As Jon passed along earlier, Trey Hillman was fired as manager of the Royals and replaced by former Brewers manager Ned Yost. Fans and media have called for the move for a while now, and the Royals 11-23 start certainly warranted the move, especially after a dismal first two years under Hillman. The timing – announcing the change after the Royals win this afternoon – was odd, but I suppose there’s no right time to announce such a thing.
I’m not going to get too deep into analysis, but I agree that Hillman needed to go.
In the 2008 edition of Baseball Prospectus, they deemed Hillman “an excellent choice” suggesting that his success in Japan and flexibility with different styles of teams would allow him to transition to major league baseball. Following a 75-87 season in 2008, they applauded his “pragmatism” in creating solid roles for the bullpen and an avoidance of the intentional walk.
No it’s not his fault entirely. Hillman may wear the uniform, but he doesn’t step up to bat or toe the rubber. But he’s also made enough odd decisions that worked to the detriment of the team and their chances to win ballgames – the defensive merry-go-round that saw Mitch Maier at first base, the Alex Gordon pinch-running head scratcher against Boston, the occasional disappearance of Joakim Soria, the employment of Dave Owen – that he had to go. His damaging use of Gil Meche is another mark against him.
To hear Dayton Moore and the players talk about him, Trey Hillman seems to be a good man, and I’m sure that’s true. But he’s not a good manager, and his 207 losses in barely over two years at the helm attest to that.
I get the impression that the firing came from the Glass family, as recent statements from Dayton Moore were supportive and optimistic. That being said, hardly any manager would have won with this team. The talent just isn’t there yet. But at 12-23, I can’t see how anyone could do worse for the rest of the season.
Ned Yost takes over after amassing an overall managerial record of 457-502 in six years for Milwaukee (166-146 in his last two years there). Is he the answer? Probably not. He’s won before, but you’ll remember that with the Brewers contending for a playoff spot with 12 games to go in 2008, Yost was fired after a losing skid and supposedly losing the clubhouse. Rather inauspicious circumstances to me. There’s also a nice breakdown by Baseball Prospectus that details Yost’s mismanagement of the bullpen down the stretch.
Not being a Brewers fan and not seeing many of their games, I don’t know Yost’s style, but I’ve heard he’s not that different from Hillman. So that’s fun. Jason Kendall played for Yost in Milwaukee in 2008, appearing in 151 games, so Brayan Pena should stay comfortable riding the pine unless injury necessitates otherwise. I’m not sure if he’ll juggle the lineup at all or insert Kila Ka’aihue into the lineup more than Hillman had to this point. I also don’t expect Yost to remain manager after this season, unless he magically turns things around somehow. Knowing the Royals, I wouldn’t put it past them, though.