Alcides Escobar, and now vs. the future
If I’m allowed to say it, we have a really interesting sports section today. Dutton points out that the Royals NEVER win the kind of game they won last night, Teicher analyzes the Chiefs’ playing time distribution, J. Brady looks into the continuing drama surrounding Thomas Robinson’s little sister, and this ruggedly handsome fellow suggests the Royals do everything possible to lock Eric Hosmer into a long-term contract.
It’s all good stuff.
But none of that is what I’d like to discuss here today.
The focus today is a small item in Dutton’s notebook about why Royals manager Ned Yost continues to let the currently-weak-hitting Alcides Escobar hit in clutch situations.
He did it Tuesday when Escobar came up with the Royals down 3-1 and the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, despite having Wilson Betemit available to pinch hit. Escobar struck out.
Escobar is hitting a dreadful .227/.259/.273 while playing exceptional defense at shortstop, creating a constant push and pull.
Yost’s reasoning for sticking with Escobar:
“If you think a guy is going to hit, you run into problems if you don’t allow them, in those high-leverage situations, to hit. When we get to the point where we’re going to compete for a championship, he needs that experience.”
Now, there’s a lot to take from this, including one more example of what is one of Yost’s defining characteristics as a manager: confidence in his players.
But it also highlights one of the biggest challenges of what is so far a very promising season: the balance between winning now and winning later.
The Royals want to do both, of course, and the decision to bring up Hosmer now instead of saving some money by doing it next month indicates an aggression that is at the very least nice for fans to see.
For whatever it’s worth, I think Yost has been terrific since his first day on the job. Small things like this are best taken with the benefit of the doubt, but beyond that, what he says just makes clear sense. Most — not all, but most — scouts seem to agree that Escobar will eventually hit in the big leagues, so it’s only logical to help him get there as often as possible.