Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 12.4.13

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Jerry Micco: Hello everyone and welcome to our weekly chat. I'll be back at noon to officially open things up, but if you'd like to post early questions and participate in our poll, please do so. See you soon!

James_Pittsburgh: Now that the Pirates have plenty of affordable right field options, will they open up the checkbook and sign a first baseman (Corey Hart, Mike Napoli, or James Loney)? Kendrys Morales is tied to a comp pick, so I don't see the Pirates signing him.

Jerry Micco: They might, or they may stick with Gaby Sanchez and try Andrew Lambo there. Doesn't seem that the list of available first basemen are exactly a standout lot.

James_Pittsburgh: What do you see the Pirates doing with their starting pitching? I don't expect to see A.J. Burnett back.

Poll Question
Do you think the NFL's sanctions on Mike Tomlin and the Steelers were fair?
Answer #1: Yes (44%) 
Answer #2: No (56%)

Jerry Micco: If Burnett does not come back, they will have Cole, Rodriguez, Liriano, Morton and Locke. That's a group that could start for them with no problems, provided everyone stays healthy. However, if Burnett does not sign, I still look for them to try to procure another starter. Maybe they get a winner like Liriano, but longshots don't always produce.

James_Pittsburgh: Will we see a Boston-Pittsburgh rematch in the playoffs? Can the Penguins beat the Bruins this year?

Jerry Micco: I think once the Pens get everyone healthy late in the season, they have a good chance of winning the East. But I'm not convinced that Jeff Zatkoff can carry them as a quality backup in a playoff run. Especially if Fleury stumbles as he's done before in the playoffs.

The Chief: Jerry, hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Were the Pirates asleep on Doug Fister?

Jerry Micco: Thanks Chief, I certainly did, and hope you did too! I think they are still trying to figure out what they are going to do with Burnett. And until they either fish or cut bait, they are going to let a lot of guys pass. I don't know that I agree with that, but with what Huntington has done this past offseason, I won't argue with the strategy.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you agree with the Pirates move to probably send Tony Sanchez to the minors in 2014? Actually, I see the team bringing hum up in July if they are in contention and he is doing well.

Jerry Micco: I thought Sanchez was good enough to stick this year, but if the Pirates want to see if the guy can play and indeed by Russell Martin's replacement after this season, he has be here and play more.

Guest: I think I heard the word 'blunder' 4 times from Coach T. Th NFL doesn't fine for blunders it fines for cheating. What side do you say it was, a blunder or cheating?

Jerry Micco: It fines for violation of the rules, which occurred there. Cheating or stupidity doesn't matter. It's a violation of the rules. When that happens, you are penalized. When it could affect the outcome of a game, you are heavily penalized. Imagine if the Ravens has lost that game? Firestorm would be far worse.

The Chief: Jerry, any chance we see Russell Martin at 1B and go with a Stewart/ Sanchez combo at catcher?

Jerry Micco: I don't know if they want to essentially waste Gaby Sanchez on the bench. Martin's such an outstanding catcher that he needs to be the No. 1 guy. I know a lot of folks shake their heads at my support of Sanchez, but he's got a great glove and is a decent hitter. Kills lefties, but not righties.

Keith: The steelers have any offensive sets where they only use a center and no other linemen? If so, this may be the week to run those...

Jerry Micco: I cannot remember a team more decimated on the OL than the Steelers. It'll be patchwork this week vs. Miami.

James_Pittsburgh: Are there any pitchers still available that you would like to see the Pirates add to their rotation? They need insurance for Wandy.

Jerry Micco: Gosh, I really don't peruse the free agency lists all that much. I think if they don't sign Burnett, they will try to sign someone who gives them some contract relief, but is a legit starter.

Doug Froebel: How can the Pirates ever compete when teams like the Yankees are doing insane deals like they gave Elsbury.

Jerry Micco: Hard to compete with that money, but the Pirates were playing in October last year and the Yankees were not. Still have to win with the guys you have. But we all know baseball's salary structure is way out of whack.

Ken: Ouch. Draft picks are certainly a deterrent. Why wait until the draft order is established. Do they mean the Wallace compensatory pick?

Jerry Micco: That's what I'm thinking, Ken. Or the only other thing I have in mind is if they outright take away a pick if it's in say, the top 15. But as bad as the error Tomlin made was, the Ravens still won the game. On the comp picks, that really hasn't anything to do with draft order. You get sandwich picks for losing free agents, so they could take those away right now.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I really think a first baseman will fall to the Pirates. I think Huntington is waiting to see which player doesn't draw much interest and sign him.

Jerry Micco: Could be, but I do think he wants a left-handed bat.

Bill L: Jerry, how do you see Sunday? Not too impressed with anyone who beats the Jets these days, but the Dolphins played an excellent Carolina team to the final gun recently.

Jerry Micco: This should be a game the Steelers win, but I wonder how much all this other stuff will distract them and the coaching staff? I know Mike Wallace has to be licking his chops looking at all the big plays the secondary gives up. Still, it's a game the Steelers should win at home. Supposed to be a bit snowy, too.

The Chief: Your thoughts on the outcome of the Alabama-Auburns game?

Jerry Micco: What a game, what a finish. One of the best of all time. Also, hard to believe a guy like Nick Saban, who is an excellent coach and prepares extremely well, didn't get guys on the field who could maybe make a tackle. I'd have at least put a couple starters out there to at least defend on a runback.

RP: Regarding Tomlins $100k fine; do you know if he has to pay that all at once or is there an installment plan? I know he is paid well, but it is almost 2% of his yearly salary and that hit would be difficult for most of the population.

Jerry Micco: I have no idea on the payment plan, but thanks for the sane post. A lot of people think that's chump change. It's not. And it's a deserved fine.

Guest: IS Tomlin's reputation now sullied. He's either a liar or incompetent by not knowing his place as an NFL Coach on the sideline.

Jerry Micco: Well, depending on what you think of Mike Tomlin, one of your two descriptions of him will fit. And as he said, he's going to own this one no matter what.

Dan: Will Steelers appeal the Tomlin? Increase the fine but don't take away/modify draft pick?

Jerry Micco: I doubt the Steelers will appeal. My guess is they were somehow involved with the NFL as the process was being done.

James_Pittsburgh: The Pirates need protection for Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. I don't know that having Gaby Sanchez/ Andrew Lambo 5th will cut it if you want to be a contender. I would much rather see Corey Hart batting 5th behind Pedro and McCutchen.

Jerry Micco: I don't know that Hart would hit 5 HRs in PNC Park as a right-hand hitter. Maybe Marte shows more power this season and he gets moved down, or Walker rediscovers his hitting stroke consistently and can knock in some runs. They are going to have to count on some of the guys they have, though. I just don't think what's left out there can make a huge difference. Now, could they swing a trade? Certainly.

Beano: Here's my Top 5 Florida St, Auburn, Alabama, Missouri, then Ohio State. Ohio St would lose 4 games in the SEC.

Jerry Micco: But they aren't in the SEC. However, they are in a BCS conference. You can't say the BCS system works (we know it doesn't, though, right?) and then tell a Big Ten undefeated they are behind a one-loss team. Doesn't seem fair or right. If FSU and OSU are unbeaten, then they should play for the national title.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you see the Steelers will part with Ryan Clark this offseason?

Jerry Micco: Yes, I believe they will.

yinzer in va: Jerry, I'm OK with Tomlin's fine, but a draft pick, especially a high pick, would be going to far. It was an unintentional mistake. Cheating is an intentional attempt (think Patriots video) to get the edge.

Jerry Micco: Getting video is a clear case of cheating. Tomlin's action could certainly be interpreted that way, but it's not cut and dried. So I think that's why the hefty fine and then a wait-and-see on the draft picks. But I just don't understand why they are waiting. Again, maybe the Steelers are moved down in the draft order, but the act did not change the outcome of the game.

The Chief: I saw a piece on College Bowls yesterday that stated the ACC has eight spots and nine bowl eligible teams. With their poor travel record could Pitt be the odd team out?

Jerry Micco: I don't think so. Pitt is well-watched on TV, so that counts something. I think Pitt gets a bowl game, but it could have been a more mid-tier bowl if they'd played better and beaten Miami. I really thought Pitt had a chance coming in to win that game, but they played very poorly.

Keith: Assuming Ohio State and Auburn win, who would you choose for the Nat'l title shot?

Jerry Micco: As I said earlier, Florida State and Ohio State.

James_Pittsburgh: What do you think of the play of Vince Williams so far? How do you see the linebacking core shake out over the next few seasons?(Woodley, Worilds, Jarvis Jones, and Vince Williams)

Jerry Micco: I think Williams was a nice stop-gap player who has improved. But lately, the Steelers "quarter" defense has Williams off the field. I think he could be a good backup, and I'd really like to see Sean Spence come back and get a shot inside. I don't know how much he lost, but he projected to be a very good linebacker.

Phil: Hope Tomlin has his thick skin on. I think this team left alot on the field in Baltimore and Sunday could get ugly both during and the aftermath. For some reason Miami hasn't packed it in after Incgnito either.

Jerry Micco: Both teams are still in the playoff hunt. Will be a spirited game. I think the players will get behind Tomlin big time after this.

Guest: I heard some national sports radio shows ridculing Tomlin's explanation. His jibberish speak when answering simple questions is insulting. Just answer questions without all the pretense, verbiage and cliches. You cheated, just admit it.

Jerry Micco: Oh, national radio show guys. Well now, there's a gibberish-free group if I ever head one. Look, he violated a rule and got fined. You can describe that as cheating and you'd not be wrong. But Tomlin said he made an error in judgment. Whatever you or some national radio guy wants to call it, the NFL has done what was needed.

The Chief: What kind of reception will Mike Wallace get on Sunday?

Jerry Micco: I don't think a warm one. From the fans or the weatherman.

Keith: We could do a lot worse than Tomlin and the GM we currently have. For instance, consider the Cleveland Browns organization: 1 playoff game in 14 years since their return and a disheartening home loss last week to a then 2-9 Jags team.

Jerry Micco: A lot of teams would take the Steelers front office and coaching staff in a minute. But fans here are tough. The Steelers always say they expect to get to a Super Bowl every year. It's a good goal, but we all know that's not realistic. Some fans, however, believe it like scripture, and expect it. And a couple of .500 seasons merit the dismissal of anyone associated with the organization. That's why they are fans (gotta love 'em) and not owners.

The Chief: Does an AFC team get into the playoffs with a 8-8 record?

Jerry Micco: I think that's going to be very tough. A lot has to happen for it to come about. I do think 9-7 is going to be the cut off.

Chunkles: Bob Smizik wonders why Mike Tomlin is disliked by fans. Let me put it to you this way Jerry, if one of the dreaded Harbaughs did what Tomlin did on the field of play, Yinzers would hit the ceiling sideways! Same reaction. Obviously.

Jerry Micco: So what's your point? Of course Steelers fans would be furious. And I've got no problem with Ravens fans being furious. But Bob was pointing out that some Steelers fans don't like Tomlin despite his never having a losing season and going to 2 Super Bowls. And he gave his opinions as to why.

Guest: Is there really a difference between what Woody Hayes did and what Tomlin did?

Jerry Micco: Apples and oranges. If Tomlin had punched out Jones, then it's similar. Hayes punched Charlie Baumann out of bounds after a play was over. A coach hitting a player is far worse, in my opinion.

Ken: Is a franchise tag on Worilds possible? Maybe not--the Demarcus Ware contract comes to mind. It's got to be a high number, right?

Jerry Micco: I'd think in the $8-10 million range. I'd not let a few good games get in the way of good judgment. Plenty of players have played well at ROLB and made plays. Worilds, if he can only play on the left, is a one-trick pony in that respect. I'd not break the bank for him. That's why they drafted Jones, who will take some time to figure this all out, but I think will turn into a very good player.

James_Pittsburgh: Do you think Jose Tabata and Jaff Decker could wind up batting second this year? Tabata has a decent on-base-percentage(.342 last year). Decker has a career .381 minor league on-base-percentage.

Jerry Micco: I think that's why they got Decker in that trade. And that wouldn't be a bad combo in RF until Polanco is ready to come up from Indianapolis.

Phil: I miss the NFL in March, but Jaguars--Texans tomorrow night? Wow.

Jerry Micco: I think I'll be watching reruns of "Modern Family."

Guest: I have Pitt playing Ball State in the Little Caesar's Bowl in Detroit. Make your travel plans accordingly.

Jerry Micco: Could be Bowling Green, though. Christmas in Greektown.

James_Pittsburgh: If the Pirates don't make a trade, how do you like this for the 2014 lineup: 1. Marte 2. Tabata/Jaff Decker 3. McCutchen 4. Pedro Alvarez 5. Sanchez/Lambo 6. Neil Walker 7. Russell Martin 8. Jordy Mercer (Walker and Mercer should flip places in the batting order whether a righty or lefty is starting).

Jerry Micco: It's not bad if the Bucs can get more production out of Marte and Walker, and if whoever bats in the 2-hole can get on base. They need guys on for Cutch and Alvarez.

The Chief: How bad has Emmanuelle Sanders hurt his stock for next year with his Robetro Duran hands of stone?

Jerry Micco: Certainly isn't helping. And I'm hoping he's smart enough to know he's not getting Mike Wallace money. At this point, the Steelers may not even be interested.

Paul: No one in the NFC is going up to Seattle to beat that team next month. It's a done deal. And most people probably can't name three guys on their defense. The Thomas guy at safety and KJ Wright at lb, is it? They're really good.

Jerry Micco: A team that has a ice offense and a ferocious defense is going to be very tough to beat, especially in the elements. The only team, I think, that can give them a run is San Francisco. Everyone there is getting healthy and there defense is very good, too. Both outdoor teams, too.

Big Hoss: Would you fire Dana Holgorson? Would Rich Rod ever come back?

Jerry Micco: I praise Oliver Luck for sticking with Holgorsen. You have to give guys time to recruit and build a program. He lost 3 guys who were high NFL picks. Tough to replace that talent at a WVU.

Phil: Hayes punched the guy in the throat. Go get some fresh air, Guest.

The Chief: Are home games on Thursday becoming the second biggest advantage after Denver in the NFL?

Jerry Micco: Doesn't hurt, certainly. But the Steelers only had to go to Cleveland the week before and a trip to Baltimore is a 1-hour flight. Now, if the Steelers had to play in Oakland and then go to Baltimore on 3 days, that's unfair.

The Chief: It appears that the Pirates are taking a wait and see approach with Free Agents. Do you believe they become more active after they see how they make out with Arbitration?

Jerry Micco: I think so. And their history says they are late players in free agency. And we'll see if they are active at the Winter Meetings next week. Maybe the fruits of a deal are begun then?

The Chief: The Jags-Texans game is a lesson to be learned by all Steeler fans who want to trade or not pay Big Ben. You are going nowhere in the NFL without a franchise QB!

Jerry Micco: I'm still stunned by Houston's play this year. But you are right, it's a QB league. And while Matt Schaub is a nice QB, he's not a franchise guy. And with him falling off the edge of the Earth this season, the team went right with him.

Cam Bonifay: I think NH has crunched the numbers and AJ will not be getting an offer. What about losing his clubhouse presence. who fills that void?

Jerry Micco: A guy like Russell Martin can do that. And I think Cutch and Walker will grow into that some. Plus, they may pick up a veteran pitcher who has that kind of presence. Never know.

DormontyDawson: Jerry, Thanks for doing these chats and for suffering clowns like "Guest." Rumor on the street is that it is not a question of "if" but "when" Letang is moved for a gritty winger(s) and a goalie. Have you heard anything to confirm or refute this?

Jerry Micco: As for guys like "guest" everyone has a right to their own opinion. I put them out there and then they have to accept that others may disagree. As for that deal, I've not heard that rumor. But the Pens are very deep on the blue line and if Ray Shero is to make a deal, it'll be a chip from his deep defense.

Chief Powhatan: afternoon Jerry, which conference championship are you going to be watching Saturday?

Jerry Micco: We usually put the tree up on Saturday and my wife puts on Christmas music, so I have to mute the TV. But I'm most interested in Ohio State-Michigan State. I think Auburn-Missouri will be worth a watch, too. If they are on at the same time, I'll be flipping back and forth.

Guest: Any Steelers making the Pro Bowl? I see zero on this team.

Jerry Micco: How about Antonio Brown? Leads the NFL in receptions.

Ralph The Plumber: I've heard that players in the locker room don't respect Haley because he never played the game? does that hold water?

Jerry Micco: I don't know if what you say is true, but if you respect a man's position as a coach, then you should respect what he says. And if you can't, then you need to talk person to person with him. Because if you go out and don't play hard because you don't like a guy, then the team suffers. Todd Haley has been around football his entire life. And was a head coach in the NFL.

DormontyDawson: Jerry, I love your chat and love Gerry D's chat. But you might get more participation in Gerry's if you did yours and his on separate days. Also, Crosby's play last night was off the charts great. I think he soon will enter the panteon of 10 greatest hockey players ever. Too much exuberance on my part?

Jerry Micco: We'll look at that, but Gerry has certain times he can do his and I've had this slot for about 10 years now. It is the first chat ever done at the PG and it'll be 10 years old this coming July. Now that there are 3 Steelers chats, we are hopefully getting more people involved. Gerry is an expert on the team as are Ed Bouchette and Ray Fittipaldo. Their Steelers insights are from inside the lockerroom and practices.

Chief Powhatan: Does the Micco family Christmas tree have ornaments of the Steelers, Penguins, or Pirates on it? Mine does! :)

Jerry Micco: Nope. We have a ton of ornaments, especially of places we've visited. Bears and birds. I really like bears and birds, too. We just have a ton of ornaments. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure I'm ready to put up the tree.

The Chief: With Ben's knack of calling plays in the no huddle, should he desire to stay in the NFL, do you see him as an OC someday?

Jerry Micco: Nope. I don't ever seen Ben coaching at this level. It's like John Elway. Only Elway could do those things. Can't coach it. Same with Ben.

Guest: What's the status of Leveon Bell?

Jerry Micco: Still available and so far he's scheduled to play. But with concussions, sometimes they bite you later in the week. We'll see as practice and the week progress.

Chief Powhatan: Jerry, is there any truth to the rumor you were playing the PS4 demo @ the Walmart in Monroeville over the weekend?

Jerry Micco: Is that a video game thing? Jeez, I can't do any of that stuff. My kids can do that no sweat, but I'm completely lost on it. Some people would say I'm completely lost on a lot of stuff, but I can tell you unequivocally, I'm lost when it comes to that stuff.

Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to move on to some other stuff. Thanks again for the excellent chat. I really appreciate you guys taking the time to do this with me. I'll see you Sunday for the live Steelers chat, and again next Wednesday at noon. So until then, have a terrific week! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

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