James_Pittsburgh: If the Pirates are going to win 79 games or more next year they need to acquire at least two starters via trade or free agency. A staff of A.J. Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald, and McFearson, and a free agent isn't going to cut it. Ideally you want McDonald and McFearson battling for the 5th starter.
Jerry Micco: Well, you added a free agent to your list, so obviously that's a way to go. But I agree that the first three are starters, and in my opinion, should start. I do think a trade or free agency is going to provide them at least one starter. The other may be Jeff Karstens, but you have to be concerned about his health. And at some point, Charlie Morton will be back. But you won't get an argument from me that a quality starter via trade or FA would be a huge boost. It's all in the pitching.
James_Pittsburgh: How far as Penn State set back whistle-blowing by not keeping Mike McQueary employed? Now more people will be hesitant to come forward when crimes are being committed at a university.
Jerry Micco: Well, we'll see how McQueary's suit goes. People will argue that the university considered what he said and didn't do enough, or didn't think they had to do more than they did. A lot of coaches were let go when O'Brien came in, McQueary was one of them. Did PSU handle that well? No, it did not. And McQueary is probably going to get some money out of this. But McQueary was employed for 10 years after he reported what he saw. Usually, if you are going to get rid of a "whistleblower" you don't keep him around and promote him over a 10-year stretch.
The Chief: Jerry, the baby penguins open up their season this weekend, in lieu of no NHL will the PG beef up their coverage of the lads from Wilkes Barre?
Jerry Micco: Not all that much. It's a budget and interest thing, though we'll have some stories on their key players. For instance, Dave Molinari had a piece on Joe Morrow in today's PG. I think we'll keep more of an eye on it than we did, but we won't be writing daily game stories of significance.
yinzer in va: Jerry, Do you ever remember the MLB regular season ending on a Wednesday? Usually it's over on Sunday. Do you know why it ended on Wednesday this year?
Jerry Micco: I believe it was to schedule the wild-card games and get the divisional games to start on a weekend. But I'm not sure why they did that. Also, I do not recall a mid-week ending to a baseball season.
Ralph_LA: Is Colon getting so many penalties because he is getting badly beaten by the guy he's assigned to block?
Jerry Micco: Colon says his problem is technique. He's getting his hands "outside" and that's going to be called almost every time, especially on interior linemen (guards and centers). Tackles get a bit more leeway there because they have no help (oftentimes) on one side. Colon switched positions, and while everyone thought that it was a good idea and one Colon would easily handle, I think we are seeing the opposite. He's having a tougher time adjusting to playing guard than many thought he would.
The Chief: Any thoughts as to why the AFC has gone 4-16 against the NFC so far this year?
Jerry Micco: Maybe those matchups favor the NFC so far. I know the Steelers are 1-0 vs. the NFC. And the NFC might be deeper this year, too.
James_Pittsburgh: Can the Steelers make the playoffs if Woodley and Troy continue to be sidelined? Do the Steelers have to draft another linebacker in the first three rounds in 2013?
Jerry Micco: They can make the playoffs, but I doubt they can go very far with both guys out. I don't know if Troy comes back during the regular season, but it sounds like Woodley may only miss tomorrow night's game. I don't think they'll rush him back, though, which they did last year and it re-aggravated that hamstring.
yinzer in va: Jerry, When is the Penn State chat? I would like to participate, but I never see it until after it's done, and the transcript is published. Please let me know.
Jerry Micco: Mark Dent does his PSU chats weekly, I believe, at 11 a.m. on Thursday. It's a bye week for them this week, but I still think he's chatting. We promo these on our Web page, and while PSU football blog info is on our PG+ site (a steal at $3.99/month!) the chats are done of the free site.
doyle37: Sorry I missed last week and couldn't gloat on my picking PSU by 10 over Illinois. I liked PSU this past week too. Do you think PSU will be ranked top 5 in the AP pool if they run the table ??
Jerry Micco: Nope. They have two losses, and while what they've done up there is a testimony to the players and Bill O'Brien's staff, I still think this is a 7-5 team. The meat of the schedule is still to come. Now, if they finished 10-2, they might be a top 10 or top 15 team, but still, no bowl for them. But I just don't see them running the table, even in a down Big Ten.
James_Pittsburgh: Since Clint Barmes is sure to return, what other upgrades do you see the Pirates making other than adding a starter or two? Do we see the Pirates adding another catcher? I sure hope they don't add Miguel Olivio who hit .222 for Seattle last year.
Jerry Micco: Catcher is tough, and will be tough to upgrade. Not that many great FA catchers out there, and I don't see McKenry as an everyday catcher. I think they have a lot of outfielders, but I don't know if they have ones who are sure starters, especially if they do sign Jones and keep him at first. I think Sanchez is overlooked as a possibility at first, though. I think they'll concentrate on pitching in the offseason, and if the right catcher shows up in a trade, maybe that's where they go.
Jon: Your guess on when the NHL lockout ends?
Jerry Micco: From a guy who thought there'd be no lockout, I'm now saying the first game will be the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. The earliest I see it happening is Thanksgiving. Going to be a while yet.
Guest: Fantasy Question -- Got Mendenhall on my bench should I play him this week over McCoy (vs Det) or Gore (vs Saints)
Jerry Micco: I'm lousy at this. I'll throw it open to the board.
praveen: I agree with Peter King's comment on the breast cancer hideous pink color scheme on display for too long (a month) in the NFL. Sure, it's not easy saying something so cold, but let's face it, not wanting to see pink on the unis has nothing to do with not wanting to promote awareness. How about those suggesting so go to their workplace in pink ties for a month? Plus what about the other illnesses?
Jerry Micco: Some of the writers in attendance Sunday wore pink, and the NFL gave all media pink pins to wear if we wanted. I think it's a bit much, too, and because it's a month, you kind of get used to it and forget why they are doing it. It's a wonderful cause, but the NFL should set aside a weekend of games to really do it up. Can still keep up banners, etc., at the stadiums.
The Chief: Jerry, speaking of MLB, your thought on the one and done playoff game between the wild cards?
Jerry Micco: I'd feel bad if I was the No. 1 wild card and lost because I'd feel like I really earned that spot. I know they can't do that the NFL does and have the wild-cards play seeded teams because it would take too long, but I think the 2nd wild card is great for the fans, but that one-game playoff is tough.
praveen: Are we not getting the real reason Everest was fired because your reporters do not want to be dishonorable and pass on confidential info they got off the record? I find it hard to believe it was because of bad coaching as our STs coverage units were at their best during his tenure.
Jerry Micco: Well, if our reporters get information "off the record" they can't report it. That's a pact journalists have with sources. Now, we prefer sources on the record and do all we can to get them to talk to us on the record. Sometimes, we get permission to use the info, but keep the source anonymous. And we look hard at that information before we use it. As for Everest, I'm sure we'll keep looking at that situation. Parts of the special teams are looking good, others not so much. Maybe it was a personality difference with the boss? I really don't know.
Pablo: Baseball ended its regular season on Wednesday in 2011 as well. That was the memorable night when, I think, 3 playoff spots were on the line.
Jerry Micco: See, when you get old, your memory fades.
Ralph_LA: I laughed out loud while reading Gene's article about Mendenhall working like a dog in the Philadelphia game, which is not a good thing for someone in a game with Michael Vick. Is Mundy just unlucky in his two hits that ended up being helmet to helmet. I was glad to see your comment on the Bey hit since the announcers in that game were upset that the incompetent replacement refs did not call an "obvious" penalty. I could not see it. At least in the Eagles game the announcers were more balanced in their assessment of the hit as maybe being a penalty.
Jerry Micco: Those hits are tough calls. WRs sometimes naturally duck their heads and when a DB does same, you can get a helmet-to-helmet. I think officials, probably for the betterment of the game and players, will call it if it's close. Sometimes, you can obviously see a targeting of the head by a player, other times, it just happens. But I'm all for getting that as much out of the game as possible. I hate seeing guys knocked out.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think Penn State would have better served all parties involoved if they had offered McQueary a position in the athletic department or in another office on campus. They could have offered him a clear demotion and hoped he turned it down.
Jerry Micco: Then why not do that for all the other assistant coaches on Paterno's staff? Why does he get that offer, but Tom Bradley, Jay Paterno, etc., do not? People have a right to sue, and as I said, PSU did itself no favors on how they handled McQueary on some parts of this.
Jon: Is this years upcoming NFL draft the time to look at drafting am eventual replacement for the oft injured Troy?
Jerry Micco: I thought they might take a safety last year. Not a bumper crop, but I really thought by round 4 they'd take one. Robert Golden was an undrafted FA who seems to have stuck with the club, and I wonder if they want to move Cortez Allen or Curtis Brown to safety down the road. But I think linebacker and safety are two areas they need to look at for the draft.
praveen: i cant believe NHL will jeopardize another season over low revenue franchises that should never have been established in the first place. If they want to figure out how a glory laden team from the past like Isles need to survive, that's fine. But for this to go on over sad sack franchises like the Panthers and Coyotes?
Jerry Micco: It's all about trying to get back the ridiculous amount they gave the players last time, when they agreed to the 57-43 revenue split. No players association of sports with a cap gets that much. So what you get is the owners lowballing the players, and the players saying "wait a sec, we'll help, but not to the point where we give it back to save the Coyotes." That's how you get a lockout. Terrible for the sport and its fans.
kibab1979: Wallace has to be really shaking his head. No way he gets a long term deal from the Steelers now, and his dream of mega money is fading farther week to week right now.
Jerry Micco: Some team will still pay him handsomely for his speed. And it's only 1/4 through the season. Let's watch the next 4 games to see how he does. But you cannot argue that Antonio Brown was worth a big deal. Better every game.
praveen: The PIrates should have gone all in after they had a first half surge. I believe it is psychological more than skills because they were getting beat by a bunch of very bad teams in the second half, not just the good ones. The players need to know that low goals are not acceptable. Who cares if these new draftees prosper. Burnett and others will be gone by then leaving the same number of holes in the team.
Jerry Micco: I agree that the Pirates needed to change how they approached the trade deadline once they were at 16 games over .500. I like the Wandy trade and he's a front-line pitcher. So in that sense, they did go all in. But I think they thought they could get by with the pitching they had and that a guy like Marte would catch fire. Didn't happen, particularly on the pitching front.
praveen: How can a pro franchise repeatedly get the same clock management wrong? Ben has done this three or four times already in recent years - spiking the ball on 1st and goal with 30 plus seconds left. In the Philly game, they even had a timeout left. Why panic? Try and end zone throw and you will still have 20 seconds plus left.
Jerry Micco: Clock management has not been a strength from Mike Tomlin. Sometimes it bites them, sometimes, it does not. But in a tight game with a good opponent, that's a bad trait to have.
Jon: Are Penn State fans realy this delusional?
Jerry Micco: I don't get the question. In reference to McQueary?
The Chief: Jerry, The Titans are a team very similar to Oakland. A team the Steelers should defeat. What are the roadblocks that could create a Steeler loss tomorrow?
Jerry Micco: Turnovers and allowing the Titans offensive line to get in rhythm and get Chris Johnson untracked. It's a game the Steelers should win. They need ball control and solid, doesn't have to be spectacular, defense. Get to Hasselbeck a few times, or at least cause some pressure. Winnable game, but it could get away from them. They are not a good road team.
doyle37: I realize no bowl for PSU but I think they can be ranked in the AP pool. I see great things going on up there with BOB. I think they win the rest except for Ohio State and since that's in Happy Valley.....barring injuries, I'll take the Nits in that one too.
Jerry Micco: The game at Nebraska is going to be very tough to win. Ohio State is a good team. Shoot, Purdue on the road won't be easy, nor will Iowa. If they win 8 games, that's a really nice season. It's doubtful over the next few years they'll see 8 wins, but O'Brien and his staff have done an admirable job, and maybe they see their way to some winning seasons.
Pablo: "Do you think PSU will be ranked top 5 in the AP pool if they run the table ??" Wow, that is really an alternate reality. This is a team that lost to a TERRIBLE Virginia team. And received exactly ONE vote in this week's AP poll. (Duke received three.)
Jerry Micco: The Virginia loss was a bad one, but easily a game they should have won, except for the woes of poor Sam Ficken. Ohio is unbeaten. Tough, gritty team those Bobcats.
Will: Jerry, do you sense that the country is paying attention to post season MLB more than in recent years or less? My sense is slightly more.
Jerry Micco: I think you have some big market teams in there (Yanks, entire Bay Area) and some fresh teams like the Orioles and Nationals. Makes it all very interesting. But in New York, the Jets game outdid the Yankees playoff game by something like 3 to 1 in ratings. The NFL is still king.
praveen: Do you think one reason why QBs seem to pass over the middle easily on the Steelers is the lack of DL guys who can bat down passes? Only Keisel has been able to do that in recent years. JJ Watt's performance was an eye opener on how useful that skill can be.(though it is rare anyone can be as good as he was in the Jets game). If you cannot apply pressure, then the ability to jump without T Rex like arms (Hood and Hampton) would help.
Jerry Micco: That helps, it also help to have speedy linebackers who can drop in coverage. Timmons is capable, but if he's doing that he can't blitz. I think that's why they drafted Sean Spencer, the linebacker from Miami. Smaller, quicker LB who can cover backs out of the backfield and drop in coverage. But, he had that knee injury and you wonder if that'll affect his speed.
The Chief: Fantasy answer: Shady and it is not even close!
James_Pittsburgh: Guest, go with either Mendenhall or McCoy. The Giants are a tough matchup for Frank Gore.
praveen: The Sequel: Moneyball 2: How to make $20M off of a losing franchise.
Jerry Micco: Oh shoot, many owners have done that. Not to the success of the Nuttings as far as making money and losing all at the same time, but you can bet this has happened in pro sports many times.
The Chief: Jerry, why not beef Troy up a bit and play him at OLB?
Jerry Micco: He's 205. He'd have to put on 45 pounds. Really?
praveen: Vick scored 2 TDs in 3 second half drives. Punted only once. Vick , even in a bad year, has our defense';s number for a 3rd consecutive game in the second half. Our D gave up two leads the last two times they played Vick. I am glad Ben regained his final drive mojo because I have no confidence that the D would have stopped Vick if he was given another chance.
Jerry Micco: Ah, they'd have probably forced another fumble. Michael Vick is still a good player, but not the dominant player he once was.
Ken: Kevin Colbert hasn't ever gotten alot of citicism--deservedly--but how about not drafting any safeties. Only Mundy and Anthony Smith since Polamalu--c'mon!
Jerry Micco: Well, he did sign Ryan Clark as a FA. Will Allen, too. But I agree. I thought they should have taken a safety in this draft, but the quality wasn't great after the first couple of guys. And OL was a bigger need. We'll see, though, if that's where they land next season. Picking a safety in the draft.
John: Are the Titans that bad or are the Steelers walking into a team that has just had bad luck in its games?
Jerry Micco: The Titans are not a good football team. That said, the Steelers are not a good road team.
The Chief: Your thought on the no cal chop block on the Houston LB by the Jet's OLman. Is there a double standard in the NFL between Offense and Defense when it comes to these type of penalties?
Jerry Micco: I hated to see that and thought that's a penalty, but wasn't called. Cushing is a terrific player. The Texans will miss him down the road, especially at playoff time.
praveen: If RG3 was hit by Harrison, I have no doubt they would have flagged the play regardless of the rules.
Jerry Micco: Sometimes, your reputation preceeds you.
praveen: Under Haley, Steelers are scoring more points per drive(time of possession limiting the number), and even more important, Ben looks really healthy at the one quarter mark. Plus Steelers finally get to benefit from Heath miller instead of treating him as a 6th OL guy.
Jerry Micco: I think Haley's offense is doing very well and is going to get better.
Chunkles: Jerry, win or lose I had the same comment to share with you today. The Steelers have NO discipline on that team. It starts with their head coach. He wants to be one of the guys. You never see him hold anyone accountable. The other thing I have noticed is their is no leadership on either side of the ball.
Jerry Micco: I disagree with most of what you said, but as far as the penalties, holding, etc., is not a discipline thing. It's a technique thing. The helmet-to-helmet stuff is borderline in many cases. The presnap issue, that's a discipline problem. I don't recall any unsportsmanlike conducts, etc., which are discipline problems.
BillL: Jerry, Peter King had an interesting piece on how the new Jags owner Kahn has to explore a European following if the team were to stay in Jacksonville. Do you sense that the Brits like the NFL? I would think Londoners wouldn't be able to stand the constant tv breaks, breaks in the action.
Jerry Micco: I do not think a global NFL will work. See: NFL Europe.
Jon: Does WVU have a chance at a national title? Or do they need something that resembles a defense to challenge? And do you agree it's time that their fans grow up, burning things is a little dangerous
Jerry Micco: Burning things, riots, etc., are never good. As for playing for a national title, they certainly have a chance. Their offense, and Geno Smith, are dynamic.
slick: Jerry, Pitt upsets a ranked team and Cook opines about the fans treatment of Sunseri, ignoring its 1st year coach. PSU upsets a ranked team and Cook opines that there 1st year coach is the second coming of Chuck Noll. Please explain how you don't have a personal agenda to promote PSU and put down Pitt, given examples like these.
Jerry Micco: I think, if you read more than a paragraph or two of the column, it was a column praising the program from getting off the deck after two terrible losses, and praising Paul Chryst for a huge win. And praising Sunseri. As for a personal agenda, I don't write the columns, and I'm not at the game whispering into anyone's ear. Sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.
praveen: Antonio Brown must be thrilled he signed his extension. He has made more mistakes in the last two games dropping or fumbling than he has all season the last two years.
Jerry Micco: Everyone has a tough game sometimes. But he had some huge grabs late in the Philly game. I think he's done a lot more good, but you're right, you can't give that ball up in the NFL. Turnovers will just kill you.
Jon: Sorry the PSU fans being delusional was in reference to them being a top 5 team in the AP. I don't think any Big 10 team is top 5 worthy.
Jerry Micco: Ohio State. Maybe.
WyattBurp: Afternoon, Jerry. I'm a Detroit Tigers fan. I'm predicting that Max will put the A's out of their misery tonight. Am I wrong?
Jerry Micco: I think the Tigers are good enough to go to the World Series. But the A's have been very good at home. It'll be tight, but the Tigers will win that series.
James_Pittsburgh: I see the fact that Pouncey is the only one of the Steelers last four number one picks contributing as a major contributing factor as one of the main reasons the Steelers are not that strong this year.
Jerry Micco: That's true, though Mendenhall seems to be rounding into form, and he has been a major contributor. And DeCastro is hurt, so he's out of the mix. Hood and Heyward play positions that often aren't glamour jobs in the Steelers defense. Necessary parts, but not big play guys necessarily. Still like to see more from both, but I think Hood is starting to show some upside. Heyward's not there yet.
WyattBurp: Cincinnati Reds. They, like the Tigers, are in the cat bird seat. I think, besides the Tigers, they have the best chance at a World Series crown. What do you think?
Jerry Micco: I actually liked the Giants to go to the Series, but if the Reds knock them off, I think they are the best team in then NL. Seem to have the right pitching/hitting combo. Let's see how Cueto is down the road. That could hurt them.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, great chat today. Sorry I didn't get to all the questions, but there were so many good ones I wanted to try to give solid answers. Just a note: I'll be doing a life Steelers chat from my living room, co-hosting with our Online Sports Editor Dan Gigler, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday night. And I'll be back here at noon next Wednesday for our one-hour meeting. Hope to see you tomorrow night, but if not, have a terrific week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco