kibab1979: Hi Jerry, where did the summer go? If the Pirates fail to get to 82 this year, do you see a decrease in attendance/interest next year if they again flirt with .500 after teasing fans the last two years?
Jerry Micco: I think if the Pirates fail to get 82 this year, the fans will hold back some because then they will have been teased for 2 years by a team that has collapsed after the All-Star break. I think a lot of folks were convinced by the break, and shortly thereafter, that this team could win a division and certainly a wild card. But now it'll be a struggle to get a wild card. But I think they'll have a winning record at least, and I do not count them out in the wild card.
jd: I'm seeing mixed reaction to what position Brock Holt should be playing, SS or 2B or utility IF. What do you see him as.
Jerry Micco: I don't know how strong his arm is, but 2B is going to be Neil Walker's for as long as he wants it. So I'd say SS unless they think Jordy Mercer is the better guy all around. It's nice to see Holt up here and hitting a bit, though. Shows they Pirates have some middle infield depth and could actually trade a piece (Holt, Harrison, Mercer) if that's what it took to get a player they wanted. Still too early to say if Holt is the answer anywhere right now. Barmes will still get the majority of starts at SS down the stretch, and likely will hang around next year.
1G: Hi Jerry from Mich. The Buc's have had a terriffic season, despite the recent fade. What areas do you see targeted for improvement next season.
Jerry Micco: Starting pitching. They'll likely lose Correia and unless they think the rotation is set with AJ, Wandy, JMac, Karstens and maybe Locke, they'll likely look at another lefty in the Maholm mode. The bullpen could be restocked, too, though they may use AAA guys for that. I think they still need a guy who can hit for power in a corner OF spot. They have a lot of parts: Tabata, Snider, Presley, Marte and only 2 of those guys get to play. And only Marte, to me, is going to be a steady power hitter. Catcher will need a look too, as I don't see Barajas here for another year. McKenry is a nice catcher, but I think if he plays every day, he's too exposed as a hitter.
jd: Starting RB Sunday night for the Steelers, Mendenhall, Redman or Dwyer. and who will have the most carries.
Jerry Micco: Redman will start and have the most carries. Dwyer will get his touches, too. I don't see Mendenhall playing.
jd: as for your poll question, I see a 10 win season and WC. What is your prediction?
Jerry Micco: I think 10 is as far as I'd go with this team. I'm a bit nervous about their defense because of linebacker depth. If Harrison can't play and Worilds is slow to recover, they are going to be hurting in that spot. The Sean Spence injury really was a tough one for them. I think they saw him as a guy who could cover RBs and TEs deep and now, they really don't have that guy on the roster. On offense, the OL should be better, but it would have been nice to have DeCastro all season. Foster is OK at guard, but DeCastro is the future at guard, and he may lose at least a half of a season. They will be 10-6 and may actually win the division. I'm not as sold on Baltimore as everyone else is.
jd: Next years starting rotation for the Pirates.
Jerry Micco: Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald, Karstens and a TBA or Locke. Though I really like Kyle McPherson if they choose to stay in-house for a starter. But I think they'll do like they did with Bedard. See if they can find a $5 million or so pitcher for a year, preferably left-handed, because I'm not as sold on Locke.
1G: I am convinced that Penn St got an impulsive penalty from the NCAA driven to make a public splash. It seems as if the admin (including JoePa) could not do anything about the '98 report when Sandusky was not charged. The only other reported incident was a couple of years after Sundusky retired. Do you have an opinion in the punishment and the chance of a modifications. (we all agree that Sandusky should rot in prison)
Jerry Micco: I don't think the NCAA will modify the sanctions because Penn State's administration is the one who signed off on them, and if you believe some reports, offered them up themselves. The NCAA did over-reach because like a lot of things having to do with Sandusky, the crime was so horrific that everyone needed to top the other guy with their outrage. I think Penn State is doing a lot of this to themselves and will de-emphasize football for some time. But in all this, and the millions the school will pay out to victims, the NCAA, the Feds (Clery Act), etc., it will hurt the school overall in other ways. Look, these victims will never be whole because of what happened. That's a tragedy. But we still have a trial and the AG is still investigating. There's more to tell in this story, but what that is, no one knows.
The Chief: Hi Jerry, hope all is well. Your thoughts on if/when the NHL will start the season?
Jerry Micco: I have said from the beginning that the season will start on time. But now, I'm not sure it will or even come close. It's sad. Hockey fans are a very loyal bunch, especially in Pittsburgh, and they are going to have another work stoppage and likely a truncated season. It's a sport that can ill-afford to do that, but I think now they will do exactly that.
jd: Is Franco Harris beating a dead horse or does his recent actions have any merit to them?
Jerry Micco: If Franco wants to show his support for Joe Paterno, then he has a right to do that. I have no problem with it. I'm surprised at the vitriol spewed at him for doing it. If you don't agree with it, then don't pay attention to it. I think people will think of Paterno what they will. If they didn't like him before he died, they won't like him now. And vice versa. Franco says the man changed his life and he wants to support him through all of this, even though Joe's dead. It's his right, and I have no problem with it.
The Chief: Any reason to belive that the Pirates chemistry changed with the addition of the players at the deadline?
Jerry Micco: I really don't think so. They didn't lose any leaders on the team and Hurdle has been positive throughout the season. Who did they lose at the deadline? Brad Lincoln and McGehee? The loss of those two upset the chemistry of the clubhouse? I just think their pitching -- and Cutch -- headed south at once and that killed them. If they can get both going again, and get Walker back, they'll stay in contention.
jd: I agree on your rotation.I'm not real high on Locke either. I would try to get lucky with a FA to hold down the spot til July and hope that Gerrit Cole can come in.
Jerry Micco: We'll see how Cole develops, but no question they wanted to rush him a bit. I do not see Cole here in early 2013, but you may be right, we could see him in late June or early July. Also, Charlie Morton will be ready to pitch by midseason. If he can recover and pitch well, it gives them very good depth. Maybe not for 2013, though, depending on how well he recovers.
john: Do you think that the Pirates will consider trading either Tabata or Snider in the off season as part of a package for a good power hitting corner outfielder if they can?
Jerry Micco: If a team wants to part with a power hitter for 2 guys with no real power, maybe. I think for any team to trade with the Pirates, a young pitcher will have to be involved. Snider and Tabata, while perhaps nice parts, aren't going to land you that 25/90 guy in a corner OF spot.
Guest: Do you think Redman get the goal line carries this Sunday?
Jerry Micco: If he's healthy, yes. If not, Dwyer will be the guy.
The Chief: Ok Jerry, The NFL season is about to beginning this evening. Who you got in the Super Bowl?
Jerry Micco: Haven't really thought about it because for once, the Pirates have occupied a lot of my time. I don't think the Steelers can make it, but they can make the playoffs. The Texans are very good and the Pats have a run left in them, I think. Let's say the Pats in the AFC and the 49ers in the NFC. I won't be right, but you asked so there you go.
kibab1979: Do you think there will be enough blown calls this week for the NFL to wise up and come to a deal with the officials in time for week 2?
Jerry Micco: Sounds like neither side wants to budge. And remember, NFL officials are part-timers. They have real jobs and make real money, so while they are out some dollars, it isn't their livelihood. That said, if it's really bad, I think the NFL will have to do something within the first quarter of the season. Vegas will be pressuring them, too, trust me.
jd: Steelers vs Denver sunday, Who wins?
Jerry Micco: Denver by a FG. Will be tight, but I think if they can't get to Manning, they Broncos will wear them down in the altitude. It's a really tough place to play and you are doing it with your starting safety out, and maybe your ROLB (Harrison) out. Going to be a tough sled for the Steelers. Now, if they can run the ball and get 2-3 turnovers, then they can come out of Denver with a rare win.
jd: If there is an NHL lockout, do you really think Sid will play in Europe.
Jerry Micco: I don't think so, unless he thinks they'll lose an entire season. I think with his concussions, it would serve him well to stay in shape and away from contact unless he has to do it (like in an NHL game). But if it looks like the entire season is gone, he may entertain some limited schedule over there. If I had to bet one way or the other, I'd say he won't play across the water.
The Chief: Your thoughts on Pitt's opener?
Jerry Micco: I didn't see it or hear it as I was working in the office on Saturday night, but that's not a good way to start the season obviously. I didn't see that coming, either. Pitt continues to lose games they shouldn't. I think Paul Chryst will get them headed in the right direction, but a loss like that really hurts them. Still, if they can get well and win in Cincy tomorrow, they are 1-0 in the Big East. Out of conference games mean little unless you want a shot at the national title. But a BCS bowl comes with winning your conference.
jd: Were you surprised that Charlie Batch made the 53 man roster?
Jerry Micco: Not after his play in the final exhibition game. The Steelers like him and Tomlin, as he said yesterday, likes 3 QBs. They have 3 veterans who they feel comfortable with. There can't be another team in the NFL with that type of quality depth at QB.
jd: Regarding all of the suspensions for the panthers prior to the opener, does it seem like Paul Chryst is going to bring a harsher brand of discipline to this team than in the past?
Jerry Micco: I thought Wannstedt disciplined players when it was deserved, but maybe I'm mistaken. It's tough to run a college program. Guys 18-22 sometimes do things they should not, and it's up to the coaches to fix that problem when it arises. Chryst seems to be a guy who won't tolerate it. I don't know what those guys did, but the coach wasn't having any part of it.
The Chief: Disagree on the three QBs. All three are over 30 and who really knows how much Ben has left in the tank. A young QB that could run a wildcat scheme would be nice to have on the roster!
Jerry Micco: Ben's been to 3 Super Bowls and my guess is he's not done at that number. I think they are going to be fine. This is a team that doesn't run a wildcat and never really has, so why set up your personnel for that? Todd Haley I don't think prefers that type of attack, so he goes with the strength of the team, which is Ben and the WRs.
jd: I know we are already 1 game into the season, but what is your win totals for Pitt,PSU, and WVU
Jerry Micco: I thought Pitt could win 8. Now, not so sure. I thought Penn State was a 7-5 or 6-6 team before Ohio. Going to be tough to get to 7, though there's an outside shot at 6. I had WVU at 10-2, which I think is very doable for them.
jd: Who will have the bigger year, Wallace or Brown?
Jerry Micco: Brown because I think he'll be targeted more on intermediate routes. If Wallace ever learned to run routes correctly and do more than run "go" patterns, he'd be absolutely lethal.
Jack: Pirates are three players away from a playoff team.1. Another quality starter like Burnett ,2. a SS lead off type ,3.A bullpen lefty who can pinch close at times.They will be fine in the outfield.A MLB scout once told me years ago to correctly predict a ML hitters long term ability judge them ONLY after 1000 ML at bats. This is so very true. Look at Pedro, Tabata, Presley, Walker,and this is spot on.You can see who will and won't be around a long time. Will the PBC spend the extra $$ from this years success at the gate to find them? It discouraged and sickened me what the Dodgers did at the deadline. Do you agree?
Jerry Micco: Hey, if the Dodgers could swing it, more power to them. As for the Pirates, I agree that they need another starter, though I think they see Cole as that quality starter down the road. It would help, though, if the got a FA/trade piece like Burnett. Remember, he was not supposed to be this good. It's a bonus that he is. I think they need a leadoff hitter. I thought that could be Tabata, but so far, it's not. I think Barmes is still here next year. And if you are looking for the best of the corner OFs on the team, my money is on Marte, who will need some time to round completely into form. But I think he's a keeper.
The Chief: Who will the Steelers miss more this year Hines Ward or James Farrior?
Jerry Micco: In his prime, Farrior. They are a bit think at linebacker, and I don't know how Larry Foote will hold up through a long season. And they really need Timmons to come on and play much better than he did in 2011. Much better. And it would help if Worilds got healthy and lived up to being a 2nd-round pick. They need some guys to step up at LB.
Jerry Micco: I meant to say "thin" at linebacker, not "think."
jd: i may have missed this, but did the Steelers put DeCastro on the 8 game IR?
Jerry Micco: They may not do that this week, according to Ed Bouchette, but likely will do it next week. And bring back Trai Essex.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, I need to get back to some other stuff. Great chat today and a ton of good questions. Always happy to see my regulars, but wanted to welcome some new guys today, too. Hope you can keep coming back. Normally, I'd do this Sunday night's Steelers live chat, but I'm out of town this weekend. Dan Gigler, who did the exhibition chats, will be on the case. Join him after 8 p.m. and get involved in the chat. I'll be back at noon next Wednesday so we can do this all over again. Again, thank for taking the time to join me and have a terrific week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco