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This clinches it: Ned Yost has no idea what he’s doing

Sep 9, 2013, 10:11 PM EDT

Ned Yost Getty Images

Setting the scene: Indians up 4-3 on the Royals in the top of the ninth. Cleveland closer Chris Perez gives up a single to Salvador Perez and a walk to Mike Moustakas to begin the inning, setting things up very nicely.

Very nicely indeed, for Ned Yost to trample all over what was left of the Royals’ postseason hopes.

After back-to-back hitters reached, Yost, already having pinch-run for both Perez and Moustakas, sent in David Lough to pinch-hit for Lorenzo Cain and lay down a sacrifice bunt. It was successful, giving the Royals runners on second and third with one out.

And that is a defensible decision. It’s not the one I would have made, but it put the Royals in a position to take the lead with a single. It’s what happened next that’s truly remarkable.

Needing a single — again, the whole point of the bunt was to set things up for a two-run single — Yost had Carlos Pena pinch-hit for Jarrod Dyson. The very same Carlos Pena who has hit .197 and .208 the last two years. Pena’s entire game is walks and homers. The only active major leaguer with 1,000 plate appearances and a lesser rate of hitting singles is Adam Dunn. Pena hits singles in 10.3 percent of plate appearances.

So, Pena did what he does best: he struck out looking.

Yost wasn’t done, though. He called on another pinch-hitter for Alcides Escobar. This time, it was George Kottaras. Kottaras doesn’t qualify for that list above. But if you lower that cutoff to 800 plate appearances, there’s absolutely no one in the majors who hits singles less frequently than Kottaras (lower it to 500 and you get five pitchers who do). Kottaras has singled in 9.2 percent of his plate appearances.

Kottaras walked. Which is fine. The Royals were probably happy about that, since it brought up Alex Gordon. Gordon, though, popped up to end the game.

Frankly, I’d fire Yost for the whole sequence. To give up the first out and then call on those two hitters to drive in the runs shows a painful lack of sense. If the bases were loaded and a walk or a sac fly would have won the game, then Pena and/or Kottaras would have been worth a try. But Yost needed a single and he took out two guys who were better bets to get one for him in Dyson and Escobar. Not only that, but the player on the bench most likely to single, Lough, was the guy called on to lay down the bunt. It was a brutal case of overmanaging, and it quite possibly cost the Royals the game and further dimmed their long shot hopes for the postseason.

Just get rid of him, seriously.

  1. Tyree Studio - Sep 9, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    I honestly feel like I am going to vomit. Painful game. #overmanagingfortheloss

  2. thomas844 - Sep 9, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    Francona should also be questioned as to why he keeps putting Chris Perez in the ninth inning.

  3. cadillacjosh - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    He did a lot of screwy things when he was in Milwaukee. We made the wild card because of Doug Melvin and Jack Z, it had nothing to do with Yost. His awfulness got him fired with 12 or so games left in the season.

    • delusionalcubsfan - Sep 10, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      He sure did make head scratching moves as the Brewers manager alright. I know people love to blame the manager when things don’t go well but in Yost’s case it would be hard not to. I was not at all surprised when he was fired.

  4. okwhitefalcon - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    A blogger calling for the firing of a manager.

    That’s a new (not narrative) angle.

    • clydeserra - Sep 10, 2013 at 7:19 AM

      A reader calling out a writer.

      That’s a new (not narrative) angle.

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 10, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        A reader confusing a “blogger” with a “writer”.

        That’s not a new (not narrative) angle.

    • spudchukar - Sep 10, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      Matthew the primary goal in the above described decision is to get a tie. A single would be nice, but the bunt was to get the runner to third with less than 2 outs, and create a situation where the game could be extended without getting a hit.

      You are correct about the pinch-hitters. Pena was a dumb move, because he strikes out so much. Perhaps Yost believed Pena was a good candidate for the Sacrifice Fly, but his lack of contact probably negates his fly ball potential.

      However, a managers first goal in the above case is to secure a tie, not a two run single. The odds are still against you getting a hit, but the ML average is slightly above 50% getting the run home from 3rd with less than two outs.

      • juicejuicer - Sep 10, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Lets add to this…
        moving the runner on first over to second takes the routine double play out of the game. You still potentially have a runner on third after a routine DP, but the sac fly is then eliminated. I agree with Spud here that the point would have been to ge the tie, even though they were technically in position to also get the go-ahead run. Second and Third no out; you have to at least get one in!

        With that said, I agree that everything else that happened after the bunt is not defensible.

  5. Glenn - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    A lifetime baseball man should know more than the fan at home. There have to be stat knowledgeable guys who can also run a clubhouse, right? All you need are 32 of them in the whole country.

  6. steelhammer92 - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    He may be a stupid coach, but the Royals are still alive and kicking. None of the teams fighting for a WC spot are playing good, nor consistent baseball. Tampa and Texas are both playing like utter garbage. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit if a combination of either Cleveland, Baltimore, NY, or KC wind up playing in the WC game.. And Tampa and Texas are both left home.

    • dan1111 - Sep 10, 2013 at 2:47 AM

      Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds Report will be surprised if that happens. Rangers: 93.7%. Rays: 67.9%. Royals: 1.8%.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 10, 2013 at 5:26 PM

      He isn’t a Coach. He is a Manager. And he made a bone head call with Pena and Kotteras.

  7. wheels579 - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    I agree with your criticism here, but you can’t fire him now with so few games left. Not unless you have a guy in waiting who you want to have the job for the long term. What the Brewers did to Yost with 12 games left was disgraceful and downright cowardly, highlighted by not retaining Sveum over Melvin’s buddy Macha despite making the playoffs. Make the change for next year.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      What was cowardly about Milwaukee firing him? At one point they were 35-15. All they had to do was play .500 ball tje rest of the season and they were going to make the playoffs. Instead Yost managed them to the point of being almost out with 12 to play. If the guy running things isnt a guy who can bring you a championship you get rid of him whether its after game 10 or game 150.

    • dan1111 - Sep 10, 2013 at 2:44 AM

      I do not understand this complaint. If they were fed up with Yost’s performance, why would they let him manage the most crucial games of the season as they raced for a playoff spot?

      Also, I have no idea how you see this as a slight to Sveum. The Brewers didn’t owe him a permanent position just because they named him interim manager. Managing a major league team, even for a short time, was surely a good opportunity for him. Sveum now has a full time managerial position, and his experience with the Brewers probably helped with that.

  8. rcali - Sep 10, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    If you gave Royals ownership a couple of drinks they would tell you that Yost is cheap, and that’s all that matters.

  9. sabatimus - Sep 10, 2013 at 3:42 AM

    If you bunt runners to 2nd and 3rd, with the result being 1 out, I as a manager would be looking first and foremost at a sac fly. A sac fly ties the game. Has-been/never-was power hitters like Pena and Kottaras should have been able to at least hit the ball deep into the outfield. But then again, with .209 and .179 BAs respectively, the chances of them actually hitting the ball at all are quite low. Dyson has a blistering .263 BA by comparison.

    The real moral of the story: don’t have sieves on your team.

  10. stommper - Sep 10, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    Unfortunately Yost isn’t going anywhere. His contract is up at the end of the year but he’ll get an extension because there’s just no way that Dan and David Glass can let GMDM (who also unfortunately will not / can not be fired now even though it’s a friggin miracle the Royals have the record they do with the roster he has built) hire a 3rd manager. His first two were/are disasters and the can’t let him hire a 3rd terrible manager.

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    • hcf95688 - Sep 10, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Yes, but do you respect yourself in the morning?

      • Old Gator - Sep 10, 2013 at 9:46 AM

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  12. tjvalley - Sep 10, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Maybe yost should earn money online. Lol. I’m not a baseball guru or anything, but I don’t know if bringing up below Mendoza line batters is the direction I would of went. Percentage wise I think that was a bad move. Alcadies might not be having a great year but he did hit 170+ hits last season. If I need a single I think I would go with him.

    • Old Gator - Sep 10, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      Scrooge McLoria and the Feesh brainstem trust kinda prove your point, but circuitously – they bring up guys who are hitting .285-300+ at AA and keep them around until they’re hitting below the Mendoza line, then send them back again.

  13. sportsdrenched - Sep 10, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Math is hard for the Royals front office.

  14. Marty McKee - Sep 10, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    I happened to watch this game for some reason. What struck me as odd is that Pena stood in the batter’s box and watched six pitches go by and never once took the bat off his shoulder. The Royals’ announcers were dumbfounded. Of course, Hudler said, “He’s up there to hit, not to walk.” He should work for the Reds.

    To be fair, the home plate umpire was terrible, and I don’t think any of the six pitches entered the strike zone (the ump called Pena out on strikes, by the way).

    • geoknows - Sep 10, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      Pitch f/x thinks that two of the three were strikes – but only if you account for the “adjusted” left hand hitters strike zone, which is a joke in and of itself, so they were actually balls. The third was clearly outside.

      The ump gave the Indians six outside “phantom” strikes against left handed hitters in the game. Five of them were in the ninth inning. Not only did the Royals get Yosted, the ump helped them bend over.

  15. jbriggs81 - Sep 10, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    A manager isn’t looking for a single in that spot from Pena or Kottaras. He is looking for a Sac Fly to tie and extend the game. Clearly, Perez was struggling so all you need to do is get the tying run in and hope for the best after that. If the batter gets a single or double, that is simply a bonus because now you have a chance for the winning run.

    That’s not to say that Pena’s at bat was in any way acceptable. He didn’t swing once in six pitches????

    • geoknows - Sep 10, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      Well…why should he swing at balls?

  16. wheels579 - Sep 10, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    It doesn’t take 150 games to make a decision on a manager. That move needs to be made earlier or not at all. The Brewers panicked then just like they did this year in the spring when they forfeited a draft pick to sign Kyle Lohse at the last minute. Melvin has been there a lot longer than Yost and where is his accountability? They didn’t “owe” Sveum anything but if he’s the right guy to gamble on at that point AND he succeeds in making the playoffs, why hire a third manager without giving Sveum a real chance? Macha was a disaster. The Royals are still playing hard for Yost despite his odd decisions, and the Royals would be best served to not disrupt that and go through the evaluation process at season’s end instead of making a mockery out of things like the Brewers once did.

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