Ned Yost was hired, nominally, because he's a good player development guy. He supposedly plays young players and blah blah blah.
Basically, this is a convenient explanation for an utterly boring and uninspired hire. With Trey Hillman imploding, Dayton Moore reached out to Yost because a) Yost was alive and under the age of 85 b) he knew Yost c) Yost was available. Basically, it was like 90% of all managerial hires these days. You throw in the random 55 year old dude who is out there, you come up with a reason later.
I've yet to discover what Yost's real strength is as a manager. Bullpen management? Meh. In-game decisions? No. Motivation? Not apparently. Roster construction? No, in italics.
Which leaves player development, his supposed strength to go along with Dayton Moore's supposed strength. Here are some moves under his watch:
- Flagrantly throwing Eric Hosmer under the bus for last night's loss.
- Allowing Alcides Escobar to fail repeatedly in late game situations.
- Being part of the organizational decision to honor a pointless promise to play Melky Cabrera in CF every day.
- Wanting Jarrod Dyson on the Major League roster, so he can pinch-run 3 times a week rather than playing every day in the minors.
- Burning Kila Ka'aihue alive after a bad month.
Now, to his credit, Yost has played Gordon just about every day (thank God he hit a random .300 early) and has regularly inserted Moose and Hosmer into the lineup. If you want to give him credit for playing two incredibly hyped prospects that the organization is in love with, more power to you. I'm fine with playing Escobar regularly, but I'm not sure he needs to play, literally, 99% of the time.
At best, I'm seeing a break even record regarding "playing young guys/player development." Which means that extra bit of performance/development/teaching/whatever that the manager is supposed to be wringing out of this roster isn't happening. A manager doesn't distinguish himself by playing Eric Hosmer. Everyone in baseball is going to do that. Everyone. A manager distinguishes himself by being a part of a coherent roster/lineup construction team and giving the marginal cases (Kila, Crow as a starter, MITCH/Dyson types, novelty players like Collins) a chance at success. I love the randomness of TREANOR, but what the hell is he doing playing 60% of the innings at catcher? Mentoring our young starters like Jeff Francis?
These guys know player development.
I keep coming back to the fact that in 2008 Ned Yost was fired with 12 games to go, in a pennant race, for being strategically incompetent. Think about that. This is effing baseball, where decisions move at glacial speed and chewing sunflower seeds rather than tobacco is considered a major innovation. It's a sport where the manager is still wearing a uniform because... because... because... well, they are. And in that intellectually lifeless environment, the Brewers finally had to fire Yost in the 11th hour of a pennant race. Then, after the that season, despite making the playoffs, the got rid of Dale Sveum, who was the interim manager: the only intent was simply to remove Yost from the situation.
I think that there's a strong possibility the Brewers were too harsh and/or made that decision for irrational soft-factor reasons ("gotta shake things up," etc. again, this is freakin' baseball). Nevertheless, the fact that a) this happened and b) really no one protested the move is pretty stunning.
Honestly, if you want to be jaded about it, none of this matters in 2011. Pena sucks, Maier sucks, Dyson is a toy, Kila sucks, the 2011 Royals suck. Go that direction if you want. However, what happens when it is 2013 and the games actually matter? What happens when the prospects being misused aren't old Baird holdovers that everyone hates, but products of the Greatest Farm System Ever? What happens when those one or two extra wins the maanger is supposed to provide turn into one or two extra losses?
I guess we pray that Gardenhire is still employed by the Twins.