After last night's atrocious offensive showing by the Royals, despite Alex Gordon nearly hitting for the first cycle by a Royals' player in over 20 years, Ned Yost hinted that lineup changes would come. Needless to say, I was relieved. I had grown awfully tired of seeing Jeff Francouer (who I have developed a man crush on after his fantastic first couple of months) struggle at the plate and turn into the Jeff Francouer of old.
Alex Gordon continued his actual dominance in the leadoff spot, becoming the best left fielder in the Major Leagues (it's true, look it up). He's been the only enjoyable part of this team in the months of May and June. This is awesome. Gordon had been unfairly dumped on by most Royals fans and media for a majority of his career and to see him pull off a season like this has made me incredibly happy and relieved as a fan. Hats off to Alex Gordon. If he isn't our All Star, then they should just let him punch Nick Swisher in the face.
So with a lineup switcheroo, you would think that Gordon would maintain his perch at the top of the Royals' lineup. He IS after all one of the hottest hitters in baseball this year.
Instead, it's Melky Cabrera. Melky has stayed consistent...but he isn't a leadoff hitter. When Gordon was inserted in the leadoff role, I was shocked and actually proud of the Royals for doing something so progressive. Gordon, in my mind, is the next generation of leadoff hitters in baseball. Good on base skills, decent enough speed, power to the gaps, doesn't strikeout...wait, isn't that what managers always say, despite when they put Chris Getz in the leadoff spot?
Frenchy was removed from the cleanup spot and busted all the way down to...fifth. I get it. I like Ned Yost. He's a guy who commands the respect of his team and gets it back in return. He put up with Frenchy in the cleanup spot about a month longer than I would have. I'm just hoping Frenchy didn't have a sit down with Yost and ask him to be removed from the cleanup role like Joakim Soria did when he asked to be removed from the closer's role.
But Yost's bullpen management has been the most frustrating part of the whole equation. With the Royals down by three in the eighth inning and threatening to come back, Yost seemingly drew a name out of a hat and out came Everett Teaford, a LOOGY. Teaford gives up a two-run bomb and the Royals lose. Of course, who knows what may have come if Teaford had gotten out of the inning, but in a three run game, the manager has to treat it like a three-run lead.
So Nick Wright of 610 Sports Radio came up with the "Magic Eight Ball Bullpen" meme the other day on his show and I'm not sure if I've ever heard a more outrageous, yet so dead-on metaphor for Ned's bullpen management.
Ned: Should I put Greg Holland in to face three lefties?
Magic 8 Ball: As I see it, yes.
Ned: Tim Collins can get lefties out, right?
Magic 8 Ball: Outlook good.
Ned: Screw you, I'll put him in anyways.
Ned: Should I have a reliever put one in Yadier Molina's kidney?
Magic 8 Ball: Very doubtful.
Ned: WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!
I hope you still have the receipt to Spencer's Gifts...