FanPost

Neil Walker And Pedro Alvarez: A Tale Of Two Third Basemen

Recently, I wrote about accountability - specifically, the apparent lack of it - and how management doesn't deserve all the blame it gets for the way it handles its players.

One of the scenarios I mentioned involved Neil Walker being 'mishandled' by Neal Huntington. I didn't dive too much into it earlier, but I want to devote a little more time to the claim that this can somehow be held against Huntington. The x-factor here was the presence of Pedro Alvarez.

Conventional wisdom states that super-prospects should never be blocked by players in the major leagues. Call it the 'Talent Theorem'. Buster Posey comes to mind here, since he found time to play at first base while Aubrey Huff moved to right field. A corollary to the Talent Theorem: Super-prospects should never be blocked, period.

Neil Walker used to play third base. Pedro Alvarez, a super-prospect in the Pirates organization, also played third base. Pedro Alvarez was about to enter AAA. Neil Walker was about to enter his second year in AAA. One was emerging as a potential star, while the other was losing his prospect status.

Referring back to the Talent Theorem, two possible scenarios arose: keep Walker as a third baseman only but relegate him to the bench where he had no chance of breaking out, or play him everywhere on the field so he could still play every day and also learn new positions on the fly. Huntington ultimately decided on the latter.

Due to still receiving everyday playing time and a new approach at the plate, Walker finally broke out, and due to circumstances beyond his control, he became the starting second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, if he hadn't moved to the role of super-utilityman and stayed at third base, he would not have started receiving regular playing time until the day Alvarez was called up. Second base would still have been a glaring hole, Walker might not have had the success he had to begin the season, and there would have been one more question to answer going into the 2011 season.

Alvarez did what he normally does: start out slow, get hot as the season went on, and just plain mash the ball by the end of the year, making him a player to watch for the 2011 season.

This apparent 'poor recognition of talent' by Huntington caused Neil Walker to turn into a starting second baseman, as opposed to staying a AAA third baseman.

If this is what people consider to be a mistake, I'll be happy to see what happens if Charlie Morton finally does break out next year:

"How dare Huntington demote Morton to AAA last year. He should recognize talent when he sees it!"

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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