Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 5.23.12

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Poll Question: Which of these Pirates pitchers would you change for a 20-HR, 80-RBI guy:

Answer #1: Brad Lincoln (Votes: 17%)

Answer #2: Jeff Karstens (Votes: 17%)

Answer #3: James McDonald (Votes: 17%)

Answer #4: Erik Bedard (Votes: 42%)

Answer #5: AJ Burnett (Votes: 17%)

Answer #6: Joel Hanrahan (0%)

The Chief: Hi Jerry, hope all is well. You ready to give Lord Stanley's Cup to the Kings. As you said it is all about the guy between the pipes!

Jerry Micco: It always is, but the Rangers and Devils have some pretty good goaltending, too, so I'm not ready to crown the Kings. Though I think of the 3 teams left, they look the best. Their defense is rock solid for the most part, and they have produced enough offense to do the job. I certainly like their chances, but I also think NY and NJ are playing well enough to beat them.

James_Pittsburgh: Why haven't we seen Jordy Mercer in Pittsburgh yet?

Jerry Micco: My guess is because they paid Barmes $10.5 million over two years and don't want to eat that much salary. Mercer has played well at the AAA level, but I don't think the Pirates will give up on Barmes any time soon. Again, too much invested in him.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I didn't see a link to your chat today on the Sports page?

Jerry Micco: We'll get one up there. Thanks.

James_Pittsburgh: Are you trying to tell me that the Pirates would rather lose than try to win? They don't have to eat Barmes contract. He can be the backup infielder.

Jerry Micco: I don't think they will pay a backup $10.5 million over two years. I also think that Mercer is having a good season, but that they aren't convinced he can hit big league pitching. I mean, look through their minor league system. There is very little hitting. Mercer is doing better in AAA than Barmes in the majors, but I have to think that Huntington and Hurdle think he'll eventually turn it around. I'm not sure I believe that.

The Chief: A lot of talk about the lack of any depth in the Pirates Farm system. Don't you find it amazing after all these years of #1 Picks and trading for "prospects" at the deadline?

Jerry Micco: They have "whiffed" on a lot of position players, especially guys with any kind of power. That's why Alvarez is so critical and every time you see him slump or go a lot time without a HR, you kind of cringe. That said, their pitching, where they have put a lot of #1 picks, looks very good. Cole is the real deal, and I think Taillon will develop very nicely.

James_Pittsburgh: I would vote to trade Hanrahan, even though it is difficult to know who to trade without knowing what the Pirates would get in return. I would actually like to see Bedard retained for 2013.

Jerry Micco: What they would get, as I pose in the question, is a player capable of a 20 HR, 80 RBI season every year. For the sake of argument, say he plays firstbase or a corner OF spot. Now, note I say "capable," so you have to deal with that part of the equation, which is something Huntington deals with all the time.

James_Pittsburgh: Kevin Correia isn't going to fetch a lot, but I think the Pirates should see if than can get something for him. Maybe a SS prospect that is in SS. They won't fetch the next A-ROD for him, but maybe the next Jay Bell is a possibility.

Jerry Micco: I purposely didn't include Correia because he'd not fetch the 20/80 guy I mention. I doubt Karstens or Bedard would either, but maybe a pitching starved team would. I purposely didn't include Cole or Taillon because the Pirates will not trade those guys. Now, if you have Mercer at AAA, why get another SS? And with the draft coming up and the Bucs picking 8th, Darren Merrero, Ariz. St. SS, likely will be there. But he has some holes in his game that may be sizeable.

chuck: Jerry: Why is the PBC so afraid to bring up some young guys and see how they can do? I understand the investment in Barmes but the constant boos have to start to be noticed you would think. They need to bite the bullet and cut McLouth, send Gorky back down, and then deal with a few more pieces of dead wood (bats). At least see what Mercier, Hague, Fox etc... can do...

Jerry Micco: Well, Gorky is starting today in LF, so he gets his shot. Mercer is having his best offensive season, but again, the investment is pretty high in Barmes. Hague is a singles hitter at first, and you actually get more pop from Jones. Jake Fox is OK, but that's about all, OK. They just don't have much talent at AAA, right now. I agree, though, that a guy like McLouth should be gone and maybe you bring up an OF, but not Marte, who if he's here needs to play every day. And he's not ready yet.

The Chief: Your thoughts on Vilma's suit against Goodell ?

Jerry Micco: Waste of a lot of people's time and money. That will go nowhere. You agree to play in the NFL and you empower the commissioner to have that kind of suspension power. Have to live with the decision.

James_Pittsburgh: Tim Williams wonders why players perform worse for the Pirates. He is basically basing that on a sample size of three players Overbay, Mike Diaz, and Eric Hinske. Sure some players under perform with the Pirates, but just has many perform better with the Pirates: Nate McLouth, Jason Bay, Brian Giles, Jack Wilson, Fredy Sanchez, etc. I haven't even researched the subject.

Jerry Micco: You could argue that LaRoche and Cedeno are overperforming, but I wonder if anyone would want Cedeno back for Barmes at this point? And say what you will about Adam LaRoche, but he was a pretty steady 20/80 guy at first, and I can't believe that people wouldn't want him there right now. And his glove was good, too.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I would give Mercer a chance. But it doesn't appear that Hunington would do that. However I trade Correria for anything decent since he won't be back with the Pirates next year.

Jerry Micco: Correia may be that guy that goes at the trade deadline for a couple of A or AA prospects. I don't see them getting much for him unless his consistency comes back.

The Chief: What is it that makes guys better players after they leave the Pirates i.e Joey Bats, Diaz, Overbay etc.. They become the playere we thought they would be in Pittsburgh. If I was a ML team looking for a MI Iwould be knocking on the door for Clint Barmes!

Jerry Micco: See James' post above. Some guys were good here, and terrible elsewhere, too, and that includes McLouth. I don't include Aramis Ramirez in that group because the Pirates had to trade him to make a payroll. I'm convinced of that. Had Kris Benson not injured his shoulder, the Pirates would have traded him for prospects and kept Ramirez.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, the Pirates are going to have to pay Clint Barmes that $10.5 million either way so, he should just stay with the Pirates as a backup.

Jerry Micco: I think they believe he eventually will hit. Again, I'm not sure if that happens or not. But having played at one time for Hurdle, I think Barmes will get a long, long look. And I'm not sold that Mercer will be any better at this level. It is a tough nut to crack for the Pirates, and I'm not saying your opinion is out of line, either. Yes, they will owe him the money either way.

Chunkles: Jerry, I remember seeing Ben's picture hanging on the wall at Eat-n-Park after his mishaps and it made me sick. But that was then. He deserves a second chance and he has done things to show he has matured. People in this town look for things to lay on him. Recently he has been talking, not complaining, about Haley's new playbook. So what. Ben is human. He lost his buddy and OC. No one likes change. He, along with the team will have to adjust. It is okay for Ben to make comments about the new playbook. What do you want him to say. B.A. Probably had another Super Bowl win in him and Ben has earned his status as a veteran player. He and Bruce one two rings. Normally that doesnt require a shake-up. He has the right to be uncomfortable. He will be fine. Give the guy a break!

Jerry Micco: I think change is something that everyone is uncomfortable with until they get used to working within the system. Ben has been asked, probably told by ownership, that he needs to "tweak" his game and try to stay healthy. The team invested many high picks the past 2-3 years in the OL. They have done their part. He has weapons at WR. But he needs to change his game a bit and stay healthy. And he has a right to voice his concerns about things. A winning, veteran QB gets that right, I believe. But the bottom line is: you can say anything you want, as long as you produce and the team wins.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, other than plain stubbornness or unwilling to admit you messed up there is no reason not to give Mercer a look for a few months. Barmes can start again in September or 2013 if Mercer falters. Really there is nothing to lose. The probably is some of the Pirates brass are not willing to check their ego at the door.

Jerry Micco: Well, Mercer is a career .265 hitter who averages about 8 HRs and 51 RBIs per season in the minors. He's hitting .294 now with 2/20. I'd say if the Pirates think that can translate into similar numbers here, then they should bring him up. My point is that besides the salary thing, they may not think he can do those numbers at this level. I mean, he's 25 and hasn't had a cup of coffee yet.

The Chief: Do you belive that the Pirate management actually belive they are contenders for the NL Central Division Title.?

Jerry Micco: Starting today, they are 4 back and the division isn't that good. So yes, I think they think that way. They are only 3 under .500. So for now, they are in contention. Let's have this discussion around the All-Star break, though, to see if that's still the case. Last year, they were in first place in late July, but fell off the edge of the Earth.

Lawrence of Arabia: Do you think that the Pirates would have a shot even with 1 more bat in the lineup? I understand Bucco Fever and all, but this is a mediocre ball club that will end up with a mediocre record...again.

Jerry Micco: They need more than one bat, I don't disagree there. But let's say they got one more bat to go with McCutchen. And let's say Walker starts to hit for a bit more power than he's shown, and is capable of doing. And let's say Alvarez finally figures out a way to be more consistent (remember, this is only his second season, really). Putting one more bat in the lineup at least makes them competitive with their pitching. A playoff team? Probably not, but competitive? Yes.

The Chief: I see the WB/Scranton Penguins season has concluded. Who do you expect to see getting a Penguin sweater for 2012/2103 Season?

Jerry Micco: I'd think Simon Despres will get a long look, and maybe Morrow, the other D, will get one, too. But I think Despres will certainly get a look.

James_Pittsburgh: I am not saying the Mercer is the answer. I haven't seen him play in person. However he had 19 HR last year and considering the Pirates lack of ability to evaluate talent, the only way to find out is bring him to Pittsburgh. Actually as long as McLouth is on the team there is no reason not to give him a shot.

Jerry Micco: I think if they bring Mercer up, he has to play. Now, he's played 2nd before and maybe that's where he lands, and they ask Walker to move to first. Let's face it, McGehee has been a bust so far and while Jones has some pop, he's not an everyday player. Then, if you want Barmes to sit a game or games, Mercer can move to SS and Walker back to 2B.

Mark from NY: What is your opinion of Sean Spence and how will the Steelers use him (get back to Phi Tau at all?)?

Jerry Micco: This is one of my Phi Tau brothers?? If so, great to see you! But no, haven't been back in some time. Would like to some day, though. On to Spence, I think the Steelers see him as a backup and like his speed. Covering guys like Ray Rice or the Pats' TEs may be his strength, so he may play situationally. But I don't think he's a big run-stuffer, so I don't see him there every down next to Timmons. I think it'll be interesting to see how the Steelers use him. Maybe a twist from LeBeau?

Lawrence of Arabia: That's an awful lot to fall into place for a team just to maybe crack .500. And all of this is assuming the pitching holds up. If the pitching falls off even one run a game, this is a 100 loss team.

Jerry Micco: Well, that's the problem. This team isn't deep or good enough to go into any type of slump. They have to hope the pitching holds up, but at some point, all the guys I've mentioned above can hit better and have in their careers. So at some point, you would hope that kicks in if you're a fan. Or if you are the Pirates front office. Otherwise, you may be right. Though I see this team winning 74 games this season. Just my guess, though.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I have no problems with your scenario. I think Jones can platoon in the outfield with Harrison or Tabata. Let Walker play first this year and Mercer second. Do you remember when Hunington didn't want to give Walker a chance when he was in Triple A? I see no reason that Mercer is any different.

Jerry Micco: I remember when the Pirates though Walker was a utility player, which I always thought was ridiculous. Harrison is that utility guy, and Walker is such a good athlete, you can probably move him to first and make it stick.

James_Pittsburgh: Yes, the way the Pirates deal with talent is the exact reason Mercer needs to be given a chance.

Jerry Micco: But they are so lean in the minors right now, besides pitching, that there's very little down there worth looking at. I agree, at some point you have to see if Mercer can play here. And at some point, but not soon, you have to see if Marte can play every day. Or if Presley is worth another look, though his problems continue in AAA.

Mark from NY: You are correct sir!, I haven't been back for probably 30 years but have followed you on line for years enjoying your work and recalling the "good old day."

Jerry Micco: Well, thanks for the follow and for chiming in. My chats are my most fun time of the week, so I hope you'll be a regular. And if you want to email me, I'm at jmicco@post-gazette.com.

Mark from NY: I meant days, still can't type.

Jerry Micco: I know the feeling, and I do it for a living!

John: In the upcoming draft, should the Pirates look at a power bat, a shortstop with questions about him, or another power arm?

Jerry Micco: I think they should take the best guy that fits their needs. I know that's a cliche, but it's true. Some reports say Merrero has some "attitude" problems. Don't know if that's true, but he's the best SS in the draft. If they can find a corner OF or 1B with power, I'd take him. But the draft this year has those guys at the high school level for the most part. Could get a power arm, there are a few around, but you already are well-stocked there.

Mark from NY: Do you see any big changes coming from the penguins following their disappointing first round loss?

Jerry Micco: I don't think so. But watch how the CBA discussions turn out. If it's favorable, you may see them try to sign Crosby to a bigger deal and lock him in. Or you may see them make a trade to unload Martin and/or Michalek because a bigger cap makes them at least somewhat tradeable. But if it's the status quo, you may see a couple changes, but no major ones.

Mario Mendoza: Hey Micco. Do the Pirates strike out alot because they are bad hitters swinging at bad pitchers or because they take too many pitches that are strikes.?

Jerry Micco: Both.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you think Manning will have a big game in week one or flop?

Jerry Micco: If he has a big game, the Steelers will be on the receiving end of that big game since they open in Denver on Sunday night. But I think he'll have a very good season overall and Denver will be a tough out. But if any team can recover from getting pasted in their last game of the 2011 season, it's the Steelers. Look for that defense to be very good next season.

Guest: How many Gold medals does Phelps win this summer?

Jerry Micco: He'll be in fewer events, so let's say 4.

Frank in Ohio: Hi Jerry- Do you think we now have stability at the cornerback spot, who would be your choice from the steelers team?

Jerry Micco: I think there is more depth opposite Taylor in Lewis, Brown and Allen. I like Brown there, but he'll have to beat Lewis out for the job. And I think Allen can play some as a nickle, dime or even safety. Really liked those two picks -- Brown and Allen -- last season.

Ralph LA: You mention the Pirates past whiffs on drafting. Is that just random chance or are they hurting in scouting?

Jerry Micco: It's always a crap shoot when you draft. Everyone had Alvarez high on the board. But if you look further back, drafting guys like Moskos and Tony Sanchez, to me, were terrible reaches. Both at No. 4 and with a ton of other better players. Too soon to tell on some guys, yet, though.

James_Pittsburgh: If the Pirates can get James McDonald for Dotel, there is always hope that Hanrahan and Correia could get someone in return too help the Pirates upgrade at two positions for next year.

Jerry Micco: Hanrahan, maybe. Correia? Not unless he gains more consistency. He's a No. 4 or 5 starter most places.

Bryce Harper: Hey Jerry will Cole Hamels throw at me again tonight?

Jerry Micco: If he does will it actually hurt you? That "S" on your chest should pretty much protect you.

The Chief: Any thoughts about what vet running back the Steelers sign to back up Redmond?

Jerry Micco: I'm not sure they will sign anyone. Dwyer, Clay, Batch, Rainey (rookie from Fla.) and Mendenhall will be back before season's end, my guess is they'll go with that group. Unless someone goes down, then they'll probably pick someone up.

rich from Georgia: I saw at least 4 games this year where they the would have won if not for a few stupid mistakes. They would be sitting at 24 and 19 and tied for first.

Jerry Micco: Every team makes dumb mistakes, but a team like the Pirates live on the edge so any dumb mistake tends to kill them. Other, better, teams recover. They have a hard time doing that.

Mark210: Jerry, any example you can think of where a 20/80 guy came in a trade for a #2-4 starter?

Jerry Micco: Not off the top of my head, but if a team has some power and is dying for a starter, you may be able to get one. Have to see what's up around the trade deadline.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, I need to run back to some other stuff. Great chat today and a lot of great questions and debates about the Bucs. I think those will go on throughout the summer IF they stay in contention. I'll be back at noon on Wednesday to do it all over again. Thanks for taking the time, and I hope to see you next week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco sportsother

First Published May 23, 2012 1:45 PM


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