Who fired Trey Hillman, and what does it mean for the Royals?


The dreaded vote of confidence. Trey Hillman got it just this past Monday when his GM, Dayton Moore, said this:

I think Trey’s done a terrific job . . . Trey is a tremendous leader. Somebody who is very consistent with who is he is day in and day out.
He’s exactly what our organization needs at this point in time.

I suppose technically speaking Monday was a different point in time than yesterday morning, so maybe things radically changed in Dayton Moore’s mind in the interim. I just kind of doubt it, though.  Something else is going on. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star says this was Moore’s decision, but really, it sounds to me like this was simply a matter of Moore being ordered to fire Hillman by the team’s owner, David Glass.

But let’s assume for a moment that Mellinger is right, and Moore did make the ultimate decision to fire Hillman. If so, what does that say about him as a general manager that his mind was changed so quickly and radically? That his words and deeds seem to have such a disconnect?  If his take on such important matters changes like the breeze, what confidence can Royals’ fans have in the players Moore drafts or the people he hires? Maybe they’re great on Monday but terrible by the end of the week too.

Alternatively, if I’m right and it was really David Glass who demanded that Hillman go, what does it say about Moore’s job security that he was allowed to put himself so far out there in defense of his manager, only to have the rug pulled out by ownership three days later?  If the owner isn’t going to let the GM make the call on these things, how much longer can we expect the GM to keep his own job?

To be honest, I kind of hope Glass is the one making the moves here, with all of the implications that entails. For starters, Hillman needed to be fired, no matter who did it.  Sure, he had little to work with in Kansas City,
but he likewise did
little to suggest that he would have been the right guy for the job if
he had.  He showed no ability to connect with his players — famously
alienating them during his first spring training game when he berated
them on the field in front of the fans and everyone — and perplexing
everyone else. He also very likely burned out Gil Meche’s arm and had a
habit of penciling in lineups that, for all of their creativity, didn’t
seem to have winning baseball games as their top priority.  I was cautiously optimistic about his chances when he was hired, but events proved that he just wasn’t the right guy for the job.

Second, if this all serves as a harbinger for Dayton Moore’s departure, all the better. Moore is a nice man. He was a fine assistant in Atlanta. He’s done nothing, however, to make the Royals better, and in many ways they’re worse off now than when he took over from previous GM Allard Baird.  Zack Greinke and Billy Butler are Baird guys. They’re also just about the only two decent players on the team. Everyone else is more or less a Moore product, and the team is presently older, more expensive and above all worse than it was just three years ago.

The ideal situation for this Royals team is for Ned Yost to play out the string as manager this year, while David Glass quietly and deliberately searches for a new general manager to take over after the season (ideally one could take over before the draft, but it’s too late for that now).  At that point Yost is thanked for his service and given a roving coaching job or a nice assistant to the whoever position, and the new GM can pick his own manager.

Yes, that was kind of what happened when Moore and Hillman were hired, and no, I don’t have a ton of confidence that Glass is capable of choosing the right guy for the GM’s chair, but there’s really no hope for this team unless they start all over again. Maybe Hillman’s firing — maybe at Glass’ direction — is evidence that process is getting underway.

Video: Jonathan Lucroy who? Roberto Perez homers twice in World Series opener for the Indians

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits a three-run home run during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Back in July, then-Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy vetoed a trade that would have sent him to the Indians, helping the club make a significant upgrade behind the plate after losing Yan Gomes to an injury. At the time, Roberto Perez had only played in 11 games, batting .043. Gomes had hit .165 before his injury, and Chris Gimenez batted .202 over 42 games. It was not much of a logical leap to think the Indians would eventually falter due to a lack of production at the catching position.

But here the Indians are in the World Series facing the Cubs. In Game 1 on Tuesday night, Perez — who finished the season with a .183 average and three home runs in 184 plate appearances — drilled a pair of home runs, accounting for four of the six runs the Indians would score in a shutout win over the Cubs.

Perez’s first blast was a solo that that just cleared the left field fence at Progressive Field, coming on an 0-1 fastball from starter Jon Lester. That padded the Indians’ lead to 3-0.

The second homer put the game away, as he punished reliever Hector Rondon for hanging a 2-2 slider with two runners on base, slugging this one enough to clear the left field fence by plenty. That doubled the Indians’ lead to 6-0, the score by which they would eventually win.

Perez is the first catcher to homer twice in a World Series game since Gary Carter did it for the Mets against the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Perez is the first Indian to homer twice in the same playoff game since Jim Thome in the 1999 ALDS against the Red Sox.

Corey Kluber dazzles as Indians blank Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 of the World Series

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

From the moment Kris Bryant struck out looking for the second out of the first inning in Game 1 of the World Series, the Cubs knew Indians starter Corey Kluber brought his A-game and that they were in for a long night. Bryant was Kluber’s second strikeout victim in as many batters and he would go on to strike out eight batters through the first three innings, setting a World Series record.

The Indians, meanwhile, gave Kluber an early cushion, scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning. Francisco Lindor hit a two-out single, then stole second base against starter Jon Lester. Lester proceeded to walk Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana to load the bases. Jose Ramirez brought one run home with an infield single to the left of the pitcher’s mound. The lefty then hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch to force in another run, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.

The Indians scored one more run in the fourth inning when catcher Roberto Perez snuck a solo home run over the fence in left field, victimizing Lester yet again.

The Cubs struggled to get any kind of momentum going, wasting a leadoff double by Ben Zobrist in the second inning and a two-out double by Kyle Schwarber in the fourth. Through six innings, Kluber yielded only three hits with zero walks and nine strikeouts. He took the mound to start the seventh but departed after Zobrist led off with a single to left field.

Reliever and ALCS MVP Andrew Miller entered the game, but the Cubs seemed to have a better time against him. Schwarber drew a walk and Javier Baez singled to left, loading the bases. At the very least, it seemed, Miller would give up at least one run, if not two. The average team scored two runs with the bases loaded and no outs, according to Baseball Prospectus. But Miller showed why he was named the MVP of the ALCS, getting Willson Contreras to fly out to shallow center. Schwarber thought the ball would drop, so he was way off the second base bag, but center fielder Rajai Davis didn’t notice and fired home to ensure a run didn’t score. Despite the mistake, Miller rebounded by striking out Addison Russell and David Ross to escape the inning with no damage done

Miller returned to the mound for the eighth inning for his second inning of work. After getting Dexter Fowler to fly out, he walked Bryant. Miller got Anthony Rizzo to fly out to shallow center, but Zobrist singled to center to put runners on first and third with two outs. On his 46th pitch of the night, Miller struck out Schwarber to escape the inning.

Perez decided to double the Indians’ lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the eighth. Cubs reliever Justin Grimm walked Guyer and allowed a single to Lonnie Chisenhall, forcing manager Joe Maddon to replace him with Hector Rondon. Rondon hung a 2-2 slider and Perez crushed it, this time clearing the fence by plenty for a three-run homer. He’s the first catcher with two homers in a World Series game since Gary Carter in 1986.

Closer Cody Allen, who thought he was going to be used in a save situation, took over in the top of the ninth. After striking out Baez, Contreras doubled to right field. Allen then struck out Russell as well as pinch-hitter Miguel Montero to end the game in a 6-0 victory for the Indians.

Game 2 of the World Series will start an hour earlier than usual on Wednesday due to forecasted inclement weather late at night. Jake Arrieta will make the start for the Cubs opposite the Indians’ Trevor Bauer.