Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Just about a week after the All-Star break, the Royals sat in third place in the AL Central, eight games behind Detroit and two games below .500 (48-50).
With his team on a four-game losing streak that made them losers 10 times in their last 13 games, general manager Dayton Moore had a grenade lobbed his way by Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, who asked him for his assessment of manager Ned Yost's performance to that point.
Moore did what any good leader does in a time of crisis—he jumped on top of the live grenade:
All of our success in this organization is tied together. We've fought through some challenging times in the past. We’ll do it again. Together.
It’s been frustrating. But I look at myself. I’m accountable for this. I look at what I can do. I’m not blaming anybody else. I've got to look internally at myself and what I can do, how I can contribute.
I don’t blame the players. I don’t blame coaches. I don’t blame managers. I don’t blame ownership. I look at myself, and what I can do, and what we can do as a baseball operations department to improve our team.
Moore's faith was well-placed, as the Royals have baseball's best record since July 22:
|Los Angeles (AL)
Yost has guided his club to first place in the division, marking the first time since 1982 that Kansas City has been in first place when the calendars flipped to September.
To put that in its proper perspective, only 11 members of the Royals' current active roster had even been born yet. Recently acquired utility infielder Jayson Nix, 32, was six days old. Yost was a 27-year-old backup catcher for Milwaukee.
It's been a long time.
But this isn't the first time that a Yost-led team has looked like a contender heading into the season's final month. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recounted the events leading up to Yost's dismissal as Brewers manager with 12 games to go in 2008:
The Brewers, who haven't appeared in the post-season since losing the 1982 World Series to St. Louis, were flying high entering the final month of the season, having gone 20-7 in August to move 24 games above .500. At that point, they held a 5 1/2 -game lead in the NL wild-card race over Philadelphia.
But when the calendar turned to September, the team went into a deep funk, especially on offense. The Brewers went 3-7 on a home stand to begin the month, then went to Philadelphia and were swept in a four-game series, blowing any realistic chance of catching the Cubs for the NL Central crown. Chicago leads the division by eight games.
The sweep allowed the Phillies to draw even with the Brewers in the wild-card race. The final straw was a lifeless performance by the club Sunday in losing both ends of a doubleheader, 7-3 and 6-1.
While the Brewers would make the playoffs as the wild card under interim skipper Dale Sveum, they dropped the NLDS to Philadelphia in four games. It was Yost, not Sveum, who took the brunt of the backlash for what was a disappointing run to end the season.
At that point, Yost had been running the show in Milwaukee for six years.
He's nearing the end of his fifth season at the helm in Kansas City and has overseen the continued development of young stars like Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez, just as he did with Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Yovani Gallardo in Milwaukee years earlier.
Should the 2014 Royals suffer a similar fate as the 2008 Brewers, skidding into the playoffs as a wild-card team only to get outplayed and make a quick exit, Moore may not be jumping atop any more grenades.
He might be the one tossing them—in Yost's direction.
*Unless otherwise noted/linked, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are current through games of Sept. 3. All payroll information courtesy of Cot's Contracts.
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