Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 10.30.13

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Poll Question: Should the Pirates resign pitcher AJ Burnett? 

Answer #1: No (15%)

Answer #2: Yes (85%)

Steelers n at: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

Jerry Micco: Just wanted to publish that. There, got it out of my system.

Pens n at: Jerry with the Bruins facing the Pens for the first time since the 4 game sweep in the playoffs, its seems to me that they haven't addressed the issue of a big presence down low to make Tuka move around in the net...with the likes of Chara down there to keep an eye on Crosby and possibly Malkin, do you expect the same kind of play we saw in the 2013 playoffs or does playing with a chip on your shoulder mean anything?

Jerry Micco: Certainly, the Penguins are coming in with a chip on their shoulder after being crushed by Boston last year in the playoffs. I'm sure it will give them more intensity tonight. But the bottom line is this: do you have the players to beat the other guys? The Penguins do, but that net-front presence isn't something they addressed in the offseason. Doesn't mean they can't plant some guys there, but it's not a strength. I look for a physical game tonight. And a very good one.

Guest: Bouchette answered a chat question yesterday is Kevin Colbert's job in jeopardy or is he unimpeachable this way. 'He's not unimpeachable but his job also is not in jeopardy. Why would it be?' what does that mean?? Why are you media types so afraid to answer a question like a fan sometimes. You can't ignore the fact Colbert's drafts have been miserable failures and his job should be graded as such.

Jerry Micco: Because we aren't fans. We're unbiased observers who talk to a lot of people fans can't access. That's our job. To work behind the scenes for readers to get realistic information. Colbert has had drafts that have gotten the team to three Super Bowls. Has he missed on some guys? Yes. Has he hit on some guys? Yes. Are there still some guys where it's too soon to call? Yes. No question the team has not drafted as well as it should in the past 2 or 3 drafts. But when you get low-round picks, you can't get game changers. I'm not going to give Colbert a bunch of excuses, because knowing him he'd not give you excuses. But you need to look at the entire body of work, not just a couple bad drafts.

Chunkles: Jerry, down 21-3 and the Steelers kick a field goal? Mike Tomlin has to go. That is the stupidest thing I have seen in a long time. He still doesnt know how to use timeouts. His team has been unprepared this whole season. Every team had had injuries, they still show up and play. Its time for a clean sweep. They will probably finish 6-10 and will need fresh ideas and it starts with the draft and ends with whomever is the head coach.

Jerry Micco: Well, if Suisham makes that field goal, the regulation ends 21-21, right? If he makes both, they win the game outright. So there's that. As for firing Tomlin, I just don't get it. He's been here since 2007. This, likely, will be his only losing season. Think about that: his only losing season. I wasn't here when Cowher's teams had 3 losing seasons in 4, but if that didn't get him canned, they aren't going to can Tomlin, either. He's been to as many Super Bowls as Cowher in half the time. And I never buy into the "they are Cowher's guys" argument. Cowher only went to 2 SBs with his guys. If they were that good, why not more? He certainly had ample chances, but lost a load of championship games.

James_Pittsburgh: What is your goal over the final nine games if you are Mike Tomlin?

Jerry Micco: Hope everyone stays healthy and you can win the majority of those games. You also want to see people develop to where they are making more of an impact. I thought the Steelers were an 8-8 team to start the season. They likely are worse than that. They are rebuilding, though they'll never admit it. So you want your younger guys who are staying: Woodley, Timmons, C. Allen, DeCastro, Gilbert, Heyward, Adams, to show they can step up. If you can get that, then you know you at least have a foundation for the next couple of years.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think I pass on resigning AJ Burnett if I am the Pirates. I would rather try to sign Josh Johnson if the price is right. He is 29 and has a 3.40 career ERA.

Jerry Micco: I think they will work hard to sign Burnett, but I agree that Johnson would be someone to look very hard at. And maybe you can swing some deal where you can get both?

Pens n at: Based on the 2004, 2007 and now 2013 Boston Red Sox team, who is the most talented team of the 3 years in your opinion? I say the 2004 team, that was a season for the ages.

Jerry Micco: I would have to agree, though the 2007 team was very good.

James_Pittsburgh: Nelson Cruz may decide to stay in Texas. But, maybe the Pirates should go after him if he doesn't resign with Texas. He is several years younger than Byrd. If the 50 game suspension drives down his value and they could get Cruz on a 2 year $12 million contract I would say go for it.

Jerry Micco: Nelson Cruz is a very good hitter and a solid player. I think the problem is that he'll want -- and get -- more than $6 million a year. The Pirates may have to spend a bit more than they'd like to get a good FA. But that's how you sustain year over year and if you play as well as they did this past season, you will pack more houses and make more money. Nothing wrong with growing your own but as we've seen the past couple of years, getting guys like Burnett and Liriano can be game changers.

Pens n at: Thank God Chuckles isn't running the Steelers...they would've been sold years ago had we made these kinds of firings in the past.

Jerry Micco: Actually, until they hired Chuck Noll, that's exactly what they did. And they never won even a division title. Not one.

Guest: Re: colbert, a few bad drafts?? The NFL is a what have you done for me lately. Tom Donahue got shown the door at some point. Colbert/Tomlin's evaluation of talent obviously isn't there, they have missed more than they have hit. Drafting Ben was a no brainer. Colbert needs to be fired plain and simple. And yes that's a fan talking, not a journalist who tries to ingratiate themselves to an organization.

Jerry Micco: That's laughable, at least the last part is. That's why fans are fans. They are passionate. The Rooney family isn't afraid to make changes, and not all of those work out. I think Kevin Colbert has been involved in every draft since 2000. If you say a guy who helped build 3 Super Bowl teams, including 2 winners is a bad GM, then you need to get that to the Rooneys. They make those decisions, not the media.

The Chief: Jerry, hi, been a while. You surprised that the Penguins kept Maata and has Simon Depres become a forgot man?

Jerry Micco: I'm surprised Despres is not with the big club, but they are so deep defensively that he's going to have to show he can play a more complete game before he's up with the big club. And Maatta, even at 19, has shown he has a more complete game. Doesn't mean Despres will languish in the minors forever, but he'll have to await yet another turn to get a chance to play.

James_Pittsburgh: I am not a big Tomlin fan. However, if Ben protects the ball better against Chicago, Minnesota, and Oakland (plus Suisham's missed field goals), the Steelers are 5-2 and have a good shot at the playoffs.

Jerry Micco: It takes every facet of a team, any team, pulling together to be successful. The Pirates had 20 losing seasons. This group took several years to finally be successful. The Steelers are successful and have been for years. But, anything less than a Super Bowl for some fans, is a failure. And the club feels the same way. But you can't fire your way to success all the time. If Ben has a bad year, do you trade him away? It's not fantasy football, folks.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I wouldn't mind seeing the Pirates sign A.J. and Josh Johnson and try to trade Charlie Morton and another pitcher for a right fielder.

Jerry Micco: I wonder if they'll be that active in the offseason? I think for teams like the Pirates, the window is smaller than for the bigger spending teams. So maybe they'll take a couple more chances this offseason to capitalize on the success of 2013.

Pens n at: Jerry, are you a little stunned that Russell Martin didn't win the Gold Glove award this year (or any Pirate for that matter)? I know Yadi is a great catcher for the cards but the guy continues to win year after year after year...Martin I thought was very deserving this year.

Jerry Micco: I thought Martin had an excellent year and an excellent chance, but Molina is really that good. He's not only a good catcher, but he's great with pitchers. That's a tough call, but Molina is just a shade better. Martin's not far behind. In the NLDS, you had both Gold Glove catchers going at it. Looked pretty even to me.

The Chief: Your thoughts on the NFL's addition of a third game in London. Are we headed to a weekly game in London in similar fashion as we now have a weekly game on Thursday night.

Jerry Micco: I hope not. I know the NFL has said they want a team in London, but I just don't see the buzz. All the games there would have to be night games so they could be shown at 1 p.m. here. If you wanted a 4 p.m. start, it'd be 9 in London. And never an east coast prime time game. I don't know, it seems a reach to me.

bradshaw2ben: Am I the only one who thinks Haley's scheme that bunches in everyone close to the ball simply makes life harder on the OL? There are more potential pass rushers and fewer running lanes. Why not spread and run like the Patriots?

Jerry Micco: I think they run the bunch because it's an extension of the running game. They are really running plays (bubble screens) disguised as passes. As far as running a spread, they do that on occasion, too. But usually, Miller is part of it, so he can't pass protect, which I don't mind. He's too valuable to be a blocker on passing downs. The offense needs a lot of work. That's on Tomlin, Haley and the players. And it won't get easier this Sunday.

The Chief: Jerry, if the penguins are apparently content to have the Z -Man as a back up. Why not send him down to the Baby penguins and only bring him up on nights he is going to try and be a NHL goalie?

Jerry Micco: I'm not sure how that works, but if there's a rule against the number of times he can be up and down, they can't do that. Besides the obvious one: If Fleury is hurt on the first shot of a game, who plays goalie?

Pens n at: Roethlisberger was a no brainer in that draft because you could've picked any of the top 10 QBs in the draft and had a legit starting QB.

Jerry Micco: The big 3 that year were Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and Ben. Rumors always were that Cowher loved Rivers, and was disappointed when the Chargers and Giants swapped picks once SD drafted Manning. I was actually at that draft in NY City, and Manning looked physically ill holding up that Chargers jersey. The Steelers knew Ben was the least developed of the 3, but was still a very good QB. And that's been proven correct.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you think the Pirates could afford A.J. Burnett on a one year $10 million contract and Nelson Cruz on a 2 year $20 million contract? And would you be willing to make those free agent signings if you were the Pirates GM?

Jerry Micco: I'd do it, but I'd want Burnett for a bit less if I could do it. Cruz likely would be a fair catch at $10/mil a year. I could do that.

SteelPerch: Hey, the Steelers (and his own brother, for that matter) fired Art Rooney, Jr. They can certainly fire Colbert after basically 4 of 5 or 5 of 6 terrible drafts.

Jerry Micco: They could, but at least for now, they won't. Every GM hits and misses in this league. Unless you can get top 15 talent over several years, which means you lose a lot, or you can draft well in the lower rounds, you aren't going anywhere. And we know the franchises who can't draft well because they are never in the Super Bowl hunt. Doesn't mean Colbert hasn't whiffed on high picks, he certainly has. He's lost the entire 2009 class. But let's look at 2012 draft: DeCastro blows out a knee in preseason, only plays 6 games; Adams is hurt early on, but plays a pretty decent RT. Sean Spence has a terrible knee injury, hasn't played a down in regular season; Alameda Ta'amu, trouble in River City, Chris Rainey, more trouble. Those are the top guys. The top 3 were injured for part, if not all, of their careers. And DeCastro is a good player. If he stays healthy. I'd not give up on Adams just yet.

Pens n at: Tomlin has a demeanor that I have not seen in many NFL coaches and there is a reason why he's been to 2 Super Bowls. I'm surprised so many are against him after 1 losing's the NFL people, it happens!

Jerry Micco: He hasn't had the losing season yet. But likely will this season. Again, Super Bowl or bust with Steelers fans. Nothing wrong with that, but in reality, not going to happen every year. League is too balanced.

Guest: What have the Patriots done that the Steelers haven't to be successful every year?

Jerry Micco: Drafted Tom Brady in the 6th round 11 years ago. Best QB of a generation, which includes Peyton Manning. And Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, when he was there, were excellent evaluators of talent. They've been to 5 Super Bowls under Brady and have a 3-2 record. And he's been there since 2000. So, they don't make it every year, either, and when they do, they certainly don't win them all. But I generally like the Patriots front office. Though they sometimes whiff, too.

The Chief: Jerry, totally against signing AJ for $14 mill. That money would go along way to fixing the two obvious holes at 1B and RF.

Jerry Micco: If he wants that money, the Pirates won't pay it. I don't see that happening.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, if an investor wants to put an NFL team in London, I doubt the NFL will look past the dollar signs. I think it will fail, but I think we will eventually see an NFL team in London.

Jerry Micco: You are right in that money always talks loudest. I agree that if someone wants a team there and had deep pockets, that it will happen. Though like you, I don't think it will be a wise decision.

Guest: Good blog article about LT's drafted this year. None of them are playing LT right now. The idea of drafting OL in the first two rounds doesn't make sense. OL can be found walking the streets and taught how to block. Guys who run 4.3 aren't, that's why you draft skill guys early. Disagree?

Jerry Micco: Depends. A lot of DL get taken very high. And many great OLs have been first rounders taken high. Pouncey was a first rounder. You can go through the top OLs in the league and find plenty of first- and second-round guys. Not all of them make it , though, and when that happens it kills your team. The Steelers, in my opinion, should never take a DE in the first 2 rounds. Why? In their defense, they are block eaters, not impact players. But they drafted 2 back to back in Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward.

James_Pittsburgh: 2014 Pirates lineup- 1.Marte 2. Jordy Mercer 3. Andrew McCutchen 4. Pedro Alvarez 5. Nelson Cruz 6. Gaby Sanchez/ Andrew Lambo 7. Russell Martin 8. Neil Walker- Can they win the NL Central? Walker and Mercer would ideally switch spots in the lineup depending if a right hander or left hander was pitching.

Jerry Micco: I'd do that for right-handers, though I've heard from baseball people Walker is not a good 2-hole hitter. But no one on the team, right now, is ideal for that spot, so for me, he's the best choice. But only against righties.

The Chief: So if the Sox lose tonight, tomorrow all four Major Sports will be on the Dockett. Has that ever happened before?

Jerry Micco: Not sure because I'm not sure how many years there's been a Thursday night game in the NFL. The Series has run into late October/early November for a few years now. Hockey, except for last season, was playing. I'm going to say yes, but I can't prove it.

James_Pittsburgh: If the Steelers get a top 8 pick, do you think there is any chance they draft a QB? Or will we see them likely drafting a left tackle if one with a top 10 grade is available?

Jerry Micco: If Jake Mathews or Taylor Lewan are there, they likely will take them. If a good WR is there (Sammy Watkins of Clemson), they may go that direction. They have needs and they are many.

Paul: Lost in alot of the anger--why were the Steelers doing an onside kick instead of punting in the last part of the game? They should have pinned Oakland deep. Onside kicks don't work anymore. The "hands teams" are too good. I have to question Tomlin's judgment there.

Jerry Micco: After they made it 21-18? He had to do it to have any chance to win the game. If he had all 3 TOs left, he could kick it deep and use them to stop the clock. I'm sorry if I missed your point.

The Chief: Jerry, your thoughts on The NFL trying to get The Redskins to change their name?

Jerry Micco: I've come around to think they should. I'm a traditionalist and if a name has been around since 1937 or whatever, then I'm for keeping it. But too many American Indian groups have expressed outrage and if they feel this way, their opinions should be respected. I think Washington can still use a great nickname and its fans will still come to games. Terrific fanbase there.

Shampooches: So I'm employed as a dog groomer and my dogs have won some blue ribbons afew years ago, but lately the dogs I'm turning out have fleas and are mangy mutt's and some have been picked up by animal control, should I continue to be allowed to groom dogs or do my past blue ribbons keep me employed?

Jerry Micco: I'd not trust my dog with you, but I don't have a dog anymore. And if it was each and every dog, and not ones named Maurkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown, Marcus Gilbert, Heath Miller, Lawrence Timmons or a few others, then yes, you should lose your job.

Chunkles: Jerry, Fernando at center has been a Godsend. Is he that good or is Maurkice overrated?

Jerry Micco: I think Pouncey is a very good player, but not elite. Maybe as a center he is considered that, but I just think very good. His peers think more highly of him, so they are probably right. Velasco has been a great pickup (Colbert?). He certainly has earned a spot next year on the roster even if as a guard/center backup.

Guest: James, Nelson Cruz is a known cheat, and should and will not be signed.

Jerry Micco: Marlon Byrd was suspended for 50 games too.

Bill L: Jerry, wouldn't there be an "icing on the cake"--more like a big piece of cake-- separate tv deal too if the NFL has a team in the UK? You know, BBC or Sky Sports, I think it's called.

Jerry Micco: Oh, there would be a lot of money there if where those places broadcast the fans cared. I just don't think the NFL in Europe, as evidenced by NFL Europe, is a good thing.

Suwanee88: I think the Steelers problems are due to bad cap management. What say you?

Jerry Micco: Our Gerry Dulac did an excellent story on how teams that sign franchise QBs often struggle with the cap. Hard to put a bunch of good players around him when you are cash strapped. And you can't miss on draft picks, which the Steelers have done too many times the past 2-3 years. As Cowher said, it's a fine line.

Phil: Is there anybody with more incentive on the Steelers than Worilds right now? His play starting now could be the difference in millions and millions of dollars.

Jerry Micco: You'd think that he'd be motivated to do every bit of work possible to do a great job. But thus far, he has not shown that. Another of Colbert's bad 2nd-round picks. Want to bash Colbert, that's where it comes: Really bad 2nd-round picks. Too high for that many misses.

The Chief: OK, we are halfway thru the NFL season, biggest surprise and biggest disappointment!

Jerry Micco: Surprise has to be Kansas City. Disappointment has to be the Steelers. No one thought they'd be this bad.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get to some other stuff. Excellent chat today with very good questions. Fans know how to ask good questions because they are tuned in to what's going on. I appreciate you all taking the time to join me today. I'll be back around 4:10 on Sunday for the live Patriots-Steelers chat, then back next Wednesday at noon for another round. Until then, have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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