Ned Yost supplied the kerosene and Andy McCullough had the match. The result?
Yost says he'll "never" use Holland in tied road game again. Why did he in Detroit? "Because I really wanted to win that game Opening Day."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) April 27, 2014
That's a tasty tweet, isn't it? It sure unleashed holy hell on Twitter late Saturday.
The "I really wanted to win the game on Opening Day" remark is Maloof-esque. (Remember the "we'll lead the league with fewest home runs" remark? So good.) You should also recall, that just a day after Jack Maloof's comments hit the internet, he was removed from his position as Royals hitting coach.
Except, Yost isn't going anywhere. Not yet, anyway. The guy signed a two-year extension last October and the Royals are hovering around .500 with the rest of the Central. Ned Yost is Dayton Moore's guy. No one is going to change that. Besides, when the going get's tough, Moore can be counted on to ramble on about how he's not "panicking." Moore doesn't panic. He's cool, don't you know? Firing his manager at this point would be the ultimate panic move. It's not going to happen.
But to say you used your best reliever in a high-leverage situation because "really wanted to win on Opening Day?" That's just a bad look coming from a guy who doesn't exactly have a track record of managerial success. It gives the dual perception that 1) you know the way you use your bullpen is probably bordering on managerial malpractice, and 2) you may not care so much about the other 161 games.
Seriously. Why is a win on Opening Day more important than a win on April 27? A win is a win is a win. They're all important. You need something like 92 of them to get into October. More would be better. Why single out just one game when you play almost everyday for six months? I'm not privy to the thoughts of Royals management, but it sure seems as though they take the fans to be rubes. Maybe they visit the Royals Facebook page? Why would Yost say he "wanted to win on Opening Day" if he didn't think fans weren't paying attention?
If I were in the manager's office and followed up with the obvious, "Then you didn't want to win tonight's game so much?" there would be a verbal beat down delivered from the manager. Of course Yost wants to win the games. That's why what he said was so mind-numbingly ignorant. Yost said it to a reporter with a notebook, recorder and a Twitter account. Stupid travels fast on the internet.
This won't come as breaking news, but people who make statements like this are usually in a situation where they are in over their head. I'm sure Yost is a good manager for the players. He doesn't sell guys out to the media and seems to have their back. He could be a really good leader for all I know. I'm also fairly certain he has some severe tactical limitations. He's just not a good manager in game situations, especially the ones that come with a high amount of pressure. Following a difficult loss like Saturday's with a statement that insinuates you didn't want to win that game as badly as you wanted to win the March 31 game, shows a leader who is grasping at straws. Go back to the Maloof comments from last season. After his interview there was no question he was cracking under the pressure of a struggling offense.
Yost's comment reminded me once again that the Royals are employing a manager who was fired from a first place team with 12 days left in the season.
Now to the other issue of bullpen management. The reason for McCullough's question in the first place was the Danny Duffy Meltdown in the tenth in Baltimore on Saturday, followed by Louis Coleman facing a lefty and allowing the game-ending hit, meant the Royals best reliever never got into the game.
Ned Yost is a Modern Manager. That means he bunts in the first inning sometimes, comes up with some bizarre match-ups, and refuses to use his Closer in a tie ballgame on the road. We gripe about Yost in the Game Threads and on Twitter, but he's no different from 25 or 26 other managers in the game today. There's a certain safety in managerial groupthink. If you do things the way they have always been done, when something blows up in your face, you have that as an excuse. If you do something outside the box - like use your closer in the bottom of the tenth inning in a tie game - and that move fails, you have some explaining to do. Explaining yourself isn't fun. Especially for a guy like Yost. This whole post is based on a Ned Yost explanation. Plus, go outside the box too often, and you'll end up on the unemployment line. And no one likes the unemployment line.
I'm not excusing Yost's bullpen management. Personally, I think it's rather middle of the road. Some good moves like extending Duffy in low leverage situations early in the season are countered by some bad moves like allowing Coleman to pitch to a left-handed batter with a runner on third. Do you want Ned Yost fired? Fine. Who do you hire as his replacement? And remember, this would be another Dayton Moore hire. He's the one who brought Trey Hillman to us, so really think about this. In an ideal world, it would be possible the Royals could get someone like a Joe Maddon, who has shown a willingness to buck conventional thinking. But Dayton Moore is our general manager. We are not living in an ideal world.
As fans, the only thing we can do following a boneheaded comment from management is to find an outlet. Maybe someday, our voices will collectively carry some weight. Then maybe we can affect change. It's probably a pipe dream, but in the dark times, it's what keeps us going.