Ben Frederickson Live

Ben Frederickson Live

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




    Greetings, chatters. Hope you all enjoyed the Winter Warm-Up coverage and have managed to cleanse your brains of the NFL results. Brutal. I'm sure we will discuss that here. SLU hoops is ON FIRE. Mizzou found its footing, at least for one game, and the Mizzou vs. South Carolina women's game ended without a fight or a lawsuit. Good news. Let's roll.
    I hope after yesterday’s game Blues management will come to their senses and figure out they should be sellers at the trade deadline and get over this delusion they are a playoff team. How can you beat the Caps twice and lose to the Kings twice?
    Oh, right, the Blues! They have lost three out of their last four after that three-game winning streak, the first of their season, the one they became the last team in the NHL to secure. I said pump the brakes, and I got hammered for being Negative Nancy. And, here we are. Yes, the Blues should sell.
    BenFred, thanks for doing these chats.

    Please help me to understand the pro-DH in the NL position. Last season Cardinal pitchers only averaged two (2) plate appearances per game. Eliminating those two (2) plate appearances by pitchers is not going to make any difference in gaining the interest of someone who is not already interested in MLB.

    But adopting the DH in the NL is going to infuriate and alienate a sizable percentage of the existing fan base that enjoys the strategy of pinch hitters, double switches, and lineup construction associated with the pitchers batting.

    Why on earth would the NL owners do this?
    I don't think the pro-DH argument's strongest point is that it will increase interest in the game, at all.
    Players want it because it will create job security for older sluggers, and players tend to fight harder for guys who have been there, and done that -- it's one of the reasons the big free agency clash is happening right now. Players point to what they have done .Owners are increasingly asking what they can do next.
    I think you have overestimated the size of the crowd of fans who will go bananas if the DH comes to the NL. There seems to be, to me, an age-related split. The older generation tends to strongly dislike the DH. The younger generation tends to strongly dislike watching pitchers hit. DH solves that.
    And then the last one: Why on Earth would NL owners do this? Because players could prioritize it in the upcoming CBA discussions, and owners -- whether they will admit it or not -- realize they are at a disadvantage when it comes to signing certain players because they don't have a DH spot to offer, and because some also realize it's just a matter of time until the league adopts the same rules across the board.
    There are fewer and fewer people willing to die on the no-DH hill.
     
     
     
     
    Probably a minority opinion, but if Ozuna bounces back I think the Cards should try to extend him along with Wacha, Mikolas, and Goldy. Thoughts?
    The day of the Paul Goldschmidt press conference, I wrote about the Cardinals' strong desire to extend Paul Goldschmidt. They would not have the trade if they didn't think they had a fighting chance to do that. They were stiff-arming the truth a little bit then, but their tune drastically changed at Winter Warm-Up. They are now officially recruiting, and viewed the fan reception at WWU as a key point of that. So, that's a goal.
    Mikolas is open to extension talks and the Cardinals seem very interested in going there. I would not be surprised if the Cardinals strike a deal with Miles during spring training.
    But there are multiple reasons for the Cardinals to prepare for life without Ozuna, as things stand today.
    Could that change? Sure
    That's what this season is all about.
    But where things stand right now, he had a disappointing 2018 that stemmed from a shoulder that they were not pleased with how it was handled by the player. And then the offseason surgery comes during the so-called offseason of accountability, and they can't get their doctors' eyes on Ozuna. The Cardinals have not seen him in person and won't, until Mozeliak goes to the Dominican Republic for the high school graduation at an academy the Cardinals have there. One more thing: Ozuna's agent is Scott Boras, and he is likely going to steer his client toward free agency in an attempt to get the last dollar on the table.
    If Ozuna has a monster season, the Cardinals could decide they have to have him.
    This season is going to determine a lot, but right now it does not look like an extension waiting to happen. Especially when you consider some of the outfield prospects on the rise.
     
    If as a player you are not a free agent until the age no one wants to sign, is FA dead?
    Not dead, but it needs to be tweaked. Players should stop complaining about owners not handing out bad deals, and start looking at ways to make sure they reach free agency sooner. They should fight for fewer arbitration years and for decreasing service-time tinkering. Arguing against the age curve is not sound logic. Owners have adjusted to it. Players have not. Their power is limited until the CBA expires after the 2021 season. Their discussions can get a head start, and they have, according to the players who spoke during Winter Warm-Up, guys like Goldschmidt and Miller and Flaherty and Carpenter.
    Do they sign Wacha long term or not?
    I think Wacha's injury concerns, combined with the Cardinals' pitching depth, would make me lean the other way on that.
    Let's talk NFL ... I'm rooting for the Rams to be honest. The Rams will play in Los Angeles for eternity so at some point they'll win the Super Bowl. Maybe it's best to rip the band aid off. Plus who wants to see Tom Brady win again?
    I'm rooting for an overflowing toilet in the owners' boxes. Kidding. Not really. It would be great for the Rams players, who had nothing to do with the relocation ripjob, to win the Super Bowl. And it would be fun to watch the NFL own the fact that their terrible officiating system and perhaps worst blown call in football history produced the Super Bowl winner. I don't mind the notion of Enos' Super Bowl ring having an asterisk of diamonds in the middle. But no, I don't want the Rams to win. Of course I don't. Patriots' Super Bowls are easy enough to ignore. They all kind of blend together.
    I don't think it's unfair for the players to demand stupid contracts. If you're making money because of me, I would demand my fair share as well. If I'm Bryce Harper, and I help bring boatloads of money, just because people want to see me play, then yeah I'm going to demand A LOT of money, probably more money than my stats say I'm worth, because I'm worth more to you than just my stats. People come to see me play, not Bill DeWitt, Mo, or Girsch. You make money because of me, pay me my fair share. I understand you will get the bigger share, because you are the one taking the risk, but I'm the one that has made that risk worth it.
    I don't disagree. Here's what I don't understand. Why are so many people using Bryce Harper and Manny Machado as an example of the free-agent market being broken. We don't know what they represent, if anything, until both have signed somewhere. The owners are getting crushed for being cheap, and some truly are cheap, but it goes ignored that these guys have agents who are working to drag this process along as much as possible. That never, ever gets mentioned. Harper and Machado should be absolved from the 30-year-old-plus free agent discussion until they sign a contract that shows they got a raw deal. I don't think that will be the case. Lumping them in now is premature, and potentially inaccurate. See what they get, then let's talk. And don't forget the agents are competing here as well. Owners got ripped when Yasmani Grandal turned down a multi-year deal worth $60 million from the Mets, then had to scramble for a one-year, $18 million deal with the Brewers. Why didn't his agent get ripped? He steered his client away from a better deal than the one he steered him toward. National types, especially, shape the discussion. They intentionally leave out the agents if there is anything negative to say. Why? Because they get info from agents. Think about it. Let's see what Harper and Machado get before we trot them out there as the signs of a broken system. Especially when there is a massive pile of 30-plus FAs that truly show the broken system.
    I understand the hesitation on the cards side for huge contracts. That being said, we have not had the middle of the lineup batter since Pujols, and never got to see what Tavares would have been like. We have the opportunity, for a guy much younger than Pujols was in his free agent year, to sign and make the face of the franchise. Why not do it? Give him the out after three years, which Boras will ask for anyways, but at least you have the face of your franchise for years to come? Thanks
    The Cardinals did add their best middle of the order hitter since Pujols this offseason.
    Paul Goldschmidt, as Whitey Herzog said this weekend, is a top-five hitter in the National League.
    I'm not sure where fans got the idea that when the Cardinals said they needed a middle of the order bat, they were going to get two.
    I harped for Harper harder than anyone, in part because I did not think Arizona would actually trade the face of their franchise.
    The Cardinals got him for a steal.
    And when that happened, I knew they were not going to get Harper.
    The Cardinals will never say it, but they heaved sighs of relief as the Pujols contract played out in Los Angeles. They are also starting to feel they dodged a bullet when Stanton turned them down.
    What will be fascinating to watch is how they continue to toggle the needle between sustained success at a historic level and desperate to win now, based off recent postseason misses. I would argue there has been some toggling toward the right (win now) this offseason. Trading years of control for Goldschmidt on one guaranteed season is an example of that. As much of an example as the fans would have liked? Probably not. But when do those views ever line up?
    Giving Harper the out after three years does nothing to help the team, for what it's worth.
    If he plays exceptionally well, they lose him.
    If he does not live up to the contract, which many don't, they keep him.
    That is not a plus in the eyes of a team.
     
    Are you aware of any teams trying to exploit the MLB free agent market with high AAV and shorter length contracts? I know that there was an article written on the subject, but other than the Grandal deal, it doesn't seem like anyone has tried the approach.
    Oh gosh, yeah. Those deals are being offered. And players without better options will be much more likely to accept them as it gets closer and closer to spring training.
    Very frustrating seeing Cards waste time with Ankiel. A 40 year old with a bad elbow? Sure, welcome to Spring Training! It’s bad enough we’ll have to watch Wainwright fizzle out for good this season. 5 starters? Pulease!
    How, exactly, are they wasting time with Ankiel? If he can pitch, they'll give him a shot. It's not all that much work on the Cardinals' end.
    Me thinks that FA is impacted more by the amount of teams tanking than the realization of the aging curve. Both are analytically driven for sure. How many teams need a RF MOTB and how many teams actually want to win? That second clause significantly cuts down the market because odds are if you need a corner outfield MOTB then you're not very close to competing...
    Yep. I've argued the same point. Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said yesterday that every owner wants to win, but they take different routes. And it has been pointed out this weekend that the Cardinals have benefited (Ozuna, Goldschmidt) from teams that are pivoting toward rebuilds. DeWitt is going to stick up for owners, just like players stick up for players. But we see what we see. Not every team cares about competing in the present, or even the near future. And it does hurt the players, because that means  fewer teams interested in playing good players in their prime. If it's 2019 and your goal is to build toward 2023, then of course you are less interested in the star free agent right now. For many reasons -- international draft, increase in analytics that has made every team view players similarly, increase in spending on development -- free agents have less leverage than before. But the amount of teams who are not interested in winning now, and actually want to avoid it so they can get better draft picks, should not be dismissed.
    The optics aren't good on the Ozuna communication. Things change, but it is really hard to see where he fits in as a long-term option with this team. I assume Mo is just banking 100% on him rehabbing so that he can perform and get paid?
    The best word for the situation is anxiety. The Cardinals are not sure what they are going to get when Ozuna rolls into spring training, and this offseason was supposed to be all about the opposite of that. Molina's comment about Ozuna struck me. 
     
    "He told me he is feeling a little bit better. He wants to be ready for Opening Day. I told him to take it easy, don't push it. He wants to be there for us, so he's going to try to push it. Hopefully he is fine for Opening Day."
     
    Buckle up.
     
    Could you envision the Chiefs or Colts hosting a training camp or preseason game in St. Louis?
  • The Chiefs should try to do this.
    They were asked after Rams left if they would try to tap into St. Louis market, but they did not seem all that interested.
    There are more people watching them from here now than ever before.
    That said, I'm not sure there are any civic/sports leaders who are going to jump at a chance to bring the NFL back in any way, shape or form.
    Not if it includes paying anything, especially.
  • The Ozuna relationship with the Cardinals feels very awkward at best, were the Cardinals not aware of how he operates despite sharing spring training facilities with the Marlins, which they've claimed gave them greater insights on certain players?
    Where things stand today, that seems to be a fair read on the situation, yes.
    So last year there was frustration that Ozuna resisted treatment for his shoulder, if that happens again this year are the Cardinals more likely to let him play through it because he's gonna walk anyway and it won't be there problem?
    It's about performance. Even despite his lack of power last season, Ozuna was still one of the most consistent hitters on the team. This year, if he does not perform, the Cardinals have guys like Jose Martinez, Tyler O'Neill and even Lane Thomas who are going to be of interest. The best scenario, obviously, is if Ozuna hammers away in his push for a big contract after the season. That's still a possibility. The Cardinals don't know that it's not. But because they didn't have much contact with him this offseason, they don't know that it is, right? That's all they said during WWU. They have not been as involved with his rehab/recovery as they would have liked. One question is, if Ozuna's power lags again, will the Cardinals move him out of the cleanup spot? I would.
    Why have O’Neil on the big league roster wasting away behind Fowler and Cafe, when he can pick up ABs tearing up AAA?

    Wouldn’t Adolis make more sense as a defensive replacement and 5th OF?
    So Adolis can waste away?
    It's not a great scenario for either guy.
    O'Neill has less to gain and less to prove in Class AAA than Adolis.
    And he's fine defensively, and can play any of the positions out there.
    The Cardinals really, really like the projections on O'Neill long term.
    Don't sleep on him, especially as the Ozuna outlook looks a little shaky at the moment.
     
     
    Thinking about the upcoming baseball season, shouldn’t we all include Arte Moreno in our Christmas card lists? I am eternally grateful he gave Pujols that crazy contract. Pujols is a broken down mess making 30M a year! Thanks, Arte!!!
    The Cardinals love Pujols, but they are pleased they do not have that contract on their books, yes.
  • I’m not sleeping on O’Neil, I like him better than Ozuna, better than Fowler, better than Cafe - but where will the ABs come with this logjam (pending injury)?
    If everything goes according to plan, the at-bats for O'Neill will be hard to find -- this season. But things rarely go according to plan, do they? Ozuna's shoulder is a concern. Fowler's feet are a concern. Bader has never played a full season in MLB center field. O'Neill will get chances.
    What must St. Louis do to shed it's reputation as merely a baseball town? It's a declining sport.
    MLS will help.
    The Blues not being terrible would help.
    Or the baseball team could relocate to Los Angeles?
    I'm not sure what you want me to say.
    St. Louis is always going to be a baseball town.
    It's not a bad thing -- as much as the Rams tried to convince the world.
    This time last year one of ya'll wrote an article about how Grichuk would still get plenty of at-bats as a fourth outfielder. Now that ended up being Bader at the beginning of the year but there was some good calculations in there. I'm too lazy to dig it up but those calcs should still hold true for Tyler.
  • Bader is trying to become the first Cardinals center fielder to log back-to-back seasons with the most innings in center field since . . . Jon Jay.
    The guys around him both battled significant injuries last season.
    Jose Martinez and Tyler O'Neill are going to get reps.
    Cardinals officials even said this weekend that Jose Martinez could start against lefty starters.
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