Former Royals manager Trey Hillman was on WHB radio in Kansas City over the weekend talking about the end of his tenure with the Royals. I thought Hillman’s words, upon being asked how it felt to manage his last game despite knowing he had already been fired, were rather sweet and poignant:
The thing that kept clicking in my mind was the appreciation that I
had for the opportunity in the first place, looking around the stadium,
the appreciation for the big league atmosphere. It was a perfect day
for it to be kid’s day out there quite frankly. I mean there is a
little irony there because having grown up in Arlington, Texas, and
having an opportunity to grow up in a major league ballpark and still at
forty-seven years old a major league manager and remembering the
excitement of being at a ballpark and how oblivious I was as a kid on
most days I was competitive and most days it was the enjoyment of being
at the ballpark. I didn’t really care whether our team won or not. I
was there to support them whether they won or they lost. It was an
appreciation that I have gotten to do what I have done for the last
twenty years in little, bitty A-ball towns, and AA venues and AAA across
the ocean in Japan and certainly here in Kansas City.
Hillman’s words put me in mind of a post from River Ave. Blues’ Benjamin Kabak last month, in which he introduced the concept of “Zen Baseball.” I don’t know that I’d recommend that the manager of a Major League baseball team approach the game from such a mindset, but it’s kind of nice that Hillman got to go out with the pleasant feeling of a (relatively) stress-free day at the park as oppposed to a quick meeting in the GMs office and a quick exit out the back door.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.
Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.
“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”
The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).
Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.
Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.
In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.
The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:
Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.
Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.
Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.
He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.