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 starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.




    Greetings, chatters. I ate a hearty breakfast. Coffee is in hand. I'm wearing my chest protector, helmet and cup. I expect high heat and maybe some curveballs. Bad loss last night. Perhaps the Cardinals should have gotten that starter? Injuries to Kelly Bryant and Albert O at Mizzou. Gulp.But hey, the Blues are looking good entering their shot at repeat. What's up with MLS. You tell me. Let's ride.
    BenFred,

    The front office sent the players a message on July 31st that their team wasn’t good enough to invest in at the trade deadline. They did not want to gamble with the success of future teams to help the team in 2019. The players have responded in kind. Why is this acceptable to ownership? Is it really off base to assume that as long as the fans keep showing up, the status quo will be maintained?
    You forgot a part. The front office told the team out of the All-Star break that they wanted to see proof the team could show it deserved to be treated as buyers. The players answered that challenge. The front office self-declared as buyers. And then came the reversal. So, it was even more flattening. You asked why this is acceptable to ownership, and only ownership can answer that. The answer will be the same as it has been -- that the Cardinals aim to be good every year, and will not jeopardize that sustained success model on one year. Whatever "2019 matters" vibe that was convenient when Paul Goldschmidt was traded for has been turned away from, similar to the line from Bill DeWitt about this team being built to win the division. Teams that win the division are reinforced along the way. This one has not been. I'm not going to tell fans whether they should or should not attend games. That's your choice. But the attendance and money being spent by the public on the team is something that the team tracks. All teams do.
    If the Cards didn't sign Goldy to the extension, if 2019 was all they had him for, would this trade deadline have looked different?
    I'm not good with alternate reality stuff like this. They did extend him. That happened. I guess if they did not, they could really remake the roster after this season. The bad extension was Matt Carpenter. Totally unnecessary.
    Does the Cardinals' management see attendance as a validation of what they are doing, or a motivation to contend and have their product reflect the support?
    Probably some of both. It's proof that people are interested, engaged, willing to spend money to support a team they love. It's also proof that some of the frustration around the team viewed online and in emails etc is not always the same as it is in real life. I do think the average fan is becoming frustrated with the Cardinals, not just the Twitter warriors. I spoke with two season ticket holders who tell  me they are going to fewer games than ever before. They are not having a hard time selling their tickets though, even if they might not make as much doing it as they once did. And they miss the perk of selling some postseason tickets here and there. So, frustration. But we're not talking about boycott-level stuff here. Look at the home crowds before thinking that's anywhere close to happening.
    Ben - Old saying, nobody in town is more popular than the backup quarterback. Is Randy Arozarena the backup QB for Cardinal fans?
    Impossible to know until he gets a shot.
    He's earned that, clearly.
    It wasn't that long ago that people in this chat were screaming for me to see the light on Tyler O'Neill.
    I said I'd wait, considering he's streaky and injury-prone.
    And now he's on the injured list for something like the fourth time in 13 months.
    Arozarena might make a difference. Assuming he is The Difference seems unfair to him.
  • Is the coffee in hand JMarts? If not shame on you!
  • It is not. But it is Crux, which hosted his coffee launch in Jupiter. They're good people, the Crux crew.
  • Ugly loss last night. Clearly starting pitching is not where a "contender" needs to be. Does Woodford get a call up anytime soon?
    Woodford has allowed 22 earned runs through his last five starts. One of those was a 10-run game. Not sure he's the answer. His hot start cooled. Sounds more like the Cardinals are at least kicking around the notion of an opener or piggyback type of situation. This should be frustrating to fans because the Cardinals, in the past, have stiff-armed the notion of these exact things. Their opinion has been that they have a rotation strong enough to avoid it. Clearly, they don't. So, the Cardinals are getting close to entering the home stretch of the season with a pitching staff they admit is flawed, and this comes after two great chances (Keuchel, trade deadline) to improve the situation.
    When Ozuna's bat it on - it is so fun to watch. Having a guy tag up from 2nd to third of a fly to left is hard to stomach. Do you sign him despite these issues? I feel that is part of our Cardinal problem ... we have guys that when hot sizzle in their area but are less than average in other aspects of the game. Like Carp, Martinez, Fowler, Bader, sometimes Wong.
    I'll stick with what I said earlier. Until I see some sort of sign the Cardinals have interest in bringing back Ozuna, I'll assume that's not happening. Should they? Maybe. But his unpredictability is hard to give long-term deal to. He's been hurt twice in two seasons. The shoulder issue last season left some scar tissue, not in his shoulder but between him and the team. I'm not convinced the Cardinals have the answers for that position internally if he leaves, but there are other ways to add players.
    How many years do you think the XFL in St. Louis will last?
  • I'd be impressed if it makes it past two. There is significant money invested, enough that most seem to think it will be more than a one-year thing. But if fans are not engaged by that point, it's going to be a hard sell. I think it already is a hard sell. Does not seem to be much buzz about it here, and STL is the only city that does not have a competing NFL team.
  • Are you able to tell through sources, interviews, etc, if the DeWitt's are happy with the Cardinals current performance? Like I get they are happy with the business and ticket sales, but I'm wondering if there's any shared recognition that the Cardinals just don't have the same talent as the top-tier teams (Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, etc...)
    Actions speak louder than words. Ownership could have dictated the direction at the trade deadline, demanding the Cardinals make moves to improve their chances at making a run this season. Didn't happen.
     
    Some of the teams ahead of the Cardinals tanked. Some of the teams ahead of the Cardinals spend more than the Cardinals. The Cardinals seem caught between wanting to catch up and wanting to point to their past success as proof they will be successful again in the future. That word, success, also seems to be a floating target. It was competing for World Series championships. Then it was making the postseason. Then it was consecutive winning seasons. If ownership is losing sleep over a lowering bar, there aren't many signs.
    Ben, the NFL season is almost starting. What are you most looking forward to?
    I'm rooting for as many setbacks as possible to the Rams' stadium development.
    Wacha was a train wreck last night, but in reality, it didn't matter whether Wacha, Robby Ray, or Zach Grienke started the game last night thanks to the team's anemic offense. After hitting well in April and July, the team has gone back into another offensive funk that's threatening to derail the season. The Cards have struggled at leadoff all season, yet have a guy in AAA in Arozarena that's batting .381 leading off. Carpenter went 2 for 30 against the same minor league pitching Arozarena is raking against, yet continues to leadoff. I understand that Carp is still the team's best option at 3rd, sadly, but you can hit him 7th or 8th in the lineup, promise. Help me understand the team's thinking here? If it's simply a matter of Arozarena not being on the 40 man roster someone needs to explain to the team what being committed to winning really means.
    Well, it did matter, because the Cardinals sent a compromised starter out to face a buzzsaw of a lineup on the road, and crossed their fingers and hoped it would turn out great.
    But on to your point ...
    Yes, Arozarena has done everything in his power to earn a shot to make a difference for the Cards. There's no need to repeat his stats here. We know them. He's beating the door down, yet it remains locked. Why? The Cardinals say they can't put him on the 40-man and bring him up unless there's regular playing time for him. That's another example of development and roster management taking the upper hand over trying to find ways to win now, for those keeping track.
    I'd like to see Arozarena, sure, but why not try at leadoff the guy who has profiled like a really good leadoff hitter since July? Kolten Wong, who leads the team in steals, has slashed .357/.427/.464 since July. He has 16 at-bats at leadoff all seaosn. None since late May.
    I don't know why the Cardinals wouldn't give him a shot to jump-start the league's worst lineup spot with these kind of numbers.
     
    What is your take on why the cards struggle so much against inexperienced pitchers? Is it the lack of preparation or scouting reports that are available? It sure is becoming a trend with this team.
    It's reached the point where you can see it coming. It's crazy. If it's a name you've hardly heard of, and especially if he's left-handed (this latest one wasn't), then it's going to turn out bad. Tony Gonsolin is the Dodgers' sixth-best prospect per MLB.com. He's not a scrub. But goodness, the Cardinals seem to melt when there is not a substantial amount of video of a guy pitching in the majors. I don't know why. Clearly, the Cardinals don't know why.
    So Wacha isn’t our 5th starter. Maybe the FO wasn’t sure about that but they should be now. Who do we have internally to make the next start not named Ponce or Wacha and when do they get the call?
  • Crickets.
    The Cardinals are going to have to try to get crafty.
    Opener? Piggyback? Gotta do something.
    Or return to Wacha. Or give Ponce another chance.
    There is no secret answer, guys.
    The Cardinals had a hole. They ignored it. They hoped it would cover itself up.
    It's exposed, and the Cardinals are 1-4 after hibernating at the trade deadline.
    Has Arozarena been good at every level so far or is this year an outlier for him??
    He has a career slash line of .288/.372/.460 since 2016, but this season (.353/.438/.551) has been his best, and it's come after he came back from a broken hand.
    So we do not make trades because as Mozeliak stated we don’t match up
    We can’t sign the so-called top-tier free agents because the water is too deep every year
    Besides those making the decisions on free agents don’t exactly having a glowing track record at the moment
    As long as DeWitt and the present front office as constructed are in charge of the decision-making and the philosophy stays the same I’m afraid things will not change
    What say you?
    I'd say you have correctly pointed to some off the walls the Cardinals have built around themselves.
    Unless Bill DeWitt Jr. tires of seeing the brand lose its luster, not sure what will change.
    I thought the Cardinals were showing an increased aggression with the Goldschmidt trade. I really did. They swapped prospects for production now. And then things just stopped. Miller was the only move after that. No interest in Keuchel. Nothing of substance at the trade deadline, due to more prospect love. The 2019 matters message was abandoned right in front of us, no matter what happens from this point forward.
    Can someone tell Mike Shildt that we’re not stupid. Wacha gave up 6 runs in 3.2 innings. Who cares if he “made some good pitches” or “his stuff was as good as we’ve seen in a while”. The dude has had an era over 5 all season the fact that they are counting on him is a direct fault of the front office. Also we don’t need to be told how well Carpenter was swinging the bat when he’s 2 for his last 30 with bunches of strikeouts or that after 3 games at AAA that Bader is figuring things out and seeing improvements. Come on man does he think that little of us fans?
  • Shildt probably would have been better off saying Wacha's pitching, in his eyes, looked better than the results.
    But semantics aside, the manager has been handcuffed by the front office in terms of the rotation. The Cardinals needed starting pitching help. They acquired none. So now the manager has to try to create a plan to cover up a hole. If he has to go back to Wacha, and he might have to, he doesn't want to bury the guy. Shildt has been placed in a tough spot by the front office.
    Shildt doesn't get a pass on Carpenter. The stuff about Carpenter being the team's best leadoff hitter by the numbers was misleading because the guys who might be better (specifically Wong and Fowler) have not been given meaningful chances in that spot.
     
    Are you hearing anything best case on Alex Reyes for this season?
    New approach to Alex Reyes: Believe it when he's on the mound in St. Louis.
    Have you noticed any frustration from the dugout on the front office not making moves?
    The company line is being carried by all, at least for now. Shildt and the players have praised the front office's belief in this team as is. Buy that if you like. It does not mesh with the front office saying it wanted to be pushed into buyers' territory, and then declaring itself as a buyer -- only to do nothing. I would have loved to see non-pitching Cardinals' reactions to realizing no substantial help was on the way.
    Is there a plan to actually win the division in the next 3 years?
    We were told there was a plan to win the division this year.
    Have you heard any whispers on the team level setting with Molina already, i.e. -coming to terms that he must yield some additional playing time to Wieters ?
  • I have not. I would think the team's handling of Matt Carpenter since he rejoined the team provides a blueprint for how Yadier Molina's return will be handled. There is a difference to note. Molina, unlike Carpenter, is hitting in the minors. If he hits and his power, he's the best option behind the plate. If his hand his healthy, play him. But don't abandon Wieters as a power producer off the bench. He can be useful.
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