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Trey Hillman is Killing the Kansas City Royals Softly

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Trey Hillman is Killing the Kansas City Royals Softly
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

For those not familiar with Trey Hillman's in-game management genius, let me lay it out for you in bullet points:

  • Gil Meche threw 128 pitches last night. Fortunately for Meche, he got the last batter he faced (David Murphy) on one pitch. Yes, with two down and runners at second and third, Hillman let a gased Meche face David Murphy. Moreover, Meche struggled with his control in the eighth, walking the first two batters. The offense is so egregious that it bears restating; having walked seven, and two in that inning, Hillman let Meche face another batter with a pitch count that had already hit 127.
  • SABRTrey pinch-hit for first baseman Kila Ka'aihue, with Jose Guillen, in the top of the seventh inning of a tie game. Nevermind that the differences in Ka'aihue's career platoon splits in the minors were nominal (.275/.398/.423 vs. LHP, .266/.395/.486 vs. RHP). Nevermind that there are multiple holes lower in the lineup than the rookie who, in his first start since being recalled from Omaha, was batting clean-up.
  • In the bottom of the seventh, Hillman left Guillen in the game, placing him in left field and shifting Mitch Maier to first base. For those not in the know, and those who weren't watching the first six innings of the game, Maier is clearly Kansas City's best defensive outfielder. He had two stellar plays in center on the night. SABRTrey, who is historically averse to shifting players from one position to another during a game, put a range-less designated hitter in right field, shifted the player the organization decided didn't have enough range to play center in 2009 to that very position, and moved their very good center fielder to first base. Huh?
  • "What could go wrong now?" you might be ask. Well in the eighth inning of a tie-game, with two outs and runners on the corner, the ball is hit to right. Were a right fielder with any range whatsoever (read: David DeJesus) sitting there, a disaster is averted. Instead, the ball falls because a player who should never be on the field is standing in right. Now, yes, Jose got hosed on the call at third, and his throw was ridiculous, but the run still scores if Josh Hamilton is correctly called out at third and Meche's pitch count is only spared by one. The go-ahead run can be directly attributed to Trey Hillman's attempt to "manage" the team.
  • Defensive wizard Chris Getz booted a grounder at second in the eighth. I'm not asserting that one play is a large enough sample size to evaluate a player defensively, but Getz has hardly looked like a world beater.
  • The day after Yuniesky Betancourt dropped a two-out pop fly in shallow center, leading to an unearned run, the fined shortstop was still starting at the position.
  • The last two bullet points also show that Mike Aviles was not in the starting lineup on Saturday. Remember when Trey Hillman said that Aviles was their "most fundamentally sound infielder?" That sounds like a guy who should be in the game in a tight spot.

I would like to touch on the abuse of Gil Meche. It was great to see him pull things together after a rough first two innings. But we all know what 132 means when someone throws out those number in a conversation about Gil Meche. Since that historic start, Meche has had an 8.37 ERA. Opposing batters have hit .328/.423/.593 off Meche since June 21st of last year. In short, since Hillman effectively ruined Gil Meche last June, Meche has allowed all opposing hitters to put up Pujolsian numbers.

Having not learned his lesson at all, Hillman rode Meche's arm to 128 pitches, and it could have easily been more. Yes, Meche clearly muttered, "F*** me," as Hillman walked up to the mound in the eighth. But it is not Hillman's job to just listen to his starter and let him throw nearly 130 pitches in what has been the only encouraging start for the $11 Million Man this season. Listening to his former star pitcher is what got the Royals here in the first place.

While the bullpen has not been Trey Hillman's fault, games like this seem to reinforce the fact that Trey Hillman is best suited for something other than managing in Kansas City.

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