As manager of the Brewers, Ned Yost had a lot of flaws. He tended to leave starters in too long and push them to the point of breaking down. He was too loyal to his starters, reluctant to bench those who were struggling. He was brash and confrontational when anyone — the media, the fans, or his own players — questioned his decisions.
What he is, though, is a good manager for a young team. Feelings about two late-season collapses make it hard to remember this, but he was exactly the type of manager the Brewers needed when he came in. After previous managers preferred to play crappy veterans instead of struggling newcomers, Yost stuck with guys like J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks, even after they struggled in their first taste of big league action. He helped changed the team’s mentality from feeling lucky to win to expecting to win. While the rah-rah act grew old with his players by the time he was let go, it was exactly what they needed to hear at the time. In short, he was the kind of guy you wanted to bring in to turn things around, but wasn’t the guy able to carry them over the hump.
Looking at the Kansas City Royals now, doesn’t it look familiar? Of course, Yost isn’t being hired to be the team’s manager…yet. But he is joining the organization as a “special advisor to baseball operations,” General Manager Dayton Moore announced today. Royals execs are still apparently confident that Trey Hillman is their guy, even if it looks like they may have just added his eventual replacement to the organization’s payroll.
If there’s one thing about this announcement that’s more surprising than anything, it’s that Yost would take a job when Bobby Cox is set to retire in Atlanta after this season. Yost has long been rumored to be a candidate there, even going back to his day’s as the team’s third base coach. It’s certainly possible that this move doesn’t eliminate him from consideration for managing jobs elsewhere, but after being linked to (and not getting) positions in Seattle and Washington, perhaps he’s just looking to get back into the game.
While many Brewer fans probably still hold negative feelings about Yost, I do hope he eventually gets another chance to manage. It would certainly be fun to see if he could do what he did for the Brewers for another team, especially a team like the Royals that — like the Brewers — lost a lot of the luster it once had in the 1980s. For now, though, it looks like he’ll just do some scouting for the team and won’t serve in an on-field capacity.