Pittsburgh Pirates: Lasting Legacies and the Outcast Life
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I feel like that in the three(ish) years I've been writing, I've been a complete babyface. Much like Hulk Hogan for most of his career, he was the fan favorite, clean, and had integrity. One day Hogan turned one of the biggest heel turns anyone could do and became a "bad guy." Now I don't know if what I'm about to say qualifies as that big of a heel turn, but BOY is yinzer nation going to crucify me.
I'll stop beating around the bush and come out and say it! Neal Huntington didn't leave us in a terribly bad situation like most people think he did. Much like most people in life, you will be remembered for either the last thing you do or the worst thing you have done. I think we can all agree that the worst thing Huntington did was the Archer trade, or at least it's the biggest thing that sticks in your memory bank. From then on Huntington became a pariah to almost everyone in Pittsburgh.
That trade, in particular, sent Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz to Tampa in July 2018. If we are all honest with ourselves, a lot of people were acting with Glasnow in Pittsburgh the way we treat Mitch Keller now. Was it a good trade? No, absolutely not, but I'm a big believer in lasting legacies, and to me, Huntington's legacy lies in the 2019 draft more so than that trade.
Now that you're done cursing me to the heavens, let's take a look at this 2019 draft and what would ultimately end up being Huntington's last draft as the Pirates GM. The year 2019 was a year in which the Pirates got a lot of top-end talent that we see making waves and pushing to get noticed in 2021. Some of those names include Quinn Priester, Matt Fraizer, J.C Flowers, Blake Sabol, Jase Bowen, Aaron Shakelford, Eli Wilson, Jasiah Dixon, and a few other names.
Of course, you can't have all of them succeed, but the names that I have mentioned have put themselves in a position to where you can start to think maybe these guys can be the outliers. The typical yinzer reading this will say something to the effect of "yeah, but they'll trade 'em OUTTA TAHN when it's time to pay up!" All of this might be true, but when you look at this draft and see the potential from top to bottom, you may get excited, and you know what, that's ok.
It's ok to get excited about Quinn Priester's development and his "ace" potential. It's ok to get excited about Matt Fraizer's .333/.428/.538 slash line so far this year. It's ok to get excited about J.C Flowers' 2.91 xFIP. I know this is getting redundant but do you see my point?! It all ties back to Neal Huntington and his "bad" GM skills in the acquisition on kids who could lead this Pirates team out of the darkness.
I'm a firm believer in the thought that Neal did what he could do. When you're part of a small market team, and your budget isn't on the Yankees or Red Sox proportions, you have to learn how to be smart, build through the draft, have an excellent international scouting department, and develop from there.
The pieces are all in front of us again, and yes, I think the new sheriff in town will do much more than Huntington will ever do, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Huntington started the process to a stacked minor league system, and Cherington made it even better. I'll go prepare now for the whipping I'll take on Twitter and other social media sites now.