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During a recent broadcast of a Boston Red Sox vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game, Hall of Famer and current Boston color commentator Dennis Eckersley took a shot at Pittsburgh:
“You talk about a no-name lineup. There’s no team like this, I’d love to see some of the service time. You add it all up, it’s not much. We just came from Kansas City, seeing all those young kids. This is different, though,” said Eckersley. “ This is a hodgepodge of nothingness…. It’s ridiculous, really is. Pathetic.”
The next day, multiple Pittsburgh players and even their manager tried to downplay the comments. Then there was relief pitcher Wil Crowe who said the following: “What he said was kinda (expletive) and kinda (expletive), 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 (expletive) way.”
Crowe continued, acknowledging Eckersley’s stature in the game, but still showing his displeasure at his comments: “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. I think it was kind of (expletive) and bush league.”
As much of a low blow and “bush league” as the comment may have been, Eckersley isn’t wrong. Pittsburgh has been a “hodgepodge of nothingness” for a while now and even worse, there’s no signs of it slowing down.
Pittsburgh has basically been similar to a Triple A minor league team except at the major league level. They’d call up their young and highest potential talents for two or three years, let them adjust to the major league level, then trade them, usually for more highly rated prospects.
Since 2017, players they’ve traded have gone on to he named All-Stars nine times. Players like San Diego Padres closer Joe Musgrove and New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole have been their biggest indictments as they’ve gone on to be top ten, if not top five players at their positions. All they have to show for any of these players are prospects they acquired or that were drafted with a top ten pick.
What makes it even worse is that even after all the trades they’ve made and all the talent they’ve stockpiled, they barely sit in the top 10 minor league system rankings. Depending on whose evaluations you read, they’re only seen as the eighth or ninth best farm system. There’s no excuse that they’re out of the top five.
Also since 2017, they haven’t finished above fourth place once. They also have finished with a record over .500 once. Probably worst of all, they’ve remained near the bottom of the league attendance in that time.
If ownership clearly doesn’t care about the product their putting out, the attendance figures or their revenue (ranked 23rd in all MLB by Forbes), what do they care about?
As harsh as Eckersley’s comments were, maybe they were deserved or right. It wouldn’t be surprising to see someone like outfielder Bryan Reynolds traded down the road and that “hodgepodge of nothing” continue to grow.
What’s even worse, Pittsburgh isn’t the only team that’s been doing something like this. They just happen to be the face of it.