Ben Frederickson Live

Ben Frederickson Live

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




    Greetings, chatters. Busy day today, with deadlines coming for the special section work that will be in the paper for the season-opener. We will hit it hard and fast here for a few hours, then I need to jet. So, until then, fire away. Team is off today, so it's a good time to get a feel for spring training landscape. And I heard there's a basketball team on an impressive run back home?
    So, how much more expensive did a Goldschmidt deal just get with the Trout?
    Don't overlook the age.
    Mike Trout is 27.
    Paul Goldschmidmt would be entering free agency at age 32.
    Big difference.
    Good morning, Mr. Frederickson. Thank you for your time. I enjoy reading your columns.
    Could you address a couple concerns, please?
    One, why do the Cardinals not seem interested in signing Michael Wacha long term? When healthy, he is an All-Star caliber pitcher, and seems earnest about improving his craft (which, apparently, is more than can be said for at least one member of the pitching staff). Are the Cardinals that skittish about his injury history, or do they have prospects that they consider that much better than Wacha?
    Second, Marcel Ozuna. In yesterday's chat, Mr. Goold alluded to the Cardinals' frustration with Ozuna. His shoulder injury aside, did the Cardinals not get the player/person they thought they were getting?
    You bet. Thanks for reading.
    A quick look at the depth chart shows why the Cardinals are not beating down Wacha's door about an extension. They might be open to it. But if he wants top dollar, then I don't think he will get it from the Cardinals. Reyes, Gomber, Ponce de Leon, Woodford are just a few of the names that could be ready to be starters soon, if not this season. And there are more behind them. Wacha's injury history is a concern, yes.
    As for Ozuna, of course there is frustration. I would argue most of it boils down to the lack of power production the Cardinals felt they were going to get. Some of that stems from the injury, how it was and was not handled, and the communication that both sides should have found a way to improve. I thought Ozuna would be locked in from the jump this season because there will be big money -- not from the Cardinals -- waiting for him at the end of the season via free agency if he produces. He's trying to ramp things up, but he didn't show up ready to roll like the Cardinals hoped, at least not in terms of his weight and the shape of his shoulder. If he hits for power, everything else fades. But I would not expect the Cardinals to pursue an extension with Ozuna.
    How likely that Martinez returns with more shoulder discomfort that has bothered him for nearly a year? We have seen this script a 100 times with this organization and the outcome is almost always bad.
    He's been on the disabled list -- I mean injured list --  three times since 2018 and will start there this season. So, yes, assuming it could happen again is a fair assumption. It's part of the argument to move him to the bullpen and get the most out of its health in the majors, when he's healthy. That's if the shoulder responds well to that kind of schedule. The interesting thing is the Cardinals have gone out of their way to explain that the structure of Martinez's shoulder is as sound as most pitchers, and more sound than some. Rare is a pitcher with a perfect shoulder. Some guys are affected differently by different things.
    How 'bout them Billikens! Who is your prediction to win the NCAA tournament? You picking Duke or the Field?
  • Never Duke. Although it's going to be hard to stay away this year. You don't want advice from me. I get crushed by my wife in the bracket picks every single year. I did get Fairleigh Dickinson in the spread pool down here in Jupiter, so I'm not liking my chances there. I'm finishing up my bracket later today. I refuse to pick Virginia or Gonzaga on principle. I'm high on Michigan and Michigan State. This kind of feels like the year Kentucky could win it, considering Tennessee has received most of the attention yet stumbled a few times down the stretch.
  • Thanks for the chat, do you or your colleagues have any updates on Joel Edmundson of Vladdy Tarasenko's injury status? Thanks for taking our questions
  • Tarasenko is in the lineup tonight, per Craig Berube. Edmundson and Gunnarsson not quite there yet.
  • Who's comes out to pitch the 9th the first save opportunity next week? and is that who you expect will get the majority of the save opps?
    I'll say Jordan Hicks.
    You could see Andrew Miller in that spot sometimes. Same for Alex Reyes, and Carlos Martinez eventually. I would not be surprised if Martinez claims it at some point. But Hicks is the plan, though it might not be as cemented as it has been in the past.
  • What's this I hear about Martinez being moved permanently to the bullpen? Does that open a spot for both Hudson and Gant?
    You're late to the conversation, Jim. And, hey, by the way. The discussion about what is best for Carlos Martinez moving forward has been ongoing for some time now, dating back to last season's health struggles as a starter and his dominance as a closer late last season, when he returned as a reliever instead of building up his arm for starts that were not going to be there that season. Now, with Martinez hurt again, the conversation has continued. Ideally, Carlos is a starter. But at some point it might be best to acknowledge this situation is not ideal, and shift the focus to how to maximize Martinez's sensational arm. Nothing about the conversation is permanent. Martinez could potentially shift from the major league bullpen to the major league rotation on the fly, though it would be a challenge. He has told the team he will do whatever is best for the team, this after initially saying he's a starter. Stay tuned. Carlos has been out of camp the past few days after the birth of his daughter. He should be back in camp and throwing from flat ground again tomorrow.
  • First Arrenado, now Trout. Not that the Cardinals would have made any real effort to sign either one but more and more elite bats coming off the board. With the exception of possibly signing Goldschmidt to an extension, managment's "dry prowder" is accumulating a lot of dust. Seems like a roster of average hitters is gonna continue.
  • Another reason to extend Goldschmidt, right?
    Yes, yes it is.
  • Cardinals have a guy on their roster that was born in 2000. God I feel old and I am a 90s baby.
    His name is Nolan Gorman, and he's built like Tim Tebow.
    Large individual.
    Do you have any concern about the Blues potentially missing out on the playoffs still?
    The most recent postseason projection I saw had them at an 85 percent chance to make it in. If Tarasenko was not coming back, I would worry. Not so worried now that he's back in there.
    With the Brett Cecil era nearing an end and Gomber’s horrific spring, who assumes the the second lefty spot in the bullpen?
    Andrew Miller and Chasen Shreve.
    Shreve has had an OK spring, and he's out of options.
    He might have gotten bumped if there had been someone better, but there does not appear to be at this time.
    Gomber was marked for starter depth at Class AAA, and he did not pitch so well as to make the team feel like it can't leave spring without him providing major league innings in some capacity.
     
     
    Haven't watched any ST games yet. Fowler's stats are woeful, but how does he appear in they eye test? Same question for Ozuna and Bader...
    I'll get shredded for this, I'm sure, but Fowler does look better. His exit velocity is up, averaging better than any of the balls he hit last season. I'm not going to praise his defense, because he's an average -- at best -- outfielder. But his gait looks better. He looks physically stronger, both in stature and how he swings the bat. He's thrown out two baserunners, is active on the basepaths (when he gets there) and is backing up throws and doing some of the little things he abandoned last year. "Refreshed" is the word Mike Shildt used in a recent conversation. He's also clearly happier, and having that positive effect on his teammates we saw in 2017. Now, if he doesn't produce when games count, then all of those questions about how long the Cardinals can stick with him come back, but he's helped himself this spring, despite Grapefruit League batting numbers that don't impress.
     
    Bader's offense remains the question. Everything else is good to go. He's added muscle but has not slowed as a result. He's going to have to hit pretty poorly -- and not get much offensive lift from the corner outfielders -- to be at risk of the Cardinals sacrificing his elite defense in CF.
     
    Ouzna, to me, is the biggest question mark right now. His swings have not looked all that different to me from last season, but I'm told they do to some. His throws have improved, for sure, which is good news. But if he doesn't hit for power, that's a problem. 
    Why do I feel the Cards are about to make the mistake of choosing Pena over Wieters for the backup catcher job?
  • I still think they are leaning toward Wieters, and don't think they would have signed him if he didn't have a head start. But he has not exactly pounced on the opportunity. Pena has been better at the plate in an extremely small sample size. He is back from his oblique square sooner than expected, and it is clear the competition is still technically open. Pena is the cheaper option. The pitchers love him. Not to suggest they don't with Wieters, but they are more familiar with Pena. Pena has also controlled the run game better than he did last season, in part because pitchers are doing a better job holding runners. Molina is back and proving his health, so there's less concern about the backup role in general. All of these things point to how Pena could go from underdog to winner. But my money is on Wieters until I hear differently. The clock is ticking on this decision. Both guys have outs in their contracts that demand an answer soon.
  • Jayson Stark wrote a recent article in The Athletic making his case for Jordan Hicks having the best fastball ever. Don't get me wrong, the 103s and 105s are extremely impressive and so fun to watch but that is a pretty strong statement, no?
    Stark wasn't the first to make that claim. Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux was. He made it to Stark. And no offense to Mr. Stark, who is a deserving Hall of Fame writer, but Maddux's opinion is noteworthy, as Stark noted. Consider the guys Maddux has coached. Consider the pitcher he grew up with. Hicks' fastball is not the best fastball ever because it can hit 105. It can hit 105, and it sinks. It's a cheat code. It belongs in the conversation, and if Maddux says it's the best, I'm OK saying he knows better than me.
    I guess LAA ownership have not learn their lesson on Pujols signings !!! Must be nice to have lots of money. I do think Trout deserves this type of contract, but the rest of the roster is something else. I am not sure Trout by himself can lead them to WS or even top finish in the division.
    Trout, himself, cannot. History tells us as much. He's been an All-Star every year since 2012. He is baseball's best player. Full stop. And yet, he has been to the postseason once, and that was a loss. Since 2012, the Angels rank 10th in regular-season winning percentage (.515), checking in behind the Athletics. So, no, Trout can't do it alone. But there is always the promise of tomorrow, and now he is a very, very rich man.
    What's your take on the Phillies fortnight inducing TV smash by Carlos Santana? Have you ever heard of anything like that going on in the Cards clubhouse?
    I LOVE this story. How many parents out there want to do the same thing? The Cardinals have not had an issue with clubhouse distractions since I've been around the team. Trends come and go. There is a tried and true Golden Tee in the clubhouse that gets a good amount of competition and trash-talk. There is a ping-pong table. There is a chess set, at least there was, during Matheny's tenure. Brett Cecil lugs around a video game console and favors hockey. There are a few guys who like playing that. I'd say the Cards clubhouse does a pretty good job of policing itself. If something got out of hand, it would probably be taken care of long before it resulted in a bat smash. There is a lot of downtime in the sport. Lately, a brain-buster 3-D puzzle is all the rage. And then there's the old reliable, the USA Today crossword puzzle. Some young guys are big fans of it. It should offer us hope in a Fortnight world.
    Do you think we'll ever get to see a Angels vs Phillies World Series to see Trout vs Bryce?
  • Harper is a Phille through 2031.
    Trout is an Angel through 2030.
    I vote yes, we will see it. 
  • I remember the spring of 2014, when Carlos Martinez outpitched Joe Kelly, yet Kelly still got the fifth rotation spot due some combination of Kelly's experience/Martinez's lack of experience/Martinez needing more time to develop strength, etc... Any chance we see that happen to Hudson and give Gant the fifth spot? Or was that a product of Matheny?
    Based on Hudson's last outing, it would be pretty hard for the Cardinals to not put him in the rotation to start the season. It would fly in the face of what manager Mike Shildt said he wants -- the best arms on the major league staff as soon as possible. It would also not mesh with the 2019 matters campaign.
    When will the cards admit they made a mistake with Cecil and gregerson and just eat the contract? Got lot of young arms down there that could improve the pen.
    At this point, neither Gregerson nor Cecil are blocking anyone from making the pen. They are headed for the injured list. Time is running out on both, but if they are eligible for the injured list, there's no point in cutting them just to cut them. If they wind up taking a spot from someone who is performing, then get fired up about that.
    Hicks pitching 103-105 mph every couple days. How long is that sustainable before his arm blows out and career over. 2-3 years?
    Aroldis Chapman is about to pitch in his 10th season. Some guys are built differently.
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