Continuing our managerial candidate profiles, we now turn our attention to Trey Hillman. Trey Hillman follows the same type of path that led Terry Francona to becoming the Red Sox manager in 2004. Hillman has experience in player development as well as experience as a full-time manager. Hillman has been involved in baseball operations since 1987 when he was a scout for the Cleveland Indians. In 1989 he started managing minor league affiliates for the New York Yankees and did so for 13 years. During this run he won Manager of the Year 3 times and had 3 first place finishes. After managing the Yankees minor leaguers, Hillman went on to be the Director of Player Development for the Texas Rangers.
However, he missed coaching and decided to accept an offer to manage the Nippon Ham Fighters over in Japan. He led them to their first ever Japan Series Title and almost led them to another the next year. During his time there he was linked as a possible managerial candidate for the Oakland A’s. After that didn’t work out he was also linked to the New York Yankees before finally agreeing to manage the Kansas City Royals in 2008. Hillman is now the bench coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During his time in Kansas City, Hillman led the Royals to a 152-207 record before being let go during the 2010 season. His first year was very promising leading the club to a 75-87 record. However, he quickly fell out of favor as the team went 77-120 during the rest of his tenure. You can’t really blame Hillman for the Royals struggles; he didn’t really have all that much talent to work with. He had some struggles, but it’s a tough transition when it’s your first time managing a big league club. It’s a near certainty that it’s an experience that will help him in the long run.
Based off his history it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see Trey Hillman as one of the top candidates for the Red Sox managerial position. Hillman has had a lot of success at different levels. That’s not always easy to do. There’s a reason that he was highly touted coming over from Japan, one short stint with the Royals shouldn’t change that. Hillman is a very smart, no-nonsense type manager. While in Japan he had an incident with the team’s starting pitcher. In a bases loaded situation he decided to remove the pitcher from the game even though he had a chance at recording his 10th win. After the game the pitcher called out Hillman; the team responded immediately with a suspension and a fine. During his first spring training with the Royals he did a great job setting the tone by extending practices. The Royals had a very young team at the time and some of the players didn’t react well but Hillman didn’t budge. He wanted to send a message to the players that they were going to have to work their hardest to be able to play for him. After a spring training game in which the Royals made several base running mistakes, Hillman gathered the team around home plate and yelled at the team in full view of the public. He was holding them all accountable. Whether or not that’s the right way to handle things isn’t the issue. Obviously a stunt like that wouldn’t fly in Boston, but you have to admire his approach. You could say that this Red Sox team needs a manager like that now more than ever.