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

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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.

Brewers sign Neftali Feliz

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 29: Neftali Feliz #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch during the eighth inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 29, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Pirates won the game 8-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Brewers have signed Neftali Feliz to a one-year, $5.35 million contract. There are some performance incentives in the deal that could push it to $6.85 million. Feliz will likely open the 2017 season as the Brewers’ closer.

The 28-year-old righty is coming off of an impressive season with the Pirates. His hits allowed per nine innings were WAY down and his WHIP dipped sharply as well, despite the fact that he walked a few more dudes. That was offset by a big spike in his strikeout rate: from 7.3/9IP in 2015 to 10.2 last year. A blemish: he missed the last month of the season after suffering a bout of arm soreness, though no structural problem was ever uncovered, he’ll likely be good to go next month.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.