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He may or may not have a point
Yesterday former Pittsburgh Pirate second baseman, Neil Walker had some thoughts about his hometown team. He criticized the team for their lack of a big move during their playoff years. Walker said,
“(The team was) a few pieces away from being a legitimate contender. But that wasn’t the direction they felt was necessary to go. We felt internally we had the pieces to go where we needed to go. But sometimes that extra starter, sometimes that extra big bat in the middle of the lineup could make a big difference.
“Not that that was a big difference because you can’t really quantify that. At the end of the day, they are going to make decisions up top, and we have to go with what we have.”
“You can go round and round on what could have happened and what should have happened. At the end of the day, we didn’t play well enough in ’13, ’14, ’15 to reach our goals. We played about as well as we could.”
A popular former player criticizing management, this shouldn’t cause much of a reaction around town! I don’t think Neil Walker is wrong by any means. Mostly because it is his opinion. I am sure when the team was in the middle of battling the Cubs and the Cardinals and those teams made moves to load up for the stretch run and the Pirates didn’t, it was likely frustrating.
The most common rebuttal to Walker is pointing out his postseason struggles but I am not going to do that. I am sure no one is more frustrated about Walker’s noted playoff disappointments than Walker himself. I will say this, the two topics aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s accurate that the Pirates could have used some timely hits from Walker, it’s also true the team should have acquired an impact player for the stretch runs of 2013-2015. Both of these things can be true.
People that loathe Pirates management will jump on Walker’s comments and use them every chance they can, while management loyalists (or apologist, if you prefer) will cite Walker’s lack of postseason production. I think both of these camps are correct. If Neil Walker is better in 2013, that team likely beats the Cardinals and moves onto the NLCS. However, we cannot live in the what-if. All we can do is watch the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates and wish Neil Walker all the best with the Yankees. Nothing can take away the magical run Walker and the Pirates shared from 2013-2015 but that time is over. The future is now.
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