Poll Question: When Gregory Polanco soon joins the Pirates, should Josh Harrison go back to being a super sub, or stay as an everyday player? Answer #1: Super sub. He's great in small doses (58%) Answer #2: Everyday player. He's finally arrived. (42%) Tim Foli: Jerry, do you trust Harrison to play SS everyday if Polanco is brought up? I prefer Mercer at SS
Jerry Micco: I don't think Harrison can be an everyday shortstop. To me, it's the toughest position, besides catcher, to play in the field and he'd be kind of learning it as he goes at the big league level. I think he could spell Mercer a game or two there if needed, but not everyday. I think once Polanco gets here, you could still player Harrison 2-3 games a week at various spots, giving Alvarez, Marte, Walker and Alvarez occasional rest.
Guest: Jerry, I'm not sure I can watch the Bucs when Charlie Morton pitches. He hit 3 more batters the other night, strikes out 9 and lasts 5 innings. It seems the defense knows it's work playing behind him. He's 30 yrs old and too inconsistent to be a winning Pitcher, am I wrong?
Jerry Micco: I thought Morton would have a very good season, but I was wrong. I will say his 3.31 ERA shows that this isn't all his fault, but his control issues have cost him in several games. That said, sinkerball pitchers will go through that type of season sometimes. They don't have a large margin for error. I think since he lost a full season with TJ surgery, he really is a year behind. Let's see how he handles the rest of the year. I wouldn't give up on him just yet.
James_Pittsburgh: Neil Walker will be 29 in September. I would offer him 4 years $40 million. What do you think? Due to the fact that the Pirates won't be able to resign Pedro Alvarez and the fact that they don't have many infield prospects locking up Walker this off-season is essential.
Jerry Micco: I would agree with your final point, that locking him up is essential because they do not have infield prospects in their minor league system. And he'd be worth that type of money. The only problem is it's his first healthy season so you wonder if the Pirates are thinking this is a flash in the pan. I hope not because I think he's hitting his prime now. You get that type of production out of 2nd base, and I think you grab it and go.
Zack B: What starting Pitchers could we look at come the trade deadline if we are still in contention?
Jerry Micco: Jeff Szmardjza (I know I butchered his name) of the Cubs is on the market and will be the top prize for some team. I'm sure the Pirates will make an offer.
James_Pittsburgh: Mark Appel has been struggling in the low minors. I know that it is early, but it will be interesting to see if the Pirates lucked out by him not signing with them.
Jerry Micco: It's so difficult, sometimes, to predict how these guys will do. Appel fell to the Pirates at No. 8 the year they drafted him and no one could figure out why. Maybe some scouts saw some flaws and now they are coming to fruition. Or, maybe Appel needs to change some things at the professional level. I thought he was a top 10 pick for sure. I had not been following him, and I'm surprised to hear he's struggling.
JamesinNYC: Harrison's best position is 3rd right? I would say platoon him with Alverez for all lefty pitchers and work him in elsewhere.
Jerry Micco: I'd say third or second. You could rest Alvarez against the nastiest lefties, which gives him some playing time. I'd prefer Marte in LF at PNC Park, but Hurdle said he'd not mind playing Harrison in LF at home. So you could see Harrison getting some starts there, too. If he's playing well, he'll get some starts, even if it means playing shortstop for a game here and there.
Guest: Are the A's the franchise that NH is trying to emulate? To me what the A's are doing is remarkable.
Jerry Micco: I think Huntington is trying to emulate St. Louis with a lower payroll. We did a story about that in our 2014 baseball season preview. The Cardinals do have a larger payroll, but they draft and develop as well as any team in baseball. The A's do that, too, but they also probably do a better job of finding guys on the scrap pile and making them better.
The Chief: Jerry, Aloha, hope all is well! The PG has multiple Pirates and Steelers chats during the year. Any reason why there is no weekly chat the entire year?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure I follow you, Chief. In the offseason, when not much is going on with those teams, those writers are generally off so we kind of shut those beats down a bit. Not 100 percent, but quite a bit. It's their chance to take vacation. If I missed on this question, I apologize.
Ralph LA: Kind of a shocking West Coast series for the Pirates. At least two of the games I thought would be "slam dunks" for the Dodgers just based on who was pitching. Did not turn out that way at all. New chapter in this season? Harrison effect?
Jerry Micco: I would not have bet you a penny that the Pirates would take, thus far, five of six in LA and San Diego. I think most fans would have been happy to have come back from the West Coast with a 3-4 record and maybe a 4-6 road trip. But at worst, it'll be 6-4.
The Chief: Jerry, why are the Penguins hesitant to offer the GM job to Jason Botterill?
Jerry Micco: I think they want to talk to several candidates. The front office is in good hands, temporarily, with Botterill at the controls. No need to rush into anything. But I expect that before this week is done, the Pens will have a new GM.
Guest: I say the Kings sweep the Rangers, what's your prediction?
Jerry Micco: I think the Kings will win the Stanley Cup, but it will take 6 games. Henrik Lundqvist is good enough to make it a series.
Zio Guido: Ther seems to be a lot of discussion regarding the impact Porter and Munchak will bring to the Steelers. Were thier predessors average at best? Is the coaching staff shosen by HC or do the Rooney's get involved?
Jerry Micco: I think Porter was an added coach, I did not think he replaced anyone. He and Keith Butler coach linebackers. Munchak replaced Jack Bicknell, Jr., who reportedly did not do some things that needed to be done to develop the linemen. Munchak, who was an excellent OL coach for years in the NFL, will do that.
Stan Belinda: Do you think Jason Grilli is the best option in the Closer role?
Jerry Micco: For right now, yes. I think the Pirates need to develop another one, though. I'd like to think this is Grilli's final year in that spot.
The Chief: Jerry, at one time you were on the Left Coast. Can you offer a comparison between Neil H and Billy Beane?
Jerry Micco: Beane, to me, was a ground-breaker and had to really scrounge around to find talent. And as tight as the Pirates are with money, the A's were, and are, worse. There was no nice stadium to work with and he had a team 15 miles away that had Barry Bonds and sellout crowds to contend with. But he used the draft, scouting, and developing to build winning teams. Huntington is a very good baseball man. Very good. Probably not the innovator Beane is, and not as good as Beane, but has the ability to be patient and learn. Huntington knows what he wants to do to build the Pirates. And like Beane, he's not had a big bankroll. He's turned them into a winning club. Now, he needs to sustain it.
James_Pittsburgh: Jeff Samardzija would be a nice addition, but giving Neal Huntington's history, I can't see him trading a top prospect which will be needed to get Jeff Samardzija.
Jerry Micco: That has not been Huntington's MO. He prefers to keep those guys in the system because he knows that's how he'll replace the guys he's sure to lose in free agency. But maybe he now feels he has enough of those guys that he can let one go?
James_Pinehurst: Jerry, you get any hot stock tips from your boy Lefty lately? He's having a bad year, do you give him any chance next week to complete the Grand Slam?
Jerry Micco: Hey now, let's not convict Lefty with no trial. Maybe he's just good at guessing stocks. Rich guys usually are. As for Pinehurst, I just don't see it with the way he's playing right now. It's a shame, too. I thought that set up was just right for him to finally win a US Open. Love to see him finally get one so he can win the tournament he's always wanted to win.
James_Harrison: Shamarko Thomas on the 2nd team in practice, Wheaton has injury issues, Jarvis Jones shows up at the same weight as last year. Too early to call last years draft class a bust?
Jerry Micco: Oh, much too early. Wheaton is going to be fine and the coaches all expect him to win that starting job opposite Brown. It's early and Thomas is going to get some playing time as they move forward. But his learning curve is taking a while. As for Jones, they wanted him to get stronger, not necessarily heavier. It's hard to judge that in shorts and t-shirts. Let's see how he looks in pads and in games.
The Chief: Jerry, sorry, forgot to type weekly Penguin chat.
Jerry Micco: We do them as needed in the offseason when there is stuff going on. As for now with the GM search going, we didn't do one this week because we want the one reporter working to be on call just in case. But we can look at that to see if we can sneak one or two around draft for free agency time. I know we did an impromptu one when Shero was fired with Shelly Anderson.
Ralph LA: I love the SportsNow podcasts as is, so I'd hate to screw anything up something that is working well, but Have you ever thought of bringing in the other writers in the PG stable to the discussion?
Jerry Micco: Some of those guys do their own videos and it's hard to get them onto our schedule because they either work nights or work off-site at the team facilities. Sometimes, though, we hook them up via skype. And we'll look to do more of that if we can once fall hits. But we have different videos where other guys work that we don't want to have them to multiple videos.
JamesinNYC: I don't like the Rangers in the least but fans here are going nuts. Think they will do very well in the Garden, should be crazy.
Jerry Micco: I think it will be a pretty entertaining, close series. I think the Kings physical size will wear the Rangers down, but again, Lundqvist is the great equalizer for the Rangers.
The Chief: Jerry, we have heard a lot of talk of G Polanco offensive skills. Anything on his defensive skills?
Jerry Micco: I don't know much about him defensively. The fact that he'll play right in PNC Park says that Pirates are comfortable with him there and not in left, which is the much tougher field to play in that park. I don't think he's a bad defensive player, but I think his offense is better than his defense.
Eric: Will the US get out of the group stage at the World Cup?
Jerry Micco: Only if it can at least tie Portugal. I don't see them beating Germany.I think it's going to be a very tough World Cup for the USA. It generally is, but this one may not be as successful as 2010 in South Africa.
Guest: Is Clint Barmes the next Brandon Inge? He doesn't belong on the 25 man roster.
Jerry Micco: I still like his defense, and he can get the occasional big hit, but when Polanco comes up, you may see him shipped out. Or you could see Snider go. It's likely one of those two, I'd think.
The Chief: Jerry, do you expect The Pirates to select pitchers with Picks 24 and 39 in tomorrows draft?
Jerry Micco: Most of the really good positional players will be gone by then, but I think they will split those picks. I think they will take a pitcher with one of those picks. You likely will see a high school player taken with one of the picks, maybe the positional player. I know Huntington likes pitching, and I like that philosophy. You cannot have enough of it.
tom: How many years before the Pens contend for the cup? The roster is made for the regular season not playoff hockey...
Jerry Micco: That will be a job for the new GM. If the knock on Shero was that he couldn't put the right players around Crosby, Malkin, et al, then the new guy is going to have to do that. So that person will first have to see if he's going to keep Bylsma around, then see who on this team he's going to keep around. It's going to be a big job, but it's a team that has many great players already. And a team that can get to a Cup final in as little as one season.
The Chief: Jerry, The Brewers are starting show some cracks (Gallardo doing his best Wandy impression) and the Pirates only one game in the lost column behind the Cards. Looks like the Pittsburgh Baseball club has a second life!
Jerry Micco: I'm surprised the Brewers pitching has held out as long as it has. But you have to say that it will for the foreseeable future, so I'd not count on it to fall apart completely. However, I agree that team will not be as good in June and July as it was in April. The Pirates are doing it with the bullpen. The starting pitching has to pick up more. And I'm sure Huntington is looking for a starter at the trade deadline. I know that's what I'd want. You can't get 5 innings from your starters every game. You'll wreck the bullpen by August.
James_Pittsburgh: Unless Pedro Alvarez plays poorly over the final four months of the season, a smart GM has to dangle him in the off-season. Huntington can only trade him if he gets something good in return. But it would be foolish not to start seeing what the return for Pedro would be.
Jerry Micco: I think that process starts this offseason and then at the trade deadline next season. But I always contend it's tough to make really good trades at the trade deadline because teams will hold you up. In the offseason, there is time to restock and reload. Alvarez's great strength is his power. He's a legit 30-35 HR guy and there are not many of those guys around. But he's not going to ever hit .250 and because he isn't a gap hitter with consistency, won't couple those HRs with 40 doubles and 120 RBI. More like 20-25 and 100-105. So, you need to get a major-league ready player and a high prospect for him, but you won't be able to get the farm for him.
Doug Froebel: Jerry, Can Polanco be as good as Trout/Harper/Puig in that 21-22 age class? Where will he bat in that lineup?
Jerry Micco: That's hard to say because those guys have already proven to be outstanding, though Harper's injuries have slowed him down. But Polanco, by all the measurements and from scouts' comments, is awfully close. Puig and Trout are special players. They can do everything. I'm not sure if Polanco is in that class yet, or if he'll ever be. But I can see him very close to it.
Eric: What do you think of Klinsman leaving Donovan off the US Men's team? Do you believe he was one of the best 23 players?
Jerry Micco: I'm not a big soccer fan. I didn't grow up with the sport and my kids didn't play it. But, I like the World Cup and think it's one of the great events in all of sport. The sport is growing in the US. And people who may never pay attention to soccer in the US do so when the World Cup is played. And Donovan is probably a guy they've heard of. Now if for no other reason than that, he's probably on the team. And he's a pretty good soccer player, still, at his age. I remember him with the SJ Earthquakes when I was in California. He was a great young player. I wish he was on the team for one more go, but I guess Klinsman wanted to move on with new guys.
Ron Shock: Will Pierre McGuire decide to keep Blysma when he's hired as GM?
Jerry Micco: I don't thing McGuire gets the job, first of all. To me, you can't be out of the front office for 20 years and get back into a job like the Penguins as GM. Maybe if there as a job as director of scouting he'd get it, but not GM. Hey, I'll probably be wrong and I'm not Dave Morehouse, but that's what I'd say. And I really don't know what McGuire would do. I think he's want his own guy in as coach.
James_Pittsburgh: I think Jason Hammel is the type of player that the Pirates get at the deadline.
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates would love to get Jason Hammel. Big righthander who can fire it. Would take a lot to get him, though.
James_Pittsburgh: I think that if the Pirates could get a legitimate starting infielder who is under contract for six more years for Pedro Alvarez this off-season they have to make the trade. If the best deal is for a second baseman, then Neil Walker will have to play third. It may not be ideal, but that is what small market teams have to do.
Jerry Micco: It is what many small-market teams do, you are right. The goal is to restock and replenish, but with players who can play everyday and contribute. If you lose an Alvarez, you need to find someone who can hit with some power and put him somewhere in your lineup. And that takes scouting and development.
Guest: You rooting for the Spurs or the Heat?
Jerry Micco: I've always been a big Spurs fan because of the way they play. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are two guys you have to respect and admire for what they've done in the game. And Gregg Popovich is a tremendous coach is I think is often underrated when people think of great NBA coaches. I think the Spurs can win this in 7. We'll see. The Heat are great, and have the best player in the NBA, and I don't care who the MVP of the league is.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get to some other stuff. Great chat today, and I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to talk with me. I'll be back at noon next Wednesday and we'll do it again. In the meantime, have a terrific week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco