Reminder…the Royals and Fox Sports Kansas City are teaming with FSKC broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre for the KC Sports Media Challenge tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Lucky Strike in the Kansas City Power & Light District. Proceeds from the celebrity bowling event will help support the efforts of The Salvation Army and an orphanage for homeless children in Haiti.
Fans are invited to come out and cheer on their favorite Royals Alumni and Kansas City sports media personalities. Former Royals scheduled to attend include Royals Hall of Famers Dennis Leonard, John Mayberry, Frank White and Willie Wilson, as well as former Royals Willie Aikens, Jim Eisenreich, Shane Halter, Brian McRae, Greg Pryor, Jamie Quirk and Shawn Sedlacek. The former Royals will be paired with a bowling group that also includes a local sports media celebrity.
Fans can also do their part to help our less fortunate neighbors here at home and around the world by donating new or gently-used winter items as our homeless neighbors prepare for winter, as well as new or gently-used children’s clothes and supplies for our neighbors in Haiti.
Below is a list of suggested items to bring for donation:
The Salvation Army’s Honk ‘n Holler program
Relief for Children in Haiti
New or gently-used children’s clothing – There is a special need for boys’ clothing
Shoes – Crocs or similar shoes are best
Soccer balls (deflated)
The KC Sports Media Challenge event will also include a silent auction featuring unique sports memorabilia items with proceeds benefiting The Salvation Army. In its first year, the bowling event raised more than $20,000 for The Salvation Army.
We’ll look at several of the topics discussed, starting with…you, the fans!
Yost has the utmost respect for the fans in Kansas City and described them as a classy group. He knows that they are dying for a winner and that they deserve one. He’s never been in a stadium where the fans chant “Let’s go (team name)” as well as at Kauffman Stadium. He knows that the fans want to see a good baseball game and like him, expect a team that plays hard and never gives up. Yost believes that nearly every time that he left the dugout, his players had left it all on the field. He was impressed that the fans acknowledged opposing players for a milestone (example – their first Major League hit).
Are the Rays a realistic comparison?
Is it realistic to compare the Royals to the Rays? (Tampa Bay built their farm system and now they are headed to the postseason for the second time in three years). Yost believes that it is a fair comparison because of the depth of talent in Kansas City’s minor league system. He believes that the Royals are bringing players along at a similar pace to Tampa Bay. Due to the mental and physical demands of the Major Leagues, a majority of the group that was in Double-A this year needs to continue their development at Triple-A in Yost’s opinion.
On the coaching side of things, Yost is looking at ways to improve the information flow to the players through advance reports. He knows that errors will happen on the field, but believes in minimizing the opportunity to make errors.
As reported yesterday, all of the coaches will be back in 2011. Yost does have one position to fill as Rusty Kuntz will be working as a roving coach and special assistant in 2011. Yost knows who that person will be and expects an announcement to be made in the next few days, once the “I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed”.
Yost expects Aviles to be much stronger heading into 2011 as he continues his way back from “Tommy John” surgery. He would like to see Aviles at third base but needs to see more of him there to make a proper evaluation. Yost believes that Aviles is up to the challenge.
Yost said that the shortstop did a great job of staying focused this year and that Betancourt knows what he needs to work on. Betancourt lives in Miami, as does third base coach and fellow native Cuban Eddie Rodriguez. The pair will work regularly this offseason. Yost gave credit to Rodriguez for helping Yuni during the season. Betancourt is a clutch hitter and not an on-base percentage player, so Yost feels comfortable with Betancourt driving in runs from the seventh or eighth place in the order.
Yost believes that Butler will eventually become a 25-30 home run player who consistently drives in 100+ runs. The fact that his walks are up and his strikeouts are down is a sign that he is turning the corner. Yost sees Butler as a #3 hitter more than a cleanup hitter.
Yost believes that Greinke has the ability to be a Cy Young-caliber pitcher on a yearly basis. He said that 2010 was difficult for Greinke due to the notoriety that goes along with the award.
Both Brayan Pena and Lucas May were sent home with “prescriptions” on what they need to do to improve in 2011. Yost believes that Pena, an offensive catcher, did a fair job on game calling toward the end of the year. Bruce Chen’s shutout on Friday was a great example of Pena’s improvement.
Manny Pina, who played in a combined 91 games with Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, will get a good look in Spring Training. Pina is a defensive-oriented catcher and Yost believes that Pina’s offensive game will improve.
Moose on track
Yost will be traveling to Puerto Rico later this week to watch six of Kansas City’s prospects play on Team USA. He will see Mike Moustakas for the first time since early in the year, when he watched Moose at Northwest Arkansas.
Yost made it clear that it is important not to rush Moustakas. In his opinion, he would want to see the third baseman put up his Double-A numbers for a consistent period of time at Triple-A.
(Editor’s note: Thank you to our intern, Hillary, who compiled a majority of the media sessions this season. Nice job!)
Yost said it never even crossed his mind last spring training that he would be managing the Royals at this point in time. He said he just came in trying to help the club any way possible. Ever since he was hired by Kansas City, all his thoughts have centered on how to make the Royals into champions.
Yost also reflected on his experiences working with his coaching staff, saying he’s usually hard on coaches, but he sincerely believes all the men have done a great job and he’s very pleased. His number one criterion for coaches is that they want to make players better everyday. Yost also believes it’s important that they develop relationships and trust with members of the team. In particular, Yost has seen this demonstrated by Eddie Rodriguez and his work with Yuniesky Betancourt. Yost also thinks Bob McClure has done a good job with the pitchers and believes the coach has everything it takes to get guys to the next level.
While Yost looks for all of his staff to return next season, he will have to replace Rusty Kuntz at first base who has taken his original 2010 position as an advisor and roving instructor. The manager said he is intent on finding a coach who focuses on base running. Yost thinks base running is an overlooked art, but is an aspect of the sport that wins a lot of games and makes a big difference.
The Royals have announced dates for the 2011 Royals FanFest presented by Sprint and Teva Neuroscience. The club’s marquee offseason event is set for Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22 at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, Kan. Hours of operation and ticket information will be announced at a later date.
Royals FanFest will include appearances by current and former Royals, interactive games for fans of all ages, main stage programming and much more. The 2011 FanFest will mark the fourth year for the popular two-day event, which has welcomed nearly 30,000 fans through the doors of the Overland Park Convention Center in its first three years. More than 80 current and former Royals players and coaches have participated in the event since its debut in 2008.
Fans are encouraged to visit www.royals.com/fanfest during the offseason for updated information on player appearances and event programming.
DeJesus Option Exercised
Today the Royals announced they have exercised their 2011 club option on David DeJesus. Yost said the decision was a no-brainer and he’s glad the club made the move. He also expressed his faith in Dayton Moore, saying the general manager knows which way to take the team. Yost added that DeJesus is a very underrated player, much like teammate Joakim Soria. Yost said he knew of DeJesus when he managed in the other league, but definitely had no idea just how good he was until this season when he watched him up close. The manager also said it hurt a lot when the outfielder got injured because the team lost a solid all-around competitor.
It is also “Shirts Off Their Backs” night. Fans can purchase raffle tickets for a chance to go onto the field after the game and receive a game-worn jersey directly from a Royals player or coach! Proceeds go to Royals Charities and Ronald McDonald House.
Here’s the lineup:
(Blanco – RF), (Aviles – 2B), (Butler – DH), (Ka’aihue – 1B), (Fields – 3B), (Maier – LF), (Betancourt – SS), (Pena – C), (Dyson – CF), (Davies – P)
Yost said Mike Aviles has been getting great jumps and has been reading pitches well, which is why he has experienced recent success stealing bases (five in the last six games). Yost also said giving Aviles the go sign is an attempt to keep Billy Butler from hitting into double plays.
The manager also discussed Gil Meche’s performance as a reliever, saying he is very encouraged by his last few outings. Yost added that he feels really good about Meche being a part of the bullpen going into next year.
This and That
When asked if the Royals were motivated by trying to knock the Rays out of first place in the A.L. East, Yost said if a player on his team needs that kind of motivation, then he doesn’t want that person on his squad. He believes a player’s motivation should be the same in all 162 games.
Yost also said he will probably be watching post-season play this year, which is something he hasn’t always done. After leaving Atlanta where he had found success for several years appearing in six World Series, Yost said it hurt to watch post-season play knowing what if felt like to be there.