The Gomes Affair

We can start here: For a long time I have believed that Ned Yost would not be the manager for the Kansas City Royals when they actually contended for the World Series. He always seemed to me a transitional manager, a pro who works well with management, follows the plan, does not hesitate to play young players and so on. That’s important for a terrible team. That also goes only so far. When the Royals were ready to actually win games, I figured that, one way or another, Yost would be replaced with someone who could match up with the best managers in the game and could instill a sense of confidence.

Yost filled that transitional role with Milwaukee. And just like in Milwaukee, Yost’s Royals teams gradually improved.

In Yost’s fifth year with the Brewers, they finally had a winning record.
It took Yost four years in Kansas City.

But he couldn’t finish the job in Milwaukee — he was fired late in his sixth season (even with the team winning) because Brewers management sensed that fuses were popping and things were going heywire. Now in his fifth season in Kansas City, it’s easy to sense the same thing. The Royals are one game over .500 and have been an erratic light show all year, at times looking unbeatable and at times looking like they would need a court order to score a run. They are a staggering 10-19 in one run games — staggering because such a dreadful one-run record usually reflects a leaky bullpen, and the Royals actually have one of the best bullpens in baseball.

The Royals lost one of those one-run games Friday night to Boston … and it was one of those rare games that you can blame directly on the manager. The Royals led by three runs going into the sixth inning, when starter James Shields got into a little trouble. With one out, he gave up a single to Daniel Nava, a home run to Xander Bogaerts, a ground rule double to Stephen Drew. After striking out David Ross for the second out, he was ready to face Jackie Bradley Jr., who is hitting .225 this year and is slugging .309. It seemed likely that Shields would get out of the inning with the lead.

Only then, Ned Yost made one of the most impossibly absurd moves of the season. I think baseball managers often get unfairly second guessed because ofte they are pressed into making SOME decision, and a certain percentage of the time a decision will turn out wrong even if it is the smarter choice. This was different. There was no real decision here. Shields, like most pitchers, had no problem with Bradley (strikeout, groundout to first). There seemed nothing to do but let Shields finish off the inning. You don’t bring in a reliever for Jackie Bradley at this point in his career.

Only … Yost did. Which is only the beginning of the insanity. He did not bring in any reliever. He brought in Scott Downs.

Now, I have no idea whatsoever why the Kansas City Royals even have Scott Downs. He’s a 38-year-old lefty specialist on his fourth team in the last two years. He struggled enough with the Chicago White Sox that they released him … and the White Sox aren’t exactly overloaded with pitching. It’s not Ned Yost’s fault that the Royals signed Downs*. But it is Yost’s fault that he brought Downs in the sixth inning of a one-run game to face Jackie Bradley Jr.

*Unless he specifically asked for Downs, which is possible.

I’m not sure the value of trying to figure out what was going on in Ned Yost’s brain when he made the decision, but let’s assume that he thought it would good to get a lefty-lefty match-up against Jackie Bradley Jr.

Three things, listed in ascending importance:

1. You don’t match-up with Jackie Bradley Jr.
2. While Bradley Jr., so far in his young career, hasn’t really hit anybody, he’s been better against lefties than righties.
3. There was NO CHANCE IN THE WORLD Bradley was going to hit once Yost brought a lefty.

Could you imagine the joy in that Red Sox dugout when they saw Scott Downs coming into the game? Boston hasn’t been given a gift like that since the Larry Bird draft. I’m sure manager John Farrell, after rubbing his eyes to make sure this was really happening, needed all of one millisecond to send lefty-killer Jonny Gomes to the on-deck circle. The Royals had James Shields against Jackie Bradley Jr. With one bold stroke of bizarro genius, Ned Yost turned it into Scott Downs vs. Jonny Gomez. Remember what Jean van de Velde did on the 72nd hole of the British Open? Yeah. It was like that.

OF COURSE Gomes homered, that’s not even the point here. If Gomes had somehow, against pretty much all reason, made an out it still would have been a spectacularly bad move.

The point is: Ned Yost is not good at this part of managing.

“I outsmarted myself,” he would tell reporters afterward, which is not at all what he did. People often compare managing to chess … and the comparison is usually silly. But this was exactly like chess. It was like Ned Yost was a beginner chess player, and he moved his queen to check the king thinking that was a bold and smart move and did not realize that his opponent had four pieces in position to take the queen. That is not outsmarting yourself. That is not knowing how to play chess.

Not remembering Johnny Gomes, not understanding that pinch-hitting for No. 9 hitter Jackie Bradley is no big deal in any inning, not appreciating that Downs can’t get out righties, and Gomes eats lefties for afternoon snacks … this is beginner’s chess. And at a time when the Royals are supposed to be contending.

Of course, Ned Yost doesn’t see himself as a transitional manager. He thinks — and he should think this, he should have confidence in himself — that he has the skills to not only develop a team but take them to the championship. But Yost’s self-belief is not the point here. Do the Royals really believe this? One of the toughest things in sports (probably in business too) is to make a vital change when things are going pretty well. I have long been in awe of Tiger Woods’ decision — after winning the 1997 Masters by a half billion shots — to tear up his swing and rebuild his game. It took the better part of two years and he emerged with the greatest golf game the world had ever seen. He would have been fine with his old game. But he wouldn’t have been the Tiger Woods capable of winning four Majors in a row.

The Royals have not won any Masters … but they did have their best year in two decades last year. And they’re sort of hanging in there this year. The easy thing — maybe even the fair thing — is to stay the course, let those young players keep developing, keep going under Yost’s steady hand.

But the Royals have to ask themselves that hard question — and they have to ask it with brutal, unkind honesty: Do they believe Ned Yost is the guy who can guide them from respectability to a title? That window is not going to stay open forever. James Shields will leave soon. Closer Greg Holland will probably leave soon too. The lineup and pitching staff are relatively healthy. Ask the Washington Nationals: It may look sunny as far as the eye can see but weather changes fast in sports.

The Gomes Affair was just one game in a very long season. But it is precisely the sort of loss the Royals cannot afford. Would it be fair to Ned Yost to switch managers now, with the Royals finally playing pretty good baseball after 20-plus years of incompetence? You could make a good case that it would not be fair.

But there’s that other question and it dangles over the Royals like a sword: Would the Royals have a better chance of getting to the playoffs and doing well there with someone like Davey Johnson or Dusty Baker or somebody who has won before? The Royals, I’m sure, would prefer to not face that question — but these are the questions you have to face if you ever want to win.

62 thoughts on “The Gomes Affair

  1. Michael Green

    Reading Bill Veeck’s autobiography made me understand this point. He talked about which manager fits which team. He said that in his time, Paul Richards was the perfect manager for a young team without a great chance because he’d be crafty, teach them, and get them a few games beyond where they should be. By contrast, Leo Durocher was the worst manager for that kind of team, but a great one for a team in the hunt. It used to be said of Gene Mauch that he could take a 5th place team to 2nd and a 1st place team to 4th faster than any other manager. If you had characters, you wanted Casey Stengel because he had been one and could handle them.

    So, let’s go back to 1977 in Los Angeles. Walter Alston was older and stolid, Tommy Lasorda younger, emotional, and close to most of the players for the minors. The Dodgers won three pennants and a World Series in five years and almost won a fourth division title. But I watched and listened for 20 years, and Lasorda was, to put it kindly, not a good field manager. I think he still believes that a left-handed hitter has never gotten a hit off of a left-handed pitcher in the history of baseball. But the change from Alston, who was a better tactician though not a great one, to Lasorda brought success.

    Reply
    1. bellweather22

      Lasorda had a lineup and a starting rotation, for 10 years, where he had to show up and write down the same names every day. A few players changed over the years, so he’d write down Bill Buckner for LF one year, and Dusty Baker another year. He had one of the best starting pitching staffs every year too. So, basically Lasorda didn’t need to do anything much tactically. As long as he didn’t get writers cramp, he could handle the task of filling out the lineup. He kept it positive with the team, handled the media well, and even when he had a profanity laced tirade, it was generally looked at humorously by almost everyone. In short, he was the perfect manager for those teams. He didn’t need to do much, and he never tried to.

      Reply
      1. Michael Green

        Until he needed to. I give him credit: he outmanaged Davey Johnson (not hard) and Tony LaRussa (not all THAT easy) in the 1988 post-season. Then again, I wonder how Orel Hershiser’s arm is feeling. Lest we forget, after 1988, the Dodgers haven’t set the world afire, and those who hanker for the golden days tend to forget that the Dodgers weren’t going anywhere under Lasorda then, either.

        Reply
        1. Richard Aronson

          Let us also remember that Alston won the only World Series in Brooklyn, won in 1959 in the Coliseum with a slugging team, and won in 1963 and 1965 with pitching/defense teams. Alston is in the Hall of Fame as a manager. I’m not saying the time wasn’t right to change, but Alston was far far better than Ned Yost. I will also point out that the O’Malleys, one of the best owners in the history of baseball, sold the team in the 1990s and lackluster ownership had a lot to do with lackluster on field results, even after Lasorda retired.

          Reply
        2. Donald A. Coffiin

          The ne really bright managerial move I ever saw Lasorda make was not a game-to-game decision. It occurred in 1981, and after the strike. The powers-that-be in MLB declared that the teams in the lead in their division would be in the playoffs, and that the teams that had the best records in their divisions would be in the playoffs–except that if a team was best both pre- and post-strike, the *second-best* team post-strike would be in. So, after the strike, Lasorda all his regulars less and pitched all his regular pitchers less. Before the strike, his 4 primary starters made 45 starts and pitched 347.2 innings; after? 41 starts, 268.1 innings. (Valenzuela, Reuss, Welch, Hooton)

          Reply
    1. bellweather22

      I’ll never forget Baker giving the game ball to Russ Ortiz BEFORE his team imploded and lost a five run lead in game 6 of the WS against the Angels. I’ve never seen that before or since. I’ve never regarded him as very smart, ever since.

      Reply
  2. Dan Taylor (@BrownBenPlumm)

    Two points:

    1) Of course terrible teams would get better under Yost, just as they would get better under any manager… it is simple regression towards the mean. I guess giving him credit here is your way of trying not to just totally dump on Yost though.

    2) Dusty Baker is one of the few managers that spring to mind as being objectively as bad as or worse than Yost in purely strategic terms, so I’m genuinely not sure what is going through your head there.

    Between the start and the end I ought to add that I thoroughly agree with most of the other words though!

    Reply
    1. jpdg

      Yeah I’m shocked that Joe, as a stat minded, sabr-inclined guy, brought up Baker. He’s a dreadful in-game strategist. That guy is the king of “That guy is fast so he has to hit leadoff” .290 OBP be damned. Batting Cozart 2nd because he’s a middle infielder and that’s where they hit or Joey Votto needs to be more aggressive and hit homers because he plays first base.

      Reply
    2. Reagan

      Dan,

      I don’t want to be rude, but regression to the mean isn’t a causal explanation; it’s a statistical description. You are right to say that any group of losing teams at Time 1 will have a better record at Time 2, but that doesn’t dismiss explanations for why these improvements occur.

      To test Joe’s theory, we need to sort our losing teams into two groups: those managed by the right kind of manager (i.e., Yost) in the period between Time 1 and Time 2 and those managed by the wrong kind of manager in that period. The winning percentages of these two teams are then compared at Time 2, and if right group outperforms the wrong group (sampling error issues aside), then we have some evidence for a specific explanation as to why the improvement occurred (in other words, why the regression to the mean was observed).

      Of course, there are other problems with this study, but my point is that just calling an observed change regression to the mean does not negate all causal explanations for why the change occurred. All changes that are not the result of random error have causal explanations. The trick is to accurately identify them.

      Reply
  3. section 34

    Joe: In your haste to roast Yost you ignore the pitch count. What was Shields up to, 114 pitches, something like that, in less than 6 innings? That matters.

    Moreover, Scott Downs may have just been released, but he was good last year, good enough that the Braves traded a prospect to get him for 2 months.

    That makes this post, and the Kansas City Star story, oversimplified; old-style sportswriter overreaction. Shields was going to come out of the game soon. Who else was available?

    I don’t disagree with your conclusion. I just wish you had presented the entire situation. It would have taken no more than another paragraph.

    Reply
    1. Kyle Davidson

      Kelvin Herrera, a very good righty, was also throwing in the pen. On a week’s rest. With the entire bullpen available. It makes the decision even worse in this context.

      Reply
  4. :-)

    Am I the only one who thinks “Record in one-run losses” is a meaningless stat? A good team may lose a game by one run that a lesser team may have lost by more than one run. This would favor the lesser team in this stat. Likewise, a good team may win a game by more than one run that a lesser team would have only won by one run. Again, the lesser team gets the stat here.

    Reply
    1. :-)

      Now, on the other hand, a stat like “Record in games leading by one run going into the 9th” might have more meaning.

      Reply
    2. Tampa Mike

      It’s not a terribly important stat, but if you are going to contend for the playoffs you have to be much, MUCH close to .500 in 1 run games. 10-19 is awful. You have to be able to win tight games to compete in the playoffs.

      Reply
  5. Crout

    If you want bizarro, go to the Royals website and read what Dick Kaegel wrote. In the third paragraph Kaegel states that Downs was brought in to face Gomes, not the other way around, then further down reverses himself. For his part, Yost seems to blame his over reliance on statistics. “We get all this information,” he says. They haven’t used a pinch-hitter in the 6th in the last few games. Few games? Well THERE’S a sample-size.

    Reply
  6. David in NYC

    Dusty Baker? For anything other than clubhouse attendant? (And he’d probably screw that up, too.) Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the dumbest manager in the history of baseball:

    “I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy who walks and can’t run, most of the time they’re clogging up the bases for somebody who can run.”–former Cubs manager Dusty Baker

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=5629

    Yes, of course. Everybody knows that outs are better than walks because, after all, you wouldn’t want your bases clogged. Apparently, Dusty Baker is so stupid he doesn’t realize you cannot score runs without some player(s) at some point NOT making an out.

    Also, too: this is the man (never mind manager) who nearly got his 3-year-old son killed by using him as a batboy:

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/playoffs/2002-10-25-roundup-baker_x.htm

    Thank God for J.T. Snow.

    Why Dusty Baker still has any connection to baseball in any manner whatsoever is one of life’s great mysteries.

    Reply
  7. 18thstreet

    Can someone help explain why the Celtics lucked into Larry Bird? As I understand it, the Celtics did something any team could do — draft a junior who then returned to play his senior year. I think the NBA changed this rule, so you can’t do it any more. But the Celtics had the sixth pick in the draft. There were five teams that passed up the chance to do what Red Auerbach did. (I believe Bird’s Indiana State team won more games his senior year than the Celtics did.)

    My favorite Auerbach story — and I can’t vouch that I have this right — is that when he went to scout Dave Cowens, he was incredibly impressed. But he didn’t want to tip his hand, given that the teams in front of him also needed a big man. So after a completely mundane play, Auerbach loudly leaves the game, making it apparently his disgust with Cowens. And his reputation was such that many other teams passed on him.

    Reply
    1. DM

      Hi 18thstreet,

      Regarding Bird and the Celtics draft….you’re correct, that the 5 teams picking in front of them (Portland, KC, Indiana, New York, and Golden State) could have picked him as well but passed. But, I would say it’s a tough decision for any team to make a selection that high up where you know going in that you’re going to have to wait a year before you get anything out of the pick. There’s some similarity to the Philadelphia selection of Joel Embiid this year. A lot of teams would decide to pass, but the talent and upside was such that Philadelphia is essentially saying it’s worth waiting for without getting any immediate return.

      But, the Bird draft was a lot riskier in some ways even than the Embiid one was. The Celtics, who were only a couple of years removed from a title, were all of a sudden horrible,only won 32 games, and then they dropped to 29 games (2nd worst in the league) while Bird played out his senior year. So, kudos to Auerbach for looking long term, but the real risk is stated below in the following excerpt from Wikipedia (from a variety of sources) concerning that draft:

      “Before the draft, Larry Bird had just finished his junior year at Indiana State. However, he was eligible to be drafted without applying for “hardship” because his original college class at the Indiana University had graduated. He initially enrolled at Indiana in 1974 but dropped out before the season began. After sitting out a year, he enrolled at Indiana State. Despite being eligible for the draft, he stated that he would return to college for his senior season. His hometown team, the Indiana Pacers, initially held the first overall pick. However, when they failed to persuade him to leave college early, they traded the first pick to the Blazers, who also failed to convince him into signing. Five teams, including the Pacers who held the third pick, passed on Bird until the Celtics used the sixth pick to draft him. They drafted him even though they knew that they might lose the exclusive rights to him if he didn’t sign before the next draft. He could reenter the draft in 1979 and sign with the other team that drafted him. Nevertheless, on April 1979, he signed a five-year, US$3.25-million contract with the Celtics, which made him the highest-paid rookie in the history of team sport at that time.”

      So, if Bird hadn’t signed, the Celtics would have most likely lost him (Boston also traded away their 1st round pick for the next year to the Knicks for Bob McAdoo. The Knicks drafted Bill Cartwright). Thinking back to that time, though, I don’t know that the other teams that passed were unreasonable given the options and the risk. Portland had the first choice via trade, and they were coming off a year where they had the best record in the league, but they were upset by Seattle in the playoffs. They had Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas in the frontcourt, but they were always missing a lot of time, so the prospect of getting center/forward Mychal Thompson from Minnesota with the first pick was the “safe” way to go. Ditto with KC, who found it difficult to pass up on Phil Ford, who was coming off a great collegiate career at North Carolina as one of the best point guards in recent memory, and who helped KC improve by 17 games in his rookie season. Obviously, they don’t measure up to Larry Bird now, but at the time any team would have been excited to have either of those two player.

      As to the other 3 that went before Bird (Rick Robey to Indiana, Michael Ray Richardson to NY, and Purvis Short to Golden State)….yeah those don’t look so hot in hindsight. But, I guess what I’m saying is, that while it certainly looks obvious in hindsight, it was a tricky decision for any team to risk not getting anything out of a pick that high……not just for the next year, but potentially losing it altogether. But, as usual, Auerbach came out looking like a genius and smelling like a victory cigar.

      I bet Ned Yost never imagined that an entry about him would generate so much discussion about Larry Bird…….

      Reply
      1. NevadaMark

        The Celtics also had the #8 pick in the same draft. So there was at least a little mitigation of the risk involved.

        Reply
        1. DM

          NevadaMark,

          True….they had the #6 & #8. I think most teams, coming off a 29 win season, would have just gotten the two best players they could have (or made a deal) and started about the business of rebuilding rather than risk not getting any value out of the #6 slot. It was still a big gamble from Auerbach, who had no assurances that Bird would sign. He swung for the fences, and he hit it out of the park, if you’ll excuse the baseball analogy.

          The #8 pick you mentioned is an interesting story too. They drafted Freeman Williams of Portland State, a notorious gunner, and then 2 months after that packaged him to the then-San Diego Clippers (pre-Donald Sterling) in a huge deal that also sent Sidney Wicks, Kermit Washington, and Kevin Kunnert in exchange for Nate Archibald, Marvin Barnes, Billy Knight, a 1981 2nd-rounder and a 1983 2nd-rounder. A lot of big names, although most of them had seen better days by that point.

          That 1981 second rounder was another legendary move by Auerbach. He used it to select Danny Ainge, who at the time was playing baseball (badly) with Toronto. Ainge was the ’81 Wooden College Player of the Year, and the word was that he wanted to keep on pursuing a baseball career. Ainge undoubtedly would have been taken much higher without the baseball threat. Auerbach was able to persuade him to play basketball instead. Here’s an interesting quote from Ainge from later in 1981 after he had decided to switch back to basketball (found this on baseball-almanac.com):

          “I don’t know if the Blue Jays want me or not. I think the Blue Jays would be willing to give me up if enough money is involved. I’m not surprised I’ve changed my mind. At the time, I felt pretty much committed to the baseball situation, and I wasn’t sure if I would get a chance to give basketball a shot. I had a better senior year (he averaged 24.4 points a game) than I anticipated, and things in baseball haven’t gone as well as I had hoped. I just feel now I’ll regret it if I don’t give basketball a shot.” – Danny Ainge in The Day (New London, Connecticut, Sports Section, Tuesday, September 29, 1981, ‘Will Danny Ainge be a baseball or basketball player?’, Page 11)

          So, once again, Auerbach saw a unique situation involving a talented player where others were reluctant to take a risk because of the particular circumstances, and he prevailed again.

          Of course, in between Bird and Ainge, Auerbach also made the famous trade where they traded the #1 and the #13 picks in the 1980 draft to Golden State (who picked Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown, respectively) in exchange for Robert Parrish and the 3rd pick in the same draft (which the Celtics used to select Kevin McHale).

          Then, a couple of years later, he practically stole Dennis Johnson from Phoenix (essentially for Rick Robey) mostly because Johnson had worn out his welcome for the Suns. So, again, he took a chance on a player and it paid off.

          And, preceding all this was Auerbach’s selection of Cedric Maxwell in the ’77 draft.

          So, from ’77 to ’83: Bird, Parrish, McHale, Ainge, Archibald, Maxwell, Dennis Johnson. Quite a run there for old Red……….

          Reply
          1. Richard Aronson

            Give Auerbach his due: using the #6 pick for returns more than a year off is a very Strat-O-Matic move, the kind of move that plays poorly in the real world as few teams sell tickets with bad teams. But that kind of move without the pressure of current results pays large dividends: not only do you get the best player a year later, but your bad record means an extra year of a great draft slot instead of (say) winning 40 games if Bird signs and then drafting much worse the following year.

          2. NevadaMark

            And don’t forget turning Gerald Henderson (who?) into Len Bias. Geez, if Lennie had stayed away from the nose candy……

  8. bigcatdaddie

    Yost has been overmatched for several years. Don’t think the players don’t know it. All the royals pre season press talked about how good their bullpen was. I said otherwise, predicting that the pen would blow twenty to twenty five winnable games. So far I’d say that’s on track and it’ll probably be the difference between a wildcard berth and staying home. Again.
    Once you get past Holland and Davis, it’s pretty spotty. Doesn’t help that we gave the Brewers an emerging pitcher, Will Smith, in exchange for a guy who can’t hit, can’t run and looks shaky in the field. Yet Yost continues to play him, ala Frenchy.
    Look at last years wildcard race. When you match up the Royals and the Indians, the Royals had better talent at just about every position, yet the Tribe won the wildcard. Why? I think because Francona squeezed a few extra wins out of his club while Yost blew a few winnable games. Yost is a career .460 manager. Always has been always will be.

    Reply
  9. KHAZAD

    This is one of the reasons why I love reading you, Joe. I made the same chess analogy last night after the home run! (Well, I just had the Queen being taken by one piece, instead of having it threatened by four of them, but still.)

    I was watching this inning on TV that was muted, with a couple of other people. I didn’t have access to any stats, or advance scouts. I am not an expert on the Red Sox. Still, when they signaled for the lefty, I said out loud “The Red Sox will just pinch hit Gomes here. He crushes lefties.” I don’t understand how it is possible that he even considered Downs a viable option in this situation when even I knew how Boston would respond.

    Someone above makes the point that Shields’ pitch count was getting up there, and he had struggled in the inning. Even if you thought he was done, and they were going to make a pitching change, the Royals had Herrera ready in the bullpen as well, and having him face Bradley is easily preferable to Downs vs. Gomes.

    When I got home, I looked up the two batter’s career splits. Bradley vs. RHP is at .221/.303/.323 with a home run every 88 PAs. Gomes vs. LHP is at .279/.379/.496 with a home run every 23 PAs. While this illustrates the point, I didn’t need to see any of this to know that I would rather face Bradley than Gomes in real time without hindsight. The fact that Ned didn’t see the obvious countermove coming is ridiculous.

    Reply
    1. Bill Caffrey

      I have to believe that, given a choice of Shields vs. Bradley or Downs vs. Gomes, Yost would choose the former (even though in the game he actually chose the latter).

      I think his mistake really just boils down to this: Yost simply did not believe that the Red Sox would pinch hit for Bradley in the 6th inning. It was “too early” in Yost’s thinking. It was not a “clutch” enough situation, in Yost’s thinking.

      Reply
      1. KHAZAD

        If he didn’t, I don’t understand why. I was on the edge of my seat, thinking that this inning might be the game. (And as stated above, I actually ASSUMED the Red Sox would pinch hit Gomes against a lefty) Sometimes the inning that makes the biggest difference in the game doesn’t happen at the end. Sometimes it is the sixth, with a starter who has been struggling, but making it through, all day finally hitting the wall.

        The at bat took the Red Sox chances of winning from 36% to 71%. (The inning opened with them at 15%) An out would have taken them down to 30%. That seems like a pretty important one almost any way you look at it.

        You could almost feel the air going out of the team with the home run, They have scored 2 runs in 30 innings since. There was some grumbling about the decision in the clubhouse, Yost criticized their effort in an ensuing game, and they had a “team meeting” afterwards.

        I think this decision my have actually ended the Royal’s chances this year, and if Ned Yost didn’t think the inning was important enough, that is a wonderful example of why he should be nowhere near a team with aspirations of contending.

        Reply
  10. Richard Aronson

    Don Mattingly had his Yost moment a year ago, and proved to be no John Farrell. Scott Van Slyke, a right handed rookie, was due up with the bases loaded in the fifth inning of a close game. The Padres brought in a RHP to face the extremely platoon oriented Van Slyke. Carl Crawford, the regular left fielder and a LHB having a good year, was on the bench. Mattingly let Van Slyke strike out in this high leverage situation. Two innings later, Crawford pinch hit for Van Slyke with nobody on (and a time when the Padres could bring in a LHP if they chose to do so).

    In his defense, Mattingly is a young manager who is still learning. Yost is a veteran who should know how to get these things right. I *think* Mattingly is doing better this year (although the pitching rotation after the ASB makes no sense to me; with two full off days following a one inning stint, why not start with Kershaw and Greinke in St. Louis?). But I’m not sure; I haven’t been following the Dodgers as closely since it’s hard to do so in San Antonio.

    Finally, WRT Yost, if Downs is a LOOGY, why not walk Gomes? First base is empty, there are two outs, there is a huge platoon advantage available, and you might even get another pinch hitter for the leadoff guy before bringing in Herrera. I’m not a fan of the intentional walk but it does have its uses.

    Reply
    1. Tom Wright

      “Don Mattingly had his Yost moment a year ago, and proved to be no John Farrell. ”

      Let’s not be so effusive in our praise of John Farrell here. This is the man who screwed up a double-switch (i.e. forgot that double-switching was an option) in game 3 of the World Series and ended up with his reliever, who had never batted in his professional baseball career, hitting in the 9th inning of a tie game. Farrell is a great motivator of men, but I’m not really all that convinced that he’s tactically gifted.

      Reply
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  13. Chip S.

    Yost brought in a lefty to face Bradley again today, in the 5th. Of course, his starter had already given up six runs and the lefty was Bueno instead of Downs.

    Bradley K’d. Perhaps Yost felt vindicated.

    Reply
  14. KC Oracle (@KCOracle)

    Interesting concept that Yost has to go for team to take it to the next level. He is a below average tactical manager (and an arrogant one) In today’s KC Star, it was interesting that the beat writer (Andy McCullough) made a reference to grumbling the clubhouse over the Downs move That is the first reference that I remember to criticism of Yost in the clubhouse. McCullough almost certainly “leaked” that to let readers know the players are starting to turn on Yost (who has always seemed to have a good relationship with his players)

    Reply
  15. Allen

    Hey Joe. How about proof reading your blog before posting. I stopped counting after 3 typos.. Are you really that busy to proof or just getting lazy? Just sayin…

    Reply
    1. DM

      Allen,

      Not that Joe needs my help, but anyone who ever posts anything of substantial length knows that it’s not that easy to submit something error-free. I often do it myself, even when I think I’m checking carefully. It happens. But, it’s a cost-free blog to those who read it…..as long as he gets his point across, what’s a few typos?

      And by the way…..”proofreading” is one word not two, and common usage of “Just sayin” would require that an apostrophe appear after the “n” (as in Just sayin’).

      Cheers.

      Reply
      1. Allen

        Well that is a piss poor reason to justify why Joe has typos in his blog. Don’t you think that a guy who makes a living writing would care about grammatical errors in his blog! This is his “brand” and he should take pride in it. It takes 2 minutes to proof it. Four minutes if you proof it twice. Get a clue!

        Reply
        1. vlock1

          Dude, he gives us this stuff – volumes of it, acres of it – for free. If the occasional typo is enough for you to discount all of the many, many wonderful things that comprise Joe’s “brand” (and good for you, there, our corporate culture is very proud of you) then I don’t know what to tell you.

          Reply
        2. DM

          Allen,

          I have a clue. Actually, several of them. One of my clues is that your first post had 2 errors in it, and this most recent one has two more:

          1. “Piss poor” should have a hyphen (“piss-poor”).

          2. “Don’t you think that a guy who makes a living writing would care about grammatical errors in his blog!” – seems to me that should end with a question mark instead of an exclamation point.

          You mention Joe’s line of work. Do you ever send out emails in your line of work? Do they ever get sent with errors or typos? Are you always spot on? Do you take more pride and care in those communications than you exhibit here? Compare the high error ratio within just your 2 brief posts to the length of Joe’s blog entries. Not so easy is it? How many times did you proof your brief replies? And yet, you still managed to generate 4 careless errors.

          As to Joe taking pride in his blog, I’m sure he does. However, if you truly had “a clue” yourself, you’d realize that there’s a reason that the most effective proofreading typically is done by someone OTHER THAN the writer himself. It’s just too easy to overlook errors, especially if you’re the original writer. His pride shows through in the depth of research he does, the insight he provides, and the way he tells a story. I’m willing to accept few typos in exchange for the experience and the forum. That’s another “clue” that I have.

          Reply
          1. luke

            Chip,

            I have no doubt that Ned Yost would be just about as good at catching grammatical errors as he is at managing baseball games. So that rules out that theory.

            Your comment did make me chuckle though.

  16. wogggs

    I have been thinking all of this for a long time. Yost is the first legitimate major league manager the Royals have had in a long time, but he can only get you so far, and this is about it. He has positioned the Royals so they can be taken seriously by top flight managing candidates. I am not that confident that the Royals can win no matter who is managing, but I think a Dusty Baker or a Davey Johnson (or a Ron Washington or Bud Black) would give them a better shot at maximizing what they’ve got. Everyday I root for Ned Yost to be fired. Maybe the Royals and Padres could trade managers…

    Reply
    1. Breaker

      Funny, every day I root for Ron Gardenhire to be fired, and I know Joe has spoken positively about Gardy in the past. Maybe the Twins will finally get rid of Ron and Joe can have a manager he likes in charge of the Royals.

      Reply
    2. mrpinkfloyd71

      I already said this above about Dusty Baker but it fits Washington perfectly, just replace the names. It is actually kind of eerie how similar these two are:

      Ron Washington? Oh, please no, not Washington. Talk about a manager that gets out-managed continually in the playoffs.

      Reply
    3. Royalsfaninpa

      Davey Johnson or Buddy Black yes or even Frank White, but the sad thing is that the organization is so much filled up with the philosphy of see the ball, hit the ball..no matter who is hired isn’t going to change an organizational flaw, it will take changes at the top to get rid of GMDM & Yost to make any difference

      Reply
  17. Wilbur

    Casey Stengel used to pinch hit for 8th-place hitters in the first inning if he felt the situation warranted it. Bobby Richardson (who Stengel had the good sense to hit eighth instead of lead-off like Ralph Houk) used to dread the Stengel whistle as he lwft thw on deck circle with runners on in the first inning.

    Reply
  18. Tampa Mike

    I don’t like Yost, but I would rather have him than Davey Johnson or Dusty Baker. I think Yost is alright, but he makes way too many baffling decisions. He has been using Downs an awful lot lately for god knows what reason. You may not be able to blame him for being on the roster, but you can blame him for using him so often.

    I think the Royals have to make a change. The Royals wilt whenever the pressure turns up and they need to get a stronger manager.

    Reply
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