It has been awhile since I have written about some of the Wild and Wacky quotes from Pirates GM Neal Huntington, lovingly referred to as "Nealspeil", or not so lovingly as "NHB", but that doesn't mean that Neal doesn't keep churning them out.
When asked to comment on prized pitching prospect Jameson Taillon's recent start for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, this is what Neal had to say, as printed in both the Post-Gazette and Tribune Review:
“It was unnerving, as a GM, to watch a young pitcher with as high expectations as we have for Taillon pitch a make-or-break game against Team USA. But he handled himself well.”
Okay, let's parse that out a bit. Why exactly, do you suppose, Neal was "unnerved"? Because one of his young pitchers was actually, you know, pitching in an actual baseball game? Or was it because Taillon was not pitching under the watchful eyes of the Pirates developmental staff? Was it because he, Taillon, was stretched to four complete innings, when the Pirates felt he shouldn't pitch that many innings until, say, June 1? It almost sounds like Neal's concession that "he handled himself well" came reluctantly from his lips, as if he dreads the fact that by pitching well, Taillon might force the team's hand to accelerate his pace through the minors.
Hey, call me crazy, but if I was the GM, and one of my young stud prospects performed as well as Taillon just did on such a stage, I would be ecstatic. Not GM Neal, though. The whole thing just "unnerved" him.
Here's an idea for Neal to ponder. Scout, draft, and sign as many of these pitching prospects as you can, and then never let them pitch in an actual game. That way (a) they will never risk them being injured, (b) by not accumulating any major league service time, they will never qualify for arbitration and free agency, so the Pirates will have years of control over them forever, and (c) they will always remain a vital part of the "future" to which the NHR is forever building.
By the way, and before the Neal Defenders (NHD's?) pounce, I am not suggesting that Taillon is ready for the major leagues at this point in his career. At the very least, he is one year away from being ready for the big club. But for God's sake, Neal, why does a strong performance by an ace prospect in a highly leveraged (as they say today) situation "unnerve" you?
I don't get it.