Remember when the Royals were 17-10 and near the top of the A. L. Central? It seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? But now the team is in a free-fall and things are getting strange. No, I’m not talking about the lack of offense or the losing streak. That’s business as usual for the Royals. I’m talking about the wacky things happening off the field.
Take Royals manager Ned Yost. Please. (Ta Dum! I’ll be here all week.) I believe the Royals woes are making him goofy. When questioned about the lousy play of third baseman Mike Moustakas, Yost quipped in a May 18 article in the Kansas City Star, “You know what? Maybe when we get home I can go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman. Obviously, third basemen who can hit for power, they must grow on trees.” Well, if there’s a third baseman tree somewhere, it’s not in Kansas City. When Yost said this, Moustakas was hitting .189. Now he’s hitting .178 and showing no signs of improving. Forget the third baseman tree, the Royals need to find a baseball offense tree.
When Yost made about the comment about the third base tree, the Royals were 20-19. But after a 1-9 skid and a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night, Yost was asked about how he holds players accountable. Yost replied, “What are you asking me to do? Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them? What do you want? These kids, every day, we go through the process. We’re talking constantly about approach.” Yost continued, “Do we need to make changes? This can’t continue. Somewhere down the road, yeah, we’re going to have to make some changes.”
It’s a bad sign when a manager has to ask the media what to do about a woeful team. Of course it was a rhetorical question, but it’s pretty obvious if the Royals don’t start winning again and playing better baseball, firing Ned Yost is the likely change. Will it make a difference? Ask Tony Muser, Buddy Bell and Trey Hillman if it makes a difference. But I guess the Royals have to do something.
So what’s a manager of a struggling team to do? Hey, the Chiefs are next door and having a minicamp. Maybe Yost can go over there and get some advice from Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. So Yost jogged over to the Chief’s offices to see what was going on. Well, maybe he should called coach Reid first because Yost was surrounded by Chiefs security when Yost dropped by and was not allowed in. Thankfully for Yost, security didn’t tazer or spank him for the unauthorized visit, despite the wishes of most fans.
And if that wasn’t enough, later in the day Major League Baseball had Yost take a random, routine drug test. Given his recent statements and behavior, maybe the drug test wasn’t that random. Just saying.
It’s not news the Royals aren’t hitting many home runs. As of Wednesday, the Royals have 28 home runs, just one shy of the last in the Majors Miami Marlins. But home runs aren’t that important. Don’t believe me? Just ask Royals hitting coach Jack Maloof.
In a Fox Sports article, Maloof said, “There is just no reward here (for us) to try and hit home runs, (at Kauffman Stadium). We try to stay down on the ball, be more line-drive oriented, and do more situational hitting at least through the first two or three rounds (at home) here. That’s why I’m not overly concerned because I think we’ll lead the league in fewest home runs again this year. We don’t have a 40-homer guy in the middle of the lineup.”
But what about the opposing teams who come into Kauffman Stadium and have no problem hitting home runs? Maloof has an explanation: “Here’s the thing: Other teams come in here from Anaheim or wherever and they have their swing already down,” Maloof said. “This park doesn’t even enter into their minds when they hit here. They have their swings, the same swings, because it pays dividends for them at home.”
Uh, so it’s not a good idea to have the Royals try to hit for power and hit more home runs? Other teams have their swings down, but the Royals don’t? You know what the dividend is for a home run? You score at least one run. And if you score runs, you have a better chance to win. Sure, situational hitting and moving runners is important. But if the lineup isn’t hitting or has much power, situational hitting doesn’t matter. If the Royals are looking for a change, they might want to take a look at Jack Maloof. As for fellow batting coach Andre David, he’s keeping his mouth shut.
Oh yeah, after the game Tuesday night the Royals had to ride the bus to St. Louis because their plane had mechanical issues. There was no word if Yost spanked the plane or if Maloof was thrown under the bus.
It’s one thing to lose if you’re expected to lose like the Marlins or the Houston Astros. But with all the “improvements” the Royals made this year, the team should be playing better. But they’re not and it’s hard to say when they will. I haven’t given up on the Royals yet, but like Yost said, “This can’t continue.”