Jerry Micco's sports chat transcript: 9.19.12
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spinner: Jerry, Mr. Smizik with another blog talking about a wonderful summer of baseball in Pittsburgh. How can you support a statement like that after a collapse of epic proportions?
Jerry Micco: Don't know, you'll have to ask Bob, it's his blog. And he does a weekly chat as well as answers comments. I think a lot of people are disappointed in the Pirates play the past six weeks. But through July, it was a pretty fun ride. And still, they are 3.5 out of a playoff spot on Sept. 19.
Nate: Jerry, I heard a rumor that this will be Harrison's last year and the Steelers will take that money and put it towards an offer for Wallace. Any truth or do you think that makes sense?
Jerry Micco: Haven't even heard a whisper of that being true. I think the Steelers will try to get something done with Wallace, but not until the end of the year.
Biggie: Hey Jerry, Any insight into the length Troy will be out? Put it this way, if the playoffs were this weekend, would he play?
Jerry Micco: I don't think he could play, and I have no idea how long he'll be out. Still haven't said definitively if he'll be out Sunday, but looks like he will be. And it's the off-week next, so that will give him another week.
kibab1979: Afternoon Jerry. It would seem to make sense to rest Harrison and Polamalu again this week with the bye ahead, and the two games in five days coming off it. Do you agree?
Jerry Micco: If those guys could play, they'd play. But as I said above, it looks like a long shot for either one of them playing this week. It's actually an early off-week, so the Steelers will get a chance to heal a bit.
The Chief: Hi Jerry, weel I have to give you credit for your calling of the PITT game last week vs VATech. Look in your crystal ball and tell us what the Panthers season record will be?
Jerry Micco: Actually, I didn't call the game. I said I thought Pitt would play them very tough but lose. In reality, they played a terrific game and smoked the Hokies. So, you see that great game, and you see Youngstown and Cincinnati and what do you have? They should roll G-W on Saturday. I think Notre Dame, Louisville and South Florida are games where they'd be underdogs. So I'd say 7-5, maybe 8-4.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you see the Pirates trying to force James McDonald into the 2013 starting rotation, even when he may not deserve it?
Jerry Micco: They don't have a lot of choices and if I'm the Bucs, I do give him another shot. His first half had him as one of the best pitchers in the National League. But then he got off track. This was his first full year as a starter. I'd like to see how he does with a year under his belt.
Wild Bill: Hello Jerry, I heard an ex-nfl guy on network pre-game last Sunday who said Troy Polamalu looked "big" to him. I took him to mean "heavy" or "slow". Is there more going on with Troy than we know to date?
Jerry Micco: Not that I know of, though Ed Bouchette is a better person to ask than me. I thought he was OK in the Denver game. Made a couple of plays, took a terrible angle on the bubble-screen TD, but then was injured. I've always said the guy plays too big for his body, meaning he's a ferocious hitter and he weighs like 205 or 210. Like all NFL guys over 30, he's probably lost a half step, but you still have to account for him when he's playing. Still disruptive.
Jack Splat: Hi, Jerry. Last year for Harrison and Polamalu? It's like they are gone already. Perhaps it is time to turn the page.
Jerry Micco: Maybe for Harrison, but I don't think Polamalu. Now Troy's contract may say it's his last year, but I don't think so. Harrison has to get healthy before they start to look ahead. We're talking about two guys who are still pretty good players. But age may be catching up to both.
kibab1979: Seems this is a bit early for a bye week, though as you said it could benefit the Steelers. Wouldn't the league be better off to start bye weeks a couple weeks later?
Jerry Micco: I don't know that it makes that much of a difference. Some teams want an early off-week because it gives them a chance to make adjustments and heal. Other teams want them late because they are sucking wind. Steelers have tended to have them during the first half of the season, but I don't know if it really matters.
The Chief: Jerry, Oakland appears to be week at the corners. Does Haley unleash Ben and the trio of receivers or the Steelers stubbornly try to continue to run the ball with second/third tier backs?
Jerry Micco: I think the pass will always be their main weapon, but at some point you have to be able to run the ball to be successful. And that 10-minute drive on Sunday proved that point. I think you have to keep defenses honest, but their weapons are Ben and the receivers (I include Miller here, too). Since I've been a Mendenhall guy since forever, much to the chagrin of many of my fellow chat mates, I think you see why guys like Redman are nice change-ups, but a guy like Mendenhall when healthy is a quality NFL back.
James_Pittsburgh: It might make some sense to release James Harrison after the season or try to renegotiate his contract. The only problem is that the Steelers don't have anyone that can step into his place on the starting defense at this point.
Jerry Micco: Not unless Jason Worilds becomes a much better player, or they draft a first-round OLB. That's why you have to see how Harrison recovers and plays before you talk about cutting him. Same with Troy.
Wild Bill: ESPN picked a lousy time for their "talk like a pirate day". I worked all morning on a proper choking sound and it hurt my throat.
Jerry Micco: Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner, folks.
The Chief: Jerry, we have had a month of Rory vs Tiger, which is a great lead in to The Ryder Cup. Do you have any interest in this Week's Tour Championship at East Lake?
Jerry Micco: Some, but I'm more interested in the Ryder Cup. The Tour Championship is a good idea and since Phil's in it, I'll certainly follow it.
James_Pittsburgh: After two weeks, who do you think will be the biggest turnaround story in the NFL this season? Could the Arizona Cardinals make the playoffs this year?
Jerry Micco: Aside from San Francisco, there's not much in the NFL West. The Cardinals are a nice story, but they are a long was from being a quality team. The NFC North is loaded, and you could see both wild cards coming from that division.
JamesinNYC: They have to draft a safety next year no? Mundy may be able to fill in sort of for Polamalu but not for Clark. Who is my MVP so far this year for the Steelers.
Jerry Micco: I thought they'd address safety this year in the draft, but they didn't draft anyone. Robert Golden, who made the team, was an undrafted FA. Also, they could go that route for a veteran safety once they decide if Troy or Clark are gone. That's how they signed Clark in the first place. He came from Washington.
Jack Splat: It's only 2 weeks but does Ben look good! Not sure if it is the new OC but love the ability of the offense to hold the ball for so long. Helps the D!
Jerry Micco: I think Ben has looked solid and you can tell they are getting more comfortable with the offense. And the weapons he has are the best I've seen him have since I've been here. If they can get the OL to run block a bit better, and get everyone healthy on that unit, they will be very tough the rest of the year.
Wild Bill: Don't the NHL owners and players understand that nobody cares about their posturing in the press, and nobody cares (except employees) about hockey at all until December?
Jerry Micco: I would say hockey fans care about hockey year round. I follow hockey early and late, not just because it's my job, but I enjoy the sport. I think the public posturing is awful on both sides. I wish they'd save that energy to reach a solid deal for both sides. But both are being stubborn. It's the fans and the folks who do the everyday jobs for the teams and the arenas that lose the most, though.
The Chief: Jerry, you spent some time on the left coast and were in the Bay area. Any talk of the Raiders getting a new stadium or moving to another city, especially since Al Davis is not the cornerstone of the franchise?
Jerry Micco: I've not heard any rumblings about that. The stadium used to be a great baseball stadium, then the Raiders moved back and Al Davis had them add an upper deck, killing a great view. It's not the best venue in the NFL, but I'm not hearing any noise about a new stadium, either.
James_Pittsburgh: I am going to be at the Monday night game this week in Seattle. The Packers might be one of the biggest disappointments of the year. Of course I guess that is what happens when you have a below average defense and rushing game and rely solely on Aaron Rodgers and his receivers.
Jerry Micco: The Packers are 1-1, and I think by year's end, they'll win that division. But they are not the juggernaut Packers that they've been the past couple of years. Losing to the Giants in the playoffs last year exposed them a bit. And you're seeing more of that from other teams.
Wild Bill: Do the Steelers indicate anything at all about how DeCastro is recovering from his knee surgery, as in were they happy with how it went?
Jerry Micco: Not heard, and they have not discussed it. The fact that he's on the 8-week IR probably says something, though.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, sorry but I don't see two wild cards coming from the NFC north. Chicago and the Vikings are not going to make the playoffs. However there could be two wildcard teams from the AFC North in the playoffs.
Jerry Micco: I think the Packers and Lions will both make the playoffs. And I think the Bears certainly will challenge. The AFC North will be ruled by the Ravens and Steelers. I really thought the Bengals could challenge both of them, but the way they were pasted in Week 1 by the Ravens said a lot to me. It's early, so you're not seeing any trends, but your prediction of 2 AFC North wildcards is not out of the realm of possibility.
Jack Splat: What about the NFL zebras? The regular guys are suspect at best but much better than what is there now.
Jerry Micco: Week 2 was not kind to the replacement officials. I have to think Roger Goodell is getting calls from owners asking how the negotiations are coming along for the real officials. Look, you can't blame the replacements. They are in over their heads, but the NFL put them there. Regular officials have made bad calls that have decided games. The problem now is that you have a greater chance of that happening with replacement officials as the season goes on. My concern is that I don't the the players and coaches respect them much. A lot of arguing, some hands-on stuff that he regulars would never put up with. Right situation, and a game could get out of control in a hurry.
The Chief: Jerry bigger story in sports right now: Substitute Refs in the NFL or the NHL lockout
Jerry Micco: I'd say the refs because they are actually playing football. And it's the biggest sport in our country.
The Chief: Jerry, the way thing are going looks like the Pirates will be below .500 in a few days. Looking back, if you were the GM would you have done anything different at the trade deadline?
Jerry Micco: I would have gotten Wandy Rodriguez, because you could not believe your starting pitching was going to hold up all season long. And it didn't, so Huntington did what he needed to do there. But the other trades weren't much and that, coupled with the injury/development issues for Marte and the fact that Tabata and Presley all had down seasons, left them thin in the OF. Travis Snider might be a nice player, but he's not a starter. I like Sanchez, but don't know if he'll be as good as he was a couple of years ago. So really, Wandy was their big trade deadline guy. Everything else was just a bit of help here and there. Looking back, maybe you go for one great power hitter even if it costs you one of the young pitchers.
James_Pittsburgh: Looking at the Steelers team as of today, do you see Big Ben getting his third Super Bowl ring before he retires?
Jerry Micco: I do. I think the Steelers will have at least one more run left in them. But there may be a down year or two before they get there. Ben will play another 5-6 years at least.
The Chief: Jerry, next year are we speaking of how good Cole and taillon are; or are we talking about the second comings of D.Moskos?
Jerry Micco: I think Taillon took some major strides this year, after a midseason swoon. Cole is almost ready for the big club, but will need another half season at AAA. I think the Pirates will be pleased they took both in the draft. Cole is a potential No. 1 starter. Taillon, maybe a No. 3 starter. But if you groom some other guys like McDonald and Karstens, and you plug in some solid FAs, you build a pretty good staff. But you need to have an anchor, and I think Cole eventually becomes that guy.
James_Pittsburgh: It will be interesting to see if Huntington can upgrade the starting rotation in the winter. Right now you have A.J. Burnett, Rodriguez, Karstens, Mcdonald, and ?. I think they need to sign a starter or trade for someone. Even if Garritt Cole is ready after the All-Star break, you need some insurance encase anyone gets hurt.
Jerry Micco: Those four should start next season, and yes, they'll likely go FA for that fifth guy. Anyone think they should re-sign Correia based on his second half? He's been solid most of the time when they've needed him in September. Is he the best No. 5 guy they have? Would he come back or would he feel snubbed when he was taken out of the rotation. He's got 11 wins.
The Chief: Bill Rhoden wrote a great article in Monday's NY Times about instant replay and its inventer, are you surprised that the NFL has not given the replacement refs a more liberal opportunity to use instant replay instead of just waiting for coaches' challenges?
Jerry Micco: Can't change the rules. It seemed in the 3rd quarter of the Steelers game that the replacements wanted to huddle every time a flag was thrown. Must've taken an hour to play that quarter. Those guys just have to make a call, trust it was the right one, and move on. But they are getting hammered by players and coaches because as I've heard other folks say, it's substitute teacher time. If the NFL insists on using these guys, get them trained a bit, and get a note to coaches and players: Quit the antics and just play/coach.
James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think people should give Huntington credit for acquiring Wandy Rodriguez. He would have had to over pay to get a solid major league starter in the offseason.
Jerry Micco: As I said of that trade from Day One, I like Rodriguez and liked the trade. He scuffled early, but you're seeing what he can do. He'll never wow anyone, but he can give you a very good 6 or 7 innings. The problem has been, once a starter goes out, the bullpen can't stop anyone. It was a strength through July, but has faded badly the final 2 months. Even Grilli and Hanrahan aren't nearly as good as they were.
James_Pittsburgh: I don't see Correia coming back, unless he doesn't get any offers. I could see the Pirates signing another Erik Bedard type. However, I think they need to sign a veteran that could stick around to mentor Cole.
Jerry Micco: That scenario could very well happen. I wonder if they'd reconsider on Paul Maholm? I wonder if the Braves will make a run at him to keep him? I think if you want a Burnett type of guy, you may have to make a trade, which is fine. AJ will be here one more season, but after that, I can't imagine them keeping him. There are ways to get guys like Burnett, but you sometimes have to get lucky, too. I don't know how many people thought Burnett would be as good as he's been.
kibab1979: How bad do you think attendance will suffer next summer at PNC after fans have been caught up the excitement the last 2 years only to be teased in the end. Would have to imagine a lot of people will take a wait and see approach next year.
Jerry Micco: I think if the team is playing good baseball, people will go to the game in droves. Of course, they might have that sinking feeling of when is the bottom dropping out, but as bad as this collapse has been, they are 3.5 out of a playoff spot on Sept. 19. I said that earlier, and I repeat it only to say that if they can somehow win 3 or 4 in a row, they are still knocking on the door. Fans love a winner, and while the Bucs have disappointed the past 6 weeks, they were great in June and July. And if they play that well next year, they'll draw just as well.
James_Pittsburgh: With all the question marks in the rotation, I would love to see Paul Maholm giving the Pirates a change to win every five days. He won't wow anyone, but would be a nice addition behind A.J. Burnett, Wandy, and Karstens. That would allow James McDonald to start the year as the 5th starter.
Jerry Micco: And maybe take some pressure off of JMac. I think that starting 5 is a pretty solid unit, IF Burnett can pitch as well as he has most of this season and if Rodriguez can keep it going as he has his last 3 or 4 starts. A lot of ifs in that rotation, but adding a guy like Maholm certainly would not hurt it.
The Chief: Jerry, I can see we need more pitching line, but i really think first and foremost the Pirates need a decent catcher and it appears Tony Sanchez is nothing more than a #1 pick gone wrong!
Jerry Micco: They are in trouble at catcher. I don't think they'll resign Barajas, which will probably disappoint Burnett and many in the clubhouse, and I don't think McKenry is an everyday catcher. Maybe you'll see them deal someone to get a better catcher. Aren't many good ones out there, though, so the cost is high. And Sanchez has some issues. I don't now if he'll ever reach his potential.
Guest: Mendenhall back after the bye week? Your thoughts
Jerry Micco: I think so.
Jack Splat: How can major league team allow 7 stolen bases in a game?
Jerry Micco: That's not the best effort they can give, but it's been an issue all season. And it's a big offseason need they have to address. They can stop base stealers, and they can steal bases. Bad combo.
James_Pittsburgh: From what you have heard, do you see Paul Maholm as a guy that could work with Cole and James McDonald if he was brought in on a two year contract?
Jerry Micco: I think Maholm was more the quiet type who led by example. Burnett is more the vocal guy and leader. Doesn't mean Maholm couldn't help them, but Burnett has had the better career and has played for winning teams. Maholm, aside from the Braves right now, can't say that.
Guest: Steelers Game prediction this week.
Jerry Micco: Steelers always struggle on the West Coast, but the Raiders aren't great. I'm thinking Steelers 28, Raiders 21.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, time to get back to some other stuff. Once again, thanks for taking the time to chat with me and for all the great questions. I'm also doing a live Raiders-Steelers chat this Sunday starting at 4, so feel free to jump on that one, too. I'll not be in Oakland, but on my comfy couch. Have a great week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
First Published September 19, 2012 2:18 pm
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