Winter Meetings interview with Ned Yost

Q. Have you got a wish list at all, next few days?
NED YOST: For, like, the next week or so?

Q. Yeah.
NED YOST: I gotta refill the feeders at the farm, planted some grass, finally got some rain so my wish is that it comes up.

Q. How about your roster?
NED YOST: What about my roster?

Q. Are you guys set for next spring?
NED YOST: You're never all set this time of year, Dayton is looking at, you know, anything that could help our club get better. That's important.

The thing that we got better at the end of the year is that we got healthy, hopefully, coming through this winter, having Mous healthy and Gordy back to being 100% and Wade being healthy and Cain being healthy. I mean, those were all big pieces there and parts of our club that, you know, it's hard to be successful when you're missing those pieces. I think health was the most important part.

And you look at the bullpen that we have now and you kinda look at some internal options that we have with some of these young guys that are throwing the ball really, really well, you feel like, you know, we're pretty well covered.

But that still doesn't take away from the fact that you're always looking for more.

Q. Was fatigue a factor down the stretch? Do you think that will change next year?
NED YOST: You sit here and I always say to myself, you don't want to make excuses but the fact of the matter was, yeah, we missed three months of recovery and conditioning time over the last two years which is vitally important.

I think that that played, for me it had a big impact on guys like Chris Young, who is so diligent and dedicated in his off-season conditioning program, it was cut short. Wade Davis is the same way. His recovery and conditioning time for the winter was cut way short.

I know how it was for me last year. At the end of the winter, I told my wife, I can hardly wait to get to Spring Training so I can get some rest.

And it was the same way with the guys, too. I think a full winter is going to benefit us greatly.

Q. Ned, did you watch any of the waiver stuff given that you have all these free agents and it's like the rules are changing? Did you sort of get any take on how that might affect you guys?
NED YOST: I didn't. Where I live in Georgia, I don't have Wi-Fi, so I've got to walk outside and get 3G. And I've already burned up my data twice. So I kind of pick and choose on what I care to look at. I didn't really study the collective bargaining thing too well.

I did get a sheet upstairs when I got in. I was supposed to get in yesterday at 11:00, but my daughter-in-law went into labor and didn't get here until midnight. And we have a brand new baby girl, so we're excited about that.

Q. Is this your daughter?
NED YOST: It's my son and my daughter-in-law.

Q. New granddaughter?
NED YOST: Yeah.

Q. When was that?
NED YOST: She was last night at 1:30.

Q. What's her name?
NED YOST: Amber Lin.

Q. A-M-B-E-R?
NED YOST: Yes, Lin.

Q. Was that in Georgia?
NED YOST: Yeah, LaGrange, Georgia.

I've got that packet to study the collective bargaining agreement, but I just haven't had a chance to look at it yet.

Q. You guys have these guys who are getting closer. Does that lend any sense to your team in terms of urgency?
NED YOST: Honestly, probably, maybe a little bit. I could say no, but, yeah, it does. We don't know what's going to happen after next year. We know who we have under control for next year and it's a really, really good core, nucleus of championship caliber players.

Our focus this year is, you know, to get back to where we've been the last couple of years competitively to where we can compete for a championship and we think health is going to be a big part of that.

And worry about 2018 when that time comes.

Q. After the success you had with your bullpen those couple years in October, what was it like to see other teams adopt similar strategies?
NED YOST: It was amazing to see -- to watch games and kind of understand the feeling that other teams had against us. Because when I would watch Cleveland play, if they were tied or had the lead in the sixth inning, I'm like, Boys, this game is over. That's the same feeling that I think other teams had when they played us in the past.

It was interesting to see how effective and successful that strategy can be.

Q. Ned, Terry was saying he's not sure you can use Miller that way for all season. Do you think teams will build that whatever you want to call it, the guy who comes in and puts out the fire in the sixth, seventh, or eighth, but is still not a closer? Do you think that's where bullpens are morphing to?
NED YOST: I think so, but you gotta understand, Andrew Miller, these guys don't grow on trees. They are few and far in between, guys that are that durable that can pitch like he did, especially down the stretch. Terry is right. You can't do that during the regular season, you're going to blow somebody out. But in the playoffs, it's a lot easier to do.

But I think that, you know, bullpens are looking -- and it's not that you label a guy a seventh inning guy or eighth inning guy or ninth inning guy, I think what teams are trying to do or what successful teams have done have had a seventh or eighth or ninth inning guy, and all three of them can pitch in the ninth inning. All three of them can close. When you have that, man, that's a huge advantage late in the game.

Q. Despite some extenuating circumstances, like injuries and different things, given the success that your guys have had the previous two years and what they achieved, what do you think the feeling was around the team? Were guys ticked off at the end of the year or disappointed? Did you get that sense?
NED YOST: You know, I didn't get a sense -- I think they were disappointed. But, you know, it's like I tell my guys, you know, all you can do is when you step on that field just give all you have for that day, every bit of it.

I never felt one moment during that season that our guys didn't do that. With the injuries, when they started piling up, you've got guys like Escobar and guys like Morales and Eric Hosmer trying to pick up that slack, that's a lot of slack to pick up, you know?

I think our guys at the end of the year, each and every one of them, they could look themselves in the mirror and say, Hey, you know what? We gave it everything we had, it just didn't work out. We had too many injuries, we just ran out of steam there at the end because, you know, we at times lost three or four, maybe even five All Stars, you know? It was what it was. I don't feel like, you know, we left anything on the table. I don't feel like they felt like we should have done better.

I think everybody is excited headed into next year.

Q. How thin is that fine line? You went the distance two consecutive years, World Series, you got the ring the second time then. Coming around the next time, you want to protect these guys, but at the same time you want to stay competitive. How thin is that line?
NED YOST: It's a fine line but, you know, even going through '14, we didn't really kind of like figure it out until the playoffs started. So we were just playing. Once the playoffs started it was like, OK, here we go.

'15 was a different story. From day one of Spring Training, our goal was to win the World Series. From day one. The only thing going through '15 every day when you wake up it's like please nobody get hurt. And we were really lucky that we didn't have a bunch of injuries that year. That's the biggest threat to the championship team is health, when guys get hurt. Some of it you just can't control. Mous and Gordy, two All-Stars going down the line in Chicago for a foul ball in May. It's May. But that's their style of play, both of them diving for it, and Gordy breaks a wrist and Mous blows his knee out and you lose two All-Stars.

We stayed away from that stuff in' 15 and hopefully we got most of that out of our system last year and we will be healthy going into' 17.

Q. What have you heard about Mous and Cain?
NED YOST: They're doing great, right on schedule with their rehabs and 100 percent ready to go.

Q. Having been around Greg Holland, do you have any doubt he will be able to bounce back to be what he was?
NED YOST: None. I don't know if he will ever be what he was. I would suspect that he's going to be and I mean "stuffwise" 97, 98 miles an hour.

But the thing about Greg Holland is I've never met anybody that was more of a fierce, fearless competitor than he was. When you have that in your DNA, you can get by at 92, 93 miles an hour. It wouldn't surprise me that he gets back to being the dominant guy that he was before because he's got that -- he has that make-up and that mentality when he steps on that mound. He's some kinda fierce competitor.

Q. Dean has talked this off-season about the payroll limitations that you might be facing. Is that a reality that you have to deal with that you're not going to be able to keep this score together forever?
NED YOST: It's a reality. Dayton and I knew coming into this that we're a small market team and these are going to be some of the things that we will have to deal with. And our mindset has always been, we're going to make it work.

We won the World Series. We went to the World Series in' 14 with a $97 million payroll. We can do it. We don't have to have the best guys, we just have to have the right guys. That's the hard part is just finding those right guys to fit into our system so that it completes a 25-man unit that can be successful.

Q. Not to give away Dayton's strategy, but when you look at things do you think maybe a starter, you got Dyson and Redfield, I think you got Merrifield at second, are there certain areas that you think he's focusing on a little bit?
NED YOST: No, I don't think we're focusing on any area, per se.

I think we're look to go see if anything makes sense to help us get better. Christian Colon we feel is ready to compete for a spot at second base with Merrifield. Modesi is having a decent winter ball. We really like our starting pitching with Duffy, who turned a corner last year. Ventura continues to get better and better to move up into that next level as a pitcher. We saw Jason Vargas at the end of the year, three great starts. Ian Kennedy, Chris Young we're expecting to bounce back really, really well.

We lost some guys in the pen, but we feel that we have some really great internal options. But we're always looking to improve the pen. We've seen that the formula works really, really well to have that lock-down bullpen and trying to find ways to stay athletic and defensive we think is really important.

Sitting here, I don't feel that we have any glaring holes that we need to really focus and concentrate on. It's just little pieces here and there to make our club better.

Q. You mentioned the fatigue, did you see that show up with Wade in the second half last year?
NED YOST: I thought it did. I thought especially with, you know, Cain's leg injuries with Wade, you know, because it was -- it wasn't ligament it was muscle soreness, you know, muscle tightness.

Chris Young was the same way, never got on track. And these guys -- the thing that we don't see because we're off doing our thing in the winter but these guys are diligent with their off-season conditioning programs. You know, they're very regimented, routine oriented and, you know, they work their tails off. And over the last two years when you're losing three months over a two-year period of rest and recovery and conditioning time, it's going to take a toll. It just does. You hope that it doesn't, but it does.

I think that like I said before, guys coming in, you know, with a full offseason under their belt are going to be way better off for it.

Q. Ned, you're wearing the ring that shows what happened two seasons ago, but you know the issues facing the smaller market club. Lorenzo Cain, there is a lot of talk that he could be moved. What are your thoughts on that still keeping the Royals going but maybe adding through subtraction?
NED YOST: I think there's a lot of rumors out there. The one thing that Dayton -- Dayton would never trade anybody just to save money, he's not going to do that, if he's going to trade somebody it's going to make our club better.

Again, we do have the majority of our core after 2017, you know, are all going to be free agents. Dayton is a great guy that can look into the future and figure out how do we make our club better now and for the future. I think he's very open minded and I think he's been looking at everything, you know, that could accomplish both of those goals. To make us better now and for the future. The GM job is hard, man, it's hard to piece all that together. But he does a great job of it.

Q. Ned, you guys have a rotating committee there, do you feel like you can make up the production of Kendrys in other areas?
NED YOST: I do. I feel like right now we were in that roving DH until we signed Kendrys and he turned out to be a productive player for us. But if we keep that roving DH and Mous coming off the injury, it's going to allow us to keep his bat in the game and allow us to keep Salvi's bat in the game on days we want to give him days off.

Hos is a kid that just plays every single day but could use a half day every now and then. It allows us to keep his bat in the game. Lorenzo Cain.

I feel like there are good benefits to it. And if you combine the rotation over the end of the year and you're being looking at the numbers in the DH they're going to be pretty productive. I feel like we're going to be fine if we don't get somebody to be a DH.

Q. A lot of your success the last couple of years has been with home-grown guys. But before it clicked for guys like Perez, was there a key turning point for you guys especially for those younger guys who became such a part of your success?
NED YOST: I think time. It's always been my experience when you get a group of guys together like we brought up a core group of guys to play we did it in Atlanta and in Milwaukee. Seems like it took about two and a half years for them to start to get to the point where they could really compete. But for me the Wild Card game of 2014 was the point where all of the sudden they went from thinking that they were good and could win to believing that they were good and could win. That changed everything.

Q. For you as a manager was there anything that you were called to do to help those guys get to that point?
NED YOST: No, you can't -- again, it's hard to get people to believe until they believe. You can tell 'em and tell 'em and tell 'em, hey, you're really good, you're going to be a champion, you're going to be a champion and they keep saying it in their head but until they believe it in their heart, that's the difference.

I think in the eighth inning of the Wild Card game is when those guys came together and all of the sudden they believed it in their heart. They were four runs down against a guy that they couldn't beat and they ended up winning the game and the rest is kinda history for them.

Q. You said you were in Georgia at your farm. What do you do? You really get away from it, I guess?
NED YOST: I do.

Q. You still like hunting with Jeff Foxworthy?
NED YOST: Yeah, we still do that a lot. There's a lot of work to be done on the farm. We get up every day and it's a full day every day. Just doing different stuff. But it's hard for us, you know, we feel like the winter is family time because we don't have that during the summer, you're gone in Kansas City. We've got family over all the time and the kids are in the woods and the grandkids are running around and riding tractors and four-wheelers and bulldozers, and we're having a blast.

Q. I thought you said that was you are your first granddaughter?
NED YOST: That was my first granddaughter. I have got a grandson, a three-year-old grandson.

Q. You didn't get much sleep, then, probably?
NED YOST: No, but her momma, who is my son's wife, she hunted every day until two weeks before Amber Lin was born. So I imagine that Amber -- she missed a big 11-point two weeks before she was going to give birth. I imagine Amber Lynn is going to be an outdoor girl.

Q. Kill a lot more deer this offseason than last year?
NED YOST: I have not because it's been so hot and dry.

I think we've killed ten or 11 at the farm but I'm catching a few fish.

Q. For a while you guys were ascending and chasing something and now it's sort of about sustaining it. Does that change anything on your end?
NED YOST: No, no, I don't think so. Again, you know, we've got goals that we want to achieve. We want to give 2017 our best shot. That doesn't change anything.

Q. Does it affect your guys' outlook that if, for example, the Tigers traded veterans or the White Sox traded some veterans and they might be taking a step back?
NED YOST: You could probably say no, but the honest answer is probably yeah. You're always looking at teams that you compete against and if they were to trade one of their key players that's one less guy you gotta contend with in your division.

I hope they do it.

Q. Got a starter for Opening Day yet?
NED YOST: You know what? I haven't thought about that, Andy. See how you stimulate my mind?

Q. Give it to Duffy, it would mean the world to Duffy, wouldn't it?
NED YOST: It would, yeah.

Q. Is that the guy?
NED YOST: I don't know, that's a good -- it's a good option. Good option.

Q. What about a fifth starter, got anybody in mind for that?
NED YOST: Chris Young and probably Matt Strahm right now that are probably going to compete for that spot. I just feel very strongly that Chris Young is going to bounce back really well. We saw how effective Matt Strahm can be in the pen last year. He's a nice piece to have down there but I'm not counting him out as a starter, either. See where it goes.

Q. Where is Mondesi playing?
NED YOST: Dominican.

Q. How is he doing?
NED YOST: Doing fine, I think he's hitting .270, something like that.

Q. Does he need to get stronger?
NED YOST: He's only 21 years old. He's going to grow into his body. This kid's got power. You watch him take BP, he blows my mind hitting balls over the center field wall. That's hard to do in our ballpark. He's got it, he's still continuing to understand spin of a breaking ball, you know? But he will. He's 21 years old. He's tremendously talented and athletic and I think he's going to be a good player.

Q. You talked about bounce-back years, Soria has to have a bounce-back year and Alex, too?
NED YOST: I think those guys, all of 'em will. You look at, you know, Alex last year, fresh off a huge contract and we all know how dedicated and what type of player Alex is. He probably would disagree with me, but I think he really pressed from day one to make that contract worthy. I think that he's -- I think Alex is going to come back next year and have a great year.

And I think the same thing with Soria, Soria's stuff is really, really good, as good as was, maybe even better than when I had him the first time and he was saving 40 games for me. I think he got off to a bit of a rough start and never recovered and put a lot of pressure on himself. But I look for big bounce-backs from Chris Young, Alex Young and Joakim Soria.

Q. I know people have called you about Dyson.
NED YOST: They haven't called me.

Q. I think they're calling Dayton. Because you think about it, he plays two positions, he's good defensively, affordable?
NED YOST: That's right.

Q. Is he a guy that you think would be tough to part with just because of what he does for you?
NED YOST: Again, just goes back to -- I was thinking the other day, if you could take -- somebody asked me, I can't remember where I was, who is your favorite player. I told them I don't have a favorite player. Sort of like our kids, right, they're all your favorite players. But I got to thinking, if we could have two kids, anybody come live with me for the winter that I could really have fun with and enjoy it would be Salvador Perez or Jarrod Dyson.

Q. Really?
NED YOST: I could take Dyson with me all winter long. He's that type of kid that he's just a ball to be around. He's just one of those fun guys. But, again, the nature of the business is if we make a deal for anybody, does it make us better? If it makes us better, it's something we're going to have to consider even though it would be hard to part with some of these guys because you are close to them. You have watched them grow up and develop into All-Star-caliber-type players and become World Champions.

But the nature of the business, John Schuerholz always used to say, and he is in the Hall of Fame now and he's in the Hall of Fame for a reason, and he would tell our coaching staff and Bobby that our job is to manage change. And that's what we have to do from year-to-year, we have to manage change because it's inevitable.

Q. What would Dyson do on the farm?
NED YOST: We would go fishing, do all kinds of stuff. We'd go to the Whistling Pig and eat lunch. There's all kinds of stuff we could do, we would have a blast.

Q. He would wear you out?
NED YOST: Yeah.

Q. I think he would wear you out?
NED YOST: He would go fishing every day except he has to throw the big ones back and he already told me he's not doing that.

Q. Is Mous expected to be ready when the season starts?
NED YOST: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's the same thing Schwarber had and Schwarber, he was ready by the World Series, which was amazing. But, yeah, Mous was doing football patterns at the end of the year. He was going. He's going to be 100 percent ready to go. Thanks, guys.