If you're Neal Huntington, do you make a trade by 4 p.m. today or do you stand pat?
Trade, still need a bit more (54%)
Stand pat. Best record in baseball with current team (46%)
Nate: Jerry, do you know if Woodley reported to camp in better shape than last year?
Jerry Micco: My understanding is, and I've not been out to camp, that LaMarr Woodley is in good shape and ready to go. I've heard nothing to the contrary. But the buzz of camp as far as guys being in shape is RB Jonathan Dwyer, who came to camp about 30 pounds or so lighter. It's amazing what drafting a RB in round 2 will do for a guy's conditioning.
TonyH: I still think the Pirates need to improve the bench particularly from an Offensive standpoint! Would like your opinion on that and who you think they would target or part with?
Jerry Micco: I think a bench or role player could be had in August, when it won't cost you very much to pick someone up. I think their bench is not a strength right now, but if you look at last night's DH sweep, guys like Presley, G. Sanchez, Harrison, Tabata all contributed in some way. It's not a great bench, but it may be a viable bench for the rest of the season. If they do make a trade for a bench guy, it might be another infielder, but I think it would be a very minor deal. And for that trade, you are looking at some A-ball prospects.
TonyH: One follow-up! If a trade happens is Neal more likely to go Arm or Bat?
Jerry Micco: I'd say a bat but only if it's a guy you plan on playing every day like a Kendrys Morales or Raul Ibanez. Other than that, it's just a depth guy. If he did go for an arm, but I think that's unlikely, it would be a starter because Wandy is not progressing very well, and maybe they think Morton isn't up to snuff. But those guys are few and far between at the moment.
Chunkles: Jerry, if the Steelers miss the play-offs again this year, do You see the Rooney's pulling the trigger on Tomlin?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so. They are loathe to do that with head coaches. However, if the missing-the-playoffs record is 5-11, then all bets are off. If the Steelers go 9-7 or 8-8 and are in all their games, then I think they stick with Tomlin. And I think this year's team, on paper, is a 9-7 or 8-8 type team. But we'll see how they gel through camp and the preseason.
Anthony: Do you think the Biogenesis scandal is impacting trades the Pirates are thinking about?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so. I don't think that has anything to do with the Pirates not pulling the trigger, especially for some of the star players mentioned in connection with Biogenesis. I think what's preventing the Bucs from pulling the trigger is they find themselves at 64-42 and with the best record in baseball. Tough to change that formula in any big way because of where it has gotten you thus far.
Guest: Is it too early for Clint Hurdle to be setting his pitching up for the playoffs? I have Liriano as Game 1 starter.
Jerry Micco: I think Hurdle is trying to figure out his pitching through the Colorado series this weekend. He's not thinking playoffs. Liriano would be a great No. 1, depending on the team. If it's full of right-hand power, he may opt for AJ Burnett. Either way, it's a pretty nice 1-2 combo to have. And if Wandy comes back at full strength, having he and Locke as a 3-4 isn't so shabby either.
Moral Compass: Moe, Larry & Curley held over for trial; "a sad day for Penn State" said the district justice. Yet as usual no comment from you or your staff. Let the games begin, right Jerry?
Jerry Micco: We covered the event for what it was, a news event. How can you comment on something that is in the baby stages of the legal process? Want to make a comment, feel free. This is an open forum and you don't even have to give us your name. We make it easy for you.
Anthony: Any chance we'll see lifetime bans for PED's in baseball sometime soon? It seems as though some players are for it.
Jerry Micco: I think at some point, someone is going to be banned for life. There will likely be another round of this and when that happens, then I suspect we'll see some players gone on a lifetime ban.
Doug Froebel: If Inge and McKHenry were on the bench yesterday we don't win those games. Next move for me is to dump Bryan Morris. What do you think?
Jerry Micco: I think you need Morris for bullpen depth, but he's certainly not their top guy. But for now, he's the best option for a guy to pitch in the 6th or 7th, unless you want Jeanmar Gomez for that spot, which is fine. But you can't do that until you get Grilli back. Gomez and/or Wilson will be the 8th-inning guys and Melancon the closer.
barry: What abt Norris?? Anything abt him??
Jerry Micco: Heard some noise yesterday about Buddy Norris, but nothing today. Pirates seem very quiet today thus far, but that could change as the deadline gets closer.
barry: Heard the cubs sherholtz or mets byrd?? Anything??
Jerry Micco: Again, nothing on any of those guys. The Pirates may be a team that stands pat and sees what's out there come August when you can get guys more on the cheap. Maybe it's picked over but if you're looking for a bit of bench strength or bullpen depth, maybe that's when they make a move.
Guest: How can you explain the 180 degree turn on the opinion of Bob Nutting, NH and Pirates management? They went from laughingstocks to geniuses almost overnight
Jerry Micco: Winning cures all ills. And when you build like they have, you need your great prospects to be great (McCutchen, Alvarez, Locke) and the guys you sign as FAs or in trades to work out for the year or two that they are here (Grilli, Martin, Burnett, Liriano). You walk a fine line when you have to contend that way. It's easier when you have a ton of money to throw around, but it guarantees nothing. Pirates front office deserves credit for the success of 2013, just as it did criticism of the past 20 losing seasons.
barry: Why do they keep mchenry?? At best a average catcher, throws to 2nd base have a curve in them?? Think sanchez is answer at backup??
Jerry Micco: I think Sanchez, right now, is the future. I think this likely is McKenry's last year in Pittsburgh. But I'm not sure Sanchez is ready even now, which doesn't say a whole lot about how he has developed. And ideally, you'd want him ready to start in 2015 if you cut Martin loose after his 2 years are up. I don't know if Sanchez is that good yet.
Kevin Greene: Who will lead the Steelers in Sacks this year?
Jerry Micco: I think if he stays healthy it'll be LaMarr Woodley. Still the team's best pass rusher. If either Jason Worilds or rookie Jarvis Jones can add some pressure from the other side, Woodley will have the opportunity for a Pro Bowl season, I believe.
Guest: Does Tony Sanchez stay on this roster when McKHenry is healthy?
Jerry Micco: Not likely. They won't carry 3 catchers.
Anthony: I keep reading all of these reviews of "blue chip" players, or top 50 players in the NFL and invariably they include Ben as the only Steeler. Has their talent level really dropped that far?
Jerry Micco: I think guys like Polamalu and Woodley would be there, but injuries and sub-par seasons have dropped them a bit. I'm surprised Heath Miller isn't there, but if you're talking only top 50, there's just so many spots that can be filled with 32 teams.
Franco: Read on the Steelers page a few weeks back about how the Steelers players from last season were graded out, and Foote and Ziggy were rated as 'Poor'. Is this the year the Steelers give up on Ziggy and Heyward and cut them as 1st round busts?
Jerry Micco: Who would play in their places? I think Ziggy Hood will get a chance to play and if he can't do the job in the preseason, then he may be cut, but I think Cam Heyward hasn't really had a chance as a starter to prove himself. Heyward was a guy drafted on potential to play DE in a 3-4, so that's going to take some time. But there's not a lot of depth on the DL, so guys like Hood and Heyward will be expected to improve dramatically.
Scott: Was Grilli overused? In the game he was injured he came in with a lead of several runs, it sure seemed like he could've used a break.
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure what the situation was as I was on vacation when that happened. But had he pitched in several days? Sometimes when he doesn't pitch for several days, Hurdle will bring him in for some work. I think Hurdle and Ray Searage took great pains to nurse Grilli and Melancon along as best they could to keep them healthy. I don't know that Grilli's injury was from being overworked, sometimes arm injuries happen (SEE: Wandy). But the depth of their bullpen is showing now because they have played really well despite Grilli's absence.
Guest: I heard Hurdle has 5 clubhouse leaders he meets with, who are those 5? Cutch, AJ, Martin.....
Jerry Micco: I really have no idea, but I'd imagine those are 3 guys whose counsel is something he values.
Anthony: Polamalu was cited in a Grantland article as one of the worst contracts in the NFL because he's constantly injured and the Steelers are paying him a boatload of money. How many more seasons do you think he has? Is this is last with the Steelers? (not sure about his contract situation)
Jerry Micco: I believe his contract is up this season, so this could be his final as a Steeler. I think if the article you cite said that, it's a hindsight look at the situation. When Troy was offered that deal, he was a defensive player of the year kind of player. You pay those guys and you keep them. Now, you cannot predict injuries, so in hindsight, that deal looks terrible. But injuries are always an X factor.
Guest: Sounds like White Sox and Pirates are getting close on a deal for Alex Rios. Cash being worked on. Not sure if they can find a middle ground. Your thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I think they've cooled on Alex Rios. I think the cash is a bit much for a guy who may or may not solved your RF problems.
Guest: Still think the Pirates are better servbed with a more reliable bat in right field.....Pressley has shown falshes in his stints with the club but maybe not enough.....should they go after Rios what would it take to get him.....I heard something about cash considerations....your thoughts....thank you!
Jerry Micco: I think Alex Rios is better than anyone who the Pirates can put in RF today. That said, he's set to make $12.5 million per year for the next several years and he's probably a 20/80 guy. It would make him the highest-paid player on the team. I'm not sure the Pirates are willing to make that investment in him. As for Presley, he always shows flashes, but his consistency is the issue.
Guest: How badly does Florida St trounce Pitt?
Jerry Micco: FSU, on paper, is the better team. But I think Pitt's defense will keep them in a lot of games. I look for a much closer game, maybe a 7-10 point type of game, than a lot of people. Big crowd at Heinz Field will help, too.
Nate: Jerry, would you ever consider trading your chat slot with Doug Oster? You could fill in for his gardening chat and he could handle sports chat duties. What do you think?
Jerry Micco: I have a very nice flower garden that my talented brother pretty much put in for us. I know the names of some of the plants. I'll bet Doug knows more Pirates players names then I do types of flowers in my garden.
Guest: Your thoughts on the umpiring you've seen. To me it's atrocious. You could pull 4 guys from the stands and do as well or better.
Jerry Micco: Like everything else, you see inconsistencies. These guys do their best, but sometimes they just miss a call, like they did yesterday. All you can do is keep working with them to get better and if they don't, there are avenues to replace them. They do get graded every year.
Anthony: How do think Shell is going to fit in at WVU? Would have liked to see him back at Pitt, but I understand the coach wanting to send a message.
Jerry Micco: I think Paul Chryst did the right thing with Shell. Time to move on and stick with the guys who are committed 100 percent to the program. He'll be a very good RB at WVU, but I'm not sure he's eligible for this season. I think he likely fits Pitt's style of play better, but that's moot right now.
Anthony: Any chance MLB ever goes to the electronic balls and strikes technology. I mean, it's right there on my TV screen whether it was a strike or not. I hate the "human element" excuse.
Jerry Micco: Well, are we sure that TV strike zone is 100 percent accurate? And I'll bet that the umpires get 99 percent of those calls right. I can say that I've seen pitches that I was sure were balls, then the graphic comes up and you see it barely gets a touch inside the box. Well, that's a strike. Umpires have a tough, thankless job.
Mark: Speaking of umpiring...did you see that Jerry Meals call the other night in Boston.....he blew another call big time at a very critical time in the game.....what are these guys not seeing.....Meals should be demoted to the minor leagues or be given a "time out" for a few weeks....some guys like to keep the spotlight on themselves for all the wrong reasons...your thoughts?
Jerry Micco: I did not see the call, but understand from folks it was on par with his brutal call vs. the Pirates in the Atlanta game. Again, these guys are graded. I'm sure MLB has taken note of the issue and my guess is a supervisor will talk with Meals. But they are veterans with a union, so the discipline has to be on par with what was agreed to in their bargaining agreement.
Syd Thrift: How would you like to see Justin Morneau at 1b?
Jerry Micco: Maybe a couple of years ago, but for the money he makes right now, I don't think he'd be the best fit for the Pirates. I think he's slipped a bit.
Brandon: Any intersting battles shaping up yet at Steeler camp...or still too early to tell....thanks!
Jerry Micco: Starting RB will be a good battle between Le'Veon Bell and Dwyer/Redman. ROLB is a battle between Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds. While Cortez Allen's knee is keeping him from starting at LCB, Curtis Brown may make a pitch to start there if he, too, can stay healthy. Some good battles this camp, I think. And they'll play out more in the next few weeks.
Shoeless Joe: Would you put Pete Rose in the HOF??
Jerry Micco: For what he did as a player, he absolutely should be in. For how he gambled on the game and bet on his own team, and I don't care if he always be for his own team when he managed, he should not be in. I'd not give him the vote.
Guest: Mike Tomlin on Twitter. Good idea?
Jerry Micco: We'll see how active he stays. I don't follow him. I'll be there will be few insights coming from Tomlin, but plenty of cliches. I don't think it's a bad thing, but I don't think he'll get in trouble for it, either. I don't expect him to do "Twitter battles" with the fans. If he even reads what people send him.
Miguel in Omaha: Do you see the Bungles taking that next step and winning the division possibly? They've been so inconsistent for decades I never know what to think.
Jerry Micco: I think that is a very loaded team in Cincinnati and if Dalton keeps getting better as a QB, then they will be the best team in the division for some time. Their defense is getting better every year. I look for the Bengals to be very tough this year, despite what you accurately point out is a history of inconsistency.
Guest: Did you spend your vacation in Latrobe?
Jerry Micco: Nope. Spent most of it in Cape May, NJ. Lovely place and had a very nice time.
Miguel in Omaha: Your takes on Cleveland and Baltimore then?
Jerry Micco: Browns will struggle. They are still a ways away. The Ravens are a mystery. They lost a lot, but still have some very good players, led by Joe Flacco. Super Bowl hangover could be a factor, too. I still see them ahead of the Steelers in the division, but not by much. And if the Steelers have some things come together, they could find themselves battling for the division title. But a lot of "ifs" for the Steelers right now.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, I need to move on to some other stuff. Excellent chat today, and I appreciate you taking the time to be here today. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon for another hour of fun and frivolity. So until then, have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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