Well, this isn’t getting any less ugly, is it? Bill Shaikin and Jon Heyman each reported that the Dodgers have fired bench coach Trey Hillman, which is not a big surprise at all; I suggested as much would happen yesterday and heard that might happen for much longer. And I can’t really argue with it; Hillman’s role as a bench coach is to advise his manager in such things as in-game strategy, which we all agree was Mattingly’s weak point, and Hillman was generally hated by smart people when he was the manager in Kansas City.
Except… Hillman (and scout Wade Taylor, Mattingly’s former Yankee teammate who was also let go) are considered among Mattingly’s closest friends, report both Heyman and Molly Knight. And Shaikin adds that when Hillman was informed of the move, it was Ned Colletti delivering the news, without any involvement from Mattingly.
And so we’re left to wonder… just what in the hell is going on here? This is some straight-up McCourt-era chicanery in terms of public relations blunders, something this ownership group was supposed to be light years beyond. The fact that this is still not resolved — forget “still”, really, the fact that yesterday’s press conference was ever even allowed to happen with this lingering — is absurd.
You can read this in one of two ways — either swallowing a team-selected bench coach is a condition of any Mattingly extension, or firing some of his best friends is designed to put pressure on him to leave rather than have them fire him.
Either way, it’s ugly, and just not at all appropriate for a team that just came within two games of the World Series. If this isn’t resolved one way or another — and at this point, I don’t even care so much if he stays or goes than just that a decision is made — by the end of the day, this team has gone completely off the rails. And that’s not at all what I expected to be writing a mere three days ago.