Ben Frederickson Live

Ben Frederickson Live

Bring your Cardinals, Blues, Mizzou and St. Louis sports questions, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Monday.


    Greetings, chatters. Thanks for adjusting your schedules. I think this move to Monday will be a one-week deal, and we will be back to Tuesdays starting next week. I'll keep you posted on that. There will be no interruptions today, so that's good news. I'll have to close shop at 3 p.m. to switch attention toward tomorrow's print column, so let's mash the pedal (hey, I was at IndyCar this weekend) until then. Away we go ...
    Was it short sighted of the Cardinals, lower in the standings, to not put a claim in (ahead of the Cubs) on Daniel Murphy, even if strictly as a blocking measure?
    I've heard plenty of folks asking about that, so I did some investigating. Long story short is this: The Cardinals didn't want Murphy. Now, you can say that's the wrong opinion to have, and he has certainly started hot with the Cubs, but consider this: He's a subpar defender at second base, and even worse at third base, which he has not played for some time. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have had built their comeback in part on strong defense up the middle, from Molina out to Bader in center. The DeJong/Wong combo is a big part of that. And both Gyorko and Matt Adams are strong defenders at third and first, respectively. (It sounds like Jose Martinez, for the most part, is not going to be playing much first base moving forward, unless injuries force him there.) Another thing: The Cardinals had little interest in adding anyone who might upset the current chemistry rolling in the clubhouse. Adams doesn't do that. He knows the guys. He fits right in. Murphy has had some bumps in the past, based on some of the opinions he's shared. On top of how the team viewed him as a player, there were some off-the-field factors to consider as well. Most important: You can't put a claim on a player you do not want, because that team (in this case the Nats) might say, OK, he's yours. Seeing what the Cubs traded to the Nats to land him suggests teams were not so far off from getting the pending free agent for nothing. The Cubs desperately needed offense, even if it hurt their defense. The Cardinals have one of the hottest offenses in the National League during the second half. Different needs. That's as thorough of an explanation I can offer. Hope it helps!
  • Are my Tigers going 9-3 this season? I really think Lock could lead them to that record! MIZ!
  • I predicted 7 wins for the Tigers this season, but I also pointed out that record would be disappointing. Let me explain: This team has the talent to win 9-10 games. Easy. However, there are two big question marks in my eyes. 1. Did the players learn their lesson from last season? As in, do they realize they can't sleepwalk through the start of their season and not sabotage a season because of it. If they don't show up against this non-conference schedule, they will lose games. Memphis will jump up and bite you. Hell, Purdue already did last season 35-3 should be recited every day at practice. 2. Are the coaches ready to get the most out of this talent? It should not be lost on fans that the two games Mizzou had the most time to prepare for last season -- the opener and the bowl -- were the two games the Tigers looked the least prepared. That's coaching. I like what new OC Derek Dooley is preaching about a more balanced approach on offense that prioritizes winning over "fake news" stats, but we have to see it. Dooley always talks a great game. What he has not done before is call plays. And he's not going to get much help from a head coach who is defensive-minded. Odom has to clean up the areas that tripped this team up last season. Dooley has to prove he can do this. We can't know how either of those will go until games begin.
  • Ben - I read last weeks transcript and saw that you seem to be coming around on Carlos Martinez having maturity issues. You had previously poo-poo'd this when I brought it up in the Spring. I'm all for trading him in the off-season after a nice run of bullpen appearances to secure his value. What say you?
  • If I did that, I was wrong. I have in the past pushed back against arguments that correlate nonsensical stuff (hair color) to performance and preparation. That was silly then and still is. But, the off-field distractions and, most alarming, the timeliness problems that have been reported by colleague Derrick Goold are concerning. Again, I think the move of Martinez to the pen said more than the Cardinals wanting to get him back sooner. It's impossible to ignore the message that came along with it: This team is comfortable without Martinez starting postseason games if it makes it there, and it seems like that's the path the Cardinals are on now. 
     
    I used to think Martinez is the pitcher you don't trade. I don't think that anymore. I'm also not for sending him away just to send him away. You have to get a lot for his talent level. Look what the Pirates coughed up for Archer, who has not exactly been killing it in Pittsburgh. You only trade Carlos if the other team is willing to give you what his talent is worth, period. If not, hold him and let him start next season. But don't try to tell me he's the ace of the staff, not with Mikolas dealing and Flaherty rising. He has to re-earn that status, in my opinion. Everyone defines ace differently. It's part of what makes baseball fun. I don't see it fitting with Martinez this season.
  • If Wong's hamstring keeps him out a few weeks, and had this happened before Murphy was put on waivers, would that have changed their tune on whether to put a claim on him?
  • Maybe, I guess. But are the Cardinals supposed to have a crystal ball? Kolten was on absolute fire. Hitting like crazy and defending even better. He has shown what everyone not named Mike Matheny knew to be true; put faith in him and he will reward you on the field. With that in mind, I would not have wanted to add a competitor at the position where I'm getting surging hitting and Gold-Glove caliber defense. You can't make waiver additions based on the worry that a healthy player might get hurt. For the roster the Cardinals have, Adams was a wiser addition, because of the situation I outlined this weekend. He can start at 1B against RHP and Gyokro can start at 3B against LHP. That still gives you strong defense and plugs in some serious slugging against those matchups. I don't think Murphy is a bad player. Look at his All-Star resume. Clearly, he's hitting it really well right now. Doesn't mean he was the best fit for the Cardinals.
  • Ben, I understand the reason for the Cards not wanting Murphy as you explained it. On the other hand, would you agree that Theo might get Exec of Year for getting Hamels and Murphy for basically giving up nothing? Both have saved the Cubs season as they laugh all the way to the WS.
  • Let's see if they can hold the division first. The Cubs see an open window, and they are going to add on whatever they need to help get them there. That has been their approach since they finished the rebuild. They will always make the bigger splash, until they can't. Sometimes it works (Murphy, so far). Sometimes it flops (Remember Darvish?) But the thing about the flops is, another attempt will come. The Cubs are not messing around.
  • For everyone here lamenting the missed opportunity on Daniel Murphy, I wonder if you are the same fans who wanted Chris Archer in exchange for young pitching. Does that seem like it was a good deal? Sometimes the best deals are the ones the team doesn’t make.
  • For those wondering, Chris Archer has made 5 starts in black and yellow. He has a 6.45 ERA. Quality starts: Zero.
     
    Now, the Cubs did not give up anything close to an Archer-type price to get Murphy. But they did surrender one prospect, in addition to a prospect to be named later -- or cash down the road.
     That's easy to shrug off now, but according to the Washington Post, the prospect to be named later will be named AFTER the Arizona Fall League. That's significant, considering the AFL is where some of the best prospects play. The Nats might get something out of that.
  • I didn't mean to imply the Cards should know the future. Was just curious how much that would affect their decision had it happened a week ago.
  • Hard to know, considering it would be hindsight 101. The Cardinals don't often go there, especially when it would lead to them admitting they wish they would have done something.
  • What's the reason for the different uniforms over the weekend and especially the nicknames on the back that sometimes don't identify the player?
  • Players' Weekend. They get to customize their cleats and put their nicknames on the back of their uniforms.
  • You are not going to like this question, because this team is playing so well and is so fun to watch, why should any fan complain? But the failure to sign Daniel Murphy is eating at me. Signing Adams is just such a typical “favoring familiar” front office move. I know the narrative surrounding the decision to go get Adams centered on not having to give anything up, but the Cubs gave up a prospect that wasn’t even in their Top 30 and Adams is practically 0-for-August at the plate. For all the smart things this team has done over the past 45 days, these are the moves that drive fans crazy. For once can the team just pass on the low hanging fruit and be a little more ambitious?
  • There were other factors to consider with Murphy. Some of them are addressed below if you scroll down. Not trying to be dismissive at all, but I don't want to re-type it all for the sake of answering as many questions as possible. Don't overlook the second prospect the Nats could get in the deal. The one to be named later. But most importantly don't overlook that the Cardinals did not want Murphy. Full stop. You don't make a claim on a player you don't want playing for you. Blocking an opponent is great until you get a player you don't want.
  • Why does Goold whisper at the manager's press conference. Nobody can understand the answer given because they didn't hear the question. Can't he just wait till FSM gets their 3-4 minutes for TV and then ask??? Seems plausible.
  • Come on, man.
    Can't speak for DG, but you can ask him tomorrow during his subscriber chat.
    My guess is because he a) doesn't work for FSM. He's there to do his job for the paper, to get answers for the paper, not to provide TV viewing enjoyment.
    Also: That's just his voice.
    And: No. There might be 10 minutes after some games to get questions and get the quotes in the paper. There is not time to wait for one-on-ones.
     
     
  • Why are players limited to only a handful of bat colors during regular season play? I thought it was cool seeing O'Neill's canadian maple leaf bat and JMart's Venezuela flag themed bat looked cool and were tasteful and would seem like another marketable product for MLB.
  • Yeah, and I thought it was cool that Kolten Wong was wearing a Hawaiian arm sleeve to raise awareness about volcano recovery efforts in Hawaii. But Manfred thinks that's too political, so Wong had to take it off. Meanwhile Bryce Harper wears his American flag gear during the home-run derby. Mixed messages? Does Manfred realize Hawaii is part of the Unites States? Curious minds wonder. It's pretty mind boggling that Manfred saw how ham-handed the NFL was in handling some of these issues, and has decided to pursue the same approach. Baseball had a chance to do things differently, but the suits can't see past their ties.
  • Murphy could have played 1b. Just the lefty bat we needed.
  • He's played 83 innings there the past two seasons combined. He's also a minus there defensively.
    Adams is actually a first baseman. A better than decent one.
    And consider this: Among MLB hitters since last season, left-handed hitting Murphy ranks 10th in slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers with a .552 SLG. Very, very good.
    But Adams, who was acquired for nothing more than the remainder of his contract, ranks 15th on that same list. He's slugging .543 against RHP since last season. And he was a perfect mesh with an already upbeat and positive clubhouse.
  • Ok, so I have to add more on the Murphy outcry. We know the cardinals claim to follow analytics etc. Murphy had a 2018 WAR of -.5 while Wong has 3.2.... That’s an enormous difference. Whatever Murphy does with the bat is totally negated by his inability to play a position like a serviceable major leaguer. He’s not that valuable folks, deal with it.
  • If you are desperate for offense, as the Cubs had become, Murphy's offense makes his defensive shortcomings hard to overlook.
    The Cardinals were not desperate for offense.
    The Cardinals rank sixth in baseball and second in the National League in average runs per game since Shildt and the new hitting coaches took over.
    One person in MLB I spoke with said he did not like Murphy's arm at second, let alone third base.
    The Cardinals have been winning because they tightened up their defensive screws. Why jam in a subpar defender for his offense, when the offense is rolling.
    Again, just because Murphy was a fit for the Cubs does not mean the Cardinals made a mistake by not adding him. And to claim him is to potentially add him, like it or not.
     
  • Hello Ben. Regarding Adams....why would Washington work out a deal with the Cardinals. They were in the thick of the WC hunt. Plus they gave him away for just some cash. Why not work something out with an American league team, or are the required to work something out with whoever claimed him first?
  • Because they punted on the season.
    They wanted to free up their finances and get what they could for pending free agents while they could, and also create some distance from the luxury tax.
    It was a white-flag move.
  • I like the kid Knizner. I think he should take over for Yadi when he retires.
  • The Cardinals like him, too. The catcher discussion is evolving. It's great to have Carson Kelly. It's great to have Andrew Knizner. Does it make sense to have them both? Kelly is more polished defensively, and he would still be the answer tomorrow if Molina gets injured today. But as Knizner progresses, there becomes some redundancy at the position. At some point the Cardinals are going to have to make the call on which one they want to take over for Molina, and trade the other. Another thing: People act like Kelly is rotting on the vine. He's 24. Knizner is 23.
  • We've heard a lot about the defensive abilities of various prospects, like Kelly and Sierra. But I don't remember hearing much about Bader's defense before he was called up. Did people not realize how good of a defender he was when he was in the minors?
  • He was known for his defense. For his speed. For his hard-charging, run-through-the-wall style. These things flashed in the minors. The question was, would his offense produce enough for him to stick? It appears the impact his previous attributes make might have been underestimated, right? And, his offense is on an uptick. It seems to improve the more he plays. Shocker, right? So far this month has been his best month: He's slashing .316/.378/.557 in August. The outlook on Bader was that he was a fourth outfielder type, and would need to hit to prove he's more. Well, his defense and speed have made him more. And the bat looks better as the season has progressed. I think we might have under-estimated him, yes.
  • Does GM Rizzo likely survive this off season in Washington?
  • I don't have any unique insight there. This season didn't reflect well on him. Neither did Dusty Baker's comments recently, all of which were fair and accurate. The Nationals took a step back by replacing him. He would have gotten more out of this team. Not a ringing endorsement of the GM.
  • How about our buddy Luke Voit tearing it up for NYY?
  • I love it. I checked the New York Times the other day, and there he was, his photo leading the online sports section. I had to send that one to his dad. Pretty cool moment in his career. He's now 11-for-29 with three homers since he put on pinstripes. Good for him.
  • St. Louis is known as having a team-friendly sports media. I’ve heard it described by scribes in other cities as “soft.” In light of this reputation, do you believe the symbiotic relationship between the cardinals and the post dispatch limits the ability of journalist to criticize the cardinals and particularly Bill DeWitt? Or do dispute that STL has a soft sports media?
  • Which scribes have you talked to?
    And shoot me some specific examples of "soft" coverage.
    I'm growing weary of the "I get the sense" stuff in here. Bring examples. 
  • Is there much of a chance the interim tag gets "formally" removed from MS before the Cardinals season officially ends?
  • I'm viewing it as when, not if, at this point.
    But the timing is interesting, I agree.
    My opinion would be, let it ride. As in, let this club continue to think it's playing to earn Shildt the job. Why change the dynamic when the series wins are rolling in?
    If they get into the postseason, maybe do it then. But I'm not sure I would. I like the vibe right now, and would not rush to change it in any way.
    Again: I think this is Shildt's gig. But by announcing it now, it signals an accomplishment. That opens the door, even if slightly, for satisfaction. This team looks good when it's trying to prove itself every game. Keep that rolling.
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