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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Stevenson: KC manager is hurting Royals

  • Kansas City Royals' manager Ned Yost is consistent with his inconsistency.
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  • Kansas City Royals' manager Ned Yost is consistent with his inconsistency.
    Yost's players are in a constant state of befuddlement wondering whether or not they will play the next game and where they will hit in the batting order.
    Yost changes KC's lineup almost every day and that makes it difficult indeed for the players to find a positive groove and play solid baseball. One of the most glaring examples has been his rotation of right fielders David Lough and Jeff Francoeur; Lough is hitting close to .300 and Francoeur's batting average has hovered around .200 all season.
    However, KC finally cut Francoeur loose last Saturday and that should solidify right field.
    KC made another move, promoting second baseman Johnny Giavotella from Omaha. That shift was long overdue. Second base has been the weakest hitting position on the team and Giavotella will change that; he was hitting .289 with seven home runs at Omaha.
    It's musical chairs in center field too where Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain are being alternated. Hitting in the majors is a challenge and it gets much tougher when players play just a few times a week. It's like golfers who play only once or twice a week. They don't have their timing or touch.
    Last week KC was off on a Thursday and then played Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Yost decided to play George Kottaras in place of Salvy Perez on Saturday, just before the Royals had another off day on Monday. That was a mistake.
    Kottaras is a liability on defense and Perez is the best young catcher in either league. If Perez had to play six or seven days in a row, there would be some justification for such a move, but not during a week when KC had two off days.
    Yost fiddles with his batting order almost every game; this is a hindrance for his young players who are trying to become comfortable in their roles. The constant shuffling of the hitting lineup makes it harder for the batters to find their niche.
    For much of the season Alex Gordon has been the leadoff batter and that's like making Jarrod Dyson the clean-up hitter. Gordon should be batting second or third, not leadoff.
    Yost is a mediocre major league manager and KC needs an exceptional major league manager. The Royals are still in a position to compete in their division, but the clock is ticking.
    If Kansas City were to change managers in the middle of the season, it would cost owner David Glass some serious money. Consequently, it's probable that the Royals are stuck with Yost for the rest of the 2013 season. That's unfortunate because it's not too late for KC to make a surge, the talent is there.
    Page 2 of 2 - Two of Kansas City's most recent first-round draft choices are causing the front office some sleepless nights. Outfielder Bubba Starling and pitcher Kyle Zimmer are, putting it as kindly as possible, off to substandard starts.
    The 20-year-old Starling is hitting a paltry .223 at Class A Lexington. In 247 at bats, he has struck out 80 times, which leads the team. But Starling has hit seven home runs and is tied for the team lead in RBIs with 34.
    The youngster from Gardner Edgerton High School is in his first full season in the minors, so it's way too early to write him off.
    Zimmer is 21 and he's having a bad time at Class A Wilmington, with a 1-7 W-L record and a 5.98 ERA. Zimmer has pitched 64.2 innings and given up 66 hits, including eight home runs. He's walked 28 hitters.
    It was hoped that Zimmer could help the Royals after a short stay in the minors; that hope is dissolving like an early morning fog.
    Mac Stevenson is a longtime columnist on collegiate and professional sports in Eastern Kansas.

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