Yost has no concerns about his club
Skipper confident his Brewers right where they need to be
MILWAUKEE -- At this point, Ned Yost is to managerial confidence what Michael Phelps is to gold medals in swimming.
You've heard Major League managers expressing confidence in their teams before; this is a natural and even required part of the job description. But Yost, the skipper of the Milwaukee Brewers, may be setting a new standard in expressions of confidence in his players.
Asked on Tuesday what concerns he had about his team, Yost replied, repeatedly, that he had absolutely none. And, without being asked, Yost moved from no-concerns to a lengthy and vehement defense of his team.
This sounds, on its face, at least a little extreme. A manager with no concerns would seem to be a manager with no team. But from Yost's perspective, these comments are not contrived or forced, but the logical outgrowth of the way he perceives his team.
The Brewers have had two straight difficult losses to the New York Mets, losing in 10 innings on Tuesday night, 6-5, after rallying from a four-run deficit. But the Brewers' overall circumstances lend themselves to optimism.
They appear to be in position to break a 26-year postseason drought. They trail the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, but they have a 4 1/2-game lead in the NL Wild Card race. Plus, the Brewers season appears to be headed in a markedly different direction than the 2007 version. The Brewers were 9-18 last August. This August, they were 20-7.
Yost was asked about a series of individual issues that might have concerned him and he said he wasn't concerned about any of them. So he was asked what concerns he had about this team as the home stretch beckoned.
"I don't have any concerns," Yost said. "I love my team. I've got a great team. We're playing great. We've got the second best record in the National League. We're deep on the heels of the Chicago Cubs. I got no concerns. We're playing fine. I got no concerns. You lose every once in a while. So, I got no concerns. Sorry."
Perhaps, it was suggested, he could be concerned about the current opponents, the Mets, the NL East leaders, who have been playing very well since Jerry Manuel took over as manager.
"No," Yost said. "Nobody worries me. I like my team. I'm not worried about anything, because I'll take my team and compete on a daily basis and know that they'll go out and play with intensity, with passion, with desire, and they'll play their hearts out.
"And whatever comes with that, I'm willing to take. Win, lose or draw, I'm willing to take that. So in terms of having any concerns about my team, I have none. I'm willing to take whatever they provide me with. That's the way that I think. That's the way that I get through it."
What greatly encourages Yost is the change in his team from last season to this one. The young Brewers started fast last season, but faded in the second half and finished second to the Cubs.
"Last year, I felt like, at times, they were really struggling to keep it going," Yost said. "Last year, they didn't have the experience of the expectations of playing in a national pennant race."
The core players have grown through that experience, Yost says. And the team has added veteran stability with players such as Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall and Gabe Kapler. So, no concerns for the manager.
"If anybody wants me to have any concerns about this team, I'm sorry, I don't," Yost said. "Nobody's trying to protect a lead. Nobody's trying to do anything other than come to the ballpark today and win a baseball game. That's what experience teaches you.
"You forget about what everybody else is trying to do. Because then you start worrying about things that are out of your control. You start worrying about the Cubs, you start worrying about the Phillies, you start worrying about St. Louis, and that takes away from your focus here. They learned last year that's not productive, to be looking in the rearview mirror when you're driving forward, because then you run into things that jump in your way; like trees and other cars and trucks.
"So you're still focused on the road ahead and you forget about that other stuff. If you do that, you'll be in great shape. And that's what they've done. The little things in the rearview mirror have not affected them one iota this year. And that's experience that they learned from last year.
"So I don't worry about them. They know what they're doing. They get it. Let 'em play."
Objective observers of this team could find a cause or two for concern, but that's not the issue. Yost's belief in his team and its development is genuine. There are typically plenty of things to worry about in a pennant race in September. But the members of the Milwaukee roster definitely won't have to worry about their manager's total support and confidence.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.