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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

Pirates player calls out Dennis Eckersley over critical comments

Dennis Eckersley smiling

Sep 21, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Retired Oakland Athletics pitcher Dennis Eckersley smiles at the crowd before the game against the Texas Rangers at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley’s critical comments about the Pittsburgh Pirates did not go down well with at least one member of the team.

Pirates pitcher Wil Crowe responded after Eckersley said on Tuesday’s NESN broadcast that the Pittsburgh roster was “ridiculous” and a “hodgepodge of nothingness.” Crowe called Eckersley’s comments “crappy and bush league” and questioned why a former player of Eckersley’s stature was coming after them.

“What he said was kind of crappy and kind of sh—y,” Crowe added. “I think a lot of guys are gonna take it and let it fuel us and see what happens. … I know we haven’t climbed that hill completely, but we’re on our f—ing way.”

Crowe seems to be taking the criticism personally, which is at least somewhat understandable. Eckersley is, after all, essentially calling the players nobodies. However, Eckersley’s original comments seemed to be aimed more at Pirates management than at the players themselves. The organization has traditionally been reluctant to spend on free agents and is reliant on developing prospects, and the players that do develop are often traded away before they become expensive and leave as free agents.

The Pirates are very much toward the bottom of one of their rebuild cycles right now, and most of the team’s top prospects are playing at Double-A or lower. That means the 2022 team is playing the season with few highly-rated prospects, and the roster is populated by a lot of journeymen.

Crowe bringing up the MLBPA fraternity is also a bit odd considering the union has sought to increase spending on players. In fact, a salary floor came up in last winter’s negotiations, and it would have been nearly double Pittsburgh’s Opening Day payroll, which Baseball Prospectus estimated to be just over $55 million. A rule like that would force the Pirates to spend a bit more money to put a more competitive team on the field, which probably means Eckersley doesn’t need to make these remarks.

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