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Ned Yost: Manager Provocateur

Surpise: Ned Yost is costing his team ballgames in September in a pennant race.

Not pictured: Ned Yost.
Not pictured: Ned Yost.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I'm of the opinion that a manager will cost his team a few games throughout the season. A game here, a game there. Meanwhile, the same team will receive a number of gifts. A game that should have been lost, gets placed in the win column thanks to the opposition manager. It's not a zero-sum game necessarily - teams with bad managers can certainly give away more wins than they will receive from their opponents. Yet over the course of a 162 game season, the team's true talent level will usually come through.

Look at the 2013 Kansas City Royals. They have scored 600 runs. That's not very good to be honest. It averages about four runs per game. League average is 4.4 runs per game. Like I said, not very good. On the other hand, these same Royals have allowed just 564 runs this season. That's just 3.8 runs per game. That's the lowest rate in the American League. That's not just extremely good, that's great. Outstanding. Wonderful. Choose your adjective.

When you take the Royals runs scored and runs allowed and figure their Pythagorean won-loss record, you will find that they were expected to have 78 wins and 70 losses entering play on Sunday. Their actual record? 78-70. It's a quick and dirty way of looking at things, but through 148 games, this Royals team was a 78 win club.

But in September, if your team is lucky enough to be in a pennant race, even on the fringes, every win and loss is magnified. Perhaps the better managers will find a way to steal a key September win. Maybe the poor managers will spit the bit and cost their team in the win column.

Hello, Ned Yost.

Sunday, in the second time in a week - in the middle of a push for the postseason - that the manager of the Royals cost his team a chance to win.

From Dutton's gamer:

"The way he pitched, I just felt real strongly that he could get us to the ninth, turn it over to the pen in a tie game and give him a chance to win the game."

This quote boggles the mind. It is complete batshit insanity. People get committed and undergo electroshock treatments for saying shit like this.

Does Ned Yost realize his bullpen is the best bullpen in baseball? What the hell is the difference if Guthrie steps aside in the eighth or ninth? You have the relief arms, for crying out loud use them.

It's not like the bullpen has been overworked of late. From Daily Baseball Data, here's how the Royals bullpen has been used for the last week entering Sunday's game.


Pick your reliever. No one should have been unavailable on Sunday. Kelvin Herrera last pitched on Tuesday. He's been pretty good. Wade Davis was last seen on Monday. Since moving to the bullpen, he's done well. Louis Coleman threw nine pitches two days prior. Luke Hochevar has been wonderful and pitched just 2.2 innings in the last week. Now in a tie game against the division leaders in a pennant race I can't in good consciousness list Aaron Crow or Tim Collins. Crow hasn't seen the mound since September 6. Collins hasn't been heard from since September 5. Danny Duffy is listed here because his spot in the rotation was skipped, but remove his name from the list and you have 11 relief pitchers. Eleven. It's an embarrassment of riches. Except Yost chose to embarrass himself.

This whole "give him a chance to win the game" is a fireable offense right there. Pitcher wins are probably the most meaningless counting stat in the baseball universe. They are completely and totally irrelevant. Except to dinosaurs like Yost. Hey Ned, your starting pitcher allowed 13 base runners in seven innings of work. You shouldn't be pushing him back out there. Not with the best bullpen in baseball just a phone call away. You should be thanking your lucky stars he's allowed only two runs.

Oh, and exactly how does Guthrie get the game to the bullpen in the ninth where it's tied so he can get a win? Once the bullpen enters the game and the score is tied, Guthrie can't get the win. Is it possible our favorite clandestine Starbucks customer is so undercover he doesn't understand how the irrelevant pitcher win works?

That's not even the worst part of all of this. The worst part is that Yost put an individual and his statistics ahead of a team. Ahead of a team that is scrambling for every win in a wild card race. That is simply inexcusable. It's the wrong move anytime, although we will hear managers use these same words again and again during the regular season. "So and so pitched his guts out so it's only fair to keep him out there so he could get the win." No, no and no. So frustrating in May, in September it's a fireable offense.

It's been a bad week for Yost.

The Pena pinch hit appearance in Cleveland. The Guthrie indecision in Detroit. There's still two weeks left in the season and the Royals, despite the incompetence of Ned Yost, are still in the hunt. I can't wait to see the next boneheaded move.

Here's the rub with Yost's decisions: This isn't about a failure to execute by his players. This isn't Billy Butler hitting into a double play at an inopportune moment in a key moment. This is about Yost fundamentally failing to put his players in a position to win. You don't bunt to advance a runner to third and then bring a guy off your bench who is the worst on your team at making contact. And you don't leave a scuffling starting pitcher in a tie game in the eighth when you have the best bullpen in baseball at your disposal. This isn't bad luck. This is a choke job.

Yet the Royals are in a different situation from Milwaukee in 2008. That time, the Brewers entered September leading the NL Wild Card by 5.5 games. When Yost was fired two week later, they had surrendered their entire lead and were a half game back of the Mets. It was a desperation move to save a season.

To contrast, the Royals are three and a half games back, they have to climb past four clubs to get into the post season. Their odds are long. Besides, according to General Manager Dayton Moore, they are ahead of schedule.

It's cruel, isn't it? If the Royals harbor any hopes of playing in October, Yost must suffer the same fate. If Moore isn't content with merely being ahead of schedule and is serious about making a push for the post season, he must fire Yost. There are two weeks of games left. Sure it would look desperate to outsiders, but there's no time. It is a desperate move. Yost cost his team two wins in the most critical week of baseball we have seen in Kansas City in over 25 years. Two wins in September is massive.

We know this isn't going to happen. Dayton Moore doesn't strike me the type of GM who would make such an abrupt and potentially game-changing decision. (This is most certainly different from The Trade.) Yost's contract runs out at the end of this season and I always said that Yost was more or less a caretaker manager. He's the guy to bring the young players along, but when it was time to win, Yost would have to step aside and let a more competent tactical manager take the reins. By trading for Ervin Santana and James Shields, the Royals found themselves in a position to win this season. It's too bad Moore didn't make the managerial move in May when the team was on the skids. Things could be different today.

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