Well That Didn’t Work

You can’t blame Ned Yost for trying. At least I won’t on this one.

He’s got a super athletic 22-year-old phenom, a rangy veteran with a great arm, and a run-producing doubles hitter. All of who were hitting relatively well at the time. Who wouldn’t want all three of them on the field at the same time?

And when you’re six to eight games below .500 and in danger of sliding into last place in your division, you could argue that there’s nothing you shouldn’t try.

I was nervous when the Royals announced that they would try Jeff Francoeur in centerfield, Billy Butler at first base, and allow the untested Eric Hosmer to learn on the job in right field.

I don’t think I was worried about the short-term results. What I was more worried about was that the position change would somehow unsettle Hosmer just as his bat was finally beginning to wake up.

I don’t know much about the psyche of big leaguers in general, or Hosmer specifically, but I was concerned that flailing around in unfamiliar territory would send the slick-fielding first baseman back into the funk that plagued him the first two months of the year.

Yost, on the other hand, overplayed his confidence to the media. He acted like the move was no big deal. He seemed to think that a few afternoons shagging balls in pregame would prepare Hosmer to play the position. Perhaps Yost thought, like all Little League coaches, that he could hide a poor fielder in right and he could somehow avoid having to make any plays.

But as the old saying goes, the ball will find you.

Pittsburg Experiment, Game 1: It didn’t take long for Hosmer to boot the first ball hit to him in right. “It was just a bad read on my part,” he said. That turned a single into a double, which resulted in the game’s first run.

Then in the third inning, Butler helped to botch a rundown, blindly chasing a base runner toward second while another snuck home. After the game, Yost tried to blame that one on Hochevar, but his analysis rang hollow.

Yost’s summary of the lineup after game one:

“I wouldn’t call it sloppy,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’ve got guys playing out of position in a National League park and it’s going to take them a day or two to get acclimated.”

Pittsburg Experiment, Game 2: Ok, so on day two?  Well with the Royals leading and the bases full of Pirates, Hosmer allowed a seemingly catch-able ball to drop in, opening the floodgates to a five-run Pittsburg inning.

“I was playing pretty deep and got a bad read on it,” Hosmer said.

Pittsburg Experiment, Game 3: Stop now before we really embarrass ourselves.

The results of the experiment were so dreadful that Yost called it off a day early.

So you might argue that Yost shouldn’t give up on the alignment just because it didn’t work the first time out. After all, the logic behind it hasn’t changed, and Hosmer is certainly athletic enough to play right field.

Or you might argue that the results were so overwhelming that it should be scrapped without hesitation. Hosmer was bad in right. Butler shouldn’t be a regular first baseman. Francouer is a natural in right, not center. There’s no use trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

I’m not sure which is the right side of the argument. Yost will have six more games in National League parks to decide if the experiment is worth continuing.

All I know is that I don’t blame Yost for trying.

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