Poll Question: It's always a combination of many things, but if you could pick the No. 1 reason for the Pirates 18-26 record, it would be: Answer #1: Offense (50%) Answer #2: Defense (Votes: 0) Answer #3: Starting pitching (50%) Answer #4: Bullpen (Votes: 0) Chunkles: Jerry, I know about the inmates and the asylum BUT if your best player is not happy with the head coach, why not have Sid sit in on the meetings or at least go to him and ask who he wants as his next coach? Doesnt the team follow the Captains lead?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure Crosby is unhappy with Bylsma. We've never reported that, and a lot of outlets have never reported that. Some have, but when asked, Crosby hasn't said that. Now, could Crosby be lying? I guess he could. But don't you think if Crosby was that upset that the owners, Lemieux in particular, would have just made a clean sweep? Why wait to hire a new GM?
James_Pittsburgh: Should the Penguins try to trade Malkin if they can get enough picks/ young players so they can get younger?
Jerry Micco: I think that trading Malkin would haunt this hockey team for years to come. He is one of the best players in the league and in my mind, there is no reason to trade him. There are tradeable parts on the team: Neal, Kunitz, Martin, Niskanen, which could be a sign and trade, but I'd not trade Malkin. I'd say Letang could be dealt, too, but with his contract and iffy health situation, not many teams would be interested.
The Chief: Jery, hope all is well. Your thoughts on how the Penguins have handled the whole GM/Head Coach situation.
Jerry Micco: I think it was done in a rather backward way and Bylsma must feel a bit hung out to dry. Usually, if you take out the GM, the coach goes, too. Not always, but many times. I would think a new GM would want his own coach, so you would think at some point, Bylsma would be replaced by the new GM. But, I've seen stranger things happen.
lone justice: Jerry, why do you have Mark Dent reporting on the Paterno lawsuit against the NCAA? Seems like you and Mr Dent would be overjoyed if the Paterno lawsuit was allowed to proceed.
Jerry Micco: Mark covers Penn State for us as the reporter based in State College. He does sports as his primary beat, but if you've read his stuff over the past couple years, you know he handles many news stories, too. I have no idea why you'd say the latter statement with no foundation to back it up, but feel free to hit and run. Mark has done a very good job for us in State College, and will continue to report on the goings on up there.
lone justice: Jerry, why no criticism from the PG of Pirates ownership? Burnett wasn't re-signed and now the pitching is terrible.
Jerry Micco: I don't think hanging on to AJ Burnett for $14 million would make this club much better. There are a lot of holes, and I think the criticism of the Pirates management has certainly been there. Sometimes, though, you can only say things so many times.
Jeff: Hi Jerry. Is Engelland good enough to be a regular 4th line forward? If so he could provide some valuable versatility; 7th defenseman & 4th line winger.
Jerry Micco: He could be a valuable swing man, but I think you have to find a home for him. Maybe he replaces Orpik as a physical defenseman next season, though he really has no speed to speak of.
James_Pittsburgh: Some people think the Pirates should have done better than Volquez in the offseason and added a better starting pitcher. However, most of the free agent pitchers available this past off-season have been inconsistent and are on the wrong side of 30 other than Masahiro Tanaka. Huntington actually did a decent job by signing Volquez, even if he isn't Ray Searage's next successful reclamation project. It would have been silly to gamble $50 million on a guy like Matt Garza who currently has a higher ERA than Volquez.
Jerry Micco: As usual James, that's a pretty solid assessment from you. I think Volquez, for what they got out of him his first few starts, probably returned something on that $5 million. And that's not to say he won't come back and give them some good outings. Aside from the few great free agents out there, this was a pretty weak class. In hindsight, should they have kept Morneau? I would not based on how he did here in the short time he was around. Byrd might have been a nice addition, but the Pirates weren't going to pay that price.
Jim from Michigan: Jerry, Love your chats! Ray Searage got all the credit for helping out Burnett, Francisco Liriano etc 2013. Now with the SP's not doing well, do you think he may of got to much credit last year? I mean why doesn't he look so good this year.
Jerry Micco: Liriano is kind of looking like the pitcher he's always been, which is fairly inconsistent. Searage does what he can, but at some point, veteran pitchers have to go out and do the job. Volquez pitched wonderfully early on, but now has fallen on hard times. Is that on Searage? I think I'd rather see Searage work with guys like Morton and Cole and get them righted.
The Chief: Kind of amazing that Shero was shown the door after making the playoffs every year and winning The Cup during his tenueand Neil H is still around with but one season above .500 on his resume.
Jerry Micco: One team's ownership spends big and expects big returns because it has 2 of the best players in the game. The other does not spend big and hopes to build from its minor league system. Neil Huntington has done a nice job of building the Pirates minor league system. That culminated in having enough talent to get them into the playoffs last season. But because they won't spend big money, he can't fill in the holes until the younger guys are ready. Shero always had that opportunity. If he didn't get it done, he was going to pay a price.
The Chief: Your thoughts on Super Bowl LII being awarded to the twin Cities.
Jerry Micco: Great place to play an indoor game. Brutally cold winters, but a really nice area for restaurants, etc. Just need to hang out inside a lot while you're there. It really is a nice part of the country.
The Chief: Does the Super Two date go by the wayside in the next MLB CBA?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure about this. Sorry about that.
wait till next year?: Just wondering IF the Pirates would of made a offer for Burnett were he would of cost a team a first round draft pick (no one would of signed him). Started Polanco from day 1, kept Garrett Jones or resigned Morneau, the team wouldn't be as bad as they are.
Jerry Micco: That's so hard to say. You assume they'd be better, but you can't predict that. Polanco is killing AAA pitching, but hitting big league pitching is much different. And would Morneau have the hitting success in PNC Park that he's having in the think air of Denver? A lot of maybes.
doyle37: Jerry...since the Pirates lost AJ to free agency and Tallion to injury do you think the Bucs should make a deal for an established MLB starter or will the young arms in farm system suffice for this year ??
Jerry Micco: I think for this year, they'll look at guys like Cumpton and Locke to fill the voids. Taillon won't get his shot until the middle of next year or maybe late next year, if he's with the big club at all. The core of the rotation is Cole and Morton. Taillon, I believe, was going to be that third piece perhaps by mid-season, and then you'd fill in around them. Now, you may have to go out in the offseason and get an established arm to fill in around Cole and Morton.
Brian: Redports are that the Steelers had targeted Justin Gilbert (CB) in the draft. Does a guy that can't tackle and won't support the run sound like a Dick LeBeau DB to anybody? Are these reports faulty, or have Colbert/Tomlin gone off the reservation?
Jerry Micco: I think they liked Gilbert for his cover skills and his speed. He also was a legit kick/punt returner. He was a willing tackler, just not a very good one. No, he did not sound like a LeBeau corner to me, which is why I thought that Dennard was the pick at 15, and unless Shazier wows me, I still think Dennard should have been that pick. Had Fuller fallen to them, I wonder if they'd gone that route?
depressed penguin fan: Is there a chance someone from the Penguins is trying to sign any of there free agents for the team, namely Niskinan or Engelland?
Jerry Micco: I don't know. I'm not sure if you can do that before the free agent deadline of July 1. I'm sure Jason Botterill, the Pens interim GM, is probably talking with some agents as he is also preparing for the draft.
James_Pittsburgh: The Orioles paid $50 million for Ubaldo Jimenez and so far have gotten a 2-5 record with a 4.50 ERA. The Pirates paid $5 million for Volquez and got a 1-4 record with a 4.71 ERA. And I am not cherry picking. I have not seen any convincing stats from any of the top free agent pitchers last year other than Masahiro Tanaka.
Jerry Micco: You are correct in pointing out that there was not a great crop of pitchers out there this year, with the exception of Tanaka, who was not going to sign with a low-tier team as far as payroll. Pitching, as I've said a million times, is how you win championships. It's hard to get and hard to develop. It's why the Pirates draft so many pitchers. You have to have a lot of it, especially if you have a low payroll, because it's hard to bid for top free-agent arms.
me: If Blysma is signed for 2 more years and the team has to pay him anyways. Couldn't we reasign him to a new position make him be a scout, janitor etc.?
Jerry Micco: Certainly, the new GM could remove Bylsma as coach and keep him on as a scout, consultant, etc. He is under contract. It has been reported that there are NHL teams very interested in hiring Bylsma as coach.
James_Pittsburgh: One area in which I would fault the Pirates is not going after a guy like Jose Abreu who signed for 6 yrs/$68M. In MLB today that is not a lot. I really think the Pirates need to gamble on a foreign player. However they need good scouts so that they invest their money in the right place.
Jerry Micco: They did that in the Dominican, by building the new academy there and putting money into scouting into that area. It is going to help in the long run, I think. But you are right. Asia is the place now where you need to start looking in earnest for players. As those nations' developmental programs get better, MLB teams will need to be there to scout players with the potential to play in this country. A real bounty of players there.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you know if the Pirates are scouting China? I know some big league teams are.
Jerry Micco: I don't know if they are specificially, but I'm sure they have some scouts keeping an eye on Asia.
James_Pittsburgh: Now that Liriano probably won't cost a lot, should the Pirates resign him for 2014. How about a rotation of Cole, Morton, Liriano, Tallion, and Cumpton. I guess Locke can fill in until Tallion is ready.
Jerry Micco: Depends on which Liriano they get. Will they get the 16-8 and sub-4.00 ERA guy or the 5-14, plus-5.00 ERA guy? If they get the former, that's a fine rotation. Or perhaps, they see Pimentel getting a shot as a starter? Either way, I think they'll need to look hard at an established starter in the offseason.
James_Pittsburgh: Is Dri Archer the next Randel El (situational player) or could be become a player who is actually on the field for three downs? Someone who post 1,000+ all purpose yards.
Jerry Micco: I don't think he has Randle El's diversity of skill. El was a college QB who could run, catch and throw. Plus, he was bigger and more athletic. Archer is faster, and more of a running back. I can see Archer making a big difference if he can be taught to return punts. A kick returner in today's NFL is somewhat negated by the rules changes. If the Steelers can figure a way to get him the ball 7-10 times a game from the line of scrimmage, he could be a dynamic player.
Jim from Michigan: Jerry, Watching the Penguins & Pirates on my DirecTV sports packages. It make me realize how years ago the announcers would just announce the game, say who messes up instead of defending everyone. I know they get paid my the team to promote the players, but it was a lot better in the past. Just my thought!
Jerry Micco: I don't know. I grew up listening to the great Bob Prince, and he pretty much was a great Pirate homer. An all-time Hall of Fame homer, but he generally supported the players. Harry Caray was a Cubs fan as much as he was a broadcaster. So if you're paid by the club, you tout the club and the players. But I do hear guys like Walk, Blass and Wehner be critical at times. They point out the flaws.
The Chief: OK, with the Canucks naming their new GM, there is one GM job left beside the Penguins. Do we see Fred Shero and Barry Trots or Dan Bylsma in DC?
Jerry Micco: Shero will likely get a look from the Caps for their GM job. I could see him there.
Chunkles: Ray Shero had to go but, as a hockey fan, I realize he did more good that bad and I wish him well. He will find a GM job without any difficulty.
Jerry Micco: I think Shero is well-respected around the NHL and all of hockey in general.
doyle37: With the offense struggling, should the Bucs maybe steal Cutch more ? Keeping hm at first in hopes that Pedro hits a HR isn't working. If Cutch steals 2nd maybe they walk Pedro. Bat Walker 5th for rbi opportunities.
Jerry Micco: I think sometimes they keep Cutch on first to keep some hole open for Alvarez on the right side. But also, I'm not sure how good a base-stealer Cutch is. He's got speed, which is great speed once he gets going. I'm not sure he's great from a standing start, though. And base stealing is important from your first three steps and how you read a pitcher. I think Cutch could steal 30-35 bases a year, but I don't know if he feels comfortable doing that.
James_Pittsburgh: I see the Steelers biggest challenge in 2014 as beating the teams with an under .500 record. If the Steelers had taken care of business against Oakland and Minnesota in 2013 they would have been 10-6 and a wild card team.
Jerry Micco: The Steelers were not prepared to play some games against lesser foes in 2013. That's on the coaching staff first, and then on the players. That has to get fixed. If it does, the Steelers have a legitimate chance to return to the playoffs in 2014. I don't know if they can win the AFC, but they can make it to the playoffs. But they need to win the games they should win, and not come out flat like they did too many times in 2013.
James_Pittsburgh: I see the Steelers spreading the field a lot and getting Dri Archer and Antonio Brown in the open with a chance to run.
Jerry Micco: That will be the trick for Archer: getting him chances in space. It'll be up to Todd Haley to do that. I hope he doesn't line him up in the backfield and try to run him off-tackle as a deception type thing. I think Archer on reverses, quick-hitch patterns and such could be a devastating player. Not as good as Tavon Austin of the Rams, but a reasonable facsimile.
DNY: What happened with the sourcing on the reports that Bylsma was fired. Wasn't only the PG who got it wrong. One bad source, or misdirection from the front office?
Jerry Micco: First and foremost, we did get it wrong, and for that, I apologize to our readers. Our job is to get it right, and I'm the one who approves popping stories up on our Website. My job as head of the Sports department is to OK that stuff. Yes, we had sources we trusted, but in the end, it turned out just half right, which of course is all wrong. How that started, or if it changed, I cannot tell you because I don't know.
doyle37: How is T. Snyder still on the team ? I was hoping for a while he would pan out but he looks like this years Presley ? BTW..doesn't look like Ike is the answer at first either. Gabby looks way better facing righties or lefties.
Jerry Micco: Snider was someone I was hoping would work out, too, because he seems to have some spark. But he's way too inconsistent. Tabata is more consistent, but really lacks power. They are keeping that sport warm for Polanco. As for Davis, about as advertised. I think he's an OK player, a platoon player, who for my good, is taking time away from Sanchez. I'm a Sanchez guy, who I think hits better overall and is a better fielder.
Somone other than James_Pittsburgh: How do you value what production we've gotten out of Ike Davis thus far...was it really worth all the fuss that most Pirates fans where damanding? It really doesn't look all that different from having Gaby there full-time.
Jerry Micco: A lot of people clamored for Davis early on, and when the Pirates got him, people were happy. But he's not a difference maker in the lineup. As I said in the answer above, he's a platoon player. I think Sanchez is the better of the two and more consistent.
Pittsburgh_James: What is the read on where the Pirates see Tyler Glasnow in the future? Do you think he fits into the potential rotation with Cole, Tillion and Morton in a couple years?
Jerry Micco: Perhaps. I think they like Glasnow a lot, but he's struggling a bit in high A Bradenton this year. He's 0-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 5 starts. His problem is wildness. He's 20, so he's got some maturing to do, but he's a big guy (6-7 and 195).
James_Pittsburgh: Andrew McCuthen had a 72.9% success rate when stealing last year. 27 steals and 10 caught stealing. McCutchen has not shown to be a great base stealer. Plus, you probably don't want to risk injuring your best hitter stealing bases unless it is in a critical situation.
Jerry Micco: Barry Bonds stole a lot of bases in his career, and of course, Rickey Henderson did it more than anyone. You can do it, but if you aren't all that good at it, you're right, why risk an injury unless you really need the base?
James_Pittsburgh: Please don't take offense Jerry, but journalism needs to change. Today, there is too much focus on breaking the story than getting the information correct. Sometimes people's lives are adversely affected as a result of inaccurate information that is reported in the papers and online.
Jerry Micco: Of course, we always want to be right. That's on us and we know when we are not right, that our credibility takes a hit. And in reality, all we have is our credibility. But the demands of readers also needs to change, too. I can tell you that we are often not first on a story because we are waiting to independently source stories and readers will complain that we are slow and not sources well enough and are late. So it cuts both ways. But bottom line: We need to be right, even if we aren't first.
Jerry Micco: Well, I won't disagree that we always want to be right and when we get it wrong, we correct it. And our track record in that area generally is very good. We have standards and we followed them, but this time they failed us. But this cuts both ways, too. In the electronic age of print journalism, many readers will call us out for being "late" on a story because we will wait until we are satisfied that we've independently verified something. They aren't happy that we were beaten by the competition. So, we deal with that part of the dynamic, too. But as you point out, there is no excuse for being wrong.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to head back to some other stuff. Thanks so much for taking the time to join me today and for all the great questions. I'll see you at noon next Wednesday and we'll do it all over again. Until next time, have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco