Smoltz: Bob - the Pens played like Pitt basketball. Let the lesser opponent stay competitive too long, and it cost them. Was it just a sub-par post season? Or are there some fundamental changes that need to occur?
Bob Smizik: I think a lot of people forget this was not only a 4-5 matchup but in this case the 5 team (Philly) had won the season series. And the Flyers owned the Consol Energy Center. It's no surprise they lost. To blow leads like they did in the first two games and to never be in an elimination game was a surprise. I would not compare the Penguins to Pitt's problems in the post-season. Pitt's post-season problem is a lack of upper level talent. That is not the Penguins problem.
Carl - pgherinfl: I'm disappointed with the Penguins playoff performance. Do you think Bylsma will keep his job? Personally, I think he just needs to tweak his adjustments he makes in game. And yes, I know the players also have to do their part or it doesn't work.
Bob Smizik: Bylsma needs to be evaluated by his bosses. The Penguins have lost three straight playoff series to lower-seeded teams. The window of opportunity still exists for this team. Shero and Lemieux have to determine if Bylsma is the man to continue to lead them.
steiny: Any chance Crosby was at less than 100 percent for the final two games of the playoffs?
Bob Smizik: He took a vicious inadvertent hit from Malkin in Game 5 and a solid whack from Girioux in Game 6. Who knows how that affected him. I recall after the Ottawa series was over in 2007 that Crosby let it be known he was playing with a broken jaw. So anything is possible.
Smoltz: I have greatly enjoyed watching the Red Sox struggle to open the season. Can you speak to the differences in team/town culture where their struggles have been pinned on the new manager while the Pirates' 19 year struggle is often blamed on ownership?
Bob Smizik: Attempts to place the Red Sox 2012 poor start on Valentine are unfair, I think. It's much too early to be doing that. The team is not playing well in a small sample. Nothing more. Red Sox ownership has been more than generous in doling out salaries, which is the complete opposite of Pirates ownership. The Boston problem is not ownership. The Pittsburgh problem is ownership.
JM: I love Marc-Andre Fleury, but his penchant for letting in softies must have a deflating effect on his teammates, even if he makes incredible saves at other times in the game. Your thoughts?
Bob Smizik: He had a poor series. He can play better. But I think way too much blame is thrown at goalies. Yes, there were soft goals. And there were semi-soft goals and hard goals. He's probably be better with a tighter defensive system in front of him.
James_Pittsburgh: How much longer until Mike McKenry is the starter? He is probably a career backup but compared to Barajas he is like an All-Star. Any chance we see McKenry/ Tony Sanchez after the All-Star break?
Bob Smizik: Barajas has a significantly better track record than McKenry, who is a borderline major leaguer. He has hit reasonably well thus far, but I do not consider him much of an offensive threat. I would continue to give the bulk of the playing time to Barajas. Tony Sanchez is playing decently at Altoona. He has to prove he can play well there, then well at Class AAA before he joins the Pirates. The Pirates catching situation is awful.
Kenman: On a scale of A to F, please grade Fleury's performance in the series. Do the Pens have a goaltending issue going forward? Should Shero address the goaltending in any way other than just bringing in a new backup?
Bob Smizik: I will not pretend, as most do, to be able to grade a goaltender. I'd have to review every play in slow motion to see where the fault exactly lies. For example, on yesterday's first goal, one of the NBC announcers said it would have been a goal against any goalie in the league. I would agree with that. But since then I've heard others call it a soft goal. But since you asked, I'd give Fleury a C- or a D.
just win baby: Bob, can the Pens realistically keep all 3 of Crosby, Malkin, and Staal? If not, who would you trade, and who would get the most in return?
Bob Smizik: They've had great regular season success with their three centers and won one Cup and went to the finals another year. That said, I think they need to break them up and spread out the talent. Staal will be a free agent after next season and probably will leave for more money elsewhere. Now might be the time to trade him and give value in return before he walks.
just win baby: If the Bucs pitching "levels off" again this year, can this team avoid 100 losses?
Bob Smizik: It's hard to lose 100 games. I don't think this team will.
just win baby: All 3 of the AD's/presidents in the region are under fire.....Duquesne, Pitt and Penn State. Do you recall another time in your reporting years when all 3 schools had so many issues before them?
Bob Smizik: I was not aware that Marc Nordenberg was under fire or that the new AD and president at Penn State were. To be honest, concerning university presidents and ADs, I don't see their jobs much different than they normally are.
James_Pittsburgh: Is Mike Wallace as good as gone in 2013? Unless he proves to be better than he is the Steelers can't pay him $7-$8 millions a year. I think the Steelers will go with Brown, Sanders, Crotchery, and a rookie they draft this week moving forward.
Bob Smizik: I would think there's a good chance Wallace will be gone after the 2012 season. But a lot can happen between now and then.
Smoltz: Bob - Mike Wallace says he will sit out most of the off season training sessions until he has to sign a deal (GO TEAM!). How do you see this un-Steeler-like situation playing out?
Bob Smizik: Wallace has no leverage -- none. If he does not sign his $2.7 millon tender by some date in mid-June, the Steelers can reduce it to about $600,000. He'll sign it and report for OTAs or what ever it is they do in the off-season.
AlwaysunnyinCA: I have the priority order for keeping Pens centers as Staal, Malkin, Crosby ... given that Crosby is damaged goods and sure to be the most valuable....plus Malkin seems to shrink when Crosby is around....what say you Bob?
Bob Smizik: Malkin scored something like 12 goals in 14 games after Crosby returned in March. He had three goals in six games in the playoff. I don't see that as shrinkage. I regard Staal as the No. 3 in that group. He does not have anything close to the offensive ability of Malkin and Crosby.
James_Pittsburgh: Barajas hit .200 last year and is consistently getting worse which is expected from someone who is 36. McKenry may improve, but we can't expect more than batting .200 out of Barajas.
Bob Smizik: Barajas his .230 with 16 home runs last year. McKenry hit .222 with two home runs.
Caseyatthebat: Is the bucco offense the worst in the past 19 years?
Bob Smizik: So far it is and it might continue to go that way. But they've had some pretty awful offenses.
QuakerSteak: Outside of Neal, the key point to the series for me is that the Penguins wingers have very little scoring touch. The Flyers had multiple scoring options, not so much for the Pens.
Bob Smizik: The Penguins had some good scoring seasons from their wingers -- Neal, Kunitz, Cooke Dupuis. Only Neal approaches being a elite talent. The the team led the Eastern Conference in scoring. I don't think scoring goals is their problem.
Ken: I understand posturing, negotiations, being slighted by low ball offers, etc., but for Wallace to announce that he's not participating in anything is annoying--contrast to LeMarr Woodley in 2010. Do you think the Steelers will get tired of Wallace's high opinion of himself?
Bob Smizik: Wallace is getting some bad advice. Let's judge him on his actions, not his words. I think he'll participate. If he does not, he's making a big mistake.
James_Pittsburgh: How can you say that Barajas has a significantly better track record than McKenry? McKenry basically has no record than 2011. He hit .222 last year and Barajas hit .200. We are talking about a guy with a career on-base percentage of .283 and a batting average of .236.
Bob Smizik: Barajas did not his .200 last year. He hit .230, which is higher than McKenry. Barajas is a long-time major leaguer. McKenry is in the majors only because he plays for the Pirates. Barajas' track record is light years better than McKenry's.
Will6: Every time you think Garrett Jones will get hot he grounds out to second repeatedly. Shouldn't McGee (sp.) be getting more at bats?
Bob Smizik: Jones has more RBIs, more home runs and a higher OPS than McGehee. I think they should continue to be platooned.
Toohot: Do you think the Pirate hitters are worn out by the heat and humidity from Bradenton? Maybe the team would react better to the dry heat in Arizona?
Bob Smizik: Perhaps.
Cityofchampions: What are the chances that two of the following coaches are fired by 2014: Tomlin, Dixon, Bylsma, Hurdle?
Bob Smizik: Tomlin: 0 Dixon: 0 Bylsma: 30 percnet Hurdle: 10 percent
Norm: More and more I realize that Tabata either at #1 or #2 is a key to this season, i.e if he hits .280--great, but .240 and then platoon, really bad for the club's run production. I'm afraid I'd guess around .250--he looks stiff. Do you agree?
Bob Smizik: He's been a disappointment thus far. It's too early in the season to be making firm judgments on players.
Featherweight: How can a MLB team have corner outfielders that may combine to hit 8 homers? They may have more inside the park homers than outside the park. Would Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel have helped?
Bob Smizik: Cuddyer, Kubel and Willingham all were available when the Pirates rushed out to sign Nate McLouth,as though he was an answer to their problems. The team did not want to spend what it would take to get one of those three. And that would likely have required overspending. Most free agents do not find Pittsburgh an attractive destination.
headscratcher: Why do people shell out $80 per ticket for a NHL regular-season game? The regular season has shown to be nothing more than a money maker for the league. The games are meaningless (NBA to a similar degree).
Bob Smizik: It's entertainment.
Bob Smizik: Guard
Bob Smizik: Thanks to all for the good questions today. The chat will return next Monday at noon.
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