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.




    I know ST has a lot to do with deciding Opening Day starter, but right now who is your OD starter? Also, Martinez looked really good as the closer at the end of last year, might he stay in that role?
    Miles Mikolas, who went 18-4 with an All-Star appearance last season, seems like a wise bet, no?
    As for C-Mart coming out of the bullpen, it won't happen at the beginning. But it could get there if he struggles as a starter. The Cardinals have made it clear they want Martinez to start, as that's where he is most valuable -- if he's performing. If he's not performing, he profiles very well for the back end of the bullpen. The Cardinals saw what you saw last season. It looked right. It looked liked it fit. There is also the belief among some that Martinez needing to show up to the ballpark every day not knowing if he is going to pitch, but having to be prepared to pitch, is not the worst thing in he world. A starter's schedule might no be the best for him, but he's getting another shot to prove it is.
    What do you think of Bob Stoops going to the XFL?
  • I dig it. It brings credibility to the league. It's going to be fun and easy to take shots at the XFL. It created that window when it blew up last time around, but those who are following this closely are seeing this is a different operation. Oliver Luck is not a joke. Neither is Stoops. I know for a fact there are qualified football minds involved in the St. Louis discussions, one being former Rams executive Bob Wallace. This is not wrestling. I do wonder if the Alliance of American Football is going to get a jump start by playing this season. I'm not sure how the competition will go for players, but there are only so many fringe NFL guys out there, and it seems the Alliance league is going to get first dibs on quarterbacks, especially. How will the XFL compete for talent? That's my biggest question at the moment. Stoops, though, made a splash. More smart splashes should be the goal. I love, love, love that Spurrier is coaching in the AFL, for example. Smart splash.
    Are Andrew Miller and Jordan Hicks going to be switching closing opportunities or is Miller going to be the closer?
    Here's what the Cardinals are saying entering spring training: It's going to be a bit of both. And these two you mentioned might not be the only ones who get those save opportunities. It could be a blend all season, but common sense suggests someone will grab hold of the role until help is needed. That is usually the case. Personally, I think it would be best for all involved if that's Hicks. That's if Carlos Martinez remains in the rotation. Part of Miller's value is his ability to extinguish fires at any high-leverage moment. Using him only as the closer is like only operating a sports car in one gear. You are leaving performance on the table. Everything about Hicks screams closer profile. He needs to get ahead of hitters better and walk fewer. He knows that. The Cardinals are also not going to award Hicks, 22, the gig without making him "earn it." He could do that this spring. They're dangling a carrot, as colleague Derrick Goold likes to say.
    Which relatively unknown players intrigue you the most in Cards spring training?
  • I'm intrigued by the up-and-coming third basemen, and not just Nolan Gorman.
    Elehuris Montero, 20, should not be overlooked, and he's ahead of Gorman on the assembly line.
    As for pitchers, these are not sleepers, at least they should not be by now, but Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley. Both could be power bullpen arms at some point sooner rather than later. Cabrera is being called "left-handed Carlos Martinez" by Stubby Clapp, who was wowed by him in the Class AAA postseason.
    Would this have been a good year for Dexter to show up early, since he is the elephant "albatross" in the room. You would think he could fake it for some badly needed PR.
    Can we agree to judge Fowler for stuff that matters?
    When he arrives at camp, as long as he arrives by the deadline determined by the team, does not matter. This is his 12th major-league season. He knows what he needs to do.
    On top of that, he already did his PR duty this offseason. He canceled plans to attend a wedding to attend Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up for the first time. Did this matter? I guess to some. It wont' matter if he does not play well this spring and season, though. That much, I know.
    We will soon have our first real meaningful reading of what can be expected from Fowler after his lost 2018 season.
    Let's not start forming an opinion before he shows up.
     
     
    If in 10 years the NFL wants to put a team in STL, should we support it?
    Couldn’t you say that at this point the cardinals have made the most impactful acquisition with Goldschmidt? Why are so many fans forgetting how good this guy is?
    Correct. You can absolutely argue that case, and I would agree with you. With Harper and Machado still on the market, which team has added a more impactful hitter than the Cardinals did with the Goldschmidt trade? I've given up on preaching to the standoffish about how good Goldschmidt is. He's an annual MVP candidate who is one of the best hitters in the National League. No qualifiers needed. The projections for the Cardinals seem to be more optimistic than many fans, which is somewhat rare around here. Athlon picked the Cardinals to win the division and lose to the Dodgers in the NLCS. Pecota, which is often down on the Cardinals, is actually more optimistic about the Cardinals than the Cubs.
    What do you make of Kyler Murray choosing pro football over pro baseball? What does this say about how both sports are viewed by society?
    It says, clearly, that in the incredibly rare cases where football and baseball go head-to-head for a player, football is still going to win.
    It can offer bigger money and a faster track to the highest level than baseball can.
    Now, there are not many Kyler Murray types out there, so let's not lose our minds. But baseball might want to think about ways to become more flexible for the next time this situation pops up.
    Even if Murray preferred baseball over football, and this is not the case, NFL makes it hard for a QB to turn down.
    Baseball should try to even the playing field as much as possible.
    It should not go unmentioned that the biggest deal this MLB offseason was the one Murray rejected from the A's.
    Not ideal.
    Is Mizzou hoops toast for this season?
  • The Tigers are dangerously close to losing their shot of making the NCAA tournament, yes. They might be able to afford another loss or perhaps two, tops, but they have eight games left before tournament play and they have now lost eight of their last 10. Losing Jontay Porter was a blow. Mix in Jeremiah Tilmon's roller coaster and the absence of Mark Smith for the past five games, and it's just too much to ask. I've seen crazier things, but I don't see it happening. It would still be beneficial for the Tigers to squeeze into some sort of postseason if invited, because the young core that is really impressive could use the games.
  • Ben, what to make of the Cubs ownership with the crazy racist patriarch? Ouch.
    I remember, vividly, warning Cubs fans and to some degree, media, to be careful with the "Cubs culture is better than your culture and has become a big reason we win" narrative. It popped up big-time after the Dexter Fowler fallout with Mozeliak regarding last season's effort-gate. Immediately, there were takes out of Chicago saying, this would never happen with the Cubs, blah, blah, blah. Careful, I simply said, because the moment a team starts beating its chest about its moral high ground, things tend to erode rather quickly. Since then, there has been the Addison Russell issue, Joe Maddon's hot-seat story line and now, this. The Cubs have lost their cuddly feel rather quickly.
    Will you travel down to Jupiter to cover ST, or does Goold do that?
    DG, Commish and Hochman are there now with photo crew.
    I tap in for Hochsie at the beginning of March, and will be there until the end.
    DG and Commish stay the whole time. They are the true champions. The rest of us? Mere pretenders.
    Rules for outsiders in regards to St. Louis and the Rams:

    1. Do NOT allow your corporate social media intern to mention St. Louis in ANY connection with the NFL, unless the words "Kroenke" and "sucks" are also used. Do not attempt to be funny. Do not give a "sorry if you were offended" non apology. I'm giving you the death stare, Southwest.

    2. Do NOT even attempt to tell us how to feel or deal with our loss. See Costas, Bob. You will be met with a wave of vitriol.

    3. Do NOT attempt to co-opt our market to your team. Especially if you are the Chiefs.

    4. Do NOT try to tell us that it is our fault for losing the Rams since the CVC failed to uphold the 25 percentile clause. You will be met with a storm of vitriol and facts to the contrary.

    5. Do NOT assume that we want your home team to move to St. Louis. Many of us want the NFL wiped from the face of the earth.

    6. Do NOT attempt to label St. Louis a bad football town. Why don't you try 15-65 over five years, 4 winning seasons in 21 years, or whatever and see how your attendance holds up?
    Heard that. Approving for all to read. But I don't think the Chiefs are having too hard of a time recruiting football fans from the STL area. Mahomes does that pretty easily. And I've got no problem with those who jump to that side. I grew up cheering for the Chiefs. Marcus Allen, Tony G, and Derrick Thomas. Those were my guys. But yeah, it just doesn't do it for me anymore, as we've discussed in this chat many, many times. It's like knowing the Wizard of Oz is behind the screen, and he's a big jerk. Hard to pretend it's not a mess for so many reasons. Check out the column I wrote about Bob Costas yesterday. He sees the light, and that should scare the league a little.
    Who would be your sleeper pick to make the big league roster out of ST? You know how much I like Adolis Garcia, do you think he has a shot at making the Show?
    For position players?
    The competition between Drew Robinson and Yairo Munoz will be interesting.
    Robinson is the left-handed utilityman the Cardinals wanted.
    Munoz was one of the under-the-radar rocking rookies last season, and he plays everywhere as well. He hits right-handed but he hit really, really well, averaging .276/.350/.413 in 293 at-bats.
    Everyone seems ready to write of Munoz, but I won't do it yet. There is not much of a spot for him as long as Gyorko is on the team, and I expect him to be, but Munoz had the best spring of any Cardinals player last season. He is capable of making it impossible to send him out. As much pressure should be on Robinson to take Munoz's job.
     
    For pitchers?
    Don't sleep on Dakota Hudson. There is much competition for bullpen roles, but there are some health questions about veterans (Luke Gregerson) and Hudson does not get talked about as much as he should.
     
     
     
    Ben, in my opinion, the Cards are still light of a player or two. But the crazy thing, cannot put my finger on where to put another possible difference maker that makes sense and not screw with the chemistry.
    Harper or Manny ain't happening anyway.

    Your take?
  • I hear you, and tend to agree.
    Could it be a lockdown right-handed reliever with plus strikeout power? Someone more proven than the what-ifs and young-with-upside options?
    Could it be an improved and more proven left-handed (or switch-hitting?) bat off the bench? A super utility type that is more capable than Drew Robinson has proven to be in limited major league reps?
    Robinson has put up good numbers at Class AAA, but he has slashed just .204/.301/.366 in 216 major league at-bats since 2017.
    Marwin Gonzalez, a switch-hitting super utility type, is still on the FA market.
    The word is he wants to be a starter, but might be be more willing to listen to other options from contending teams for the right contract?
    One wonders . . . 
    That was a hell of a bombshell Costas dropped, huh? I know the NFL is a giant but I am so glad that I don't feel indebted to them anymore because my local team is part of them. In a way, Saint Louis fans are out of the Goodell trap.
    I would not call it a bombshell as much as a fascinating look behind the curtain. It's really amazing how much influence NFL teams try to exercise on how they are covered by media members and, especially, so-called "broadcast partners." It's reached the point where the networks are so paranoid, their goal is to not have to hear from the league about anything, ever. It's the opposite of testing boundaries. It's creating boundaries before the boundaries. That Costas made the rare move of sending his essay to his bosses before he read it on air shows an example of that. Instead of asking for forgiveness instead of permission, the network nixed the segment and told him straight up that it was because they were negotiating for Thursday Night Football. This is not surprising to me, but it should be to those who don't know how this stuff works. You should consider where your news comes from, and who delivers it. Costas' desire to discuss hard issues and, frankly, tell the truth, made him an outsider at a place that was committed to the NFL product.
    Who are your 8 pitchers in the bullpen to start this year?
    Andrew Miller
    Jordan Hicks
    John Brebbia
    John Gant
    Mike Mayers
    Dominic Leone
    Chasen Shreve
    Brett Cecil
     
    Leone has to be and stay healthy.
    Brebbia's sick strikeout rate could keep him from riding the Memphis shuttle, though I'm not convinced he won't bounce around some this year, as he has options.
    Mayers and Gant will get first shots, because they lack options.
    I'm not expecting much from Luke Gregerson at this point, though it sounds like he feels better than the Cardinals indicated at Winter Warm-Up.
    Alex Reyes, Austin Gomber, Dakota Hudson, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Ryan Helsley and Genesis Cabrera are going to be breathing down the necks of every pitcher above then on the depth chart, and the Cardinals should not hesitate to prioritize youth over a struggling veteran, like, Brett Cecil, who has had many chances to right the ship before this spring.
    Isn't Yadi 35 and coming off knee surgery? Can the Cards make the playoffs if he goes down? Thanks for the chats!
  • Correction. He's 36 and coming off knee surgery. The repair to his knee was, by all accounts, minor, and he's expected to start playing Grapefruit League games in March. He was initially supposed to take an estimated two weeks off, but instead took a month, and I imagine the Cardinals were happy he was resting up a bit more. He's got nothing to prove until games count. But, to your point, yes, the Cardinals could find themselves in a jam if Molina has to miss significant time in 2019. Andrew Knizner is in Memphis now, and hopes are high for him, but the trade of Carson Kelly said goodbey to the most major-league ready replacement in the organization. Francisco Pena is not the guy you want starting regularly for any significant length of time. If the Cardinals are faced with this situation, I think they would have to pursue a trade or late signing of a more reliable catcher to hold things down until Molina returned.
    No way Dak starts the season in AAA, you nuts?
    We'll see.
    If the veterans hold up in terms of performance and health, they're going to get a shot.
    And part of this hinges on how the Cardinals determine the best use of Hudson.
    If they want to see him join the rotation at some point in the season to fill a gap there, he will need to be stretched out.
    Figuring out what to maximize from day one and what to hold back for later is a huge challenge for this team.
    Based on the logjam of starters, relievers and outfielders there's gotta be some sort of mid-Spring trade coming right?
    Perhaps. We discussed the relievers. The utility logjam -- Munoz, Robinson, Gyorko -- is interesting. The extra outfielders -- J. Martinez, O'Neill, Garcia and Thomas -- are just as crowded. A trade could clear things. But for now what it suggest is this: If the Cardinals are in win-now mode, there should be an emphasis on not doing the same thing that does not work over and over again. Spin the cycle at these positions to get what maximizes performance as early as possible.
    I was more than a little bummed to see that Isaac Bruce only got 8 minutes of discussion from the Hall of Fame committee - the 4th least, with two of them being clear 1st ballot choices Ed Reed and Tony Gonzalez. Do you think Bruce is being seriously hurt by not having a St. Louis writer who covered him in the room to push for him? A few years back, Bernie Miklasz got a huge amount of credit for getting Aeneas Williams in after his advocacy efforts.
    You were not the only one bummed. Trust me. And we should all be bummed "more than a little." A Hall of Fame without Bruce, at this point, is a joke. There are politics in play, and unfortunately, there does not seem to be much leverage here locally to change things. Many years, the votes are decided before the committee ever arrives, kind of like NFL relocation it seems. Bruce's case was presented by a St. Louis media member in Howard Balzer. He covered Bruce and did his homework and talked to folks about the presentation. That it was not a no-brainer was shocking. Last year should have been the year. This one was supposed to be the no-brainer. It's terrible. A true farce. At this point, it might be time to pull Jim Thomas from a Blues game and send him into that room to crack some dense skulls.
    Could you ever see the Post-Dispatch following in the footsteps of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and removing all mentions of the NFL from its print and web presence? The NFL made it perfectly clear they wanted nothing to do with us so it's time we respond in kind.
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