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Being The Guy vs Being A Guy

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Pittsburgh Pirates
Is it better to be a big Pirate or a small Yankee? Jameson Taillon’s about to find out.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

In the wake of the (not entirely unexpected) Jameson Taillon trade on Sunday morning, which came on the heels of the January 18th Joe Musgrove trade, I found it telling that the two pitchers who were expected to be the Pirates’ one-two punch on the starting rotation were now delegated to probable fifth starters on their new teams.

Musgrove, as has been bandied around on social media, said a lovely goodbye to the Steel City on the way to the Padres:

Taillon’s response so far, however, has been a bit different. In an interview with the New York Post, he had this to say:

“I was drafted in a position where a lot was expected of me and to this point, I never felt like I got to show it in Pittsburgh,’’ Taillon said on a Zoom call Monday, a day after the Yankees acquired the right-hander from the Pirates in exchange for four prospects.

“But on the flip side, I feel like I’m at a point where I’m ready to prove that promise and contribute to a winning team.”

Then there was this:

“Overnight, I went from a rebuilding organization to a team like the Yankees, where I’m stepping in and the only thing they care about is to win,’’ Taillon said. “That’s kind of lit a fire under me.’’

Obviously, Musgrove and Taillon’s tenures with the Bucs were different. Taillon spent the entirety of his professional career in the Pirates organization, while the Pirates were the third stop on Musgrove’s pro journey. Although Musgrove publicly expressed happiness about being traded to his hometown team, which is sending major contender shots across MLB’s bow these days, he said nothing negative about the Bucs other than he expected to be traded.

Taillon’s remarks seem to come from a more personal place, basically “you drafted me to be The Guy, but you never actually allowed me to be The Guy.”

No, JT. Your arm and your testicles didn’t allow you to be The Guy. That’s not your fault. You’re not the first pitcher to have terrible luck with your health, and you won’t be the last.

I’m not saying that Taillon doesn’t have the right to be upset, either. Starting pitchers are cocky by nature, and a hit to the ego tends to hurt. However, I think that Ben Cherington may have acknowledged both Taillon’s and Musgrove’s talents by virtue of the teams to which he sent them—teams that are, unlike the current Pirates, in the mix to go far into the 2021 postseason.

It’s not a secret that the Pirates aren’t good, and aren’t expected to be good for a while. Musgrove already has a World Series ring from his time with the Astros. Taillon has never known what it’s like to be with a winning team. He’ll probably learn now.

Just not as The Guy.