Do you think Tomas Vokoun can carry the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final?
Guest: Jerry, there are only a few ball clubs that still serve beer in the clubhouse. Are the Pirates one of those teams?
Jerry Micco: I've not been in the Pirates clubhouse in several years, but Bill Brink or Michael Sanserino, They are the beat reporters and could answer that question.
Phil: Jerry, it's going to end. This is the year. Almost everyone in the lineup is contributing, the chemistry is good, they actually come back when they're down--they even had a ball bounce off the bag and right into their hands in NY last week. 85 wins at least! The streak is over!
Jerry Micco: I agree with you, except I had them for 83 wins. Enough to break the streak, but not enough to make the playoffs. I think what you're seeing with this team -- thus far -- is that they are not relying on one guy to get it done. Seems like a different guy comes though every night. And Grilli has been great this season, despite last night's game. Certainly hope springs eternal for Pirates fans.
Matt: Realistically and despite the talk about a renewed committment from the team and the players, do you see the Steelers with so many new guys and the loss of so many veterans competing for a playoff spot let alone the Super Bowl?
Jerry Micco: I think it's more realistic to see this team as competing for a playoff spot rather than a Super Bowl. A lot of holes to fill, and I'm not sure they are all filled. Some uncertainty on OL, LB, secondary as well as WR and RB. If enough good things click, they can be very good. If not, probably 8-8 type team again.
WyattBurp: Afternoon, Jerry. I'm a Detroit Red Wings fan. Penguins are in a fight against Ottawa, but like the Red Wings are up 2-1. Can those birds in the tuxedos close the deal?
Jerry Micco: I think they'll close it in 5 to be honest. I just don't think Ottawa matches up well with the Penguins. They played their best game of the series in Game 3 and it took a couple of OTs for them to beat the Pens. I look for the Pens to win the next two. As for the Wings, I still think the Blackhawks get one in Detroit and close them out in 6 or 7.
WyattBurp: Red Wings. I think my team's gotten this far by "NOT" making trades at the deadline. They played their young players, and that's what's gotten them this far. A good lesson, there?
Jerry Micco: If you think your young guys can hold up, that's a good idea. If you think you are very close and a couple of veteran pickups can deliver you a Cup, you go for it. Penguins fit that later mold.
Paul: Brian Urlacher retired. Canton enshrinee? I say yes. Ronde Barber did also, but I think Canton is only possiblity years from now with him.
Jerry Micco: I think Urlacher is in, but I'm not sure if it's the first round. Depends on who else in being considered. I'm not sold on Rhonde Barber. I think he's a bit of a reach.
WyattBurp: Boston Bruins. They're crushing the Rangers, look to be in the cat bird seat waiting for their next opponent. Is that a good or bad situation for the next round?
Jerry Micco: I always think if you can get some rest during the playoffs, it can help. A long layoff might make you a bit rusty, but long run, your veteran players in particular like some sort of layoff. Bruins looking very good. I think the Penguins knew that if they were going to a Cup final, that Boston likely was the team that would stand in their way. Looks to me like that will be the case.
WyattBurp: Sharks vs. Kings. That series is tied 2-2. It's now a three game series. Who do you see winning two of those games?
Jerry Micco: I think the Kings have better goaltending and get 2 of those 3 at home. I like Los Angeles to move on.
Chunkles: Jerry, I think the biggest problem for the Pens is they have SO much talent, after the team gets the upper hand, they assume. TV was playing great in the goal the other night and the "Defense" just assumed, well Tomas is having a great game, he can stop ONE more shot, there is only 27 seconds left, we'll win. Well, he didnt stop it, overtime, AND its over! These great players need to NEVER take their foot off the gas. Its okay to win 10-3, it really is. Stop assuming that Sid is on the ice, were good to go. These are the play-offs, EVERYONE gives 100 percent ALL the time.
Jerry Micco: Not much more I can add to that. Well stated. I'm sure Dan Bylsma and the coaching staff remind them of that every day.
WyattBurp: Tomas Vokoun. The team picked him up just for this eventuality. Well, the future is now! Why wouldn't they just keep riding the hot hand?
Jerry Micco: I think they will ride him until they feel he's slowing down. When will that be? When he plays his first bad game. I believe when that happens, Fleury will be back in goal. It's hard to keep your franchise guy on the bench through and entire playoff run, even if the back up has done a great job.
James_Pittsburgh: I am going to the game tomorrow. Will Gomez make it out to the fifth inning against the Cubs? And do the Pirates need to try to find a starting pitcher at the deadline in a salary dump? Wandy Rodriguez may not be back next year since he has a player option.
Jerry Micco: Gomez has had a couple good starts and a poor start, so you may not see him getting much past the fifth. If he can last that long and pitch well, the Pirates would take it. Rodriguez isn't going anywhere if the Pirates are contending. He's had some OK outings, and some very good outings, and I think they like the fact that he battles when he doesn't have his best stuff. As well, Liriano and Morton are still kind of unknown at this point. Liriano has pitched pretty well in 2 starts. Morton's not ready to go just yet. And Gerrit Cole, who everyone assumed would be here in June, is having a rocky season thus far.
WyattBurp: More Urlacher. For the Bears to cut Urlacher is just ignorant. I read where Lance Briggs said, "Gee, I've been spoiled. Now I have to call the signals!" Isn't shoveling team leaders out the door bad business?
Jerry Micco: It is an unfortunate side of the business of professional sports. Sometimes you have to make way for younger, less expensive talent. It's a game where once you start downhill, it's hard to find your way back up to the top. Urlacher today said he could probably continue to play, but just not at the level he has for so many years. I think he made a great decision.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry you pick of 83 wins is looking good. This is one time that I would be happy to be wrong. However if A.J. Burnett gets hurt and we see James McDonald in the rotation again it may get ugly.
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates need Burnett and Rodriguez to stay healthy and pitch well to contend. McDonald, I'm not sure. I've always liked his stuff, and we say for half of 2012 that he can be a very good pitcher, but this season has been dismal. Topped by his injured shoulder. I think the Bucs are hoping Liriano, Locke and either Gomez/Morton/Karstens can hold the fort. Then if McDonald can be eased back in, they'll give that a shot.
Will: Is "growing the game", that is making even more money that important to these billionaire owners? Pushing back the draft to mid May for tv is absurd. How is a rookie supposed to learn from his coaches in such a short period of time?
Jerry Micco: I'm sure they'll figure that out. Training camp will still be the same length. There will still be 14-15 OTA/minicamp days. It's always tough for rookies, but I don't think the draft change will be the cause of their possible slow learning curve.
The Chief: Jerry, your thoughts on the NFL moving the draft to mid-May?
Jerry Micco: Wish they'd keep it in April because it gets you thinking football a bit earlier. But since I love the draft, they could do it any time, and I'd be OK with it. But if they were asking me, and they could care less what I think, I'd keep it in late April.
The Chief: Jerry, they say that players win games not coaches, but what was Coach Blysma thinking with the guys he put on the ice with the Pens winning and 1:27 to go on Sunday?
Jerry Micco: I think he wanted to run a regular power play and do some sort of keep away, but it didn't work too well. Not his best coaching moment, that's for sure.
WyattBurp: Pittsburg Pirates. Currently, they're crushing the Cubbies. Nice slammer by Snider, last game. Will the Pirates catch the Reds and Redbirds by the All-Star break?
Jerry Micco: I think the Bucs got a break last night when Garza hit his pitch count after 5. He was doing a number on them both on the mound and at the plate with his 2-run double. I think for some reason, the Cubs give the Pirates trouble, so if they can get 2 out of 3 here, that's a good thing. As for the Reds and Cardinals, I think the Pirates will stay close. Better chance of being ahead of the Reds than Cards at the break.
WyattBurp: Hey, Jerry, you bring it every week for the fans. Thanks for letting us pick your brain! You have a great day.
Jerry Micco: Happy to do it, Wyatt. Have a terrific day and hope to see you next Wednesday at noon.
The Chief: The Tiger/Garcia issue has gone over the top with Garcia's "fried chicken remark"last night. Do you see Garcia getting the same treatment as Fuzzy di when he made a similar remark after Tiger's first Master's victory?
Jerry Micco: He should. I know the setting where he made those remarks was rather informal and the question was more of a set up for a joke, but what he said wasn't a joke. It was racist and tasteless. He could have said a lot of things in a joking manner and he didn't. I hope the PGA suspends him. I'm not Tiger's biggest fan, but no one deserves that type of treatment from someone.
Ken: Hard to believe that the Pirates would be trading away anybody this year isn't it? I don't think it's such a potential PR nightmare as it was the last couple of years if they were to keep everything the way it is.
Jerry Micco: They may be more buyers than sellers at the trade deadline. There's a lot of time between now and then, and we don't know what the issues will be come late July. A key injury could force a trade, or, someone just goes completely into the tank and they will need to deal someone to get someone. So much can happen between now and the deadline.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I was talking about finding something similar to how the Pirates got Wandy Rodriguez last year if a player like that is available. The rotation will be thin next year with Wandy likely declining his option and not guarantee that A.J. Burnett will be back(2014 rotation Gerritt Cole, Liriano, Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton, and a big question mark). The trade deadline would be the perfect time to grab an arm even if it pushed Morton and Gerritt Cole to the bullpen for August and September.
Jerry Micco: Oh, now I understand. I always say, if you can grab an arm you grab one. I thought Rodriguez was the perfect pickup for them because he's steady and he can eat some innings. I think that's where Neal Huntington will go if he makes a trade. He does have options with the guys you mention as well as Karstens. But your point about the future is a good one. You could lose Burnett and Wandy in the offseason.
Matt: I realizee that it has been over 20 years since we have had a winning season, but why do Pirate fans have to be so negative by either predicting injuries, doom and gloom or just the end of the world. Can't we just enjoy a GREAT season so far and hope for the best?
Jerry Micco: I think they have been conditioned by 20 losing seasons, Matt. Plus, the last 2 seasons have been crushing for Pirates fans. I think last year in particular really soured a lot of fans. There's a lot to like with this year's team, but maybe fans are being a big guarded because they've been down this road before.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I don't see James McDonald getting a shot unless a starter is injured. I believe the rotation will be Burnett, Rodriguez, Jeff Locke, Liriano, and Morton (with Karstens and Gomez ready if Morton falters). James McDonald will be used as a reliever and maybe even dumped at the deadline if the Pirates are still in contention.
Jerry Micco: You could very well be right. But I think the Pirates have to use him in some way before they can dump him. Why would a team take him unless he was showcased some? And if he does well, they may deal him anyway. But Morton and Karstens are huge question marks. Only time will tell if either can grab a fifth spot. And I'd like to see how Liriano holds up long term.
The Chief: Is this the year Neil Huntington as Ray Shero for help at the dealine? Just kidding if you are the Buc's GM, who are you looking to ad at the deadline!
Jerry Micco: I think they are looking for depth. As James correctly points out, you may want to grab a Wandy-like starter just because you can't have enough arms going down the stretch. And again, it may depend on injuries and performance issues between now and the trade deadline in late July.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you think Jordy Mercer should get more playing time? Possibly starting at second against lefties. Mercer is hitting .279 with a .854 OPS.
Jerry Micco: I'd hate to bench Walker, though when he turns around right-handed he's not nearly as effective. I think you can try him at short, though he's not a great fielding SS. I think he'll play that utility role for some time and his time to shine may be 2014. But I'm not sure if he can be an everyday shortstop.
The Chief: Any reason why the Penguins not send Bennett and Bortuzzo back to the baby Penguins in Wilkes Barre for their Calder Cup Trophy quest They obviously are not playing in the near future at the NHL level?
Jerry Micco: I think they want the depth and the options. And if nothing else, there's not much threat of injury if they are in the press box as opposed to playing the the AHL. The Baby Pens have plenty of good players already. I'm sure the big club wants to see what they have down there. They pretty much know what they have in Bennett and Bortuzzo.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I would keep an eye on Bud Norris of the Astros who is 28. He is available. He has a 3.86 ERA this year and he won't be a free agent until 2016. He has averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings over this career, but his strikeouts are down in 10 starts this year.
Jerry Micco: I thought he's pitched pretty well vs. the Pirates, too, which was one reason they might have gone after Wandy. I'm going to keep an eye on this situation since you've mentioned it. I think pitching is the key to this team possibly gaining a postseason shot.
Phil: Most unjustifiable "we're better than you" snob fans in MLB? Cubs fans (1908!)? Phillie fans? Dodger fans?
Jerry Micco: I've always been a Dodgers fan, probably my second favorite team to the Pirates as a kid growing up. But they have been a huge disappointment this season. And for that reason, they shouldn't say they are better than anybody. They are not.
Guest: Don't believe a MLB manager has been fired this season. who is the first to go?
Jerry Micco: See above. Don Mattingly is likely on very thin ice in Los Angeles.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, you are right that Liriano and Morton may falter. Things may change by July, but I can definitely see a scenario where there is no room for James McDonald and he is included as part of a trade. They won't get much for McDonald, but if the team is in contention there may not be a roster spot open for McDonald. Part of my thinking is that Charlie Morton and Vic Black will also be added to the bullpen.
Jerry Micco: My concern then would be who would they give up as a prospect (or 2) to pair with McDonald? And you're point is well taken that there may be no room for him if Morton and Liriano hold up the back of the rotation. Or, if Karstens can return and be somewhat effective. A lot of moving parts for the Pirates.
Guest: Steve Adams is projected to by pick 12 in the NBA draft. Guess he made the right choice.
Jerry Micco: I think he knew from the time he enrolled at Pitt that he'd be a pretty high NBA pick because of his size and ability to run the court. He's raw, but he'll learn as time goes by in the NBA. He'll practice daily against those guys and will get better. But he's not going to make a huge difference for a team right away.
Guest: Pirates final record is?
Jerry Micco: I have to stick with my original pick, which was 83-79. But maybe I'll be a few wins under what the real number is? If they keep playing this well, they can win 90.
The Chief: Jerry, is Brando Moss another example of someone the Pirates gave up on to soon?
Jerry Micco: Sometimes, you don't think a guy can play and he fools you once he goes elsewhere. Think the Blue Jays are wondering that about Travis Snider? Or the Marlins about Gaby Sanchez? Somtimes it's just a change of scenery that makes the difference.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I don't see Morton in the rotation either if the Pirates are in contention. I see them adding a starter via trade and moving Morton to the bullpen. My prediction is that the rotation will be Burnett, Rodriguez, Liriano, Jeff Locke, and someone obtained via trade. If Liriano falters then Morton starts and Liriano moves to the pen. Either way, the Pirates should work hard to pick up Bud Norris or someone similar.
Jerry Micco: But if Morton is ready in a week or so, they need a bridge for two months until the trade deadline. I think Morton will be that bridge. And I don't think that will stop the Pirates from trying to make the deal you mentioned, whether it's Norris or another similar pitcher.
The Chief: Folks seem to be just assuming the Penguins will get by the Senators. I believe the win on Sunday gave the Sens new life and they have a goalie that can stand on his head for three games. Your thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I think the Pens will win in 5 games. Anderson is a terrific goalie, but at some point, Ottawa has to get more than a couple of goals, and I don't think it can. Just not enough offense on that team.
Phil: Prediction--Arians goes from Ben, to Andrew Luck, to Carson Palmer?? Palmer's the most overrated QB in the game. No way he can match Seattle and SF and even the Rams. It's the Cardinals after all. He goes 5 and 11.
Jerry Micco: They are in a very tough division. Seattle may be 2013's San Francisco and the 49ers will likely be as good as they were last season. And while the Rams don't scare a lot of people, they are better than the Cardinals. Yep, going to be a long season for Arians and Arizona.
James_Pittsburgh: Despite Neil Huntington's increasing success in making trades, he still seems to lack the ability to find young players on other teams and in the draft. Maybe Travis Snider will be his first success. If the Pirates are going to remain competitive Huntington's staff needs to do a better job at evaluating young talent.
Jerry Micco: I think they've done better with bullpen talent, but I agree that developing players still has a ways to go with the Pirates. You want to see more guys come up from AAA who can make a difference, and right now, there aren't many. But the system is better off than it was a few years back. Now, let's see what they can make of it.
Jerry Micco: OK folks I need to head back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time today to join me. I always enjoy the company! I'll see you next Wednesday at noon. Until then, have a great week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco