Trey Hillman Asleep at the Wheel

Jordan BrattCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 7: Manager Trey Hillman #22 of the Kansas City Royals makes notes during the Opening Day game against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Royals 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

DISCLAIMER:  I have been a Trey Hillman advocate since his arrival in Kansas City, to the point of defending him blindly at times.

Trey Hillman lost Tuesday nights game against the Minnesota Twins for the Royals.

Knowing his team is offensively deficient, he decided to play for the three run shot.

Mike Jacobs started the fourth inning off with a single to center.

Mark Teahen followed with a single to left, moving Jacobs to second.

With men at first and second, zero outs, the “fundamental” manager would lay the bunt down considering the batter is a middle infielder with limited power (Callaspo) and rely on a sacrifice fly ball or gap-shot from his burly catcher (Olivo).

Trey Hillman played it differently.

He lost.

Hillman elected to allow Callaspo to swing.

He popped out.

Then Olivo hit an infield single—loading the bases.

Needless to say, the Royals then promptly exited the inning—despite the light swinging Maier’s best attempt at hitting the ball to the outfield grass and the best at bat of Tony Pena, Jr.’s career that lasted over 8 minutes and still ended with a strikeout—with no runs.

In a game that ended 2-1, Hillman should have seen early on that runs were at a premium.

When the other team’s catcher has a higher batting average than your eight and nine hole combined—Joe Mauer (.383) to Mitch Maier and Tony Pena, Jr. (.332)—you better be ready to manufacture runs.  

When you preach fundamentals, you have to practice them.

This is a perfect example of what is wrong with this Royals franchise; since the mid 1980s there has been a serious lack of commitment to direction.

When you are committed to pitching and believe in your bullpen—as both Hillman and Dayton Moore insist are the Royals strengths—you play some small ball.

You lay down the bunt with a guy that stands a staggering 5’9”, 180 and has five career home runs.

You play the percentages and let the 6’0”, 220 Miguel Olivo hit a fly ball to get a sure run.

I have been a Trey Hillman fan since his arrival in Kansas City, but this nonsense has to stop!