Ray Miller: Is it too late to get Jason Grilli back? This bullpen needs some help. any releivers in Indy possible?
Jerry Micco: How about Brian Morris, who is 3-0 with a 0.30 ERA with the Marlins? I think the cupboard is pretty bare at Indianapolis as far as the bullpen goes, but I think you have guys here who have proven they can get the job done. Last night might have been more of an aberration.
Steelers nat: Jerry, lots of good rookie reports coming out of training camp...is it still a possibility to have Tuitt and Shazier starting week 1 or will the preseason determine that?
Jerry Micco: Totally up the the exhibition games and practices, but Shazier looks to be a near lock to start at ILB. Tuitt is running with the first team quite a bit, so he certainly will get a strong look. I really liked him as a 2nd-round pick. I think he was a near first-round talent and fits what the Steelers want in a DE.
Steve Sax: Is it totally impossible to trade Pedro to an AL team at this point in the season so he can be a DH and we can get something back in return? If not he has to go back to 3B until he figures this out.
Jerry Micco: I'd say an AL team might be interested in Alvarez as a DH, but you'd get so little in return for him that you'd be a fool to trade him now. I'm in the minority, but I say put him in the lineup after his leave is over and tell him he's staying in to play third. And I'd hit him clean up or bat him fifth. Look him in the eye and tell him he's the best power guy on the team and you expect him to live up to that. What choice do you have? He cannot help you on the bench.
Guest: Is something wrong (injury-wise) with Tony Watson? The announcers seemed really confused as to why he was not used in the 8th last night when everything fell apart.
Jerry Micco: Hurdle said post-game that he wasn't available and that they wanted to rest him, or at least alluded to that. I do know that since just before the All-Star break that he has been very hittable and been prone to HR balls. Before that, he was one of the best relievers in baseball. Something has happened to him, whether it is an injury or not is not known.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, the Pirates don't need relievers. They just need to end the Ernesto Frieri experiment.They have Andy Oliver, Mazarro, and Nick Kingham at Triple A. I know they won't want to burn Kingham's Super Two, but if would most likely be an upgrade over Frieri.
Jerry Micco: As I said at the top, I think the bullpen is fine, and I would have no problem is they axed Frieri. I know they'd have egg on their faces for essentially trading Grilli for nothing, but sometimes that happens. Grilli wasn't doing much before he was dealt. I happen to think Mazzaro wasn't all that bad here.
James_Latrobe: After seeing what Andy Dalton got paid how should Ben feel about his contract situation? What's Ben worth 25 million a year?
Jerry Micco: Ben's agent, as well as Ben, have to be licking their chops after seeing Dalton's deal. I don't know if he's worth $25 million, but he's got to be worth north of $20 million, I'd think. The Steelers are going to have a very tough decision to make in a year or so. I think they have to sign him, but that is going to really strap them to the cap.
McClutchen: Does a fractured rib not require a stint on the 15 day DL? Are they waiting to have Pedro back on the roster to move Cutch to the 15 day DL to give him more time should he need it?
Jerry Micco: Well, it's not technically a fractured rib, it's cartilage damage and as I understand the injury, a piece of rib is pulled away with a tendon. Painful, but I guess it's more managing the pain. So I guess they can take some time to make a decision and while Alvarez is on bereavement leave, they don't really have to make a move. And with Miami and San Diego on this homestand, maybe they feel they can let Cutch sit a week and heal. We'll see. Cutch is one heck of an athlete and those guys sometimes can heal faster than the 15 days required for the DL.
Carl: How long does it look like McCutcheon will be out? Can we hope to compete without him?
Jerry Micco: Hard to say. Cutch was saying yesterday it would be "a few days" before he'd be re-evaluated. And I think it's how much pain he can stand. If you've ever had a rib injury, it can be hard to breathe let alone torque your body and swing a bat.
James_Pittsburgh: Why haven't the Pirates done the one thing that makes sense? Acquire Josh Willingham, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. If McCutchen is out, he plays every day. But once McCutchen is back, he can platoon with Polanco, since he is a right handed hitter.Willmingham has a .758 OPS and 11 home runs.
Jerry Micco: Kind of a mystery, and he was a guy who was on their radar screen early. He made sense because he provided some pop from the right side and could have been had for very little.
James_Pittsburgh: What do the Pirates do with Pedro Alvarez in the off-season?
Jerry Micco: I think they'll shop him, but if he doesn't get much better than he is, he won't command much. My guess is if they can't get much for him, they'll keep him and hope that he plays for that big contract that awaits him as a free agent. If he has a bounce back 2015 season, some team will pay him a big salary. And it likely won't be the Pirates. Of course, the Pirates could try to talk him into a lower salary this offseason saying he didn't produce, but they have faith they will still pay him in the $12/mil a year range. Doubt he or his agent will go for that, though.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, what are your thoughts on the play that ended Sunday's game in Arizona? I have to say, they team baserunners to get your hands up when you slide in little league and I saw no intent, but the rule (as with most) comes with a grey area, especially ending a game.
Jerry Micco: They do teach runners to get their hands up, but that's generally uniform, as in both hands are generally up at the same height. Watch that play again. His left hand is about a foot higher than the right and it's out much wider. Like a guy blocking a shot in basketball. You rarely see that on a play at second. I thought it was obstruction and fairly clear because you so rarely see a ball hit by a baserunner's hand.
Guest: As a journalist what do you make of sports writers who create their own website where readers will have to pay for content?
Jerry Micco: Of course you are talking about former PG and Trib journalist Dejan Kovacevic, who recently resigned from the Trib to start is own subscription website. We also have a subscription website. Most newspapers are doing that because as advertising trails off, we have to get new revenue streams. Why? Because while we love our work, we need to be paid for what we do. People pay to get the newspaper, well our website is our newspaper and much more. What Dejan is doing isn't unique in the sense that he's charging for his work. He's trying to make a living.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you think Andy Oliver will be called up in September? I hope he can turn the corner. He has an excellent fast ball if he can control it.
Jerry Micco: I don't know much about him, but I do know the Pirates like his fastball and his arm. I think they'll give him a look considering they always need pitching.
Jame_Pitcarin: Ok last year we heard Jarvis Jones didn't get on the field because Dick LeBeau's defense is harder than rocket science to learn for a rookie, but this year Shazier is already penciled in as a starter. what gives?
Jerry Micco: Back to back 8-8 seasons and LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds were the starting OLBs in front of Jones. Williams was the guy in front of Shazier. I think Tomlin told all his assistants that the best guys have to play no matter the experience level. And remember, they have not played in a game yet. Let's see how they react in a game when the tempo is increased. Even then, exhibition tempo is different from real game tempo.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think next seasons rotation will be Gerritt Cole, Morton, Vance Worley, and Stolmy Pimentel. Your thoughts and who is the fifth starter? Also, I suspect that Kingham will remain in the minors until June 2015. He might get a September call up though.
Jerry Micco: I think they'll give Jeff Locke another long look. I'm not sold on Pimentel, but I think they also want to see if he can do the job. I also agree that Kingham will get a look by midseason. And might they try to sign Volquez to a sweetheart deal if they can? Maybe 2 years and $15 million?
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I would try to trade Pedro Alvarez to an American League team for a catcher. The A's have three catchers.
Jerry Micco: Only if they have no plans to sign Russell Martin, which I hope is not the case. Stewart is signed on for another year, and they really do need to bring up Sanchez if they let Martin go. I think Martin should be their top priority in the off-season.
Guest: Jerry I'll give you Rory at 5-1 or the field at 8-1. Which do you take?
Jerry Micco: That's a tough one. The British/PGA double is one that happens more often than any of the other major combinations. I think I'd take Rory. He's playing so well right now and he's a big enough hitter to handle Valhalla's length. Be interesting to see how Sergio does there this week as well as guys like Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Rickie Fowler and Phil. If Mickelson can take his final-round 62 at Firestone and bring that to the PGA, he can do some damage there.
James_Pittsburgh: The Dodgers need a catcher and have a lot of money. Hopefully, I am surprised, but I consider Russell Martin as good as gone. Time to start thinking about plan B.
Jerry Micco: I'd think Plan B is Stewart and Sanchez. Unless they make some kind of deal. But if they make a deal, what do they do with Sanchez? Keep him in AAA for another year? At what point to do you make him part of a deal for a major-league catcher then?
Dave Littlefield: Cutch goes on the DL do you bring up Tabata or Lambo?
Jerry Micco: Well, if Cutch goes on the DL, I'd be more in favor of bringing up Tabata only because he's been here before during a divisional chase and proven he can hit some. Lambo has never hit at this level with any kind of consistency. Not a great duo to choose from, but if those are the choices, give me Tabata.
James_Pittsburgh: Could the Pirates try to resign Francisco Liriano (2 years $25 million)?
Jerry Micco: If they think he's turned it around and can have another solid 2 years, they might do that. Though I don't think they'd pay him that much. Maybe 2 years at $20 million, but he might get that much on the free agent market. I think starting pitching is going to be at a premium this offseason, and with Taillon now a year behind on development, the Pirates may have to spend some money to get some arms.
Guest: What do you expect from Dri Archer this season as far as production? seems to me he was drafted to be an impact player.
Jerry Micco: I think he was drafted to be a playmaker. Now that could be on kick returns or as a change of pace guy in the offense. He's been spread wide so far in camp in the offense more like a receiver. But I'm sure Todd Haley will use him in a lot of different ways. I'm not sure he'll get more than 10 touches a game, but with his speed, he can break any one of those for a big gainer. It's why you draft those types of players.
Bob Nutting: How about AJ Burnette, Jonathan Papplebon and Ryan Howard for Pedro, Tallion and Ike Davis?
Jerry Micco: I'd not trade Taillon. Pedro's likely gone when his FA year comes in 2016 and with Davis you have some contract control, though he's not been what the Pirates had hoped he'd be. Burnett has been getting shelled. Pepplebon is a rental and Howard is on his last legs. I see no gain in that trade for the Pirates.
James_Pittsburgh: If the Pirates cannot resign Russell Martin, do they make a hard push to extend Neil Walker this off-season? It would win them some good will with fans. Not to mention that they only have one minor league infield prospect (Alen Hanson).
Jerry Micco: And Hanson always seems to be in the dog house. I think Walker is a must-sign for them, too. Because it's hard to find middle infielders who can hit 20 HRs and knock in 70-75 runs. Walker is certainly capable of that for several more years. Or, in later years, you could even move him to first base if you wanted to do that.
James_Pittsburgh: I think that Dri Archer will spend a lot of time flanked wide. Archer and Antonio Brown could reek havoc on opposing defenses. The sky is the limit for Archer.
Jerry Micco: If the Steelers can find a way to get him the ball at his size (5-8 and 175). Bigger CBs and safeties will envelop him, so he'll have to be in open space to operate. That's going to be Haley's task to move him around to do that. Also, to try to get matchups that favor him, such as getting LBs to cover him. But he can be someone that is a nightmare for opponents if the Steelers can figure that out.
James_Pittsburgh: I agree Neil Walker is a must sign. Think what the Pirates lineup would be like minus Walker and Pedro Alvarez. However, Hanson has shown good power at Altoona.
Jerry Micco: Hanson, when he's not on the bench, has very good power. And I do think the Pirates will make a big effort to sign Walker. But there's also a part of me that says the Pirates have always thought Walker didn't quite live up to the hype. Maybe this year quiets that thinking, but we'll see. I hope that is the case. I think he's having such a great year. But now the back is balky again. His problem seems to be injuries more than anything else.
Guest: Does Ike Taylor make this team?
Jerry Micco: He's going to have to show that last season was an aberration and he can still be a decent cover corner. Not a great cover guy, but decent. He should make it, but I don't know that it's a guarantee.
Guest: Over or Under for total sacks by Steelers LB's 30?
Jerry Micco: Just barely over.
James_Pittsburgh: I understand that the Pirates may be weary of commiting big money to Walker when he is 32-34 years old.
Jerry Micco: And that's understandable. But if he can produce at that age, and he might be able to do that, then you take that risk. Or you try to sign him to a shorter deal with more money. It'll be an interesting off-season and many fans around Pittsburgh will watch how he's treated. He's very popular here.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Thanks for all the great questions today. I've been gone for a couple of weeks, and I thank all of you for coming back to join me today. I'll see you next Wednesday at noon and we'll do it all over again. Until then, have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
First Published August 6, 2014 12:00 AM