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. Thanks for jumping in today. I'm back from three weeks or so at spring training and hustling to catch up on everything I fell behind on when I missed, mostly Blues. Playoffs coming. Crazy to type that considering where their season once stood. I'm upbeat about the Cardinals, but I think the division is going to be better than most realize. I'm not one who thinks the Cubs are just going to fall off a cliff, and I'm done writing off the Brewers because of their rotation -- considering how that worked out last year. Sorry to hear the news of Jontay Porter, but I don't think it necessarily affects his chances of coming back to Mizzou next season. Also: CONGRATS to SLU hoops. A team made of tooth and nails. And a salute to Sophie Cunningham on one heck of a career. Let's roll.
    Future of big FA winter signings has come to an end it seems. I think that is a good news for baseball in general. It was never fair for teams in a small market to give into owners with deep pockets. I am sure big market teams will continue to try to sign big FA when they become available . It was nice to see how teams are starting to lock up young and old star players to long term contracts. I think this will lead to teams continuing to develop their young players and locking them up for long terms. Yours comments is appreciated . Thank you
    It's good news for the owners. And it's definitely good news for the Cardinals, considering one area they have struggled in (free agency) is becoming less appealing to talented players. And, if a player gets an extension he's happy with, it's good news for him, in that sense. I think, overall, the players are going to need to examine ways to make free agency valuable again, for players beyond the in-their-prime superstars. The extensions being handed out are team friendly if the players who are getting them continue to perform. I know that sounds crazy to think about with Trout, but he likely would have made more in a free-agent setting. Now, that might not be the most important thing to him. He was happy. Now he as security. Good for him. I'd do the exact same thing. But what players must also realize is that all salaries stack off of previous salaries. So, if Trout makes X per season over the course of the extension, that number will be a ceiling for other players. It's business. The owners tend to have the upper hand. The players get their only real leverage when free-agency occurs, and it's never been such a turn-off. Another interesting note is that the big-market teams are also turning a cold shoulder toward free agency. That's how the Padres get Machado, for example.
    Hi Ben - thanks so much for always taking the time to chat. It's much appreciated. I also really enjoyed your piece on Edmonds this morning. Who are some of the other former players that Shildt has reopened the lines of communication with?
    Thanks, Ben. And great name! ;) 
     
    I wanted to be careful with that column for a number of reasons. I know people are tried of reading about Matheny, what he did and didn't do, etc. But sometimes, in an attempt to explain why something is working better, some background is needed. Matheny had his strengths, and his record was nothing to dismiss, but among the thinks he had a blind spot toward was the wealth of information already in the Cardinals' system. Matheny went out of his way to make Willie McGee and Chris Carpenter feel wanted, for example. But how does a guy like Edmonds feel such a distance? Shildt, on the other hand, is a product of that system I mentioned. He knows how much help there is, if he's interested in asking for it and valuing it. Outside of the Cardinals' clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium, there is a plaque of the late George Kissell on the wall. Shildt touches it on his way in out out of the building every time. Call it corny, but it's a real example of him understanding he's the captain of a historic ship. He's comfortable in his leadership and not threatened by people who put the team above all. It's not always people who were not helping who were brought back in. It can be people who were helping, or trying, who now realize they are valued, that their opinion is wanted and matters. Shildt is kind of like a new home owner. He's gone around and checked the pipes, fixing the blocks and leaks where needed. It should come as no surprise, then, that things seem to be running better.
    I know the Blues have routinely disappointed us in the playoffs numerous times, but they way they are currently playing, could they possibly make a run, maybe to the Conference Finals (or beyond if we are greedy)?
    Blues fans, like their Mizzou counterparts, are always wise to keep their cups on.
    But with Tarasenko and Perron back, and with the extra bite the Blues tend to show against the best teams, I see your point
    Did you see Jusef Nurkic's injury last night? What is the most gruesome sports injury you have ever seen?
    I've been avoiding it.
    Those make my stomach hurt.
    The most memorable one I saw was one I was closest to.
    Does anyone here remember the name Michael Keck?
    He was a Mizzou linebacker who later tragically ended his own life, in part due to head injuries.
    I played against him in high school in a game where he dislocated his knee. It was cartoon-level twisted. Facing the wrong direction. Bad. I thought he broke his leg or something. I think he returned the next week.
     
  • Any news on when the MLS stadium renderings will be released? This may be just me but I don't see STL getting a team over SAC . They outdraw us at the USL level which if thats good or bad i don't know but this group still doesn't seem to know how to attract fans to the STLFC matches.
    Hope to have some more insight on that by the end of the week. I'm turning a good chunk of attention back toward soccer now that my spring-training shift has wrapped up. I would be careful ranking USL attendance at the top of your list of what secures an expansion team. It's a factor, sure, but not a deciding one compared to sponsorship, stadium design, ownership group strength, etc. I'm a little confused by some in the USL camp. Using the push for MLS as a way to promote USL is great. Spinning USL attendance as the make-or-break of getting an MLS team is a bit disingenuous. MLS commissioner Don Garber did not come to St. Louis to gauge USL interest. He came to meet potential sponsors for an MLS team and get closer with the Enterprise side of the ownership group.
    Last year fans were way more concerned about the lack of a closer than they are this year. Does that show the comfort level the fan base has with Shildt's bullpen management over Matheny's? Or do you already have article drafted about the Kimbrel signing that will be announced Thursday afternoon?
    The Cardinals don't lack a closer. It's Hicks. There might be more non-Hicks save opportunities early in the season, or depending on the matchup, but the Cardinals know who their guy is. Unless . . is that Carlos' Martinez's music?! (wrestling voice). I think people are less worried about the bullpen because they see the three-headed monster in it -- Hicks, MIller and Reyes -- and know it could soon be a four-headed force, if Martienz bends that direction
    An interesting question that was discussed on the Seeing Red podcast: what aspect of the 2019 Cardinals gives you the most concern heading into the season: hitting, defense, starting pitching, bullpen? What do you think?
    I'll have to check that one out. Bernie and Will do a great job on that pod. I would pick a relatively specific one: Outfield Offense.
     
    Dexter Fowler had a positive spring, but I can't imagine he is thrilled to be hitting six, and this will be his first real sign of adversity since the Fowler Campaign started in full effect. How will he respond? Can he climb in the order? I think it's smart that Shildt is hitting him down in the lineup, because the idea of Dexter climbing (positive!) is better than the idea of Dexter struggling at two, then having to move down (negative!). Regardless of where he hits, he's gotta get on base. His OBP is the secret to his season. If he can do it at a high level, as he has in pretty much every season before the last one, he will be a plus for the team.
     
    Harrison Bader's bat is going to be the question until he proves it can be counted upon. He crushes left-handed pitching. He mashes fastballs. But he had a hard time against righties and really struggles against sliders. If he goes in a slump, and the offense is not carrying him, then Tyler O'Neill is going to be hard to keep on the bench.
     
    Marcell Ozuna's power flashed late in spring. And popped up in the Memphis exhibition. He hit balls hard last year. Problem was they often went straight into the ground. If he has loft to his hits, the Cardianls could soar.
     
    It's a lot of offensive ifs out there, though, isn't it?
     
    That's my top concern.
    How do you feel about the Goldschmidt in the 2 hole lineup? I think he should bat 3rd to get more RBI opportunities, not sure if DeJong is consistent enough in that slot.
  • It makes more sense to me the more I hear about it.
    Goldschmidt hits anywhere, so this isn't a case of him thriving in one spot.
    And this lineup puts DeJong in between two very threatening hitters in PG and Ozuna.
    It's worth noting too that DeJong hit .292/.348/.507 at the three spot in 2017.
  • Thanks for answering our questions! Who gets sent down when Gyorko returns?
    Gotta think it'll either be Yairo Munoz or Drew Robinson, right?
    That was the competition before Gyorko went to the injured list.
    I'm Team Munoz, as noted in these chats, but I'll say that Robinson had a really strong finish to spring. Showed some pop and played plus defense in different positions.
    Munoz is much better at getting on base, and he's got a rocket arm. 
    Maybe the two will toggle back and forth depending on how they are playing at that time?
    All of that hinges on Gyorko being a) healthy and b) productive. It's out insane to think this season ends without him on the team --- if the younger guys play better.
    But don't let Gyorko's absence now lead to overlooking his value. He's a steady defender at third. He has legit power, though it's faded in recent seasons. He can have a hard time staying healthy, which allowed to a spring that made it clear there are others climbing toward his role.
    Another name? Tommy Edman. Perhaps had the best spring of camp. He looks like he's about 12 years old, but he's a player. A pro player in some organizations already.
    This is not a question Ben but it's soar not sore.
    Believe it or not, I knew that.
    Typing fast. Sorry.
    What do you think about Hudson being 3rd in the rotation? Does it have more to do with setting other pitchers up for certain matchups or did he earn the right to start ahead of wacha and wainwright?
    Spelling police out in full force!
    Hudson being third in the rotation has to do with Hudson likely being the third-best pitcher in the rotation right now. What he lacks in experience he makes up for in stuff. It surprised me somewhat that the Cardinals made that so obvious in how they rolled out the rotation, considering past practices used to prioritize past success and role, etc. I think they also like the idea of an elite groundball-getter trying to keep the Brewers out of the air at a park that plays well for power. Shildt kind of gave a "stay tuned" when asked how the initial rotation allows for future manipulation, but whatever tricks he has up his sleeve, Hudson's place in the rotation and importance to it is not one of them.
    The key to the season is hitters 6-8. If Fowler, Wong and Bader (with P moving them along) provide speedy traffic on the bases a lot will fall into place with the mashers hitting 1-5. If 6-8 struggle that will be several empty innings going into each game.
  • After Ozuna's impact (is the power there) I tend to agree with you on this assessment.
    The Cardinals' bottom half of the lineup could be a snooze.
    It could also be its own table-setter with speed and great baserunning leading back to Matt Carpenter, a non-traditional leadoff hitter who was always encouraged to move down so his power could supply more runs. No need to move him down if Dex, Bader, Wong are doing their jobs. 
  • I'm trying to make some sense out of batting by far out best RBI guy No. 2 in the order. OK, most guys on base possible in the first inning: One. After that, the lineup turns over and the guys hitting in front of him are the pitcher and the No. 8 guy. I don't see it man. Comment please
    I liked the idea of batting Goldschmidt fourth, but for reasons I don't quite understand, the Cardinals act as if Marcell Ozuna is cemented there in stone.
    Maybe that changes if he doesn't hit for power there? It didn't last season except for one time -- when he shifted to the 5 hole and went 6-for-12 with a home run!
    That experiment seemed to work. Ozuna seems to respond when challenged. See the run he made after the alarm incident for another example.
    Some players are just like this. They respond to challenges. Cementing a guy like that at cleanup doesn't make that much sense to me, but I do wonder if Shildt will start to tweak things of Ozuna starts slow at that spot. That could mean moving Goldschmidt there. He doesn't care where he hits, and means that truly.
    Shildt isn't messing with Carpenter at leadoff, thank God.
    So, with the plan for Ozuna and Carpenter, Goldschmidt has either two or three. He's going to take the same approach either way. DeJong likely becomes a more dangerous hitter hitting between PG and Ozuna. And the back of the lineup -- Fowler, Bader, Wong -- is built to get guys on base with speed for the power at the top in Carp and Goldy.
    I understand it.
    I would not wait around long for Ozuna's power to show up before I move him from cleanup, though.
     
    Have you heard anything about Michael Porter Jr. playing an actual game of basketball? Do you think the Nuggets are a little frustrated their first round pick hasn't played all season?
  • The Nuggets knew what they were getting in to with MPJ.
    They were a good team that took a lottery ticket on a player good teams rarely get a shot at drafting.
    However . . . I would not have made that pick. I said it at the time, and I will have to own it if he turns into the next big thing, but it was too risky in my opinion. With what we learned about Michael at Mizzou, I have questions about his ability to hold up physically and mentally in the league. When he feels great, he's great. Rarely do guys feel great in the NBA. It's a demanding league due to the amount of games played, the travel, etc. Maybe MPJ is the next Joel Embiid. I just don't see it.
  • For the people who can't understand Goldschmidt hitting second they should check out all the other teams. Tommy Pham hits second for rays, Mookie Betts hits second for Red Sox, Mike Trout hits second for the Angels. This started years ago, Teams hit their best hitter second. One, to get them more at bats and Second you can get RBI's from anywhere. Matt Carpenter has averaged over 70 RBI's the last 4 years out of mostly the lead off spot.
    Bingo.
    And it makes even more sense when you have a truly cemented leadoff hitter in Carpenter and a so-called cemented cleanup hitter.
     
    This the end of the cecil and grergerson era?
    Kinda seems like it.
    I mean, not officially. At least not yet. Both guys have time on the injured list to get right.
    IF that happens, and IF the bullpen needs help, then you will see them get another shot.
    But I can't imagine Shildt will be eager to remove a performing reliever for a test case on fading veterans who have had multiple chances.
    We'll see.
    Loved your Edmonds article. It has been a revelation to listen to him talk about baseball on TV. I knew he could play, but had no idea of the depth of his understanding of the game. Do you think some of the veterans committees of the Hall of Fame will eventually put him in the HoF?
    Thank you! I'll throw in a link for those who have not had a chance to see it. What I realized while reporting it is that the stuff we hear on TV is, like, the surface level of the surface level. He holds a lot back. He's very, very careful about not taking something from the clubhouse to the broadcast booth. That helps his relationship with players, of course. It would be an amazing broadcast if he just let it fly, but he's about the players first. Danny Mac does an outstanding job of pulling great stories and insight out of him. After our interview, I told a colleague I felt like I had just talked with a brain surgeon about his job. That's how baseball is to Edmonds. It's his science, and it's very good for the Cardinals that he's sharing it again. As for the vets committee, I'm not sure. I do think he deserved to stick around a little longer than he did on the ballot.
    I am a bit concerned that Miller will break down and end up as comparable to Cecil in his return on investment. I think it wise they not overuse him, but it seems as if Shildt may have to rely upon him a lot, being the only lefty in the pen. I think his 3 inning stints are over. How do you see him being used and do you share these concerns?
  • Fair concern about Miller. He had some spring outings that did not look all that dominant. And he's 33 years old. Good news, perhaps the best news, is the knee did not hold him back. I think worst-case scenario for Miller is that he's used as the left-handed reliever. Best case? He's Andrew-freaking-Miller. His ceiling is All-Star. His basement? It's Cecil at his best. His injury-impacted 2018 was the worst of his career, and he still would have been the Cardinals best left-handed reliever by a country mile.
  • Tommy Edman was impressive in spring training. Why was he not considered for a bench role and could he break the lineup later in the year?
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