"Why is everyone so excited to see an opener?" asked Ned. A manager whose team has been dead in the water since April.
Rarely do you see the manager of a 40-72 team so sure that he's doing things right and that there's nothing new he can try with this bunch of temporarily unsuccessful contenders.
The Royals have given up runs 43 times in 112 opportunities in the first inning. Of any inning 1 through 8, the percentage of games where they gave up a run in the first inning is higher than in any other inning. The Royals have given up runs in the 2nd inning in 32 games, in the 3rd inning in 29 games, in the 4th inning in 30 games. These are the 3 most successful innings for not giving up runs.
No, I can't imagine why people would think a way to skip the 1st inning struggles for starters, and have them go directly to the 3 innings where they've had relative success in not giving up runs, would be an idea worth trying with a team that isn't competing for anything this year.
"It wouldn’t be effective for us. That’s why we haven’t done it. We’re not fools. If we thought it would be beneficial for us, we’d do it." says Ned Yost, a manager who started Chris Owings 27 times in the first 30 games, started Billy Hamilton 77 times, and kept using Scott Barlow over a stretch where he gave up 21 runs in 16 games over a period of 43 days. If this 2019 team has gone anything, is ride guys to wherever the bitter end is located for them.
If anybody knows what is effective for a team that has been on pace to lose 100 games for most of the season, it's the guy who manages the team that has been on pace to lose 100 games for most of the season.
Ned Yost has gone all Audacity of Nope on this 2019 Royals team. The conventional wisdom is that small market teams like the Royals lose and will always lose. Therefore you have to defy conventional wisdom in the first place to be successful. What is more likely to defy conventional wisdom for the Royals in future years, trying to imitate every other team, or finding ways to get an edge on the opposition.
By the way, Ned Yost, Mr. "We're not fools", has been managing a team that has been taken to the woodshed by Nelson Cruz all weekend. But maybe they don't don't think it'd be beneficial to stop serving meatballs to a guy hitting like 2001 Barry Bonds.
"We don’t have the depth on our staff" said the manager of an 8 man bullpen that sometimes doesn't have to pitch specific relief pitchers for 3 or 4 days at a time. Brad Boxberger had six different stints of 4+ days of rest during his 3 month stint as a Royal. Wily Peralta had 7 different stints of 4+ days of rest. Among pitchers that people want to see, Kennedy has had 5 stints of 4+ days rest (not counting the ASG-inflated break) and Jake Diekman had 6 stints of that much rest. It's not that hard to avoid blowing out the bullpen when you have 7 middle relievers. But Ned's challenges with using that bullpen is another matter.
"We’re not ready to do it" said the manager of a team that has exemplified readiness on their way to being 32 games under .500 on August 3rd. It's almost like Ned is spinning the excuse wheel and using every excuse he sees on the wheel/
"Plus, the guys that have done it in Triple-A, [Josh] Staumont and [Kyle] Zimmer are not even established here yet" - do Zimmer and Staumont need to pass a citizenship exam to become established enough for a spot like that? Does Ned think the Opener works to where you need to become a proven opener in order to open. How did the Rays ever figure out how to get somebody to open without getting that player ready to do it in AAA? This is all complex when you make it complex enough to justify not doing it. Last time Josh Staumont pitched, it was his first work on back to back days, and that didn't go great. So i'm sure that Ned will hold Staumont's results in garbage time late innings as an indicator that he can't work in other spots.
"It doesn’t make sense to try it just for the sake of trying it" said the manager of a team that will likely lose 100 games in back to back years. This is exactly the time you try it. Does he think it makes more sense to try it when the team is good? No, he would be talking about not changing things up when they're going right if things are going good. So this is about finding a reason to not do something that he doesn't want to do.
"Anyone who suggests we try it for the sake of trying it is foolish, in my opinion" - I mean, I guess the team could be worse than 40-72 if they were foolish. How the hell somebody who has lost 176 games in their last 274 gets to use these sort of arguments is amazing. Being Ned Supergenius Yost is one thing when the record backs it up. But Ned is trying to be the supergenius holding off the "fools" while managing a team that is considered a failure by any person not employed by the team. To the people doing TV for the Royals, the Royals are the greatest 40-72 team in the history of baseball.
"Hey, how about if we have everyone jump off a bridge? And then we’ll win 10 in a row? That’ll work." - Jumping off of a bridge has a better chance of success than quite a few decisions Ned has made this season.
After KC media lifer Jeffrey Flanagan served up a softball to Ned.. we got this quote:
Once again, the team is 40-72. On most nights, they don't need a 7th or 8th inning guy. It'd be a lot easier for Ned's job if he didn't have to think so much about who he'd use in late innings for the several times a month that the Royals have a lead going into the 7th inning. Ned Yost is running the radio station that is almost scared to do something too new because they might drop below 20th place if they do anything too radical. So they act like the people who don't buy into their way of thinking are obviously fools. The phrase "continuity of suck" comes to mind here. Where obviously things are going badly, but the people running things act like the uncertain alternatives are actually worse options. It's how some politicians win re-election every 2/4/6 years.
"You won’t see an opener this year" - the last time Ned was this definitive, he was talking about Chris Owings, and Owings was done as a regular Royal within a week. On this team and with the assortment of red tape used to try and avoid using an opener, the Royals would likely need an injury to a starting pitcher to get them to use an opener. Because the Royals have nothing good going on for them in Omaha and they can't make a trade in August this year.
Ned Yost is a manager who probably could have retired after 2017 without it seeming like a disappointment. He could have retired last year and people would have been fine with it. He could retire any time in the next 2 months and it would almost be a blessing for this team in the short term. Ned is almost too stuck in his ways and almost too resistant to any sort of experimentation to see if changes can work for this team in the near future.
Now, I won't say "Fire him" because he deserves an opportunity to go out on his terms. But at the same time, Ned Yost's 2019 has had one real big highlight, his talk about the moon landings, and a variety of moments where it's apparent that keeping him around is not productive for this team at this moment. At some point, you either leave the stage or get dragged off like it's Showtime at the Apollo.
At this point, going to a new manager, a new set of eyes, somebody with something to prove, might be worth trying for more reasons than just for the heck of doing it. It's almost like the next Royals manager is gonna come in with such low expectations that it'll be near impossible to disappoint.
Depending on if you believe Wikipedia or Baseball Reference, Ned Yost is turning 64 or 65 this month (August 19th). In a lot of realistic scenarios, this team will not be good until Ned is close to 70. They might need to know a little about what they have around and what they can do whenever this team is good sometime during the second term of President Marianne Williamson.
So, maybe hold off on the snarky comments to various media people while the team is in another freefall and maybe realize that doing more of what got you to 40-72 isn't gonna get you out of this mess.