After the latest trades, are the Pirates loaded enough to win the NL Central?
James_Pittsburgh: It is nice to see that the Pirates have a real lineup and we no longer have to discuss picking up players who were DFA's by other teams.
Jerry Micco: When you win, as you know James, the money flows a bit better. Yes, the Pirates are doing what contenders do, pick up proven guys who can deliver. Thus far, Byrd and Morneau are as good as advertised, which makes the Pirates all that much better.
Guest: Will the Pirates push Liriano's start tonight to Friday?
Jerry Micco: My understanding is he'll start tonight, and Burnett will go in the series opener in St. Louis.
James_Pittsburgh: What is the biggest key in your ming to the Steelers going 10-6 instead of 8-8 in 2013?
Jerry Micco: Offensive line play. If that unit can protect Ben and can open some lanes for whoever is at RB, which I think will be Bell before too long, then they should be a bit better than I think they'll be. I see them at 8-8, but if the OL gets it going, then they will win a couple more.
The Chief: Jerry, hi, hope you had a good week. Any surprises in the Steeler's final cuts?
Jerry Micco: I thought they'd keep Ta'amu after sticking with him through his off-field issues this past season. Ed Bouchette said in May that they would not keep both Dwyer and Redman, especially after drafting Le'Veon Bell, so I wasn't surprised Dwyer was cut.
crashcot: I see you have Mark Dent proudly announcing the fact that Jopa probably wasn't involved in a cover-up. But Moe, Larry, and Tim Curley were involved in covering up child-rape to protect the program. Do you realize the gravity of that statement? Why is Penn State even playing football given the severity of the crime?
Jerry Micco: The guy who prosecuted and investigated the case, Frank Fina formerly of the State AG office, said it. And the NCAA leveled the penalty. Ask them those questions.
JamesinNYC: Great trades for the Pirates, the price came down for those guys. In hindsight do you think it is better they did it now or do you think they should have done them at the July 31st deadline? Assume you would have lost at least one additional top 10 prospect.
Jerry Micco: I thought it was wise to wait to see if you could do a deal later. Sometimes, teams panic at the trade deadline, but the Pirates did not and it paid off. Sometimes you can do good things in August and it doesn't cost nearly as much. Now we'll see if any of those guys are here next year, but that doesn't really matter much right now.
Dave Giusti: What does Cole throw besides fastball? Is he going to be an effective playoff Pitcher?
Jerry Micco: He throws a 94 MPH slider as well as a cutter and a change. He's not consistent with all of them, which is usually the case for a young pitcher. As for the playoffs, Liriano, Morton and Burnett will be the three starters. Perhaps Cole is the fourth if they need a fourth and he'd be OK in that role. But let's see if Wandy Rodriguez is healthy enough to go. Rather have a veteran in there than a rookie.
Dave: Is John Buck strictly a rent a player or would Pirates entertain signing him for next year to give tony more seasoning in AAA
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates are committed to using Sanchez at this level. And McKenry is back, too, but I don't expect him to be kept. If you think you have Martin's replacement in Sanchez it makes no sense to leave him at AAA. I think Buck's gone after this year.
Guest: What was Jon Dwyer's problem that Tomlin didn't like? Did another team pick him up?
Jerry Micco: I don't know if anyone has picked him up. I have not heard that. I think some of this was a business decision. Redman and Dwyer had tenders around $1.3 million and only one guy was going to be kept. Redman seemed more dependable. And the trade for Felix Jones didn't help Dwyer, either. When Bell gets healthy, you'll see less and less of Redman and Jones.
Guest: Is it bad that I think Pitt played well on Monday? The Offense wasn't terrible, the def probably didnt have teh speed to match FSU. But luckily Pitt doesn't play highly ranked teams every week. Also it was nice to see a sold out (wink wink) crowd
Jerry Micco: I think Pitt was overmatched by Florida State, which you could say for about 95 percent of the college football teams. Pitt's defense, to me, was disappointing. I thought they could do some damage, but Jameis Winston was just outstanding. I don't know that any defense could have stopped him that night. On offense, Savage has good and bad. A little slow on balls over the middle and those get picked against a team like FSU, but showed he could move the team, too. And Tyler Boyd is going to be a very good player. It's just one game. Pitt, I think, can have a .500 season.
James_Pittsburgh: It will be interesting to see if Bob Nutting is willing to spend money in the offseason and keep Byrd and A.J. Burnett?
Jerry Micco: Or Justin Morneau. That will be the big question, can they keep any of the rentals to keep the team stronger in 2014? We'll see the true commitment the front office has once the season ends. These guys are getting just small pieces of their salaries from the Pirates. Next year, it'll be a lot more expensive if you want to bid for their services.
James_Pittsburgh: I am disappointed that the Pirates didn't pick up Bud Norris. A nice young arm that they would have controlled for 2014 and 2015.
Jerry Micco: I never saw why they weren't high on him, but that doesn't preclude an off-season deal. Also, Wandy Rodriguez has a player option after this season that surely would have opted to go FA. Now, I doubt that happens, and the Pirates will get him for one more year.
The Chief: Your question today about the Pirates being loaded enough to Win the NL Central, the recent offensive additions are great, but do the have the pitching ?
Jerry Micco: They have the bullpen, and I see three very solid starters in Burnett, Liriano and Morton. Question is can they get Wandy back and healthy enough to pitch? Can Locke re-discover his magic from the first half of the season (he's pitching on Saturday) and can Cole be a force either out of the pen or as a spot starter. A lot of ifs, but three very good top of the rotation guys.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, in reality the Steelers can win 10 games by simply taking care of business against Tennessee, Oakland, and Cleveland, which they didn't do in 2012. A win against Tennessee would be a step in the right direction to making the playoffs in 2013.
Jerry Micco: Agreed. The Steelers did not win games they should have last year. The San Diego game comes to mind as does Oakland and Tennessee. Take care of business is all most NFL teams need to do to win 10. But sometimes, as we saw last year, that doesn't happen.
Jackie Sherril: Are Pitt fans delusional thinking they had a chance against FSU and their once great program will ever return? This ain't 1980 and Dan Marino ain't walking through that door.
Jerry Micco: You're not a fan if you don't have some optimism. I think most fans knew FSU was the better team, but you wanted a closer game than you got. That said, Pitt's program has been hurt by the coaching carousel of recent years. I hope Paul Chryst stays and gets things moving forward. Been a while since Pitt was a national player and it will take some work from Chryst and his staff to get them back to that place.
Bill L: Why are people concerned with Cardinals? I think it's obviuos that the Reds are far more talented. Chapman is a Cooperstown type talent and can blow hitters away at will.
Jerry Micco: But the Cardinals have that ability to win late and play well in the postseason. And it's not a weak-hitting lineup. It compares favorably with the Reds, I think. And pitching wise, the Cards may have an edge, except in the bullpen. All 3 NL Central teams are strong, which is why all 3 will make the playoffs.
Guest: Prediction on when Max Starks gets a call from the Steelers? Over/under week 3?
Jerry Micco: I'm going to say over. Gotta give this young OL some time together. Unless someone gets injured. I know they love Beachum, but if Starks is still out there, he's worth another look.
Paul: Should we be concerned that the Steelers didn't extend anybody? Im in the minority on Ziggy Hood. I think he should be re-signed.
Jerry Micco: I've generally supported Hood's play, that while not spectacular, I saw more solid plays out of him last year than in prior years. And he's looked better this preseason. I'd not worry about no extensions. The Steelers will get some deals done once the season is ended. I know they'd like to keep Ryan Clark, and probably Hood, too.
Obe: Jerry, any truth to the story that noted French pastry chef Jacque LePen created Penn State's football schedule this year? The toughest OOC game is Syracuse. Of course, after starting 4-0, you & Ron Cook will proclaim how wonderful BoB is doing as head coach.
Jerry Micco: You know, I think Central Florida might be tougher than Syracuse.
The Chief: The Chief, do you see Byed or Morneau playing for the Pittsburgh Baseball Club in 2014?
Jerry Micco: I'd think Byrd more than Morneau, but we'll see. Sometimes guys will take less money to get a shot to play with a contender. And it's been a long time since anyone could say that about the Pirates. But this year, you certainly can.
yinzer in va: Jerry, Win 82 will come tonight. Like sharks that smell blood, the Bucs will win comfortably tonight.
Jerry Micco: They have their best pitcher going, so that certainly helps. I've seen them kind of let down after winning first two games in a series, so I'd watch for that, too. But if Liriano pitches as he has been all season and the bats take advantage of the Brewers staff and Miller Park, they should snag No. 82 tonight.
The Chief: OK Jerry, the biggest Steeler surprise and disappointment for the 2013 season.
Jerry Micco: Disappointment might be that both offensive tackles aren't as good as advertised and there could be some changes there. Though I think Adams is a better RT than LT. Surprise will be that Heath Miller plays sooner than expected and has a good season. And that the secondary will play better than anyone expects.
Will: Are the Steelers a lock on Sunday? I say no, but it's close. I tried to watch the Titans a couple of weeks ago. They do have Bernard Pollard and that 49'ers TE. Otherwise, Chris Johnson is good against bad teams, but never have been that impressed.
Jerry Micco: I think the Steelers can win this game on Sunday and will win it. Probably by 7-10 points and likely a 24-17 type game. I wonder how they'll like being a bit under the radar for a change as the Pirates take center stage? Interesting dynamic on the Pittsburgh sports scene. That said, it'll be a packed house at Heinz on Sunday.
Will: Steelers--What players unexpectedly will have an excellent season. And which player will disappoint? I say Cortez Allen and Hood will be good and Mike Adams will be a problem.
Jerry Micco: I think the OT who will be a problem is Marcus Gilbert. Doesn't seem to be able to do anything very well. I think Allen will be fine at CB. Rookie Jarvis Jones could very well start. If he does and gets some games under his belt, he can be a very disruptive force. I like how active he is. He just needs to learn how to rush the passer better.
yinzer in va: Jerry, The Pirates are taking on more salary. But with higher attendance, and a chance at post season money, does that offset the increased salary?
Jerry Micco: Certainly. The Pirates are going to make plenty of money, but they are not a wealthy franchise with a lot of discretionary money to throw around. No huge TV deals like the Dodgers or an owner with deep pockets. But you see they are willing to make these deals and my guess is they'll spend more next year to keep the team competitive.
JamesinNYC: What is a wild guess at what it might cost to keep Morneau for 2-4 years?
Jerry Micco: Gosh, I don't know. I'm guessing in the $8-10 million a year range. I think he'll cost more than Marlon Byrd.
The Chief: Jerry, based on Dave Molinari's article, it sounds like Matt Niskanen is the odd man out and will be a cap casualty. What do you think the Penguins will get in return for him?
Jerry Micco: Probably a decent prospect who might play at this level in a couple years. Teams know the Pens will have to deal someone so they are going to try to go low and get Niskanen for as little as possible.
The Chief: With the Pirates becoming MLB's darlings is the PG getting more requests for interviews, info etc?
Jerry Micco: Well, our writers are always being asked to go on radio all over, but you may see more of that. I know I've been on NBC Sports Radio a few times on the weekends talking Pirates. As for info, most media outlets can see our stuff on the Web every day, so they can just read what we're doing and archive it.
John: How are the Bucs gonna use Grilli and Marte (when he gets back)?
Jerry Micco: I'd imagine Marte will lead off and play LF. Grilli may start out as the 8th-inning guy as Melancon seems more than able to handle closing. Now, that may flip-flop in the playoffs, but I don't think so.
The Chief: What current Pirate, other than the recent rental players, do you see leaving the ship for greener ($$$) pastures?
Jerry Micco: Most guys have some years left on deals or aren't free agents yet. But I know the Pirates would like to get something done with Alvarez and Walker. Now, can they do both? Hard to say. Despite Alvarez's strike out tendencies, it's pretty tough to replace 35-40 HRs. I'd say he's first on their list to try to extend.
Jerry Micco: And I'll add Burnett to that equation, too. He may want more money than the Bucs are willing to pay to keep him.
Phil: There's some unlikeable teams out there in addition to the usual suspects. Jim Harbaugh's a jerk. Atlanta--the Falcons!-- think they're owed a Super Bowl. Seattle is still whining. Used to admire them, but I'm sick of Aaron Rodgers and the "we're the Packers" mentality. John Elway and Peyton have always been annoying, needless to say. I guess I'm rooting for our brothers, the Giants, to come back yet again.
Jerry Micco: You'd be surprised to see how many people dislike the team that resides on the North Side of our city, too. I see your list and I'll bet a guy from Baltimore or Cincinnati would have one more. The Giants always seem to be there something like every other year, so why not? Though I think the 49ers and Seahawks are the best teams in the NFC this year.
The Chief: Any doubt the Clint Hurdle is the NL manager of the year or does Donnie baseball win it?
Jerry Micco: I don't see how Hurdle doesn't get it. If his earlier prediction of winning 95 games comes to fruition, I don't see how anyone else gets a vote. I said they'd win 83. When Hurdle made that preseason prediction, I nearly fell over. I didn't think he was serious. Houston's out of the NL and he thinks they'll win 95? Well, if they go 14-10 the rest of the way, he'll hit it right on the button. Amazing.
The Chief: OK, I have waited to the end of the Chat, but who you got in the 2014 Super Bowl, played in a snowstorm at Giants Stadium?
Jerry Micco: Tough picks this year. AFC is wide open, but I think Seattle and SF are the best teams in the NFC. Let's go with Broncos-Seahawks. Old AFC West matchup.
John: Bucs wont sign Morneau. Waaay too much next year. But they will find a replacement. Hurdle will be Manager of the year.
Jerry Micco: I'd imagine they'll try to keep either Jones or Sanchez if they can as a back up, but you're right, you can work to find some guys to play first base. I don't see them keeping Morneau, either.
Ralph_LA: Friends who attend the Penn State games tell me that this season and last there is a much more serious and emotional feel to the games and towards supporting the team. Is that your perception?
Jerry Micco: I've only been to one PSU game since I returned to Pittsburgh in 2004, so it's hard to say. I think, though, from talking to PSU fans, the ones who are sticking around are very into supporting the team. From all that has happened up there the past couple of years, and it's still not over, the football players and O'Brien have just kind of tunnel-visioned their way to a 9-4 record. That's not earth-shaking, but considering what could have happened, you see why O'Brien won coach of the year honors. My understanding is that it's a divided fan base and some don't find it as much fun as it used to be. But again, I've not been in years.
Ken: Haven't seen or heard of any major shake-ups in the NFL broadcasting booths this year. Have you? Personally, I think Nantz and Simms aren't getting it done and should be replaced.
Jerry Micco: I've not heard of any major shakeups. I think teams that are together for a long time develop chemistry, though your complaint about CBS' No. 1 crew is echoed elsewhere by fans, too. I don't know, they aren't that bad, and Nantz calls a very solid game. I think Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are the best pair right now.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Great stuff and insightful questions. I appreciate it very much. I'll see you next Wednesday at noon and we'll do a fun hour then. Have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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