fault that a lot of people thought the Royals would be this year’s version of the 2013 Pirates and end a long playoff drought. So if the team is failing to meet those expectations, is it really his fault?

Well, sure. Because in this particular case the expectations weren’t terribly unreasonable. No one predicted a championship or even a division title. But respectability and occasional friskiness is definitely something this Royals team should be living up to given the talent on the roster. Perhaps Yost isn’t doing anything egregiously wrong (just go with me on that for now, Royals fans) but lots of dudes have been fired for managing a talented but underachieving team which appears to be listless and without fire.

Ken Rosenthal — who has never been one to call for managers’ heads all willy-nilly — thinks it’s time for Ned to go:

. . . if ever a team appears in need of a fresh voice, it’s this one. I’m not sure what that voice should sound like, though at this point, screeching probably would be preferable to soothing. The entire organization seems almost too comfortable, waiting for a surge that might never come . . . Considering the Royals’ talent, can anyone say [Yost] is getting the most out of this club?

Nope. Not at all. And that’s before you take into account his crazy in-game decisionmaking, his odd bullpen usage and post-game comments which, intentionally or not, suggest that winning isn’t always the most important thing. Which, to you and me and the kids at the bus stop it shouldn’t be, but to a major league manager it kinda is.

I’m not sure who today’s version of Billy Martin is. The guy who comes in, kicks butts, lights a fire under a team and manages a quick turnaround. Maybe it’s Ozzie Guillen? Maybe someone else? All I know is, it ain’t Ned Yost.

Report: Yankees J.A. Happ, closing in on a three-year deal

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UPDATE: Rosenthal is now walking the report back a bit, saying that indications that the Yankees and Happ are close to a deal but that it is not yet done.

10:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees and J.A. Happ have come to terms on a three-year deal. The agreement is pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known.

Happ just turned 36, but he has been effective enough to warrant a three-year commitment. The Yankees know this as well as anyone, having acquired him last year and watched him post a 7-0 record and a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts in New York. For the entire season he was 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 193/51 in 177.2 innings between the Yankees and the Blue Jays.

With Happ back in the fold, the Yankees rotation now consists of Luis Severino, James Paxton, Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, not necessarily in that order. A good group, assuming it stays healthy.