Ben Frederickson Live from the Winter Meetings

Ben Frederickson Live from the Winter Meetings

Bring your Cardinals and Hot Stove League questions, plus any questions about STL sports, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson in a live chat from Las Vegas starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.




    Greetings from Sin City. It's the final day of Winter Meetings. The Rule 5 draft is about to start in the room next door. After that, most will rush to airports. We will have a chance to chat with GM Michael Girsch one more time after the Rule 5. The Cardinals will not participate in the Rule 5. No room. They could lose players in it. We will have updates on that if it happens. Plenty to discuss. Let's roll.
    What have you heard about Jose Martinez to San Fran for Will Smith?
    Girsch said yesterday that the Cardinals have talked to multiple teams about Jose Martinez. Some of the deals revolve around relievers. At least one has discussed prospects. San Francisco is a team that would make sense. The Cardinals, per Girsch, have deals on the drawing board that range from one phone call away to rough outlines of potential deals. There was not a sense as dinner approached last night that something was going to happen before Winter Meetings ended. That could change at any point. The Cardinals seem rather determined to move Martinez. I'm not sure that's such a great idea. In my opinion, he's the best option as RF starter. And while I understand the reasons ($50 million being a big one) for giving Fowler another shot, I like Martinez as next man up if it doesn't work. He can't do that if he's playing elsewhere. Not sure he's less valuable than a reliever, especially if that reliever has little control left. Martinez is cheap and under contract through 2023.
    What are the Cardinals plans for closer this season?
  • Keeping options very open at this point, for smart reasons.
    Not having a set closer makes it easier to recruit free-agent relievers who want a bite of that apple.
    Cardinals stop short of saying, if the season started today, that it would be closer by committee. That's because they have Hicks. But they could sign a more proven option, and they don't hate the idea of Hicks, 22, hearing he needs to earn it.
  • Are we showing any interest in harper?
  • Not really, no.
    They have met with Boras, but he has multiple clients, including Britton, who is of interest to the Cardinals.
    The Cardinals did not meet with Harper here.
    Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. was not the reported mystery owner who flew out here to meet with Harper.
    The Cardinals' interest level would likely change if Harper and Boras were willing to do a shorter deal, but if a team is willing to go above and beyond and give them what they want out of the gates, it won't happen.
  • Ben - Haven't heard as much about C-Mart being traded. Do you think he's on the opening day roster?
  • Sure seems like it at this point.
    There is continued discussion and debate about if he would be better in the rotation or bullpen.
    Spring training should sort that out.
    If Carlos is on point, he's a starter.
    If he can't stay healthy or continues to be up-and-down with reliability issues, he's better off in the bullpen for multiple reasons. Stuff plays there. And he has to show up at the ballpark every day prepared to pitch, as oppose to a starter's schedule.
  • Any info on how dinner at Fowler’s went last night?
    Not sure why it could have gone anything but great, considering the Cardinals have spent all week endorsing Fowler and taking arrows for it.
    He should be pretty pleased.
    This dinner was not some big moment, Girsch said yesterday.
    Fowler's a social guy. He's here, home from Bud Norris' wedding in Hawaii and offered to host. What was said here about him this week was not related to the dinner. Same things would have been said if meetings were in Florida.
    Hi Ben Fred! Who is Chris Ellis? Are are we still searching for a left handed bench player or is Robinson the answer, thanks!
    Chris Ellis was a Class AAA pitcher the Rangers just snagged from the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft. Goold says he could be a major league reliever and compared him to, best-case scenario, Matt Bowman.
     
    Good question on Drew Robinson. It's hard to tell at this moment. I asked Girsch after the trade if the acquisition of Robinson meant the Cardinals were checking the "left-handed-hitting utility man" item from their shopping list. He said not necessarily and made it sound like Robinson was an option, not necessarily The Answer. But listening to Shildt talk yesterday, it sounded more certain he's being viewed as part of the team headed into spring training. Shildt has familiarity with Robinson from his minor-league managing days. Robinson, a Vegas native, is supposed to be here today, I believe, and we are going to attempt to talk with him about his fit.
  • I hope that the Cards do not take the same patch work approach to the bullpen as they have in the past. What are you thoughts as to their thinking ?
    They know it has to be better.
    Terrible in strikeouts and walks last season.
    The left-handed side of it is straight scary at this point.
    Austin Gomber and Genesis Cabrera could be in play for roles there, but some more proven and established option(s) would sure be nice, and the Cardinals are working toward that.
    They're hunting relievers in free agency and trade.
    They know the weakness.
    They also seem determined to let another team set the market. That makes some sense when you remember how the fast-moving relief market panned out last year. Many of the guys who got good deals flopped. Especially guys who signed late.
    That's one thing I feel comfortable predicting. Don't expect the Cardinals to let their hunt for relievers linger into spring training. The Greg Holland Experience reminded them of the importance of a full spring. As did the flop of some others in similar scenarios. Teams say agents will realize this and agree sooner. Agents say teams will realize this and make more appealing deals sooner. Who breaks first is TBD but no one on either side wants to see a repeat of last year.
    BenFred, Why do you think the Cardinals want to bet on a rebound with Fowler? Do you think they are just hoping it works or they are still comfortable with a platoon with O'Neill if it does not. Thx
    Because they signed him to a five-year deal worth more than $80 million.
    That's why.
    They aren't betting on a rebound as much as continuing to hope the bet they made winds up not looking as bad is it does right now.
    Sure, there are other factors. They like Fowler. They want to see it work. But if Fowler was owed $5 million, we would not be having this discussion.
    O'Neill is still in the picture sure. Same for Jose Martinez, as long as he's on the team. Adolis Garcia exists and other outfielders are on the rise.
    I'll stress this: It makes no sense, zero, for the Cardinals to say anything other than what they said here this week. Fowler is untrade-able at the moment. No one wants that contract. The Cardinals, as mentioned previously, have their stance on Harper. It's not going to change unless his ask does, and it might not. O'Neill is going to show up working to win a job. Same for the other prospects. What the team said about Fowler makes no difference to them. But for Fowler, an endorsement matters. He pays attention to what the team says, and what the vibe is. Some guys don't. He does. The Cardinals are hoping a positive stance and renewed opportunity works. And they really do hope it does. They owe him a lot of money through 2021. 
    The better question is the one the Cardinals are not willing to talk about right now: What if it doesn't work?  And how long can they let it play out before moving in another direction, whether that's starting Martinez, turning to O'Neill or some sort of a blend between the two?
    Shildt said he wants to see positive signs from Folwer in spring. Not numbers necessarily, but good signs at the plate and in the field, signs Fowler is back to being the 2017 version of himself everyone was excited about.
    The Cardinals' stance is understandable. So is the reluctance of those who watched Fowler last season to buy it -- until they see differently.
     
    Nice article on J-Mart.

    I think it touches on what has been a recent problem for the Cardinals. Finding at bats for the right guy at the right time. Girsch says it would be tough finding at bats for Martinez next year. My question is why? Fowler was a minus rightfielder last year and has been a minus fielder most of his career.

    Martinez has the second highest OPS over the last two years behind Carpenter? Is it going to be hard to find at bats for Carpenter? Are the cubs going to struggle to pencil in Rizzo? Can the Brewers find at bats for Ryan Braun? I don't want to be one of those guys who shouts Luke Voit, or Matt Adams should have got playing time here, when they flourished immediately after leaving. But to a point yeah Luke Voit should have gotten a look, he did nothing but mash in AAA Carpenter could have played 3rd more as Gyorko has proven to be a .260 hitter with sometimes power and sometimes healthy. The Luke Voit we saw with the Yankees would have been better than that.

    I know money will always win out so Martinez doesn't stand much of a chance against 3 years and 50 million but his best he is better than Dexter Fowler's best. So somewhere that needs to be taken into account. How many teams would trade their 2nd best hitter for a marginal LHP reliever? Or a reliever in general?
    You make some good points.
    I'll just point out part of why Voit is so good in New York is the stadium. It's a much better fit for his swing. The Cardinals could not offer that
    The way this team changes it's tune on Carpenter's defense is both fascinating and somewhat concerning. It was crazy to think of him playing first. Then it was the only position he could play. And now, how dare we have concerns about his third-base defense? Which one is it? Seems to change by the season, right?
    Jose Martinez has proven to be a steady, strong hitter who has no true defensive home on the field. In some ways, he's Carpenter-like, though Carpenter is a better defensive player than Martinez. Jose is a real risk out there. I hate to say it, because he works his tail off, but he's a DH.
    That, I think more than anything, is where the Cardinals are with this.
    They love his offense. They know his defense isn't going to be anything different than what it is. It's a wonky fit and they already have a somewhat wonky fit in Carpenter. So, see what he brings on the trade market to see if you can get a better fit for your team as constructed. The problem will be getting the right return because of his offensive plus, his affordability and control and his profile as a guy who really only fits with an American League team.
    My worry is not trading Martinez as much as settling for something that is not a fair trade.
    The Cardinals should avoid that.
    He's too god to give away, and this can't be a Matt Adams, it's-better-for-him-this-way kind of deal.
    As for Voit, I hope he continues to rake. Love that kid and his family. 
     
     
     
    So cut ties with Leake, but bet on Fowler. got it.
    If there was a Leake-like  way to move on from Fowler, I imagine the Cardinals would have pursued it.
    The fan base does not seem to have a good idea of how untouchable this contract is at the moment.
    And somehow, no matter how many times it is mentioned here, people forget Fowler has a no-trade clause.
     
     
  • There was a good article in the Athletic about the failed attempt by the Padres to finalize a Jake Peavy to the Cubs trade. Notwithstanding Stanton, what’s the most interesting Cards trade that almost happened, but didn’t...?
    I would love to see the fine print of what the Cardinals had cooked up for potential Manny Machado deals in the past, considering Machado's recent profile as a villain. How would that have changed? Who would not be on the team as a result? At least one influential member of the organization is of the belief that Machado, not Harper, would be the better bet on a 10-year deal. But the Cardinals were rather turned off by what they saw this postseason. All of that might never have happened if they would have traded for him. Fun to play some what-ifs.
    What impact will the Harold Baines election have on the future of the HOF? Will it lead to the dreaded "Big Hall" or "Hall of Very Good". Or will it inspire enough backlash that the HOF and future ERA committees will try to avoid controversy by tightening their standards?
    My hope is it will result in those who cover the game realizing how ugly it is to participate in a system that lifts a man up, then turns on him and attacks him the moment he gets his big day. Debate is as much a part of baseball as the bases. We disagree. We argue. We have to do something in between pitches. But the nastiness with which the discussion about Baines has been conducted is an embarrassment for many who have participated in it. The writers and veterans committee is not perfect, but it seems to be the best we have, at this point in time. I understand there will be debate about guys who should be in and guys who should not. I get it. But to turn the day of someone getting the news into a takedown really bothered me, and I hope it bothered other people too. We should do better. We should be better.
     
    I don't think I answered your question. Sorry. But I feel better now.
     
    As for the impact, I think we tend to jump to these conclusions too quickly. Writers are reluctant to change their stance. They are either big hall or small hall. Tim Brown of Yahoo said it best when we were talking about it the other night. He's a small hall guy. He said everyone is now saying everyone will get in, when he already thought everyone was getting in.
     
    That's why we have the sausage-making. It's the messy process of coming up with the best we can do with the best process we have at that time. There will be changes as we go along, as there should be.
    I am stunned that Mozeliak didn't at least have a conversation Harper. Seems to be the mo with Mozeliak, guy fills one hole, and then just says thats enough and then this team is up and down all year. Happened laster with Ozuna, then they picked up bums like Holland and Gregerson. What happens if Goldschmidt falters? so far the rest of our line up hasnt shown much, And dont give me this Carpenter is our guy crap, the guy hits leadoff and bats 230.
    I've gotta go hear from Girsch. I'll be back. Hold tight.
     
     
    Back. Thanks for your patience. There should not be any other breaks.
    As for the Cardinals not talking to Harper directly, there's nothing for them to talk to him about at this moment.
    They are not willing to give him what he wants at this point.
    Unless something changes, he will sign elsewhere without talking to the Cardinals.
    If something changes, talks could happen.
    Simple as that.
    The Cardinals are not positioning themselves as heavy pursuers of Harper, because they are not.
    They are interested in Harper on their terms, which means they are unlikely to get Harper.
    The Yankees seem to be taking the same approach, though they have a general manager who flat out says it, with Star War references.
    So did Girsch have anything interesting / breaking to say?
  • Nothing crazy.
    They picked up a pitcher and a shortstop in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5.
    Goold is writing that news up now.
    Dinner night at the Fowler house was a success.
    I asked him how Brett Cecil factors into the bullpen plans, and will include that in a column for tomorrow's paper.
    The Cardinals are headed for the airport now.
    If the Cards can get Britton or Miller (I prefer Britton at this point) and another lessor LH reliever I think the bullpen would be in pretty good shape. Still concerned about Fowler, but they do have options if he fails.
    I'm Britton over Miller as well, which almost certainly means Miller is the better bet.
    I won't pretend to be an expert at predicting that volatile position.
    I'm the guy who thought the late addition of Holland was a good pick-up.
    Oof.
    So, I'll own that and try to be smarter moving forward.
    These additions are gambles, especially when they are multi-year deals. But the Cardinals have a big need, and it pays to play in that market, as Mozeliak said.
    I think they are going to have to bite the bullet on one.
    I think Genesis Cabrera could wind up with a role. He was good after the switch to reliever and has had a strong summer league.
    For what it's worth, every mention of the bullpen plan by the Cardinals has referenced multiple moves. Plural. Always. I do think it's more than one add there.
    Seems like Joe Kelly signed for a fair market deal with LA surely we could have gotten him for a little less with an offer to close and the familiarity he has with STL. Do you know if the Cardinals made an offer to him?
    Jeurys Familia got 3 years, $30 million from Mets.
    Kelly got 3 years, $25-ish million from Dodgers.
    I don't know if the Cardinals are willing to go there for a right-hander.
    For a lefty? Yeah, they might have to.
    Kelly was on the Cardinals' radar and there was at least some sense he might be interested in a Cardinals return, but never got sense there was much real traction.
    Lefties are the focus on big-spending for the bullpen.
    Also, Kelly is going home by signing with Dodgers. That counts for something.
     
    I know we’ve covered what owners and teams think of Machado’s comments, but have you heard anything from players? Did they seem to think it was blown out of proportion or were annoyed at the lackadaisical attitude?
    What really made ripples across the game, reaching owners and players alike, were the comments of Christian Yelich.
    He lowered a blow torch to Machado and his antics, criticizing him as a player and a man.
    Yelich is universally respected as a pro. He's a big voice for the players. He's the National League MVP.
    For him to come at Machado so publicly and so hard, people looked up and said, whoa.
    The Cardinals included.
    Do you think the birds will do something before Christmas.
    Goldschmidt? Anyone? Bueller?
  • So when April comes around will we fall under the Contender category or the Pretender category?
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