Pirates have made the big trade for Byrd and Buck. Is it enough to put them over the top and win the NL Central?
Joe Buck: NH alluded to more deals last night during the broadcast, my sources say Morneau trade will be announced shortly. What role will G. Jones and Gabby play the rest of the season?
Jerry Micco: If indeed the Pirates get Morneau, I'd imagine Jones and Sanchez will be bench players and pinch-hitters. And, you could see Jones and Morneau platoon some. Jones can play RF, too, so he'd likely get some time there. The guy who would be left out as far as a lot of playing time would be Sanchez.
sam bazz: I like Neal's acquisition of Byrd - good move- but I think more pitching is needed, esp with Locke's meltdown. Do you see any pitching help on the horizon?
Jerry Micco: Not via trades. My guess is guys like Jeanmar Gomez, Brandon Cumpton and Kris Johnson would be the guys used to replace Locke in the rotation. Not all 3, but one of them. And Locke may be shut down for a start or two. He's pitched a lot of innings and sometimes guys who aren't used to that become ineffective when they start to reach their limit. I think that has happened to Locke.
Ralph_LA: If the Pirates are able to win 6 more games, is there anything planned to mark the event?
Jerry Micco: From the Pirates? I don't know. They will be on the road if they break it in the next couple weeks. Can't do it at home now. At least during this homestand. We will have additional coverage in the PG, however, when the 82nd game is won.
Guest: When do they pull the plug on Locke? He seems afraid to throw strikes. It's hard to watch him pitch. Who gets called up, Cumpton?
Jerry Micco: They may be sitting Locke down for a couple of starts after last night, though the Pirates have not announced that. Cumpton, as I mentioned above, is a possibility. But I'd guess Jeanmar Gomez is a more likely candidate as he was pretty successful as a starter here earlier in the season.
Ralph_LA: Mercer's position in the line up seems to move around a lot. Is that all dependent on who is pitching?
Jerry Micco: Somewhat. I think the Pirates prefer he hit 7th or 8th because they like Walker in the 2-hole. While Marte is out, Tabata will lead off. With the addition of Marlon Byrd, he'll probably hit 5th or 6th, which means Mercer will stay in the 7-8 hole.
Bruno: I know it's pre season but it's an ugly 0-3 the way the Steelers have played. OL for all the high draft picks looks average. Every aspect of the team looks average at best. Am I missing something or is this possibly a 5 or 6 win team?
Jerry Micco: I think they are a bit better than 5-6 wins. I have them for another 8-8 season, though the schedule is a bit easier than last season. With Ben at QB, they will be in every game. The OL has been awful in preseason. Some of that, though not all, is they are learning a new system of zone blocking. But there are real concerns there, no question. I do not see the Steelers as a 10- or 11-win team, though a couple people who know football say that's possible. I just don't see it.
JSchultz: Jerry, First time participant. I sure hope none of our young starters make the All Star Game next year, i.e. Locke and McDonald. How much longer until we might see Cumpton or Johnson make a start in place of Locke or Cole?
Jerry Micco: We'll see if Locke is pulled for his next start, then I expect Jeanmar Gomez to pick up that slack. But I'd not be surprised if Cumpton and Johnson are added to the rosters after Sept. 1. Both offer bullpen depth and can spot start. Something the Pirates will need down the stretch.
Guest: Is it me or was Pedro playing way too deep on the crucial bunt in the game last night that led to runners on 1st and 3rd? That has to be on Hurdle.
Jerry Micco: Managers and coaches position players, so if you think he was out of position, then that's where the blame belongs. I'm not sure because I'm not privvy to what was said, but the dugout positions players all the time.
Ken: Punters in the hall of fame? Absolutely. And the Ray Guy snub is and has been a travesty. What do you think Jerry? He changed the game--the first athletic punter weapon.
Jerry Micco: If you are going to put placekickers in the hall of fame, then you should put punters in, too. And if you believe that to be the case, then you should put Ray Guy in as the first punter. Tremendous all-around athlete.
Bill L: Heard or seen anything that makes you think the Bengles hype could be real, other than an angry #92?
Jerry Micco: Bengals, I think, are the best team in the division or at least as good as Baltimore. OL is very good. Good skill people, especially if Andy Dalton keeps improving as he has in his first two years. Defense will only be better with Harrison. I think they can win 11 games. That said, they are the Bengals.
Dale Berra: Where do you stand on getting a guy like Byrd who was suspended for PED's? How may he be treated in the clubhouse as a known drug user?
Jerry Micco: Like a guy who has 21 HRs and 71 RBI and can help the team win games, that's how he'll be treated. He was caught and paid the penalty. He's tested now more than ever and he's been clean. Not much more to the story than that.
Jim in VT: have you seen any OF who is more consitently bad at taking the direct path to a fly ball than Tabata? at least three close games this year have been affected by his follies, including last night. Marte would have had that ball in his hip pocket
Jerry Micco: Matt Holliday is sometimes an adventure in the same way. And Tabata is much more suited to play RF at PNC Park than left. Doesn't have Marte's speed or defensive prowess. Decent arm, but again, not like Marte. As long as he's in left, particularly at PNC, there will always be an element of drama when a fly ball is hit his way.
Bill L: 5 or 6 wins? Usually it's the national Steeler haters who try and pin that label. If they're healthy, they could go 10 and 6. And, by the way, Polamalu is too great a player--an all time great--to be attacked, disparaged like he is nationally. I say, he'll be in the defensive player of the year running.
Jerry Micco: If Polamalu is healthy he might be in that discussion, but even healthy, he's not the player he was a few years ago when he was defensive player of the year. But if he can stay healthy, he makes the defense that much better. They are going to need the OL and the DL to step up big to win 10. Both are areas of concern in my opinion, and are critical parts of the team. Also, RB is an area where you really have a committee now that Le'Veon Bell is out. And he's an unproven commodity in the NFL at that.
Foge: Is Paul Chryst too nice of a guy to win at a major program like Pitt? Doesn't a good college coach have to have a little dirt on him to be successful?
Jerry Micco: I think Chryst can win at Pitt. I think he came from a very successful program and if he brings that type of program to Pitt, he'll be just fine. But it may take a couple of years because you have to get your players and they have to get the system down. Also, Pitt's moving to the ACC, which is a tougher football league than the Big East. Some adjustment time coming for the Panthers and it starts Monday when Florida State comes to Heinz Field.
Guest: In the new NFL it's all about speed and skilled position players. The Steelers have been drafting DL and OL in the top picks in recent years. Wallace and Keenan Lewis were two good picks that they let go. Will all these below average Colbert drafts catch up with them?
Jerry Micco: In the NFL, any coach will tell you that you need to be good from the inside out. Meaning, your OL and DL need to be anchors for your team. Tom Brady is the best QB of a generation. But the Pats have always had very good OLs in front of him, too. Same with Peyton Manning in Indy and now Denver. I agree that some of Colbert's recent drafts have been below par and that will catch up with you. But I think as much as I liked Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen is a very good player and maybe just as good if not better. Going to be tougher to replace Wallace's speed, but as an all-around WR, Wallace is very replaceable. It's his speed that sets him apart.
The Chief: Jerry, hi hope all is well. Do you see Felix Jones making the team?
Jerry Micco: I think he's on the bubble. The RBs will be Bell, Dwyer, Redman and Stephens-Howling. Jones could be kept as a 5th back, especially with Bell out for a few weeks. But I don't know if he stays once Bell is healthy. I think he opens on the roster.
The Chief: Jerry, you surprised by #87 comments regarding Russia and its Gay statements, etc?
Jerry Micco: Not at all. Sid strikes me as a guy who is interested in a guy as a hockey player and teammate and really doesn't care about sexual orientation. A lot of athletes have come out against Russia's anti-gay stance in light of the Sochi Games. It does not surprise me that Sid is one of them.
Gordon Gee: Does Johnny Paycheck errr I mean Johnny Football get suspended or not? Just end the drama already.
Jerry Micco: If he gets suspended, it'll be for a game or two, nothing more. And he may not even get that. Unless the NCAA can come up with hard evidence that he did sign autographs for money, not just one person's word against his, he'll be allowed to play every week.
Guest: Does the Pirates pennant chances turn turn turn on Marlon Byrd's adding HR's to that lineup?
Jerry Micco: It certainly wouldn't hurt to get some pop from the right side. And putting Byrd in the lineup, on paper, makes it a better group of hitters. But I've said before, and I say again, they will go as far as their pitching. Can the bullpen hold up one more month, then into October? Or are they worn out? Can the starters like Liriano, Burnett and Morton be consistent down the stretch and become stoppers? Can Locke regain form? A lot of questions, but to me, it comes down to pitching.
Phil: Only the meaningless 4th exhibition game is on tap, so you know what that means. Super Bowl prediction time! I say, Seattle--Baltimore (ouch).
Jerry Micco: I'll wait until next week to give you all mine. Though that's not a bad choice right there.
The Chief: Your question about Byrd and Buck has merit, but are your more surprised by the timing, this is something that should have been done a month ago!
Jerry Micco: Maybe at that time, the Mets were asking for a lot more than Dilson Herrara and a player to be named. I'm stunned Byrd cleared waivers, especially through the NL teams. That no one blocked the Pirates is an interesting back story.
Phil: How about NFL darh horses? I have the Steelers, Chiefs, Giants and Bears. Worst team? The gotham green will score about 120 points this year.
Jerry Micco: Dark horses? Stelers would be one for sure. Maybe the Panthers can get back to playing better and surprise some teams. And the Jets are just plain bad, as are the Bills. New England is going to get a walk to that division title.
yinzer in va: Jerry, I wonder what Jay Leno will be saying when the Pirates get win number 82. Will the always humorous Gene Collier contribute some material to Leno?
Jerry Micco: Gene always writes good material for his show (and certainly for readers of the PG), so Leno will have to rely on his writers for that content. And I hope Leno and the national folks talk about 82. It's only a 20-year monkey off the franchise's and the city's backs not to mention a very loyal fanbase.
FireToddHaley.com.org.net: Braylon Edwards and Donte Stallworth are out there. If you're desperate enough to sign Plex and trade for Felix Jones for depth why not grab one of these guys?
Jerry Micco: Because neither is a very good player. And if you are going to get them, they will need to play special teams and they can't. With Brown and Sanders, you have two legit starters. Jerricho Cotchery is a nice No. 3 and Markus Wheaton is going to be a nice addition as the season goes on. As for a fifth, maybe they'll keep Derek Moye. Big tall guy with nice hands. Not exactly an All-Pro lineup, but it would not significantly improve with Edwards or Stallworth on the team.
Paul: Re: Worst team. During my time at the shore, notable that the Eagles have absolutely nothing on defense and veterans will tune out Chip Kelly when that thing starts to leak.
Jerry Micco: The Eagles are in for a tough season. Chip Kelly will have a few years to turn that into success. A coach's life in the NFL these days is about 3 years unless you prove you can win. I'd say he has they kind of time.
The Chief: Care to take a guestimate on Pirate ticket increases for 2014?
Jerry Micco: Not really, but they will bump up prices. Success means you can do that, and I suspect the Pirates already have a number in mind. Still a pretty cheap sports night out.
The Chief: Jerry, if you had to name one thing that has caused the Steelers fall to mediocrity, what would it be?
Jerry Micco: Poor play from both OL and DL and some guys who have aged and not been able to stay healthy. And the fact that Mendenhall really had a spotty career here, where there were a couple of good seasons, really hurt the running game making them too reliant on the pass to win.
Guest: Is Cutch still a MVP choice or can it go to a pitcher who's having a season like Kershaw?
Jerry Micco: I always think the pitchers have the Cy Young Award for a reason and should not be the MVP. I know that's only in practice because plenty have been MVPs, but that's a personal perference. Cutch will be in the top 3 in the NL. He'll likely have 20-25 HRs, 90 RBI and hit around .315-.325. All very solid numbers in the NL, which doesn't have a Cabrera around to make the MVP race a one-horse contest.
Guest: Who cracks to the media first when the offense will be inevitably sputtering this season, Ben, Haley or Tomlin? I see it getting ugly.
Jerry Micco: Ben is the most outspoken of the three, but we'll wait and see on the offense. We've reported that Haley has listened to a lot of player input and done somethings differently as a result. So it wouldn't all be on him if the offense went south. Like anything else in a team sport, it's a team effort whether you fail or succeed.
Gus: Should we just pencil in an Ohio State-Alabama BCS Championship game or does a Louisville stand a chance?
Jerry Micco: Louisville stands a chance because they could go unbeaten. But OSU-Bama would be a closer national title game. A bit early, though, to pencil anyone into the NC game, though. Upsets always happen.
Ralph_LA: It's strange when you see flashes of brilliance out of a player and then a whole lot of nothing. Was part of Mendenhall's issues the offensive line?
Jerry Micco: I think that was part of it. Also, I think that he had a certain way of running that made him prone to try to get something out of nothing and it wound up costing him some yards. He needed to just bang up the middle sometimes and get a yard, but I don't think that was how he wanted to play. He was very good in space and he wasn't used enough in the passing game in my opinion.
The Chief: Speaking of Offensive Coordinators, what are you expecting from Pittsburgh West (AZ Cards) this year?
Jerry Micco: A better season than last year, but still a mediocre team. Arians will have that crew playing better and they'll be better offensively.
The Chief: Your thoughts on who might be a surprise keep and cut when the Black and Gold get down to 53?
Jerry Micco: The keep may be LB Alan Baxter and/or WR Derek Moye. The cut may be LB Chris Carter and/or DE Cam Heyward. The latter was not impressive with 2nd- and 3rd-teamers vs. the Chiefs.
Paul: Is the Clowney guy really the next Lawrence Taylor? That is truly a potential top 15 all time great regardless of position? I know its a tall order, but from what I've seen it's not just ESPN hype.
Jerry Micco: Jadeveon Clowney is a tremendous football player. He's going to be a top 3 pick in the draft. LaVarr Arrington was the exact same player. Was picked 3rd overall and even wore No. 56 in Washington. He was a nice NFL player, but no Lawrence Taylor. Not by a long shot. Clowney, to me, has that kind of look to him. Let's see if he's more like Arrington or Taylor. The NFL is a big, big jump.
Doug Froebel: If I gave you a guarantee of a Wild Card one game playoff right now for the Bucs would you take it?
Jerry Micco: Me? Only if you told me the time, date and opponent so I could prepare the stories, etc. I'm sure the Pirates would take it, but they have stated that winning the division is their main goal.
Ralph_LA: Any thoughts/advice for someone considering attending the Steelers game in Oakland in the cheap seats? Am I risking my life?
Jerry Micco: Learn to duck quickly. You know, the Black Hole has a big reputation as being a nasty place, and some of the folks there are. But a lot of them are just huge football fans who look the part more than act it. Like any other place, Oakland has its share of knuckleheads. But by and large, a lot of great football fans, too.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time for me to head off for some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. Great questions and a good discussion. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon to do it all over again. Until then, have a great week and a good Labor Day holiday. Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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