The Kansas City Royals, fresh off a seven-game losing streak, have fired Manager Trey Hillman.
While you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would say one negative thing about Hillman the man, you can find plenty of Royals' fans who were tired of Hillman the Manager.
At 12-23, the Royals are dead last in the AL Central. Thursday afternoon's win against the Indians finally got starter Zack Greinke his first win of the season, and it helped the team avoid being swept in two consecutive series.
Today's game also served as Hillman's swan song.
Notified this morning by General Manager Dayton Moore that he was being fired, Hillman was given the option to coach one last game with the Royals, an offer he couldn't refuse.
Unfortunately for Hillman, today's win couldn't save his job, nor should it have.
During the time that Hillman has been the Manager of the Royals, he has tried to get his players to play the game the right way. He attempted to reinforce to his players the importance of executing on the fundamentals, something that the team continues to struggle with.
Here are a few things that likely contributed to Hillman's firing today:
1. Hillman and his coaching staff's inability to turn former first-round pick Alex Gordon into a star player for this team. Gordon's approach at the plate, which wasn't an issue for him as an All-American at Nebraska, has been his Achilles heel since breaking into the majors. If Hillman could have gotten Gordon to develop a smarter approach at the plate, both might still be in Kansas City.
2. The handling of Gil Meche. Last summer, when Hillman visited the mound during a game where Meche appeared to hit a wall, he allowed Meche to talk him into staying in the game. That decision led to Meche developing a "dead arm" that he has never recovered from. Even this season, Hillman has refused to put an ineffective Meche in the bullpen, allowing him to stay in the rotation with an 8.24 ERA and 0-4 record.
3. He was "too nice". While you can't help but respect Hillman's professionalism, baseball is a game where a manager occasionally needs to tear into a player when he's not getting the job done. Hillman dealt with players behind closed doors, never called them out in the press, and rarely, if ever, benched a player for not doing his job. Hillman never cussed, nor did he ever seem to take a hardline with his players and their performance.
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