At some point this week, the Houston Astros will announce A.J. Hinch's first coaching staff. Multiple reports suggest that his new bench coach will be former Royals manager Trey Hillman.
On the surface, it looks like another curious decision. A bad team hires a failed manager with little experience and then saddles him with an equally failed bench coach. But, for the same reasons that Hinch made sense for this front office, Hillman does too.
Hillman brings an experience in the game that Hinch may lack. Though Hinch has limited managerial experience, Hillman has a wealth of it. He's won minor league championship. He's won Nippon League championships. He's managed in the majors and been a bench coach, too. He's served as a scout and helped in in player development with the Yankees last season.
He checks off a lot of the same boxes, in other words, that Hinch does. He just brings more time doing those jobs.
Read what Joe Posnanski wrote about Hillman back in 2010, when Hillman was fired by the Royals. Poz is one of the best in the business and he spent plenty of time around Hillman. His insights are also interesting when read in the context of Houston's struggles under Bo Porter.
What Posnanski described as Hillman's downfall in KC could have been written just the same about Bo Porter. The only difference is that Porter had major league coaching experience. He still lost the clubhouse (according to some) and had problems because of the losing (according to some).
Like Hinch, Hillman has already experienced failure, having been fired from two big-league jobs now. He's seen how three different big league organizations operate. He should be able to bring all that perspective to this job, to be comfortable in his own skin and to let all the things that made him successful before carry him.
Hillman will work hard. Hopefully, he'll also help the Astros be like his Japanese teams, disciplined and sound with good baserunning and good defense.
His hiring could show that the Astros learned something from Bo Porter's tenure and how that broke down.