Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why have the Royals been so bad at home? How hot is Ned Yost's seat?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 6:12 AM

The Kansas City Royals homestands havent been pretty.
  • The Kansas City Royals' homestands haven't been pretty.
This week's Pitch feature asks the experts to give the Kansas City Royals a performance review at the midway point of the season (read it here). Today, we wonder: Why have the Royals been so bad at home? What do our experts believe the franchise should do? And what should manager Ned Yost do?

Weighing in: national sports reporters Jeff Passan (Yahoo Sports) and Sean Keeler (Fox Sports) as well as respected Royals bloggers Rany Jazayerli (Rany on the Royals), Michael Engel (Kings of Kauffman), Bob Stalder (Pine Tar Press), Bill Ivie Jr. (I-70 Baseball), Jeff Zimmerman (Royals Review), and Craig Brown (formerly of Royals Authority, which merged into Royals Review). Look for the outtakes all this week online.

Why have the Royals been so bad at home?

Jeff Passan: One really dreadful stretch. That'll do it to you. Baseball is a very interesting game. It's not like football where you have a week to shake off the ills of a bad loss. It's not like basketball where, worse comes to worse, you're playing back-to-back games and you're going to be tired. Baseball is an everyday grind that if it is going poorly, can poison your mind. It was a snowball effect. One bad game rolled into another, and it compounded into another and by the end there was this avalanche of self-doubt and ill will throughout the clubhouse. They were wondering, "What the hell are we doing here. We're a major league team, and we can't even bother to win one game out of 12."

It was pathetic, and they knew it was pathetic. And so, you know, take those 12 games away, put 'em at .500 for the 12, and they're over .500 now on the season.

When you have as many games as you do in baseball, anomalous things just happen. And in the end, I think it's going to even out. Their home record isn't going to be demonstrably different than their road record.

Craig Brown: Flat beer at the K? Dizziness from too many carousel rides on whatever they call that thing in the outfield? Sluggerrrr applying too much Icy Hot to his jock? I can't pick just one. Let's go with a 33-33-34 split.

Michael Engel: That's a very good question. They hit a perfect storm of a team spinning its wheels to start the year, some poor pitching and hitters starting out slow.

Bill Ivie Jr.: Because they were bad early on and spent a lot of time at home. When you have that many bats performing that poorly, you're not going to win. The hitting is coming around and so is their record ... at home and otherwise.

Bob Stalder: Expectations can be a curse when you have pressure put on you to perform. In its truest form, this franchise has lost for so many years, and the fans are reaching a point of believing or not believing that "Our Time" is here. I think the players really want to please the fans, so the pressure is higher when they play at home.

Jeff Zimmerman: Random luck. Anyone that actually has an opinion on this is just making stuff up.

Rany Jazayerli: Bad luck, honestly. They happened to be at home when their 12-game death spiral occurred, and it's been an uphill battle to post a respectable home record since.


How hot is Ned Yost's seat?

Passan: Not at all. I don't think it was hot early in the season either. I think Ned Yost is a Dayton Moore favorite, and I think Dayton Moore, above just about everything else, values loyalty. If you are a Dayton Moore guy, you are not in trouble in the least.

Engel: Tactically, I don't get a lot of his moves. I think he over-manages the game and he makes curious calls when pulling his starting pitchers. Barring another collapse like the 12-game losing streak early on, he's safe this year, though I've felt that he's the manager who'll get the young players ready to run through the playoffs, but not necessarily the guy who'll manage them once they get there.

Ivie Jr.: It should be warm, at least. He has to prove that he can win at this level and not just develop at this level. If they finish below .500 this season, the temperature needs to go up.

Stalder: Have you ever seen Stripes where Bill Murray is giving P.J. Soles the treatment on the stove in the general's kitchen? Ned is starting to do a little hopping on the grill and the fans are giving him the treatment.

Zimmerman: It has cooled off a bit. At least he isn't as bad as Hillman, Bell or Muser

Jazayerli: Not that hot anymore. Barring a horrific, 100-loss-level collapse, his job is safe this year. Next year the expectations get ramped up significantly.

Brown: Luke warm. He's a caretaker whose job is to prepare the young talent to take the next step. When they're ready for the next step, there will be a new manager in place. Yosty doesn't have the stomach for the pressure of a pennant race.


Ned Yost should ______:
Passan: Stop being so mean to Nate Bukaty.

Brown: Stop trying to bunt runners to third with nobody out. Please. I beg you. Just stop.

Engel: Bunt less and pull his starter before they let the inning get away from them when it's clear they're going to.

Ivie Jr.: Get fired up. I'm tired of seeing players get tossed and the manager not going with them. Get out there quicker, protect your guys, and show that you can get angry.

Stalder: Stop trying to play for one run in the first seven innings and learn how to manage a pitching staff properly.

Zimmerman: Do nothing. He ends up feeling like he has to do something (hit and run, bunt, steal), and it just gives outs away.

Jazayerli: Stop bunting so damn much.


The Royals should ______:

Passan: Not trade one of their young everyday starters to get pitching because, while it's the thing that's going to help you win championships, it's also the most volatile asset in the game. The possibility of pitchers blowing their arms out and making that trade look miserable is a lot higher than people want to acknowledge.

Brown: Bring Wil Myers up and play him in center if you can't move Jeff Francoeur. Or they should trade Francouer, play Cain in center and Myers in right. Myers now!

Sean Keeler: Call up Jake Odorizzi. Also, they should NOT let the marketing department convince the locals that it's "Our Time," when "Our Time" is probably closer to 2013 or 2014. It was a slick campaign, but one that instantly turns into a giant albatross around your neck when you open 0-10 at home.

Engel: Stick with the plan. They have a lot of talented young players. Some are hurt and have to work their way back. Some are close to being big contributors. Some are still in the minors and working their way up to be the next wave of talent. This offseason, they need to sign or trade for a strong starter (ideally sign via free agency) or two.

Ivie Jr.: Investigate trading prospects for proven veteran talent. This does not mean "raise the payroll" a ton, just look into some options.

Stalder: Not be afraid to make the moves necessary when a player is struggling. Allowing a player to "work it out" is not a way to win baseball games, and if someone is struggling, they need to sit out for a few games, be sent down to work on it or be released to make room for a player that can do the job. This organization prides itself in not saying, "oops, we made a mistake." The organization really needs to go all in on the long toss approach to helping pitchers increase their throwing strength and avoid injuries.

Zimmerman: Figure out how to develop starting pitchers.

Jazayerli: Promote Wil Myers and play him in center field. Put Jake Odorizzi in the rotation. You're in a division where 85 wins might win it - you don't have to mortgage your future to trade for present talent, but you can at least deploy the talent you already have.
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