Former Brewers manager Ned Yost is back in the big leagues, replacing ousted Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman this afternoon. Yost, who joined the Royals over the winter as a special advisor, is the 16th skipper in Royals history. The move was made after a Royals win today, and for now you can read about it in this club press release.
Yost managed the Brewers from 2003 until he was dismissed with 12 games remaining in the 2008 regular season. The Brewers were off to a 3-11 start to September at the time and had squandered a 5 1/2-game edge in the National League Wild Card Standings.
“I’m happy for Ned and I think everybody deserves a second chance in this game,” said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who was dismissed as GM of the Rangers in 2001, joined the Brewers in September 2002 and hired Yost a month later.
“I got a second chance myself, and I’m appreciative of that,” Melvin said. “I don’t know everything about the situation there in Kansas City, but I know Ned has as much energy as anybody.”
That trait should serve Yost well in Kansas City, where the Royals are 12-23 including their win over the Indians on Thursday. They haven’t had a winning season since 2003, when Yost was the rookie manager of a Brewers club that had lost a franchise-record 106 games the previous season and undergone a major front office reorganization.
From 2003 until his dismissal on Sept. 15, 2008, Yost’s Brewers were 457-502, including 166-146 in his final two seasons. But they were off to a 3-11 start in September 2008 and had squandered a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card standings when he was let go.
Under interim manager Dale Sveum, the team won on the final Sunday for its first postseason berth in 26 years.
“I still think Ned was a big part of the ’08 season for us,” Melvin said. “I think he’ll do a good job for the Royals. I don’t know exactly what the expectations are and I don’t know their entire organization, but I know that in 2008 we didn’t have a closer with 30 saves, we didn’t have a 14-game winner and we didn’t have a .300 batting average. For all the people who were critical of him using CC [Sabathia] on three days’ rest, he helped CC get the biggest pitching contract in history, and he hasn’t worn down yet.”
At the time of Yost’s dismissal and again on Thursday, Melvin had particular praise for Yost’s patience with young players. The best example was shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was in the lineup on 2005 Opening Day and struggled badly in the first half, hitting below .200 all the way through June 17. Amid pressure from above to play somebody else, Yost championed Hardy, and two years later, Hardy was an All-Star.
Melvin also credited Yost for getting career years out of some mid-level players. Scott Podsednik, who is with the Royals now, jump-started his career under Yost in 2003 and 2004. Ditto for Brady Clark, who had never played more than 89 games before he played at least 128 in four straight seasons from 2003-2006 and got a two-year contract. Lyle Overbay emerged as an everyday player under Yost beginning in 2004. Dan Kolb and then Derrick Turnbow came out of nowhere to become All-Star closers.
“He got a lot out of players in those early years while we were waiting for our younger players,” Melvin said. “He had patience. A lot of good things happened for us while Ned was here.”
Melvin said he last spoke with Yost during Spring Training, after Yost had been hired by the Royals as a “special advisor to baseball operations.” Yost was out of baseball in 2009, but he drew a salary from the Brewers for the final year of his contract.
The Royals play a pair of National League Central teams — the Reds and Astros — in Interleague Play this season, but not the Brewers.