Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 12.26.12

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Poll Question:

Who is your Steelers MVP for 2012?

Answer #1:

Ben Roethlisberger (0%)

Answer #2:

Heath Miller (100%)

Answer #3:

Ryan Clark (0%)

Answer #4:

Lawrence Timmons (0%)

Answer #5:

Keenan Lewis (0%)

Jerry Micco: Hi everyone and welcome to the weekly all-sports chat. Hope you all had a great holiday. I'll be cranking this up in a few minutes, so any early questions are welcomed as are your votes in our quick poll. Back in a bit!

Jerry Micco: OK, I'm here if you have any questions, fire away.

yinzer in va: Jerry, I'd rather keep Hanrahan and his salary (some one who's actually doing something) than pay Lariano more who is mediocre.

Jerry Micco: I go back and forth on Hanrahan. Part of me says you absolutely pay a closer because those last 3 outs are hard to get. Another part of me says you can develop a closer or close by committee, which several good teams have done. I don't mind the Liriano deal because it's not a high price to pay. My qualm with the Hanrahan deal is in my mind, they got very little in return. They couldn't hold out for more?

yinzer in va: Jerry, Same goes for the players we got for Hanrahan. A proven vet for mediocre minor leaguers. If you're going to trade some one good, why can't we get value in return. Remember we got value in redturn for Tony Pena?

Jerry Micco: As I said, my problem with the Hanrahan deal is there's very little in return. Maybe no teams will give up their best prospects for a closer who has faded badly two consecutive years. Now, I will say that late the last two years he didn't have many situations where he had to close out games, but nonetheless, he seemed to slump. Maybe that went into other teams' thinking, but you don't see an up-and-comer in the bunch.

James_Pittsburgh: Will Clint Hurdle actually allow Jerry Seeds to develop or will he continue with his platoons?

Jerry Micco: I'm guessing he'll continue to platoon players, especially at first base, depending on what they do with Garrett Jones. But I'd imagine they will look at Gabby Sanchez as Jones' platoon partner should they keep him.

TruthinSportsJournalism: Jerry: There seems to be no lack of sappy, feel good articles about PSU football or their recruits. Yet, really few if any of the same genre on Pitt football or recruits. What do you say to Pitt fans perceived bias by the PG sports deparment?

Jerry Micco: That they don't read our sports section every day and have selective memories. Not uncommon for a few of our readers.

James_Pittsburgh: Can Hurdle just run out the following line up 1. Marte, 2. Walker, 3. McCutchen, 4. Garrett Jones 5. Jerry Seeds 6. Alvarez 7. Russell Martin 8. Clint Barmes and let it alone until the All-Star break?

Jerry Micco: By the way James, it's Jerry Sands. You forget, Hurdle has pretty much said that Travis Snider is going to start in RF, so you might want to pencil his name in there early on. And it's doubtful that Hurdle won't tinker with the lineup. You have to see if Marte continues to develop. If not, look for Tabata or Pressley to get their shot. Not sure where Sands fits into the mix.

TruthinSportsJournalism: Jerry: What do you think was more overblown, the local infatuation of the Immaculate Reception of PSU putting "42" to honor a player who had nothing more than a knee injury? I am surprised, well I guess I shouldn't have that none of the columnists found the latter to be over the top,

Jerry Micco: Guess not.

TruthinSportsJournalism: Jerry: Steelers had a bad season. They also lost their QB, best RB, WR, many OL, LB's, CB and Safety for parts or large parts of the season. A 7-8 record should not be surprising. Why is their all this angst? Can't people understand it is one of those years?

Jerry Micco: You'd think that, but look at some of their early losses and you shake your head. Oakland, Tennessee, Cleveland. I will give you with the injuries it's tough, but it also showed the team lacks quality depth. Salary cap issue? Probably. But down the stretch, when they could have won games, they didn't. And they could have done that, injuries aside. Poor year for them.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you believe that McPherson or Jeff Locke will open the season as the 5th starter?

Jerry Micco: I liked McPherson more than Locke. But I'd also not be surprised to see them maybe go FA for one more starter.

TruthinSportsJournalism: Jerry: I am trying to remember, but can you remember perhaps a worse year for Pittsburgh sports?? The Steelers, the Pirates epic collapse, the Pens 1st rd playoff loss and then lockout, Pitt went 6-6, Pitt hoops missed the NCAA's, WVU collapsed ... I can't remember a worse year. I would have to think back somewhere to the mid-late 80's.

Jerry Micco: It has been a tough year for the pro teams for sure. The Steelers started with that debacle in the playoff game in Denver. Tebow killed them. Then the Pens fall flat to the Flyers. The Bucs were sailing along, then got sunk the last six weeks. WVU looked like a title contender. Then it had to play defense. As for Pitt, so many coaching changes, coordinators, etc., 6-6 is an OK year. Chryst will get them headed in the right direction in a much tougher ACC. Penn State, with all its issues and more to come, did well to go 8-4, but they lose a lot of guys next year. Has been a pretty tough time, you are right.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, in my opinion you have to let Marte and Snider or Sands play. Mixing and matching all the outfielders does no one any good.

Jerry Micco: I agree with you, especially on Marte. But scouts say he's still got a lot of holes in his game. My deal with him in particular is if he has too many holes right now, put him back in AAA. Let him play every day and work it out there. Snider is the same way. If he can't play at this level, a platoon can't really help him. But if they get rid of Jones, then you likely will see a steady dose of Snider. As for Sands, he's showed so little before, they'd have to get lucky to get much out of him now.

James Dean: Will Pirates have a winning season in 2013? Why or why not.

Jerry Micco: I think they will get off the schneid in 2013. They may go 82-80, but I think they have a very good shot. I think having Burnett and Rodriguez at the top of the rotation is pretty solid. Bullpen always seems to work itself out, and Grilli is a solid vet at the end of it. I think the hitting improved last season, and will this year. That's why I'm not a big fan of dumping Garrett Jones. Hard to replace 27 HRs.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I don't agree. The Pirates don't finish over .500 this year with a back end rotation of McDonald, Lirano, and McPherson. McDonald and Lirano will have 4.50+ ERAs. They Pirates will need a miracle from their pitchers to finish .500.

Jerry Micco: I don't know, I just think they are on the cusp of winning. The hitting has gotten better year over year, as has the pitching. Now, I'd not put a month's wages on them having a winning season, but I just feel that there are enough parts in place and some younger guys are a bit more seasoned, so maybe it all works out.

James_Pittsburgh: It is un Steeler like, but the Steelers really need to trade for a veteran running back in the offseason. Or sign one. Dwyer and Redman should be the backups.

Jerry Micco: Who knows, they may want Mendenhall back. Doubtful, but you never know. There aren't many RBs in this draft that you'd take as high as they'll pick. My guess is they'll take James Harrison's replacement round 1. Look at safety in round 2, then maybe RB or WR on round 3. I think they are in trouble at RB, but may be in too deep of a hole to get out in one year.

TruthinSportsJournalism: You go 26 years between Super Wins. You have a QB that has led you to 4 AFC Champ games, 3 Super Bowls and 2 rings before he was 30 years old. Yet, the Steelers brass seemed to want to bring in an Off Coordinator to "reign him in". To me, that would be akin to the Pens bringing in a coach to make Mario Lemieux be more defensively responsible. I think it was a bad hire (Haley) and I think the Steelers ownership is meddling too much. What say you?

Jerry Micco: I don't think they are meddling all that much, really. And it is their team after all. As for Haley, the offense was humming early in the season when Ben seemed to follow the gameplan. Then he got hurt, and they had to narrow the offense down a bit. Then Ben comes back, and I don't think he's 100 percent, and you're hearing more about freelancing and changing plays. Well, the offense was terrible last Sunday, and there was a lot of that. I'd like to see him run Haley's offense with healthy guys to see what happens. If you remember early on, it worked pretty well.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, there is no running back available. That is why they need a veteran stop gap. Something the Pirates commonly do, but the Steelers seem to over look.

Jerry Micco: The problem is, they'll not have much cap room to play with, so a starting RB won't fit under the cap. They are something like $18 million over the projected 2013 cap. Going to be hard to get a quality guy with that number staring you in the face. I don't disagree with your premise, but it's going to be very tough to do.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you think the 4 receivers next year will be Brown, Sanders, Crotchery, and a rookie?

Jerry Micco: I think Cotchery could be a cap casualty. He's on the outside of the guys who likely will go (Hampton and Harrison), but he could. I think Brown and Sanders certainly will stay. They love this guy Gilreath, but he never seems to catch on. What about Plexico Burress? Could he overtake Cotchery for that third or fourth spot? And I think there's a rookie in next year's group, too.

James_Pittsburgh: If the Steelers draft Harrison's replacement will he be released and Jason Worilds will start?

Jerry Micco: I'd think that Harrison would be let go and this rookie would start. Worilds is better on the left side, but has not proven to be a starter, at least not to me. He shows flashes when he gets a chance, but is not consistent. I'm afraid that's a pick they are regretting, especially as high as a No. 2.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you see Foote being brought back for another season? Next year's starting linebackers will be Woodley, Foote, Timmons, and a number one draft pick?

Jerry Micco: I think Foote, or 2nd-year man Sean Spence may get a shot. Remember, he was injured all this season, but is projected to play inside and he can run. You hope the knee injury he suffered didn't hurt that part of his game.

James_Pittsburgh: Barkevious Mingo from LSU would be a possible replacement for Harrison. Manti Te'o would be even better, but will be gone in the first ten picks.

Jerry Micco: Mingo is a very likely pick where the Steelers should be drafting, which likely will be between 17 and 20. If they lose to the Browns, then they could slide back to the 14 or 15 spot, but Mingo is a quality DE/LB hybrid the Steelers like on the outside. But the main concern should be for Woodley, who looked slow and heavy most of the season. He needs to get better for the team to get better.

James_Pittsburgh: The Pirates pitching is in really trouble in my opinion. A.J. Burnett is likely to regress to his career norms and Rodriguez continues to get fewer hitters to swing and miss.

Jerry Micco: But if you say that, then guys like Liriano and McDonald may be in for big years. I think Burnett was very good last year, and I can see him with 15 wins again this coming season. Wandy was their best starter down the stretch. And while he battled injuries, I wish they hadn't cut Jeff Karstens so early in the process. He'd be a better No. 5 guy, in my opinion, than either McPherson or Locke.

TruthinSportsJournalism: What team do you see with the most success in 2013 out of the local teams??

Jerry Micco: Hopefully, the Penguins because that means they're playing hockey in 2013. We can all keep our fingers crossed for that one. And I do think the Pirates have winning season. I think 82 wins is doable. But I'm a glass half full guy. Steelers will have an easier schedule because they'll not be a playoff team, but they are going to go through many changes this offseason.

jtowner: Do you really think mcdonald can find the strike zone that he lost after theall star break??

Jerry Micco: I do. He's a young pitcher and has to learn how to pitch. Remember, that was his first year as a full-time starter. I look for him to be better. Now, maybe that's based only on half of his 2012 season, but if the trend holds, he should be better.

James_Pittsburgh: It is interesting to note that A.J. Burnett had a lower ERA 3.38 in the second half than the first half and a higher rate of 8.3 (7.6 K per 9) in the second half.

Jerry Micco: I just saw a live arm there all season long. And he knows how to pitch, just like Wandy does. And remember, they will get Charlie Morton back at some point. Be interesting to see how he does coming off Tommy John surgery. Some guys get that done and are much better after the surgery.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think the Steelers had an easy schedule this year. They didn't play Houston, New England, and Indianapolis. Other than Denver and Baltimore then lost to teams will losing records.

Jerry Micco: But this team, going into the season, was better than the team they will field in 2013. At least on paper. And the division isn't as tough as it used to be. Cincinnati may be the favorite going into 2013, who knows?

Jerry Micco: OK folks, I need to get to some other stuff. Thanks for turning out today, when I know you're all busy with the holidays. I appreciate you taking the time as always. It's great to see you. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon, and I hope to see you then. Take care and have a great week! Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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