Manager Ned Yost leaves little question that he’s exactly where he wants to be after agreeing to terms Saturday with the Royals on a two-year contract extension through the 2012 season.
Just sit back and let him gush.
“This is my type of deal,” he said. “I like this. I like building. I like helping an organization by coming in when it’s struggling at the bottom – and this organization is not at the bottom.
“What you see here right now is the tip of the iceberg. Below the water level are our prospects – and that’s huge down there.
“To be able to come in at the top and be able to help that up at the top is very appealing to me. I never wanted to play my options out. I never wanted to go anywhere else. This is where I wanted to be.”
The Royals announced Yost’s extension just moments after beating the 3 p.m. non-waiver trading deadline by completing a five-player swap with Atlanta. It was the club’s third major deal in 10 days.
The timing on the Yost announcement was no coincidence.
“After the deadline,” general manager Dayton Moore said, “the only question about our baseball team is who is going to be the manager. We just felt we needed to be proactive at this point in time and put that to rest.”
Yost, 55, joined the Royals in the offseason as a special advisor to the baseball operations staff. He was evaluating the organization’s top minor-league prospects when summoned May 13 to replace Trey Hillman as manager.
It was not an interim appointment, but Yost’s contract only ran through the end of the year.
“When we first asked him to come in transition,” Moore said, “we made an advance decision that we weren’t going to talk about anything else (regarding a contract). Things had happened too quickly. We decided we’d talk about it at the appropriate time.”
It quickly became apparent to Moore that Yost was a good fit.
“I like his style,” Moore said. “He has a great understanding for the rhythm and pace of the major-league season. He understands what we are trying to do right here in Kansas City. He’s been through it twice. That’s very important.”
Yost spent nearly six seasons as manager in Milwaukee in another rebuilding of a long-struggling franchise before getting fired late in the 2008 season. He previously served as a coach for 12 years in Atlanta when the Braves built themselves into a perennial power.
“To build an organization back to a championship-caliber organization,” Yost said, “is one of the funnest things you’ll ever do.
“There are rough times, and it’s hard, but when you can lock arms with the people in the organization, and help move the organization to a point where it’s competitive and able to fight for a championship, when you get there, it’s the greatest feeling.
“We’ve done it before, and all of the pieces are right there to do it (in Kansas City). That’s what intrigued me.”
Yost’s extension caught the players by surprise, but they welcomed the move as a sign of stability after seeing the roster overhauled in recent days.
“He expects to win,” first baseman Billy Butler said. “If you don’t expect to win every day when you come to the clubhouse, you’re going to have a problem with him.
“If you’re not playing hard, he’s the first one to get on you. That’s the type of guy you want at the top.”
Added infielder Mike Aviles: “He’s a positive-energy guy. Everybody knows he’s our leader. Even when we get beat pretty bad, he still comes in and says tomorrow’s another day. He brings you great energy.”
Yost said his time evaluating the organization’s prospects convinced him the Royals are well advanced in Moore’s rebuilding effort.
“If you don’t have the right player-development people,” Yost said, “if you don’t have the right scouts in place, or the right personnel in terms of prospects, it doesn’t matter what I do up here. I mean, it’s not going to work.
“Every piece is as important as the next. And in my eyes, all of the pieces were together down there. Now, we just need to get it shaped up up here. Through time, that will happen.”