Pirates Notes: Huntington, Stark, Taillon

The Pirates fell below .500 when they lost to the Brewers last night, but that’s not why the team is making headlines today. Details surrounding some unusual player development practices have surfaced, generating surprise and criticism. Here are the details:

  • Pirates prospects spent this past weekend in Florida performing military drills directed by former Navy SEALS, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. General manager Neal Huntington and assistant GM Kyle Stark implemented the program, which started at 5 am daily and included running along the beach with a telephone pole, flipping truck tires, and diving into sand piles. Earlier in the year Stark emailed his players, encouraging them to “Dream and be creative like a Hippie. Have the discipline and perseverance of a Boy Scout. Be crazy and take risks like the Hells Angels.”
  • Kovacevic calls the Pirates' actions inexplicable and indefensible.
  • Players dreaded the activities and team officials feared them, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports. MLB executives expressed skepticism about the program’s effectiveness. "I didn't like it,” one person told Passan. “Nobody did. They don't know what they're doing."
  • Top prospect Jameson Taillon once suffered a non-serious knee injury during the program’s hand-to-hand combat component, Passan reports.
  • “Whispers are becoming louder” that Huntington’s job status isn’t completely secure, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. However, an ownership source told Heyman the Pirates’ upper management really seems to like manager Clint Hurdle.


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45 Comments on "Pirates Notes: Huntington, Stark, Taillon"


2 years 11 months ago

Hypothetically, if we were to go war, the Pirates organization will be one of our greatest threats? Of course, that begs the question; after the last 19 seasons, would we really want to rely on them to win us a war…?

indybucfan
2 years 11 months ago

At least we’ve won the war before, guess the brewers could serve, well the brew???

Let_My_Cameron_Go
2 years 11 months ago

“They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Sort of sums up the past twenty years of the Pirates franchise…

Mike Mark Sopp
2 years 11 months ago

Geez. Just when i thought the Pirates were heading in the right direction. Guessing Neal Huntington needs to get his resume together?

schellis
2 years 11 months ago

they are so going to be ready when baseball installs a obstacle course around the bases.

That’s right Tim, ever since baseball instituted the tire flip down the first base line hits have gone way down.

Karkat
2 years 11 months ago

ULTIMATE baseball. Welcome to the XLB

the_show
2 years 11 months ago

Looks like the Pirates will be looking for a new GM

johnsilver
2 years 11 months ago

They don’t like Huntington? it might have taken a few years for his rebuild through the draft philosophy to take hold to iron heads in the organization, but if they think Huntington has done a bad job, maybe they should look at the 15 years under previous stewardship and see misery and mismanagement, then give Neil a raise and say “Thanks”.

2 years 11 months ago

Just because so if Neil has a 1% upgrade from the last guy he gets a raise? Get a clue dude.

ima_robot_beepbeepbeep
2 years 11 months ago

Just another reason for Minor League free agents, International players, and June draftees to avoid the Pirates at all costs. What a disaster.

Karkat
2 years 11 months ago

Mark Appel is laughing right now.

Roger Wilco
2 years 11 months ago

It doesn’t really sound all that horrible to me. Except the hand-to-hand stuff…. or the rifle training if they’re doing that. Not really much point in those activities.

Slopeboy
2 years 11 months ago

The rifle training was restricted to the pitchers and catchers only… That was for ‘picking off’ base runners.

WeDontNeedToFinPracticeRANDY
2 years 11 months ago

The good ole Kenny Powers Thunder Dome workout…Necessary? No. But progressive?

davengmusic
2 years 11 months ago

I kind of like the military drill idea. Getting players mentally and physically tough will bode well for them in a long season.

That email is pretty atrocious, though. If his players have to do drills, Huntington needs to take a creative writing course at the local juco.

$1529282
2 years 11 months ago

The risk that comes along with those drills is ludicrous. There’s nothing to like about that. There are other ways to make your players mentally and physically tough. That program is one of the most short-sighted, irresponsible things I’ve ever heard of an organization doing.

And Huntington didn’t write the email Stark did.

davengmusic
2 years 11 months ago

So you’d be content with the status quo. That doesn’t seem like such a hot way to run a perennial loser like Pitt. What would you do to instill the same values as military drills that the Pirates organization hasn’t already tried?

Slopeboy
2 years 11 months ago

“What would you do to instill the same values as the military drills…?”
Replace the entire infield with SEAL TEAM 6.

Matt Grieve
2 years 11 months ago

Who cares if the minor league system has the “same values” if none of their prospects ever pan out. They have had high draft picks for decades and all they have to show for it is Andrew McCutchen

Lunchbox45
2 years 11 months ago

pretty sure this happens in other sports and its not that big of a deal.

2 years 11 months ago

How about they work on “baseball drills”… The Pirates have all the time in the world for the beach cause we’re usually the first ones there come October.

safari_punch
2 years 11 months ago

Sounds like some program Alex Anthopolous would put the Blue Jays prospects through based on some made up sabermetric stat from Baseball Prospectus.

Bucco Brigade
2 years 11 months ago

It is well documented that numerous other teams in baseball, as well as other sports do drills like these. It’s mainly done as a team building exercise. Only reason why there is a reaction to this is becasuse it is the Pirates.

Goat_Rider
2 years 11 months ago

How is this so bad? SEAL style isometric training focuses on power, flexibility and balance. These seem like good things for a professional athlete.

Colin Christopher
2 years 11 months ago

Agreed. It may be a little unorthodox, but I don’t really see what the big deal is about taking one weekend to try something different.

Goat_Rider
2 years 11 months ago

And if you read this article, the author says (paraphrase) “ask anyone one in the military and they will tell you what they do is very far off from sports”. BS. As a veteran and a person who played ball in college, those are the two most SIMILAR things I have ever done.

jacks100
2 years 11 months ago

Well Goat_Rider, when your top pitching prospect gets hurt because of the “program’s hand-to-hand combat component”… its bad.

christopher siciliano
2 years 11 months ago

Didn’t tiger woods get hurt the same way?

Tesseract
2 years 11 months ago

Had this article come out back in july it would have read “unorthodox player development practices put players on the board!!” They did the same kind of training last year and they have been doing it for the past few years. In my opinion is a different way to do things that could turn out interesting. We’ll see in the future. The article exaggerates the magnitude of the situation. No they do not get sprayed with high pressure hoses

cookmeister
2 years 11 months ago

I kind of like the military drills idea, at least i don’t mind it. I remember watching the high school Elite 11 competition (basically the top HS QB’s at a camp) and they had to do some of these things. Seemed to bring them together and create some mental toughness. Only thing that i worry about is making these kinds of things mandatory, with the risk of injury and all that in question.

Slopeboy
2 years 11 months ago

High School competition and the Pirates.There’s a bit of symmetry there.

Slopeboy
2 years 11 months ago

Would have preferred they did ninja training… This way they might be able to sneak up in the standings?

Guest
2 years 11 months ago

If I was a top prospect, Jameson Taillion type, I would’ve been AWOL for this absurdity. What would they have done – release him? If they would’ve imposed any penalty, I’m sure the union would’ve went to bat for him (even though he isn’t on the 40 man) being the training had no relevance for a baseball player.

Colin Christopher
2 years 11 months ago

The union doesn’t represent minor league players, so I seriously doubt they’d go to bat for one who refused to report to a team-mandated training session.

rainyperez
2 years 11 months ago

Seriously when I read what prospects went through I thought it could be an Onion article. But then…seriously? I can’t even…

Anyway what’s the Vegas line on who wins in a Pirates bench clearing fight now?

formerdraftpick
2 years 11 months ago

How can you not like Clint Hurdle?!? If you ever spent 5 minutes with the man, it would lead to 5 minutes in your life you would never forget.

2 years 11 months ago

i’d love to meet u sometime,finally meet the legend. he’s a likeable guy but he’s had one winning season as a manager,time to go…..