Your level of panic concerning the Pirates, on a 1-5 scale with 5 being catastrophic, is:
1 -- Just a blip (15%)
2 -- A bit nervous (55%)
3 -- You know, they need to make a trade (0%)
4 -- Where have I seen this before? (15%)
5 -- Run for your lives! (15%)
JD_Blairsville: Hi, Jerry, In order of importance where do you feel the Pirates need to upgrade. RF,SS,SP,1B,bench.
Jerry Micco: I'm always a guy who believes pitching wins you championships. And I still believe that. But what we're seeing now is how much guys like Walker and Jones having down years, make this lineup pretty vulnerable at the plate. I guess for this team, I see it this way: RF, SP, Bench, SS, 1B. But you could move around a couple of those an not be wrong.
JD_Blairsville: With the Penguins signing of Scuderi, do you foresee a trade involving a D-man to free up cap space.
Jerry Micco: I would think that's likely, and Niskanen is probably the best bet to go. He's got a $2.3 million cap hit and you can fill his spot with Despres and/or Bortuzzo. You can pair Letang and Scuderi; Orpik and Martin then Despres and Bortuzzo, or you can flop Bortuzzo and Orpik.
Jeff: How do you see Pitt competing in the ACC this coming fall?
Jerry Micco: I think they'll be competitive because their defense will be very good. And a lot of their toughest games are a home, particularly FSU and Miami. I could see 7-5 this year. Probably the middle of the pack. It'll take a little while for Paul Chryst and his staff to get the kids they want to compete in the ACC. But that doesn't mean they'll be a doormat in the league this season.
JD_Blairsville: How did MLB determine that Wright and Cano would be captains for the home run derby?
Jerry Micco: I believe they took both because they are based in New York, which is where the game is being played. But that's just an assumption. I'm not sure what, if any, formula MLB uses for picking captains.
Nate: Jerry, I am drawing a blank here: have all draft picks signed with the Steelers yet? Thanks.
Jerry Micco: Yes Nate, they have. I believe QB Landry Jones was the last one to sign.
Jeff: I for one am relieved that Pedro is not in the HR derby. Too much has happened to other sluggers who have participated before. Your sentiments?
Jerry Micco: First of all, I can see why Pirates fans are upset that Pedro wasn't selected. Hey, it's a pride thing and quite frankly, he's a more exciting HR guy than Michael Cuddyer. That said, it's not all that big of a deal to me. The big deal is that he hit HRs when they count, and that he made the All-Star team. I think some guys never recover their season after being in the Derby. Most do, but why risk that? I guess I'm not all that upset that he's not in the Derby. Would be fun to watch, but Cutch was in it last year and while it was fun, it really didn't do much for me.
Barry: What abt 3 million dollar mcdonald. Do the brass have guts to get rid of him, or is he going to take the place of a pitcher that can help the pirates??
Jerry Micco: Right now, he can't pitch, so it's a moot point. I think the Pirates are OK with Burnett, Locke, Liriano and Cole for the time being. Morton is serviceable as a fifth starter. At best, McDonald would be a long reliever if he came back. Unless they think Cole needs more work in AAA, which wouldn't bother me. I think he does need more work in the minors, and maybe it's just a couple more games, but he's awfully close. All that said, I think the Pirates leave him alone and he's in the rotation.
JD_Blairsville: Is Brandon Inge still a Pirate on Aug 1st?
Jerry Micco: I don't see how you can keep a guy who is hitting something like .180. Not when Harrison is available to play and can do many of the same things Inge does, only better.
Cableman: Jerry...what does it take to get the Pirates section of the webpage to get above the fold and the Penguins? Hockey season is over. Soon enough football will dominate whether the Pirates win the WS or not. Can they get the love they currently deserve? Move the Bucs to the top!
Jerry Micco: We can move some things around on our Website, but that's not in my control. But I can talk to some people about it and see what we can do.
Nate: Jerry, not sure if you play fantasy football but I have a question: In a keeper league, would you keep Ridley (would cost me a 9th rounder), MJD (would cost me a 10th rounder), or Kaepernick (would cost me a 10th rounder)? Thanks again.
Jerry Micco: I haven't played in about 20 years, though I know it's even more popular than when I messed around with it. Why not keep Kaepernick? In a yards league, I'd think he'd be fantastic. And for a 10th-round pick? An absolute steal.
Barry: Why hasn't the coaching staff got on cutch for trying to pull everything. If he hits it where its pitched, he'd be 50 pts higher??
Jerry Micco: You can tell a guy 100 times to do something. You can have him watch film til his eyes glaze over. But at some point, that player has to want to do it. I think Cutch has been hot and cold this year. Not the consistency I'd like to see out of him. He's the best player on the team and he should be good for 25/90/.320. But I'd be shocked to see him do any of that this year. We'll see how he adjusts for the second half, which historically has been poor for him.
JD_Blairsville: Any update on the status of Wandy's injury? Seems to me like he is headed for TJ surgery.
Jerry Micco: I don't think it's his elbow, but his forearm. I think the Pirates are going to keep waiting to see if it heals with treatments, but I'd not expect Wandy back before Aug. 1. And maybe that's too early. That's why there's a piece of me that says they need to get a starter similar to him. After all, Wandy is on a player option at year's end and Burnett's deal is up. Leaves a couple of pretty big holes at the top of the rotation.
We Are Family: Does the winner of the Allstar game still get home field for their league's representative in the World Series?
Jerry Micco: Yes, that rule is still in vogue. It was Bud Selig's brainchild after the one All-Star game ended in a tie. I don't know that I like the rule, but it does give some meaning to the game. But I think the baseball ASG is the only one that really seems competitive. The other sports are pretty lousy to watch, and I rarely do so.
KS Steeler: Hi Jerry - how do you see the third WR position working out for the Steelers; whos is the starting RB? It is going to be a pretty new look O this season at the skill posistions.
Jerry Micco: Well, I think rookie WR Marcus Wheaton will get a long look as the No. 3 guy and if Plaxico Burress can muster up some old magic, he may get a look there, too. Wheaton has speed, not Wallace speed, but he can run so that bring that element to the game for the Steelers. Rookie WRs, though, have a higher learning curve than a lot of other positions, so Wheaton may be brought along slowly. This is where they miss a guy like Heath Miller, who could function as a great 1-2 target for Big Ben. As for RB, Le'Veon Bell will get a long look as the starter. I think he'll win that job.
MountaineerMania: I know Jenn covers the Mountaineers, but how do you see WVU's football season turning out this year Jerry?
Jerry Micco: I think they'll struggle a bit because they lost so many key players on offense. I'm thinking, like Pitt, they could go 7-5 or 6-6 this season. WVU has had a great run, but it may be slowing down for a season or two. Still competitive though.
Zack: I think we need a new RF. Who do you think would fit well? Rios would be nice, but his salary is high. Willingham would be solid too, b ut he just had surgery.
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure who's out there, aside from the guys you mentioned. I guess the Giancarlo Stanton rumors were put to rest as it seems Miami will keep him. And I guess as the Dodgers revive themselves, Andre Ethier is off the market. Rios would be a nice pickup as a rent-a-player. Maybe for some B-level prospects. He wouldn't merit top prospects in return. They just need more power, but that's not always guaranteed at the trade deadline.
Zack: We need O-Line depth. Why haven't guys like Andre Caldwell and Winston Justice gotten longer looks? Price?
Jerry Micco: Are we talking Steelers here? Sorry, I guess my mid-summer NFL OL depth chart is a bit dusty...
Jerry Micco: OK, some quick research on these guys, Justice is still a FA as is Caldwell. I think the Steelers like the OL starters: Adams, DeCastro, Pouncey, Foster and Marcus Gilbert. John Malecki and Beachum are the top backups right now, and they signed a couple of FAs to bolster that part of the team. But they have drafted OL very high in recent drafts, so they are going with those guys and hoping other young guys can step up. I do know they really like Beachum, who was a 7th-round pick in 2012 out of SMU.
Guest: have you received any news about Pitt's chances with the WPIAL elite?
Jerry Micco: Not yet, though Sam Werner and Mike White handle that part of our coverage. I'd say getting Tyler Boyd was an excellent get by the Panthers and he's certainly an elite prospect.
Nate: Guy Wimper.....another Jonathan Scott?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure. I'd hope not. Wimper can play a little and would be another guy they hope can be a solid backup. At least he's got some years in the league (8) as opposed to the other guys. But I think if one of the OTs goes down, they'll feel OK putting Wimper in.
Ralph_LA: How did you answer the Pirates "level of panic" question?
Jerry Micco: Hi Ralph. I didn't vote. But if I did, I'd vote 2. Only nervous because I don't think the offense is consistent enough and a couple of pretty big guns -- Walker and Jones -- are not producing. I think the pitching is there, so that means they can stay in games and that's important. Last year I thought the pitching started to sour in early August and that was a killer for them.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to wrap this up. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. It felt good to get back in the saddle. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon, and I hope you can join me then. Have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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