Poll Question: The Pirates' record is 49-46 and they have 67 games remaining. How many of those games will they win? Answer #1: 45-50 (23%) Answer #2: 40-44 (23%) Answer #3: 35-39 (54%) Answer #4: 30-34 (0%) Answer #5: Less than 30 (0%)
Dave Littlefield: Jerry, it seems this Pirate team is good enough to beat a lesser opponent but when they mix it up with the Cards and Brewers in the 2nd half I can't see them in the race. If your NH do you find another starting Pitcher through a trade or does he stand pat?
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates will be active in the trade market and if the right player is available, they will make a move. Remember last season, they did their moves in late August, not at the trade deadline, picking up Morneau and Byrd. I think they can play with the Cardinals. They lost a couple of tough games to them in St. Louis, but I think they match up well with them. They are 3-10 vs. Milwaukee and that has killed them in the Central. That said, they are 3.5 games out, and the Brewers are fading. And you'd better clean up against the bad teams. All the good teams do that. As for a trade, I've advocated for a starting pitcher, and if a good one is out there and can be had, I'd grab him. Seems like back of the pen is a need now, too.
James_Pittsburgh: Will Neal Huntington break from tradition and trade a top ten prospect?
Jerry Micco: That has not been his MO, you are correct, but if the right piece comes along, perhaps he'll do that. Maybe that's Huston Street? He would become the immediate closer on this team and he has a club option for next season. Josh Bell or a similar player would be a lot to give up, but if you think you can win now with the right piece, then you give that up. The OF is pretty set for at least a couple of more years, or until Cutch's deal is up.
Gus: What would the Pirates have to give up to get Houston Street and would he solve alot of Bullpen problems, Watson 7th inning, Melancon 8th inning situation?
Jerry Micco: Street could solve some problems, but my main concern is if Watson's recent problems are a hiccup or a sign that hitters are leaning on his fastball and figuring him out. If that's the case, then that's a much bigger issue.
Guest: Jerry I'm getting Tiger at 18-1. I think he has the game to play this week, especially considering the potential weather conditions. Am I crazy?
Jerry Micco: He won at Royal Liverpool in 2006, which was his last British Open victory. I think he'll play well there, but not well enough to win. I just think the layoff will hurt him some. He says he can do everything just like he could before the surgery. I believe him. And I'll stick with my prediction that he's not through winning majors. But I don't think he can do it this week.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I don't think Huntington will give up Josh Bell. I believe Huntington views 2015-2016 as the years the Pirates can become serious contenders. He will likely add a reliever and a starter, but don't expect him to trade any top prospects except maybe Mel Rojas Jr.
Jerry Micco: But he'll have to give up something to get something. Rojas is a very good prospect, but certainly not Josh Bell. And Austin Meadows is starting to heat up in West Virginia, too, another outfielder with a ton of promise. I'd hate to see Bell leave the organization. The Pirates took a chance drafting him because he said he'd go to college. Then they over-slotted him and got him to sign. They invested in him for a reason. I think he's got a shot to be a really good big league player.
Guest: Is Stephon Tuitt going to be starting opening day?
Jerry Micco: Probably not. I think the Steelers want to see what he can do in camp and in the preseason. It's tough to start as a rookie as a defensive lineman for the Steelers. Ask Cam Heyward, who took three years to make it as a starter. But Tuitt will play, and he'll spell guys at both ends. I think Cam Thomas will get the start at DE.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, despite popular belief, I don't think the Pirates outfield is set.There has never been a hitter in Major League history who has a 5 K/BB ratio and has posted an average OPS. Marte has a .708 OPS. Of course I don't know Neal Huntington's thoughts, but I wouldn't be surprised that he sees Bell as Marte's replacement.
Jerry Micco: And that could be the case, but this is just Marte's second full season of play, and you need to give him more time. He's got a lot of talent, but it's very raw. By the time Bell is ready, Marte likely will have another couple of seasons to prove himself. If he is still scuffling, then you are right, Bell is his replacement.
Frank from the Bronx: Frank from the Bronx- I think a power hitting firstbaseman from either side of the plate is the Pirates' most immediate and long term need. Do you see anything happening on this front and,if so, who do you like?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure the Pirates are shopping for a power-hitting first baseman. I know a lot of people wanted Ike Davis early on. I was not in that camp, hoping Sanchez would get a chance to play regularly and prove that he could hit enough to make a difference. That did not happen, and I think it has hurt Sanchez's performance this season. Davis is not a big power guy. If someone lands in their lap, they'll take him, but I don't think that is their biggest need at the moment.
Guest: Who will be the starting QB this year for Pitt?
Jerry Micco: Barring some disaster, I'd assume it's Chad Voytik.
phantom: Jerry, interesting that you have your PSU beat writer covering board of trustee meetings. The tone of his articles seems to be wishful thinking that the board changes will eventually lead to the statue of Joepa re-appearing. Why would the PG endorse this, given Paterno's shameful behavior?
Jerry Micco: Mark covers many news stories concerning Penn State, too. And off-season, has covered trustees meetings. He's pretty well-versed in issues. And unless you read some other article, you'll have to show me where a discussion of the Paterno statue made it into that story. Because it did not. Nice try, though.
James_Pittsburgh: Ike Davis has a career second half OPS of .869. It is hard to imagine Huntington giving up on him.
Jerry Micco: Well, his contract is friendly, too. But he's not done much since he's been here. And first base continues to be a spot where if they could get a true power hitter, I think they'd jump at the chance. Maybe he'll prove himself in the second half. The Pirates could use his bat, that's for sure.
James_Pittsburgh: Will Stolmy Pimentel be traded at the deadline? There really isn't a place for him in the bullpen down the stretch.
Jerry Micco: At one time the Pirates were high on him as a future starter, but if he's slipped that far, you might as well trade him. I don't know what they'd get for him, but he could be a piece to a team that is looking to rebuild. I think he's shown at times he can be a pretty effective pitcher.
James_Pittsburgh: What is Crosby's thought process in opting out of surgery this offseason? Will this really help him in the long run or does he want a back pocket excuse should he not perform in the playoffs again?
Jerry Micco: I don't think Crosby makes excuses for anything. He's an up-front guy about his play. I think he's also very careful about his health. Remember, this guy went through a long bout with concussion and neck issues and saw several doctors trying different things to get better. It's not surprising that he's trying different things to see what works best for his wrist. And if this is what gets him ready for training camp, then it's what he'll use.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you see the Pirates making any surprises moves at the deadline? Maybe a rental outfielder and sending Polanco to the bench for the final two months of the season.
Jerry Micco: I think it would be a waste to bench Polanco. If you're going to do that, just send him back to Indy and have him play every day. I could see them getting a rental outfielder at the deadline and if they do that, I'd send Polanco back. Then maybe add him to the September call up list.
James_Andrews: What's the status of Gerrit Cole and is the precursor of arm issues?
Jerry Micco: Cole is on the DL, and I think the Pirates are keeping him there until he's completely healthy. They don't want to rush him. I think there is some concern about the shoulder. I don't think anyone is in a panic, but Cole is the kind of guy who wants to fight through stuff, but he may need to shut it down for a while. Let's see how a good rest works out for him.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I believe that Pimentel could be traded straight up for a rental reliever. If I was a non-contener, I would take Pimentel and put him in the rotation immediately and see what he can do. He would have to be stretched out and would be limited to 4-5 innings the first couple of starts.
Jerry Micco: And if the right guy is available, then the Pirates might go for that. But it would have to be someone who could immediately help them. And would be in lieu of getting, say, Huston Street.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, who impressed you the most in the All-Star game last night if you happened to catch it? I think the AL has some great hitters and was a little upset that Wainwright didn't dominate the AL batters quite like he does on a daily basis to Pirate hitters...
Jerry Micco: I was in the camp that Kershaw deserved that start because he was the best pitcher in the NL for the first half of the season, though I do think Wainwright is a very good pitcher. I'm very impressed with Mike Trout. As good, even better, than advertised.
Guest: Who is the 1st half NL MVP Cutch or Kershaw?
Jerry Micco: Probably Cutch only because if you take him out of the Pirates lineup, they are 10 games under .500.
Guest: Did you see Erin Andrews interview with Wainwright last night? every interview she does is cringeworthy. I understand she's attractive but she seems like a dolt and FOX keeps promoting her.
Jerry Micco: Actually, I thought Wainwright was cringeworthy in that interview, not Andrews. He was trying, really poorly I might add, to back away from what he told a group of reporters. Don't blame Erin Andrews for that. She just asked the question. You got the wrong "dolt" there.
James_Pittsburgh: Huntington might surprise, but considering the first base market and Ike Davis' second half stats, I think the one surprise move that Huntington could make is to pick up a rental outfielder.
Jerry Micco: I'm beginning to think they may have concerns about how Polanco will hold up in the second half. He's faded pretty fast from his hot start. The second half can be a grind and while you can see the talent is there, he still has some work to be done. You could be right. Huntington may be looking at a rental OF because they are much easier to find. And while David/Sanchez isn't a powerhouse duo, they are more than adequate to hold down the job.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I also think you bring Polanco up at the end of August so that he is eligible for the post-season roster and you leave Travis Snider off the post-season roster if the Pirates make the playoffs.
Jerry Micco: That would work. I think Polanco would be a great addition for a playoff run in a number of ways. His defense, at least his arm, could save you a run a game.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you think there is any chance Nick Kingham gets a shot in August or September?
Jerry Micco: Depends on how the rotation looks and if they make a deal. I don't think they'll throw him into a playoff race, but if they need a spot start and the game isn't critical, why not see what he has at the major league level?
Jeff Zaborowski: Jerry do you feel Neal H. Has to make a move to keep the Battling Buccos in the thick of it. And would it be a bat or a arm? Thanks
Jerry Micco: I think he has to make a move, yes. I think they are in need of pitching help. It depends on whether Liriano can make it back off the DL to get somewhere close to where he was in 2013. And it depends on whether Cole's shoulder/back issues are worse than they seem. If those two problems continue, then he has to find a starting pitcher. If not, then some bullpen help. Easier to find the latter.
James_Pittsburgh: How much of a leash will the Pirates give Francisco Liriano?
Jerry Micco: Well, Locke, Morton and Volquez are the healthy starters. Cumpton is a stop-gap. So I would think that unless Cole gets healthy, Liriano gets a pretty long leash, unless he completely falls apart in the next couple of starts. I guess Worley could get back into the rotation, but again, I'm not sure he's the answer.
Guest: Have you heard any info regarding the Pirates signing Martin before the end of the year? If they really want to contend next year they must sign Martin.
Jerry Micco: Not yet. But I'm not convinced Tony Sanchez is the answer. I'd love to see if they can open the vault a bit for Martin, who may be as valuable to them as McCutchen. Not as much with his bat as for how he handles the pitchers and his presence in the clubhouse. If they can get him for 2 years and $18 or $20 million, I'd say do it.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time for me to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for taking the time today to talk with me and for all the good questions. I'll see you again at noon next Wednesday when we'll do it all over again. Until then, have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
First Published July 16, 2014 12:00 AM