Dave: Why on earth did the ump in the game last night warn both benches, basically taking any retaliation of the the Bucs' hands? Their pitcher should have been ejected immediately. There has never been a more intentional act by a pitcher in quite a while.
Jerry Micco: I think the umpire erred by giving the warning at all. Harrison made a baseball play on Molina. Westbrook was protecting his player. OK, all even in my book. Now, had the Pirates thrown at a St. Louis player after Harrison was hit, then there should have been a warning to both benches. Let the players sort this stuff out, I say.
Bill: Do you find anyone not getting nearly as fired up for the Steelers season because we're still hooked on the Pirates?
Jerry Micco: I think people are still talking a lot about the Steelers and as the opener draws near, you will see the fan base more energized. I think it's tremendous that the Pirates are still in the hunt for a playoff spot and the Steelers will start the year in a high-profile game against Denver and Peyton Manning. Great time to be in our business and Pittsburgh fans deserve this sports horn o' plenty.
Adam in Boulder: Dan Rooney endorsing Obama at Mellon Arena four years ago was by all accounts instrumental in the Democrats winning the White House in 2008. Do you think he'll do it again? Sounds like he believed Obama was a progressive and is disappointed.
Jerry Micco: I think our reporter Jim O'Toole does politics chats. I really don't feel qualified to answer that question, but the fact that the President gave Dan Rooney an ambassadorship to Ireland may mean the Rooney would endorse him when the time came. Just my gut feeling, though.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you favor the Pirates going with Jeff Locke or Kevin Correia?
Jerry Micco: I'm torn. Correia is a veteran who has at times this year pitched very well. Locke has done OK in his short time here, and very well at Indianapolis. I think for now, I'd want to see Correia in a start or two.
James_Pittsburgh: I am going o be at the game tonight. Can Wandy Rodriguez manage to keep the Pirates in the game?
Jerry Micco: He needs to do that. The Pirates, and I've said this too many times, will go as far as their pitching. Rodriguez WAS the big trade at the deadline for the Pirates. He's a legit lefty starter who has pitched well for a bad Houston team. But he's not shown that here, save for the 2-inning win he picked up in St. Louis in the 19-inning game. But I think he can be effective at PNC Park. Tonight's the night he needs to bring his A game. The Cards can hit the ball. Last night was a combo of McDonald pitching extremely well and the Cards having an off night at the plate.
Adam in Boulder: What was the point of releasing Bedard right before rosters expand? Why let him blow game after game for the Bucs since June, doing nothing to try to replace him, and then cut him right when he could move into a bullpen spot and possibly help? Reminds me of Gene Collier's description of Pirates' management: "delusional."
Jerry Micco: I think they were hoping Bedard could turn things around by making some changes, which according to Clint Hurdle, he embraced. He just didn't do the job, so they let him go. If you remember early this season, he was as good a pitcher as they had, they just didn't score any runs for him. I think they knew he was going to hinder them down the stretch, and they know they have Correia in waiting. And Bedard would have been terrible out of the pen. He can't hit 90 most times. Soft tossers out of the pen usually get killed.
Hunter: Will the NHL season start on time?
Jerry Micco: I've said for two months that it will, so I'm not going to change my mind. But, hearing what I'm hearing, I think they will lose part of the season. That's not what the NHL should be doing. It isn't a strong enough sport, fanwise, to do that. And it has a pretty nice new TV contract with NBC. The owners and players need to work this out.
Adam in Boulder: How much do you think the acquisition of Wandy affected the Pirates' playoff chances, not just in terms of performance but in terms of chemistry? To put him in rotation they were not only adding a guy who had a 5.50 ERA in the six weeks before the trade but also demoting someone who'd won six starts in a row. Wandy has been Jimmy Anderson-esque as a Pirate.
Jerry Micco: I don't put a lot of stock into chemistry. I put it into results. Rodriguez has not put up the results the Pirates were hoping he'd put up. As a result, it hasn't been a good trade to this point. If they can get solid starts out of him down the stretch, then we can change our minds. But that has yet to be seen. I think he's a veteran lefty who is capable of pitching well. Just haven't seen it here yet.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I disagree. I would give Jeff Locke or McFearson the starts. If they do poorly Correia is still around. The way Rodriguez and Burnett are pitching we need someone who can be a difference maker. Locke is a rookie, but sometimes rookie starters are hot. Randy Tomlin was only a number 4-5 guy and did well after being called up in 1990.
Jerry Micco: You may be right, but Correia, as the last poster points out, had won 6 straight before being put in the bullpen. And don't forget Jeff Karstens, who if he can find his 2011 form after being injured most of this year, is a very capable starter to go with JMac and AJ.
Bill: Is Jeff Clement's bat allergic to balls at PNC Park? I get that he was tearing the cover off the ball at Indy early in the summer but this lack of depth on the bench when there are Rick Ankiels and Bobby Abreus on waivers continues to make me think that the vision of this team errors on the side of long-term attempts and then short-term winning. You could argue the Wandy move was the exact opposite but so far for NH even that has been a swing and a miss.
Jerry Micco: I was puzzled by the promotion of Clement, too. Has never really hit in the big leagues and I don't think he's going to get any regular playing time. I know they like to put lefties in the lineup at home to take advantage of the RF porch, but to me, Clement is never going to be a steady big league hitter.
James_Pittsburgh: It is only one game, but how bad do the Pirates need to win tonight? Tonight is basically the difference of two games in the standings.
Jerry Micco: Every game is big, so even if it's the Astros, it's a big game. You have 33 games left and the Pirates have 69 wins. Last year, each of the 8 playoff teams had at least 88 wins. That means if the Pirates go 19-14, they'll be at 88 wins and maybe sneak into the playoffs. But you are cutting it razor thin there. Each game is huge, and this one tonight is no different.
Adam in Boulder: Thanks for the astute answer on Bedard. What do you think Cutch needs to do to get some power back? First pitchers started dominating him by throwing low and away, and now many are just outright challenging him, thinking he can't do more than single. I'm hoping he can become even half the player he was in the first half, but am eager to hear what adjustments you think he can make to start hitting homers again.
Jerry Micco: Clint Hurdle said they were working with Cutch on keeping his hands back and driving the ball up the middle and to RF. I think the past two games you are seeing that as he has had 2-hit games and has driving in a couple of runs. You have to walk before you run. Cutch had gotten into some bad habits after he got drilled by Chapman, but he's a good enough player to work through that. He was probably over the top in June and July, and under performed this month. Maybe he hits more equilibrium in September? The Pirates are hoping for that.
Time to heel: JErry, Smiz has said that he has had a satidsying summer of baseball, even if the Pirates don't make the playoffs. Seems the media should take a more critical eye rather than being a pure fan. Why not more critical commentary, not just Smiz, but others?
Jerry Micco: He gave you his opinion, that he's been satisfied with what the Pirates have done thus far this season. And there has been plenty of criticism from fans and media about this club from the trade deadline on. I think there's good balance out there now about the Pirates, which usually is not the case because they are usually out of the hunt by this time of the season.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you think the Steelers should consider switching kickers?
Jerry Micco: I think they already answered that question by cutting the rookie kicker. I think Suisham is adequate. But one thing about kickers, you can always find them.
Time to heel: Not making the playoffs should deem this season a failure. Will it be judged that way here?
Jerry Micco: I'd not deem it a failure if they missed the playoffs. No one, and I mean no one, had this team picked to contend. I had them for 74 wins, and people said I was being kind. I think they'll finally break the streak and that in itself is something they need to do. Gotta walk before you run. That said, making the playoffs is still very much alive and I think they'll stay in the hunt. If the pitching holds up.
Time to heel: on the other hand, Mark Madden was discussing baseball in late August so maybe the season should be considered successful. A hint of relevency.
Jerry Micco: I guess. I'm working when Mark's show is on, so I never hear it.
James_Pittsburgh: What do you see as the biggest question mark for the Steelers entering the 2012 season?
Jerry Micco: Linebacker if Harrison and Worilds are not healthy and if Foote starts to break down at all. And I have to see how Ike Redman is as a starter and if Jonathan Dwyer is the backup everyone thinks he can be.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you see the Bengals reverting back to being the Bungals or actually challenging for the NFC North title?
Jerry Micco: I think they could be better than the Ravens and challenge the Steelers for the top spot in the division. I think they're a pretty good football team.
Adam in Boulder: Who is most responsible for the Pirates' utter lack of discipline on the basepaths, and their disability to steal bases despite possessing adequate speed? Seems like numerous games this year would've gone the Bucs' way had they not been picked off and/or thrown out. Is it the coach's fault or just inept play?
Jerry Micco: They are atrocious on the bases and are worse at stealing bases or having bases stolen on them. Awful. That is a big hole in their game and will have to be addressed in the offseason. I guess you point to Hurdle and the coaching staff if you need to find fault. Be nice to bring in a veteran base stealer to help coach these guys a bit. Speed is only one part of stealing bases. There's a lot more to it. Take it from a guy who stole 25 of 27 bases in New Castle Connie Mack League when he was skinny and could run. It was about 100 years ago, I think.
Hunter: Melky Cabrera is now ahead of McCutchen for the NL batting title. How disappointing would it be if the year ends that way and do you think MLB will make adjustments to their eligibility policies either way?
Jerry Micco: Certainly would be disappointing for Cutch and the Pirates fans if he loses out to a guy who did a positive test for PEDs. But the rules are the rules. They'll add 1 AB to Cabrera's total to get him to the proper number and then he'll be eligible. Rules allow for that. As for Cutch, he had about a 20-point lead on Cabrera before sliding a bit. But if he can get hot again, it won't matter.
Adam in Boulder: If Tony Sanchez gets called up, do you think Pirates' brass will discuss Twitter with him? They guy tweets once every few minutes, argues with followers, and was asked in the past to delete his account.
Jerry Micco: I think if he gets called up they'll likely say we will follow you on Twitter and if you get into a hissing match with a fan, we'll ask you to get off of social media. If he's still doing that, he's got too much time on his hands. He should be concentrating on being a better ballplayer, not yapping with fans on Twitter.
Ken: Hard for me to believe that after trading Santonio, the Steelers would tolerate a diva/Desean Jackson act from Wallace this fall. Would they trade him?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so because they likely won't get much for him, and if you don't have to trade him, you don't. Why trade a guy who is your lone deep threat and is one of the fastest guys in the game? He pouted, now he's back and signed. He's got to get a big payday from someone, so he has to prove himself this season. And the Steelers cold franchise him next year for around $8 or $9 million if they want one more year from him. But I'd like to see more than fly routes from him as well as not fading away in the second half like he did in 2011.
Will: What exactly is Harrison's status? I've seen enough to think that he's an indispensible utility guy.
Jerry Micco: The Pirates like him, and probably have him under contract for a few more years. I think in short bursts, Harrison is a nice guy to have on the team. He's not a starter, but he can play both INF and OF, though he's a bit of an adventure in the latter, and he can hit a little. Nice guy to have on the team.
James_Pittsburgh: Sometimes I wonder if the Pirates should even allow Andrew McCutchen to steal. I think he has been caught 50% of the time.
Jerry Micco: You'd like to have your fastest guy steal bases, but for some reason, it's tough for him to do that. He either has bad timing or doesn't get a good jump. And he may not be accelerating fast enough in his first couple of step. Probably a number of things. But he should get 35-40 steals a year. And if he works on it in the offseason, perhaps he will in 2013.
Jaxman: Do you see any surprises with the Steeler's final cuts?
Jerry Micco: Maybe Will Allen gets cut for Robert Golden, who I think has looked great at safety, which is a position of need for them. I really don't see any other surprise cuts.
Rob: With d'Arnaud called up I see Holt played Shortstop for Indy. Is there any chance he could be the shortstop of the future, maybe as soon as next year?
Jerry Micco: I think they'll keep Barmes around one more year as he's under contract. Barmes has grown on me some. He is likely going to hit for a low average, but he could drive in 50 runs this season, which is OK production out of that spot. And his fielding has been pretty good. Holt could use another year in AAA, or maybe if they deal Barmes at the 2013 trade deadline, he'll be ready to come up to the bigs.
Adam in Boulder: the comparison between Santonio and Wallace is not apropos. Santonio was boasting about smoking weed, and insulted the franchise. Wallace is obviously not a Rhodes Scholar, but all he did was hold out. Hines Ward did that too, along with many others.
Jerry Micco: I agree. Wallace did what he thought he had to do, and the players understand that because they understand that bottom line, pro sports is a business. Holmes acted his way out of town. And I see he's not doing much better in New York. Too bad, because if he kept his head on straight, he's a very good WR. Potential game breaker.
Tom: The Steelers have zero room to franchise anyone next year, so Wallace knows he won't be back. He is likely going to dog it like DeSean Jackson did last year to keep himself healthy (a team is going to pay no matter his statistics). If you're the Steelers, do you bench him at the first signs of him taking plays off?
Jerry Micco: I'd think they'd deactivate him if they thought he was purposely dogging it. Why even waste the gameday roster spot for him? But I don't think he'll do that. I think he wants to win here and would like to stay here. Can they afford him? We'll see.
BobL: Curley Culp??? Elvin Bethea is already in Canton--enough of the Bum Phillips Oilers. Good news for LC, who of course was better than Curley. Your thoughts on Dave Robinson and Culp as canton vets nominees?
Jerry Micco: Both were terrific players in their day, but both are right on that border as far as the HOF. I like Robinson a bit better because he played on many championship teams and was an excellent pass rushing DE.
Adam in Boulder: How can you consider it OK for Steelers to stick with Suisham? He had worst FG % in the NFL last year, and kickers often decide games. They need to do whatever they can to upgrade before it's too late. Neil Huntington is, hopefully, learning that right now.
Jerry Micco: As I said, you can get a kicker any time. We only see a few preseason games and Suisham has hardly played in those. But they do practice every day and we don't always see what goes on there. My guess is they are more comfortable with Suisham, even with the stat you mentioned, because they just don't see a suitable replacement yet. It's much easier to kick here in the summer than in November and December. Suisham has done that in the past 2 seasons. He was 10 of 13 in November and December last year.
Mr. Volant: Penn state win or lose more games this season?
Jerry Micco: Tough call. Don't know how good they'll be and how they'll react to all that went on up there. I'm going to say 6-6 or maybe 7-5. And it would not surprise me if they lost to Ohio U. on Saturday. By the way, my dad was manager at Volant Mills for about 10 years in the 60s. A soft spot in my heart for the old place. I loved hanging around there a few times as a kid in the summer.
The Chief: Hi Jerry, been awhile, first Weiters and now Machado. Amazing the blunders the Pirates have made with their picks..
Jerry Micco: I don't know: Walker, McCutchen and Alvarez were all pretty good picks. Taillon seems to be doing better in AA, and Cole is looking pretty good. I agree that Weiters is a pick that is going to hurt for some time. That was a horrible pick. And you couldn't pass on Appel because he arguably was the best pick in the draft and he's there at No. 8. Even if they didn't sign him, you can't pass on that.
Adam in Boulder: Tony Sanchez just tweeted about urinating. FYI.
Jerry Micco: Well, he may be doing that on his career if he's not careful.
The Chief: Who do you think will be Davis Loves picks for the Ryder Cup?
Jerry Micco: Goodness, I have no idea. Mind isn't on the Ryder Cup right now. Sorry.
Bill: I nominate Omar Moreno to teach base steaing in Bradenton....do the Pirates have anyone currently who could teach this lost art?
Jerry Micco: Probably not, and Moreno was one of the best in his day. There is an art to stealing, and Moreno, as well as Maury Wills, were two of the best who played for the Bucs. Wills works for the Dodgers now, but maybe they'd loan him for a week or so? Either way, it is a big hole in their game (both stealing and stopping steals) and they need to work on it in the offseason.
Adam in Boulder: How do you see the PG ever replacing Cook, Collier and Smizik, which will be necessary before long? Who are your sports op-ed writers of the future?
Jerry Micco: Well, Bob retired a few years ago and while he blogs for us, he's considered a freelance employee. As for replacing Ron and Gene, we're all about the same age, so I may never be called upon to do that. They do a great job with a tough job. Hard to put it out there 3-4 times a week and try to be fresh, but they do it. I'm not even thinking about down the road. I'm going to enjoy the ride right now.
Bob 63: Your thoughts on the below average attendance this week? This was never weeknight baseball town. And yes, school starting is a factor--even first graders get homework these days.
Jerry Micco: I'd like to think they could get 25,000 for the Cardinals, so I'm a bit surprised to see those numbers, even with school starting. That said, fan support this year has been terrific, and considering the losing streak, Pirates fans have shown they'll still support the team through thick and thin. Very good baseball fans in this town.
Hunter: Do you think West Virginia will be able to handle the switch over to the Big 12 this year? A lot of ranked opponents on their schedule.
Jerry Micco: I know some polls have WVU in the top 10, but I think they will have a tough go in the Big 12. I still think they can win 9-10 games, but I don't think they are a top 10 team. It's a much tougher football league than the Big East, but give the Mounties credit, they have a terrific QB and a very good coach in Dana Holgorsen. They'll be in every game, but I don't know if they can win a Big 12 title.
Adam in Boulder: Who do you see being the Pirates' catcher in 2013 (and beyond)? Barajas can't hit even .200 and can't throw to second base, and McKenry doesn't seem consistent. Sanchez seems more interested in tweeting than taking BP.
Jerry Micco: Sounds like a hole in their system. I think they'll use McKenry more next year and maybe Barajas is more a backup. I really don't know. Good catchers are tough to find, but if you look at it, the Pirates have a combined 19 or 20 HRs and about 60 RBIs out of the catcher's spot this season. Not too bad. But the throwing is beyond poor, so there has to be another solution.
John: Greg Brown continuously demonstrates that he has zero comprehension for the game of baseball. Why do you think he remains the voice of the Pirates?
Jerry Micco: I listen to a lot of Pirates games, and I think the announcers are just fine. I really watch the games for the game, and sometimes the announcers are in the background for me. You'd have to ask the Bucs and Root Sports, who employ those guys, why they do what they do. I don't feel qualified to critique their work.
Jerry Micco: OK folks I need to run. Thanks for all the great questions and for taking part in the chat. I really appreciate you being here. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon for another hour-long talk. In the meantime, have a terrific week, and I hope to see you back here next Wednesday. Follow me on Twitter: PG_JerryMicco