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Brewers Bloggers Pass Along The Skinny On Ned Yost

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I emailed Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker and Kyle Lobner of Brew Crew Ball about Ned Yost. Their responses are definitely worth checking out. So if you're interested in learning more about "Nervous Ned"...

Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker:

It's important to remember that Yost was a manager during a crucial time in the development of the current Milwaukee Brewers.  I'm not willing to give him the credit for turning two 90 loss teams into the .500 teams that followed and then the eventual playoff team of 2008.  However, he was the manager during times when the big prospects - Braun, Fielder, Gallardo in particular, and Hart, Weeks, Hardy, Capuano, Villanueva to a lesser extent were coming up through the system and needed to continue their development at the major league level.  He did a great job of letting them develop into the players the became today - I don't know what he did, but at least he didn't muddle or ruin the few chances the Brewers had of developing a solid core.

However, Yost had two straight seasons where the Brewers couldn't close.  In 2007, they were up 10.5 games and blew that lead to finish 83-79 and lose the division race by 2 games.  Most of that is because the pitching staff was ridiculously shallow and Ben Sheets's injury essentially doomed the team.  Still, he couldn't find a way to put together the spare parts to beat a terrible NL Central that season.  Then, in 2008, the Brewers nearly blew a 4.5 game lead in the Wild Card and were really only saved by the Mets' even more legendary choke.  The Brewers September flail saw 3 separate losing streaks of at least 3 games.  Really, it was clear that Yost would be out if the Brewers didn't make the playoffs, and Attanasio (the owner) was desperate to galvanize the team, so Yost was fired. 

I certainly didn't have a problem with it then.  He didn't do anything particularly right - sure, he didn't bat Jason Kendall 2nd or anything, but he also used Greg Aquino at especially horrific times and refused to go away from Eric Gagne if when it was clear that he was complete garbage.  Still, his lineups won't kill you - most Brewers fans hated Weeks in the 1 spot, but there really wasn't any other option at the time, I don't think.  In fact, in retrospect I think Yost was doing what many sabermetric types would prefer in staying the course with Rickie despite poor starts.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the rabid hatred that the Brewers fanbase has toward Ned Yost is completely uncalled for.  What killed those teams was a lack of pitching depth and not poor managing - at least nothing any more poor than the typical manager.  I will note that he wasn't particularly great at managing the media, and that is a very important part of a manager's job, and he got thrown out of a ton of key games down the stretch, which some suggested an indication of poor handling of pressure.  As for me, I'm not sure - I don't like to try and make judgments of somebody's personality like that.

 

Kyle Lobner of Brew Crew Ball:

Let's start with the positives, assuming there are positives. Is there anything you liked about Yost, anything you think he does well?

Yost did a pretty nice job of sticking with the young guys and developing a nice core of talent during his early years as manager of the Brewers, leading some to believe he might be a decent choice to manage a rebuilding team. With that said, his stubborn determination to stick with what he feels is the right lineup and defensive alignment is a double-edged sword - Because he'll stick with a decision until forced to do otherwise, he'll sometimes leave a guy in long past the point where he's obviously toast.

He was at the helm for most of the 2008 season, for example, when Jason Kendall started at catcher 151 times.

Why did Yost get fired in Milwaukee? What is your take on how that went down?

Yost's temperament and stubbornness really seemed to flare up when the Brewers were expected to contend. He likely wasn't the worst manager in baseball, but his prickly demeanor did him no favors, and his unwillingness to publicly admit a mistake or explain the rationale behind a questionable move quickly earned him a lot of hostility from the fan base. He doesn't appear to have learned from that mistake - he told reporters following his offseason interview in Houston that he still didn't know why he'd been fired in Milwaukee.

Behind the scenes, Yost was often referred to as "Nervous Ned," reportedly drank volumes of coffee that can only be described as legendary, and was widely blamed for a tight, edgy clubhouse atmosphere in 2008, when he was eventually fired.

Does anything stand out about how Yost's handles a pitching staff or his offensive tactics?

Regarding a pitching staff, Yost tends to stick with his starting pitchers far too long, giving them more than  enough rope to hang themselves. If a starter appears to be in trouble in the middle innings while protecting a lead, he'll wait until they've blown it to go to the bullpen. Then he'll tell reporters the starter "really battled today" and was "one pitch away from getting out of it." Brew Crew Ball's official term for a loss earned this way is a "Yosting."

In the bullpen, get ready for firmly established roles and a refusal to deviate from them. Yost will have a closer and an "eighth inning guy," and come hell or high water they'll be the only guys to appear late in close games.

As for offensive strategy, I'm not sure what to tell you to expect. Yost touched on a hot button issue by batting the pitcher eighth for a while in Milwaukee, but that won't be an issue in the AL.