The Pittsburgh Pirates aren't taking Dennis Eckersley's criticisms lightly.
Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds told reporters he "couldn't give any less of a crap" about Eckersley's comments after the Hall of Famer closer called the Pittsburgh lineup "a hodgepodge of nothingness" during a broadcast Tuesday night.
“You talk about a no-name lineup. There’s no team like this,” said Eckersley, who serves as a commentator for Boston Red Sox games. “I'd love to see some of the service time. Add it all up, it's not much. ... This is a hodgepodge of nothingness. It’s ridiculous. It really is. Pathetic."
Eckersley's comments seemed more of a dig at the Pirates organization than the players themselves. The Pirates rank 28th in payroll and have only three players on their roster (Reynolds, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Roberto Perez) who are making more than $2 million this season. Reynolds in only one of those three players currently on the roster, with Hayes and Perez both on the injured list.
Criticism of Pirates management's complete lack of desire to field a winning product is anything but new. The city of Pittsburgh has been in a near-revolt over owner Robert Nutting's penny-pinching for years, giving him the nickname "Bottom-Line Bob." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board wrote an article calling on Nutting to sell the team.
That's almost unheard of in sports.
So while Pirates players are more than used to criticism of the organization, Eckersley's tone was unfortunate. Rather than rightfully calling out the Pirates organization, it seemed like he was taking aim at players who are simply doing their best in a bad situation. Eckersley is also not a regular member of the media; he's a decorated former closer who has been in a clubhouse and should have known how players in the dugout would take his comments.
"We're in a fraternity, right? The MLBPA. We're a group of a certain, select amount of people. We're told to back up everyone from Day 1. We're a team. We're a collective unit. He's in the Hall of Fame," Pirates pitcher Wil Crowe told reporters.
"He's one of us. It's just surprising that a guy of his stature — where he's from, what he knows goes on in the game — to be one of even fewer than just in the PA, kind of come after us, was kind of crazy. think it was kind of crappy and bush league."
Eckersley will be back in the broadcast Wednesday night for another Pirates-Red Sox matchup, so we'll have to see if he responds to the pushback.