Bob Smizik: Burnett should be an upgrade for the Pirates. Nothing is automatic but based on what we know, he's better that at least several of the current starters. As far as wins, that's hard to determine. Most Pirates pitchers don't win a lot of games. I think we will see something like .5 to .75 come off his ERA. Perhaps.
ChrisH: With the trade deadline looming, what's the biggest need for the Penguins: backup goaltender, scoring winger, or something else?
Bob Smizik: A scoring winger remains the team's greatest need, even if Crosby comes back. If he does not, it becomes an even larger issue. Johnson's play has been pretty bad this year and I could see them -- possibly -- picking up another backup goalie. But Fleury will get all the work in the playoffs.
Ed of Delaware: Doesn't seem like Ashton Gibbs really wanted to come back to Pitt.
Bob Smizik: Gibbs has been a disappointment and there's clearly something lacking in his play. I can't say for certain it was the fact he had to come back -- that he was deemed not good enough by the NBA. He might have been mentally pumped for the season to show the NBA it was wrong, but when the losing began he lost interest.
Smoltz: Bob - same question different day. what three pieces of advice would you give Dixon to prepare the club for next season (this one is clearly over). Particularly related to attitude and effort (yes, we're all looking at you Mr. Gibbs).
Bob Smizik: Smotz: It is not easy to come up with three pieces of advice for Dixon every week. He does not so lacking that he needs constant advice: That said:
1. Continue to preach the fundamental that built this program, hard work, unselfishness;
2. Continue to evaluate players as you've done in the past. It's what the players expect. For example, although many wanted him to 'give' playing minutes to Birch, that would have been bad for morale, bad for all the players who had to earn their minutes;
3. ''Encourage'' some players to transfer to open up more scholarships for players who can offer immediate help.
Smoltz: Do you like the Burnett trade?
Bob Smizik: Good deal, nothing to dance in the streets about -- as some are.
North Side Steve: Do you think this is a "perfect storm" of sorts for Burnett in Pittsburgh to be successful and win say 15 games? No pressure, more pitcher friendly ballpark in an easy division within an easier league? Or will his stuff continue its downward trend? Little early to say, but...
Bob Smizik: The circumstances that you maintain make for a perfect storm do exist. However, Burnett will not have nearly the offensive support that he did in New York and pretty much the same goes for defense. That makes your perfect storm far less perfect. I think 15 wins is expecting too much.
Guest: Is Wallace worh over $9 million (Franchise tag) considering the "tweaking" of the Steeler's offensive philosophy?
Bob Smizik: I do not think franchising Wallace is the best move the Steelers can make. I would get the salary cap in order -- there's time and it can be done with tough decisions -- and offer him what the Steelers think he's worth over a, say, four-year period.
Matt: Wow, what a disappointment Ashton Gibbs has been this season. He looks like a different player than the one who played the first three seasons at Pitt. What happened to him and the Panthers?
Bob Smizik: Actually, Gibbs is scoring at almost the same level he did last year. But, yes, he has been a disappointment. Part of that has to do with a lesser supporting cast. Defenses can give him even more attention, which makes it harder for him to get his shots. It also looks like he's lost some of his motivation, perhaps due to the way the team is going.
James_Pittsburgh: Why do you think .5 will come off of Burnett's ERA? He is getting older and will likely lose some of his punch!
Bob Smizik: His ERA outside of the AL East last year was below 4.5. It was 6.0 in the AL East.
James_Pittsburgh: Who returns for the Steelers Larry Foote or James Farrior? On top of that do the Steelers draft an ILB in the first round?
Bob Smizik: I cannot imagine the scenario in which Farrior would be back. Their first-round pick will depend on who is available. ILB is a consideration, as is NT and OL.
Ken: Bob, hard to believe that anyone at ESPN would use a derogatory racial term in connection with Jeremy Lin. Was this concocted by some suit to take full advantage of the hype?
Bob Smizik: They have fired the responsible writer. I am not a conspiracy theorists. I believe it was the work on a ''lone writer.''
Matt: I cannot believe that a Jamie Dixon team would ever exhibit that lack of effort that they showed the past two games. After the debacle against WVU, I really thought that they would show something, maybe even a little pride, last night but nothing!
Bob Smizik: When a team is failing, as Pitt is, it is hard to get players motivated. That's not an excuse, it's just a fact. Dixon's teams have thrived on ultimate effort. When the team saw ultimate effort was not enough this season, that sapped their motivation. It's human nature.
Bill: Can you share with us--were Dejan and Fillapponni exchanging belated Valentine cards after the Showdown taping?
Bob Smizik: I left immediately. I doubt anything was said. Dejan said what needed to be said on the air.
Ben in MS: Is it a fact that no matter what the Pirates do you will cast it in a negative light to increase readership of the blog?
Bob Smizik: No.
ChrisH: Is there a legitimate reason why Todd Haley has yet to reach out and speak to Roethlisberger?
Bob Smizik: As of last Tuesday, they had not spoken. Don't know what has transpired since then. It is unusual that they had not talked in Haley's first seven days but I have decided not to get caught up in that soap opera. I am sure when the time comes they will have a proper dialogue.
Ben in MS: Ian Snell won 15 games as a Pirate, why cannot Burnett (who is 100 times better than Snell)?
Bob Smizik: Who said he cannot win 15 games? I didn't. I said I didn't think he would.
Webster: Bob, Wallace showed me some deficiencies late last year. Any chance the Steelers secretly want to reload with an extra #1?
Bob Smizik: I think they will do everything they can to keep Wallace. The No. 1s available, as I understand it, are at the bottom of the round. A player taken in that position is not the equal of a player of Wallace's status. Yes, he tailed off badly in the second half of the season and that is a cause for concern. But he's had consecutive 1,000-yard seeasons.
Phil: If Dontari Poe is available, do you believe the Steelers will pick him in the first round?
Bob Smizik: I would think that's the case, if all goes according to script. But you never know how the draft will play out. If I'm not mistaken Rod Woodson once fell to the Steelers. They certainly have a need for nose tackle.
Matt: Can we please be realistic and acknowledge that Burnett is a 35 year old, 500 pitcher whose best days are behind him? Yes, he may give the Pirate staff some much needed innings and Pirate management a increased payroll to flaunt, but he is not going to put that team in the World Series!
Bob Smizik: I do not believe there was a question with that statement.
James_Pittsburgh: Unless Alvarez hits 30 HR and McCluthen plays the entire season like he did the first half, it isn't likely that Burnett will win 15. Of course maybe he will get lucky like Correria did during the first half of 2011!
Bob Smizik: Again, no question.
James_Pittsburgh: Do you think that the Steelers are willing to trade up to pick up Dontari Poe NT?
Bob Smizik: A trade up would surprise me, but it is a possibility. They've done it in the past.
Smoltz: Have you purchased a Jeremy Linn jersey yet? If so, are you wearing the Knicks or Harvard jersey?
Bob Smizik: I do not purchase athletic gear. However, I can see why other people might be buying a Lin jersey.. What a great story. If you hate basketball, hate the Knicks and hate the NBA -- and a lot of people do -- you have to love this story.
Kenny: Anything to fear b/c Chryst is losing coaches?
Bob Smizik: Not a big deal. Assistants are not a dime a dozen, but there are plenty of good ones. I just don't understand why Bostad came, or why Chrsyt wanted him to come, when he was do set on getting to the NFL.
Bob Smizik: Thanks to all. I will be back next Monday at noon.
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