Kansas City Royals: How the team is botching the managerial search

With Ned Yost’s retirement, the Kansas City Royals need a new manager. The franchise is botching its search for Yost’s successor.

The Kansas City Royals will be one of a whopping eight teams with a new manager when the 2020 season starts. The Angels, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Padres, Pirates, and Phillies will also have new skippers in the dugout once the end of March rolls around.

But unlike those seven other teams, the Royals are botching the search for the team’s next manager, mainly by not bothering to look outside the organization.

Sure, the Royals have enough change going on this offseason, what with John Sherman purchasing the team from David Glass and his family. Franchise stalwart Alex Gordon may also not be back. And, of course, Yost, who took over managerial duties from Trey Hillman just 35 games into the 2010 season, announced his retirement during the last week of the season.

In a way, staying in house makes sense.

There are several in-house candidates with previous managerial experience, both in the Minors and the Majors, from Vance Wilson, who managed several Royals farm teams before being named bullpen coach for the MLB squad in 2017, to Mike Matheny, former manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from 2012 through the midpoint in 2018 and who is now a special adviser for the Royals.

Plus, staying within the organization keeps the status quo intact, at least for the time being. This allows general manager Dayton Moore to keep a familiar face around while he learns to work for a new owner. And it seemingly would help Sherman’s transition from the Cleveland Indians, an organization for whom he was part-owner, to the Royals.

Yet, the names connected so far with the Royals search don’t inspire a lot of confidence. And for a team that hasn’t cracked 60 wins in the past two seasons, confidence is a must right about now.

Wilson, who has interviewed for the job, has zero name recognition outside of diehard Royals fans and those who cover the team. And Matheny, despite winning the pennant with the Cardinals in 2013 and taking them to another in 2014, was fired when he lost the clubhouse for old-school ways–and the Cardinals instantly improved after he was let go, winning their division and making it to the NLCS this year.

The Royals are also reportedly considering Pedro Grifol, the team’s quality control and catching coach who’s been part of the big league staff since 2013. He has never managed a team at any level, though has also received interest from the Giants.

This all begs the question: why aren’t the Royals looking outside of the organization for their next manager?

Both the Angels (Joe Maddon) and Phillies (Joe Girardi) hired guys from outside their organization. The Cubs went with David Ross, who recently worked as an analyst for ESPN. And the Padres just hired Jayce Tingler, a former Mizzou Tiger who had recently served as the bench coach for the Texas Rangers.

Of the final four teams in the playoffs this season, three of them were led by managers hired from outside their organization. The Astros hired A.J. Hinch after he resigned from the Padres’ front office. The Nationals hired Dave Martinez away from the Cubs. And the Yankees pried Aaron Boone away from the television booth.

Only the Cardinals had stayed within the organization, and that may have had more to do with who they fired (Matheny) than who they hired (Mike Shildt).

Sherman is taking over the Royals after owning a portion of the Indians since 2016. While Tribe manager Terry Francona is unavailable, other names on that coaching staff include Sandy Alomar Jr., who played in the Majors for 20 seasons; bench coach Brad Mills, who managed the Astros for three seasons; and pitching coach Carl Willis, under whose tutelage four pitchers have won Cy Young Awards.

Here are five other outside candidates the Kansas City Royals could consider, and who have been considered by other teams this offseason:

  • Ron Washington, who won consecutive pennants with the Rangers at the start of the decade and was a finalist for the Padres top job;
  • Dusty Baker, who managed four teams over 22 seasons and was a finalist for the Phillies top job;
  • Buck Showalter, who managed four teams over 20 seasons and who was in the mix for both the Phillies and Angels top job;
  • Joe Espada, Astros bench coach who interviewed for the Cubs top job; and
  • Stubby Clapp, Cardinals first-base coach who managed in their minors for years and who has interviewed, or will interview, for the Pirates top job.

What would it hurt to interview these coaches?

Worst-case scenario, it drills into Moore’s brain that he needs to stick with a coach he knows, like Grifol, Matheny, or Wilson. Best-case scenario, one of these coaches blows away Moore, and a little bit of new blood gets mixed into the on-field portion of the Kansas City Royals.

By not even interviewing outside candidates, Moore is doubling-down on not only his legacy in Kansas City, but his employment with the Royals. He’s going to be connected at the hip with this next hire. By not even considering outside options, he’s not doing himself any favors.

Nor is he doing his employer any favors.

Nor the fans.

By only considering people within the Kansas City Royals organization for the managerial position, Dayton Moore is wasting a great opportunity to shine a light on his team. If he hires one of the known candidates for the position, no one outside of Kansas City will care, blink an eye, or take notice.

Next: Kansas City Royals: Trade Targets from NL Central

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That’s the worst thing about this whole situation: at a time when excitement can be added, Moore declines to do so.

It’s all so incredibly boring.

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