Huge fan of Joe Posnanski and his work. Here's what he had to say of the Hillman firing:
The line of thinking was that he could bring home some of the discipline and emphasis on fundamentals that defines Japanese baseball. ...
I watched Hillman manage in the Japan Series -- Japan's World Series -- and I was impressed. His Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were a decidedly mediocre team (they finished last in runs scored that year) but they were so disciplined and together and had such good fielding and such good pitching (featuring worldwide sensation Yu Darvish) that they went to the Series anyway. They lost decisively -- the final game was a perfect game -- but I saw what the Royals saw.
Wonder if he'd make a comeback to Japan, Bobby Valentine style. Don't know if the Fighters would hire him back, although if they finish in dead last, who is to say they wouldn't see that as an opportunity to bring back one of their more popular and successful managers.
I actually think and interesting fit for Hillman would be the Yakult Swallows. Shigeru Takada is in the final year of his contract. The Swallows are still fairly young and like the Fighters, they're team is more about small ball and pitching than it is about offense. And having a foreign manager for one of the metropolitan teams in the Tokyo area might help bring in a new fan base.
Unfortunately, it probably won't happen. The way I see it, the suits will probably look at two things (regardless of how incorrect the cause-effect correlation is):
- how the Marines turned their season around the year after Bobby left.
- how the Eagles have gone from a second place team to a middle of the pack or lower team after hiring a foreign manager.
...and decide that hiring a foreign manager is the wrong thing to do.
I can still dream though.