Who is your Pirates 2013 MVP?
Andrew McCutchen (68%)
Francisco Liriano (8%)
Russell Martin (8%)
Pedro Alvarez (8%)
Jason Grilli (8%)
James_Pittsburgh: One just has to sit back and enjoy the Pirates season and likely wild card game.
Jerry Micco: And enjoy it they have, I'm sure. It has been so long for Pirates fans to even have a winning season let alone a playoff season. So yes, enjoy it no matter how long it lasts. And who knows? Maybe it'll go deep into October.
Zane Smith: All things considered I'd start Cole for the 1 game playoff. Are you and Hurdle going with AJ?
Jerry Micco: Well, it's setting up as Liriano for the wild card game, and if they win the division, I'd assume they'll stick with that plan. For Game 1 of the NLDS should they reach it, I'd pitch Burnett. His postseason experience is invaluable on a staff that has little.
James_Pittsburgh: Does Clint Hurdle use Jason Grilli in the 9th inning of a likely wild card game next Tuesday? I wouldn't, but I guess that Hurdle will.
Jerry Micco: I think he's committed to using him as his closer, which worked well until he was injured. That said, I'd not be surprised to see Tony Watson or Justin Wilson get a shot against lefties. I think once the playoffs are here, you can't always stick to the same formula because one at-bat could flip an entire game. Postseason is very tough on the managers.
Shamarko from Dravo: Steelers have lost 9 of 10 including pre season. The metality of this team is bad. Is Ben now hurting this team by trying to do too much and what happens if they lose to the winless Vikes?
Jerry Micco: They will be 0-4 if they lose to the Vikes. The Steelers are in transition, though they don't want to tell you that. They have some young guys who need to find their way, and some veterans that will likely be gone or are reaching the end of their careers. The guy in the middle is Ben, who is still the difference-maker on the team. Unfortunately for him, he's going to waste a couple of years with mediocre talent until they build it back up for him. That's just life in the NFL.
Guest: Can you make a case for Justin Wilson as the closer? He has no fear
Jerry Micco: I think he'll be a big part of the staff in 2014, not that he wasn't this season, but he'll have a bigger role in 2014. Maybe as a closer, but don't rule out starting. He has three very good pitches and can be stretched out into that role next season if the Bucs want to go that way.
Bill L: Watched enough baseball to know that a Hall of Fame type of closer is a huge advantage. Any idea whether Chapman's fastball would be coming out of the shadows on Tuesday here or at Great American? That's unhittable.
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates can get that game at PNC Park. Important for them to carry a 1-game lead into Cincy this weekend. Any margin helps. Going in tied may mean them staying around the Queen City for a wild card game.
Captain Obvious: Jerry, Obviously there is a lack of talent on the Steelers. Obviously it starts with Colbert and Tomlin if they make the decisions.No?
Jerry Micco: Well, those two have been to two Super Bowls together and won one, so while they certainly are not infallible, they are not the biggest issues on the team. A lot of teams never sniff the success of the Steelers and those teams always change coaches and GMs. And they never really get any better. Colbert has whiffed on some draft picks; Tomlin has not always coached well in games. But to me, players have to execute and do what's needed to win. And they haven't for the most part.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, what do the Pirates do with their offense in the offseason. Do they need to try to trade for another right fielder?
Jerry Micco: I think they may try to sign Byrd to a 1-year deal and then hope that Gregory Polanco is ready to play after at year in AAA. I think they will need to find a first baseman, though. I don't think they'll keep Jones. They may keep Sanchez, though, because he won't cost as much and he's an adequate backup. Mercer will play short, which hurts defense but is a big offensive boost.
Paul: How many obligations will Tomlin, Ben and Polamalu have in London, you know at PR events and interviews. Maybe they curtailed that in recent years?
Jerry Micco: Steelers won't arrive in London until Friday morning, so I think any involvement in NFL related events would be minimal. It's a Vikings home game, so they flew over on Monday. They will be more involved in the NFL type stuff.
JamesinNYC: You want to pitch Liriano at home and against the left handed Reds. Do any of the other guys have such massive splits home and away?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure, but I know Liriano's is huge as you point out. But if that game is in Cincinnati, he's going to pitch anyhow. He'll be the one with the most rest. So as you see, many reasons for the Pirates to do what they have to do to get that wild card game at home. Or stay hot and hope the Cards falter and get a shot at the division. Though I'm not counting on the latter.
Ross: Jerry, Big Ben has been a turnover machine since and during the 2010 play-off run. He needs to play within himself and quit trying to be a hero. your thoughts
Jerry Micco: When you don't have a lot of talent around you, and you are obviously the key player on the team, sometimes you want to do too much. I think Ben is feeling that right now. He's the one guy who can keep them in games. He's also a guy who tends to take a key sack, fumble or throw a pick in a key time, too. It's the nature of how he plays. He never gives up on plays and sometimes that can bite you. Other times, you do incredible things.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I would offer Marlon Bryd a one year, $5 million contract after the season. Your thoughts? I understand he is 36 and may not repeat, but I think he is worth a shot.
Jerry Micco: Unless they think they can sign someone for less money who they think can do the job, giving Marlon Byrd $5 million for one year is not a bad offer. Yes, his age is a concern, but he may be the best option at hand. I think Tabata is going to hang around as a 4th outfielder, so he'll get some chances, too. Doesn't have Byrd's power, but he's hovered around .280 this season and is hitting some gaps. If he can continue to improve, he'll be a nice backup for both Byrd and Marte.
Phil: I think I have the whole London in the UK thing figured out--I'm surprised it took so long--it's obvious that if the owners can get some European billionaire to pay 2 billion for a London franchise that's about 2 billion divided by 32--60 million per owner. Not bad, right?
Jerry Micco: It's all about money in the NFL. So yes, if they can get someone to fork over that price, they'd do it in a minute. I think it would be a huge mistake, but they'll listen to money a lot more than some sports editor in Pittsburgh.
James_Pittsburgh: While you can never have enough pitching would the Pirates be better served not resigning A.J. Burnett and using that $10-12 million on a first baseman? Or should they resign Burnett if he doesn't retire and try to trade a pitcher or two for an offensive upgrade (Morton and a reliever).
Jerry Micco: I think Burnett has one more good season in him. If the price is right, they may very well sign him. And Rodriguez has an option, so you have to keep an eye on what he decides to do. One place where there is some depth is pitching. Doesn't mean you can't get more, but they do have some options there. First base is going to be an offensive hole if they don't find the right guy. And the team needs more offense than pitching in my opinion.
Chunkles: I will be positive, the MVP of the Steelers through three loses in any order are Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, and Shaun Suisham.
Jerry Micco: Pretty close and a good list. I'd look at Timmons, too. He played really well in the Bears game and he's been working next to rookies and guys who haven't had much NFL experience the past couple weeks. But your list is certainly legit.
Wiig.2: who is your backup catcher for the wildcard game? Veteran Buck or the better player of late Sanchez?
Jerry Micco: I'd use Sanchez early and if for some reason you need a bigger bat, maybe you switch Buck onto the roster if you go deeper into the playoffs. If I recall, you can switch guys out after each round, I believe. At least I thought that was the case. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, which I probably am.
Joe: Tomlin and Colbert got to two SB's together with most of Cowher's players...as Cowher's players move on, the less success each of these two are enjoying..not opinion, it's a fact..
Jerry Micco: So let's say the '95 Super Bowl, which the Steelers lost, had a mix of Cowher's players and Noll's players. Mostly Cowher's. OK, they lost. After that, it's all Cowher's guys. According to you, the only reason they won the Super Bowl under Tomlin was Cowher's players. Let's say from 1996 on, those are all Cowher's players. He went to exactly one Super Bowl in 10 years with them. So, did he not have them ready, or were the players lousy? You can't have that both ways. The "Cowher's players" argument holds no water with me.
BennyfromBlawnox: Jerry, Where would rate the final out of Monday's game in pantheon of iconic Pirates' plays? If Maz's homer is #1, and Bream's slide at home #2, Clemente's 3000th #3...I think it rates in the top 10. I thought it was incredibly exciting.
Jerry Micco: It's probably top 10 because of the magical season this has become. Breaking the curse, making the playoffs, winning 90+ games. All of that. And that play, with it's irony vis a vis the Bream slide, moves it into an all-timer.
Ross: Jerry, I understand the nature of big Ben's play. But come on, forcing things on second down or deep in their owm territory. that's getting old.
Jerry Micco: Brett Favre did that all the time. And it was either a big play or a pick. But everyone loved him and he's going to the Hall of Fame. Ben's not as good as Favre, but he's close. He can be maddening on some plays, no doubt. But he also can do jaw-dropping stuff, too, when he's in rhythm. So you have the good and the bad with him. But he's going to be the best QB in franchise history when he's done.
James_Pittsburgh: Pitt is looking good. Hopefully, they can be a solid second place team the next few years. Boyd is amazing. Savage is throwing the ball well.
Jerry Micco: Paul Chryst needs a bit of time to build his program. So you may see a couple of 6-6 or 5-7 years before they get better. But like you point out, you can see the youth and the future, and it looks bright. They need to develop another QB behind Savage, which I assume will be Voytik. Conner and Boyd look like impact players, and the OL this season has been a bonus. The defense, I thought, would be better. Aaron Donald is still excellent and Todd Thomas is an athletic backer. DBs need some work, which surprises me because I think Lafayette Pitts is a very good player. Or was last season.
Wiig.2: You can change rosters after each round but what about just the 1 and done game? sounds like you go with Sanchez
Jerry Micco: Yes, I would.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I don't know how much John Buck can contribute with the bat if he doesn't play. His timing may be off after sitting out a week of the playoffs. I think you go with one or the other. However, both Sanchez and Buck will likely be on the roster for the wild card game since A.J. Burnett and Morton will not.
Jerry Micco: You may be right. Since I see from the question before yours that you can switch guys in and out, that's a likely scenario.
Ken: I don't think we've given enough credit to some we wanted out of town--Huntington obviously, Tabata--not a bad August and September, Coonely, Barmes, Alvarez.
Jerry Micco: When you win, you immediately become invaluable. When you lose, you are a spare part. Or worse. In that list Huntington gets my vote. He's been crushed in the media and by fans, but he stood by the plan. I've not always agreed with what he's done, but give him credit. He stuck to his guns and now he has a winner on his hands. If he's not Executive of the Year, that would be a shame.
Guest: Jerry, I think you jinxed us on NPR with the Bob Moose reference in the playoffs against the Reds. Come on Man!
Jerry Micco: Sorry, had to show that the Reds series from the 70s involved some heartbreakers, none more than the Bob Moose wild pitch in the series-deciding game. And I really enjoyed my talk with Melissa Block. I'm humbled to be on a show like "All Things Considered." They do great journalism and bring many stories to light. I'm happy for the city and for Pirates fans that they wanted to do a segment on the Pirates. And it was my pleasure to do what I could.
BennyfromBlawnox: Jerry, Funny how certain players are "Cowher's players" and others are "Tomlin's and Colbert's" players. Seems to me Colbert had a hand in selecting those now deemed "Cowher's players."
Jerry Micco: He did. You are right. I can remember doing these chats and people couldn't wait to get rid of Cowher. It's just part of being a coach. You are always in the cross hairs of public opinion. You sign up for that when you decide to make it your life's work.
James_Pittsburgh: Let's say the Pirates resign Marlon Bryd and A.J. Bunett, could they start the season with an Andrew Lambo/ Sanchez platoon at first? I would like to see a better first baseman signed, but paying A.J. Burnett and Marlon Bryd might be all the Pirates can afford.
Jerry Micco: You might see exactly that scenario, or, if Wandy opts out of his deal then they have some money to play with, and still will have enough starting pitching.
Dick Williams: Does Dusty drill Cutch for good measure again to see him go into his shell?
Jerry Micco: Dusty is a hard-nosed manager who gets a lot out of his players. I saw him do it my entire time in the Bay Area with the Giants. He's not afraid to go after other team's players if he thinks it gives him an edge. I think they'll pitch Cutch in because that's the most successful way to pitch him. It's up to Cutch to fight through that.
JamesinNYC: PSU getting scholarships back a sign of things to come or just a one off give back?
Jerry Micco: I don't think it's a one-off, and it's also the "safest" thing the NCAA can do to start to walk-back sanctions that were ridiculously tough in the first place and directed at the wrong people: The football team. It'll give more kids a chance to go to school for free (almost) and keep PSU's players safer because of depth. It directly benefits student/athletes, so that's a good thing. You'll likely see bowl sanctions gone after this year. The fines, I think because they are tied up in a court case, will stay in place.
Ken: I'm so sick of the Cowher's players argument--Lombardi inherited the 1958 draft, Shula inherited Unitas, and then Csonka and Griese, Shanahan inherited Elway...give Tomlin a break. Let's see how he does during a tough down time. He obviously hasn't had one yet. And Cowher inherited Woodson, Lake, Lloyd and Dawson and couldn't win a Super Bowl in the 90s. Silly.
Jerry Micco: As I said, I don't buy the inherited players argument. You win, or lose, with what you got. And Tomlin hasn't had a losing season yet. That likely will end this year unless this team can have a very fast turnaround. And that could very well start on Sunday. Vikings aren't that good, though they have the great Adrian Peterson.
James_Pittsburgh: The Pirates will likely go with 2 starters and 7 relievers for the wild card game. That frees up a spot for John Buck and Felix Pie. It isn't guaranteed, but many bloggers speculate that Pie will be on the roster to pinch run.
Jerry Micco: That makes sense. Then you likely will see a more realistic 25-man roster if they get to the NLDS and possibly beyond.
James_Pittsburgh: No Penguins talk. Of course the regular season doesn't matter that much for the Penguins. Unless their are serious injuries, there is no way the Penguins miss the playoffs. I guess we are spoiled by the fact that the only thing that matters for the Penguins is the playoffs.
Jerry Micco: It's the nature of the NHL. Sixteen teams out of 30 make the playoffs. But you want to see the Pens put together a solid regular season and shore up some mistakes they were making last season. And all eyes on Marc-Andre Fleury. Can he come back from the playoff disaster?
BennyfromBlawnox: Jerry, Are the Pens really considering trading Brooks Orpik?
Jerry Micco: They are going to have to free up some cap space. Niskanen and Orpik are two guys that could be expendable and still bring something back in return. They are coming down to final cuts, so we'll see.
Ralph LA: No real point, but I find it interesting that you came out pretty close with your preseason prediction on Pirate wins, 86?, with the other sportscasters more pessimistic, and that Las Vegas in March was predicting more Pirate losses for 2013 than in 2012. Experts and crowd-sourcing both wrong.
Jerry Micco: Actually, I believe I said 83 because I thought this group good enough to break the losing streak, but not playoff ready. I did see them as playoff ready next season. They beat me to it by a year, which is great for the fans.
James_Pittsburgh: I do want to point out that signing Marlon Bryd won't increase payroll since the Pirates can clear Clint Barmes off the books.
Jerry Micco: That's about an even trade moneywise. And isn't part of Burnett's salary paid for by the Yankees?
Phil: Bob Moose?!? Still remember that sinking feeling when you realized that the most powerful team in Pirates history was evenly matched--at best-- against Rose, Bench, Perez and Morgan.
Jerry Micco: Those Reds of the 70s were tremendous. I hated them as a young Pirates fan, but you admired how powerful they were. Indeed, the Big Red Machine.
Guest: Jared Allen must be licking his chops knowing he's facing that O Line.
Jerry Micco: I hope they give Mike Adams some help with Allen. He's going to need it.
guest: Are the NCAA sanctions against Penn State tougher than what Penn State allowed Sandusky to do to the children?
Jerry Micco: I think that's a pretty broad assumption that we have yet to know all the answers to. The NCAA is punishing the football team, not the university. That's the rub. As to your premise, there are trials coming up, a federal investigation, lawsuits, an AG investigation, etc., to try to get at more of what happened. We don't know everything, so in that sense, there could be more to come. But if the NCAA had a inkling that this was a football team matter, they'd never give in on a sanction. Not one.
Bill L: We're a month in--looks like the theme is going to be can anyone stop a Seattle-Denver Super Bowl.
Jerry Micco: Going to be pretty tough, but you can also see at team like Indianapolis looking good as well as the Packers, despite the loss to Cincy. And I still think the 49ers are going to be good by season's end. But the two teams you mention look very, very good right now.
Jerry Micco: OK folks I need to run to a meeting. Thanks, as always, for the great questions and for taking the time to talk with me. I always appreciate it. I'll be taking a hiatus next week, but plan on being back on Oct. 9 for our regular noon meeting. I'll still be doing the Steelers live chat on Sunday afternoon, thouhg. Until then, have a great couple of weeks! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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