Buddy Bell resigned his job as Royals manager at the end of the season to spend more time with his family, then promptly took a minor-league job with the White Sox. Given their last-place finish, it’s not much of a loss.
They named a replacement today.His name is Trey Hillman. I know little about him, except that he managed in the Yankees system and he turned around a poor team in Japan. He’s won everywhere he’s been.
I see this as a good thing, since Buddy Bell hasn’t won anywhere he’s been. And Hillman has experience as a turnaround artist, which is what the Royals need.
The best Royals managers (Dick Howser, Whitey Herzog) had big-league experience, which is a knock on Hillman, but neither was what you could call distinguished. Herzog was nobody before coming to KC, but then the Royals went on to have several of their best seasons under him. Howser won a championship with the Yankees but didn’t bring home the World Series title that Steinbrenner wanted, so he axed him. The Royals hired him, and they never finished lower than second place with him at the helm.
In this ESPN piece about Tillman, he says all the right things: Work ethic, develop in-house talent, pay attention to the team atmosphere and adjust when you feel it drop.
If he does half those things, I know he’ll do better than Buddy Bell did with his all-veterans-all-the-time approach.