But as a Christian man, he had to, instead, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. And it was compelling him to Kansas City—miles and miles from Comfort Zone.
Your Gil Meche ERA update is 8.00.
Tonight's 15-1 meltdown caps a four game stretch in which the Royals have been outscored 41-8, dropping their record to 9-11. One week ago, the Royals were 8-5. That was a long time ago, back when Trey Hillman's leadership and attitude had transformed the Royals, a city, even the entire Midwest.
Has Trey Hillman sewed up manager of the year yet?
-Dom Amore, Hartford Courant
New Royals manager Trey Hillman appears to be having an effect, second-year third baseman Alex Gordon is producing, and young pitcher Zack Greinke has been eye-popping. Hillman brought a jarring change to the Royals this spring. If drills were not done right, they were done again. The diligence has paid off. According to several scouts, the most noteworthy aspect of the Royals' fast start was their crisp play. They did not toss away outs on the bases or give opponents extra outs.
-John Rawlings, The Sporting News
Hillman had the Royals running more this spring (sound familiar, Yankees fans?) in the hopes that they could manufacture more runs, and he'll motivate his players by being both energetic and approachable. In time, he'll make the Yankees regret that they never promoted him to their big-league coaching staff.
-Ken Davidoff, Newsday
He brought a jarring change to the Royals this spring. Drills ranging from situational defense to bunts were done with fervor. If the players did not get them right, they did the drills again and again. If Hillman saw a return to the sloppy habits from recent seasons, he pounced.
The diligence has paid off.
-Gerry Fraley, The Sporting News
(after two pages of Hillman=fundamentals God stuff)
He will not apologize for who he is, the methods he uses or what he expects from his team.
He will continue to stress fundamentals and respect of the game. And he will ask for a lot -- even now, he talks about preparing for a 181-game schedule, counting every postseason game possible -- and he will give a lot. In spring training, he was in the park regularly at 5 a.m. for a minimum 12-hour workday.
-John Donovan, SI.com
And the epic story by Posnanski, done in vignette style, that set the whole shooting match off. The fundamentals trope would be picked up by nearly everyone else, although the chair's bit was left behind, either as a sign of respect, or because it would be too obvious to rip off, or because it was too maudlin.
“Men,” he says, “pick up your own chairs and put them away.”
He watches them closely — it’s a Hillman test. He wants to see if any players are rolling their eyes, if any are grumbling, if any feel too important to pick up his own chair. This is a Trey Hillman moment, a small opportunity to remind everyone involved that the Royals are going to be a working-class team, a lunch-bucket kind of a team, a nobody’s-too-big-to-bunt-or-move-over-the-runner kind of team. The players pick up their chairs, and Hillman smiles. This is exactly the kind of team he wants.
Every manager talks about baseball fundamentals, but they are the lifeblood of Trey Hillman’s feelings about baseball. He may or may not be engaged by a conversation about Ryan Howard’s home-run power or which pitcher has the best stuff in the American League. But if you start talking about how a team should play the double steal with two outs, he will talk to you for hours about that.
A few years later, he went to manage in Japan. He tried to make things easier for the players — he cleaned up their locker room as mentioned, he shortened their workouts, he tried to joke with them and take some pressure off them. The team played better. The problem was Hillman was not really getting through. The Japanese players wanted a manager who would work them, challenge them, inspire them. So he changed, and he mixed in a little extra toughness, and they won the Japan Series.
The only fundamentals that matter are scoring runs and preventing them, and the Royals haven't been very good at the former for this entire season, and the latter for the last week.
If you look at the Royals a different way, putting aside our optimism and the heady days of the hot start, you still see the same problems: the offense isn't good at anything, not even hitting for average, which is it's stated goal, Hillman's in-game strategies have been brutal, and the pitching staff is built around three guys with middling K-rates (Meche, Banny, Greinke) who will always be prone to giving up too many home runs. The Royals have a nice bullpen, which they under-utilize, and they don't especially play good defense. Other than that, it's wonderful.
Sorry, this post was originally longer, but I lost portions of it last night when RR crashed.