Imagine a carpenter. He’s working on a new home with a crew of other guys, but it’s not going so hot. He’s been on this job for months now—much longer than anyone ever anticipated—and mostly, he’s getting nothing done.
Part of the problem is in the tools. The head of his hammer is loose, and always threatening to fall off. Some of his nails are bent. His tape measure is junk. The cord on his circular saw is frayed, and the damned thing only works half of the time.
The other part of the problem is that he’s too quiet. He won’t communicate. All of these material issues—the hammer, the nails, the saw—they could all be fixed, but he won’t demand it. He’s too afraid of losing his job to go to the foreman and ask for some adequate replacement tools, the things that he could use to get the job done in an efficient manner.
So he sits idly by, scratching his chin and waiting for his lunch break when he can hit up the taco truck. He keeps banging on shit, but it’s mostly for show. There’s a good chance the house will never be built—at least not while he’s dicking around—so he bides his time, collecting his paycheck and waiting for the inevitable pink slip.
In case the headline didn’t give it away, Ned Yost is the carpenter, obviously, and despite the short-sighted nature of baseball—a team is only as good as their last 10 games or so—he’s just aimlessly poking around the shit-shack, waiting to get canned.
And perhaps it feels odd to be clamoring for a manager’s axing when his team has been winning as much as the Royals have this month, but pretending that everything is blissful is a complete failure to see the bigger picture.
Unless Yost is willing to grow some balls and make demands, he needs to go.
Let us not forget the absolute and thorough swoon that saw the team fall from first place to last in a month’s time.
The fact that Mike Moustakas is STILL playing third base despite being terrifically ineffective for the entire season.
The fact that Jeff Francoeur is still on the roster and not seeking out a spot on the bench of a lesser team.
Kelvin Herrera still pitching in the late innings of close games when it’s clear that he doesn’t belong on the big league roster.
Chris Getz being Chris Getz.
Base-running blunders that would embarrass a little league team.
Leaving starting pitchers in past their expiration date on a nightly basis.
Sure, not all of these things are Yost’s fault—third base coach Eddie Rodriguez has made some abysmal choices recently in pressure situations—but Yost is Rodriguez’s boss. If Eddie shits the bed, it’s ol’ Neddy’s job to hold him accountable. Instead, he sits in the post-game interview and does that thing where he rubs his chin plaintively and makes his George Bush-ian face. He squints and gives his clichéd baseball answers. Occasionally, he’ll get snarky at what he thinks is a stupid question and a hint of emotion surfaces, but there’s a distinct lack of passion. If former KC skipper Buddy Bell sounded like he was perpetually on suicide watch, Yost is simply his slightly younger brother; no less resigned, but perhaps a smidge less depressed.
But remember the carpenter with his shoddy equipment? He has the ability—and the RESPONSIBILITY, really—to demand the tools he needs to do his job. Honestly, what’s the worst that can happen? He gets fired for butting heads and walks away with a fat paycheck? Sounds AWFUL. Hopefully the millions of dollars he’s received throughout the years for being bad at his job can be used to Paper Mache his broken heart.
Plus, this is Major League Baseball, where even the worst of the worst gets a second—and third, and fourth, and more—chance. One minute you’re living the dream as a major league manager and the next, you’re the hitting coach of a developmental league team in Tijuana.
You work your way back. Circle of life.
The managers who exhibit long-term success are the ones with some fire and at least a little bit of heart. They’re unafraid of getting in a player’s face and, you know, managing. Yost has always been a “going through the motions” kind of guy. And while that might work on a team full of veterans who don’t need a ton of direction, it seems destined for failure with a squad like the Royals.
Until Yost is gone, the Royals will never actually contend.
Follow me on Twitter, @StanfordWhistle