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.

Marc Anthony gets into the agent business, signs Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

There is a somewhat mixed history of entertainers and musicians getting into the sports agent business. Sometimes it works out (Jay-Z has done OK). Sometimes it doesn’t (Master P says “Hi”).

Add another one to the list. A pretty big one. Ken Rosenthal reports that Marc Anthony’s Magnus Media is getting into sports. And the company, Magnus Sports, just signed a new client: Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. From Rosenthal:

The company said in a news release that it will team with a baseball agency, Praver Shapiro Sports Management — and that the group’s first major client will be Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Praver Shapiro represents a number of Latin players, including Marlinsshortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler, Reds pitcherRaisel Iglesias and free-agent third baseman Juan Uribe.

Chapman is on the trading block right now but 2016 is his walk year, and barring injury he’ll due for perhaps the biggest payday a closer has ever seen. Whether he’ll actually get it depends on the negotiating skills of the biggest salsa artist the world has ever seen.

Gentlemen: you have a year to get some song title pun/headlines ready.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.