Jared Hughes, back, and Mark Melancon wear new pitcher protective caps in Bradenton.
Gene Collier: The reasonably live online chat is now live, reasonably. Thanks to everyone who made this possible. I'll be happy to answer. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
North Side Jason: Would you wear one of those goofy pitcher helmets?
Gene Collier: Not unless I was pitching. Then again, if I was pitching, everyone behind me would need a suit of armor and a major bubble payment to their health insurance.
JamesinNYC: Who do you expect from the Pirates to step up this year?
Gene Collier: Well, somebody's gotta step up, if for no other reason than that Somebody's Gotta Step Up is a former Trite Trophy winner for the worst cliche in sports in, uh, one of those years. I hate to see it become extinct, so thanks for keeping it going James. You really stepped up. I guess this presumes it's somebody who hasn't yet stepped up, and is still down there somewhere waiting. I don't expect much from Jaso or Morse in this case. I'm more encouraged by Rogers, even though the Brewers had no use for him. I don't expect Vogelsong to step up, and I don't expect Hurdle or Huntington to step down, which is good.
kevin: If there was a dancing with the post-gazette stars, who would win?
Gene Collier: I'll take Mike White. He's pretty much in the same body he had 35 years ago and he was pretty athletic then. The bigger question is who would be Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews.
The Card Says Moops: If you could add one drill to the Combine in Indy, what would it be?
Gene Collier: Goal-post humping
TSgt Fisher: Can you explain why it's so difficult for inside LB's to move to outside LB and vice versa. I would think Shazier's speed would be lethal on the outside if Jones keeps just being average but I keep hearing it's hard to do. Thoughts?
Gene Collier: The short answer is no. I cannot explain that. The longer answer is that Shazier is probably too light to take on tackles on the pass rush and that generally taller defenders are used on the edges of the defensive line. Everything in this game is so specialized, there have been cases where one ILB standard 3-4 can play one of the inside positions but not the other.
JamesinNYC: Do you think the Pens make any outside moves?
Gene Collier: I expect the Penguins to do something because given the choice between something and nothing GM Jimmy Rutherford almost always does something, sometimes to the club's detriment. They could use a forward and a defenseman, but if they were totally healthy they might be better off than with anybody they could reasonably afford to acquire. If that makes sense..
The Card Says Moops: During any given 15 minute Mike Tomlin interview with a potential draftee, what is the over/under on uses of the phrase 'position flexibility'?
Gene Collier: The over/under on position flexibility in 15 minutes is 3. The over/under on vertical disruptor is also 3. The over/under on "We're Talkin' Sunday Football Now" is 5.
The Card Says Moops: So, apparently Neal Huntington 'does a calculus each time he makes a move'. Do you perform a calculus when contemplating certain moves, like say whether or not to have another beer?
Gene Collier: I was intrigued to read that about Huntington's process, I guess because as analytically inclined as the Pirates GM cleary is, I didn't know it necessarily involved calculus. And is it Calc I or Calc 2? As for the beer scenario you describe, many, many factors are involved in such a question, including, as Mike Tomlin might say, "windage."
Mark: Gene, I don't know if this cliché was ever in the running for the Trite Trophy, but do you think the Steelers young linebackers should just be able to "pin their ears back" and rush the quarterback.
Gene Collier: Pin Their Ears Back has indeed been In The Hunt for the Trite Trophy, but at the peak of its ubiquitousness started fading into They Can Light Their Hair On Fire. If, as I've long suspected, the mass substitutions involved on third down defensively are because it takes a number of players carrying enough pins to pin everybody's ears back, what happens to the pins when they decide to set their hair on fire and who has the matches of that wand you light the grill with? These are the kinds of things I think about while covering the Steelers.
TSgt Fisher: Do you think Heath might join the coaching staff now that he's retired?
Gene Collier: That would surprise me. Miller has four young kids, I believe, and has earned enough dough over the years to avoid having to sit in film rooms all night. I'd never say never, but I'd frequently say it sounds dubious.
Gene Collier: Thanks for your patience today everyone as twice during the reasonably live chat my computer screen went black and I had to start over. At least I hope that was my computer screen. See you next week.
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