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.




    Tough talk. Cool. Matheny didn't make Fowler hit .160. He did struggle and ultimately fail to have a beneficial relationship with a big-contract player on his team. He tried to salvage things late, but it did not work. Fowler is complicated. His performance made things even more complicated. Not an easy assignment for a manager to effectively manage Fowler in 2018. But, it was a job that could have been done better, no doubt.
    Will captured my feelings perfectly. Under Jocketty there was a sense of urgency around the club. No one questioned if they had a burning desire to win championships. Now, not so much. Now the buzzword that we keep hearing from is the goal is to make playoffs. What’s the point of paying big dollars to go to the park if they won’t go the extra mile to win championships. I think fans like Will and me respect that they don’t make stupid moves like Darvish, but we can all agree every move is a gamble and Harper is one of the most amazing to hit the market since AROD and that dude raked in every year of his ten year deal.
    Noted.
    Those in favor of Harper see the opportunity that could be missed.
    Those against see a bullet that might be dodged.
    Perhaps reality is somewhere in the middle.
    Problem is, we won't really know until what could be a 10-year contract ends.
    Everything else is just educated guessing.
    Ben, who, in your opinion, is the better option for our bullpen: Eric Britton or Will Smith? You know more than i do, but i would guess it's Britton. If the Cards are sincere in fortifying the team's bullpen, why would you go the Will Smith (or someone else) route? Is it because they are snake-bitten by the Holland deal? GH sucked for us because he had no Spring Training-different circumstances. If we wait too long, and Britton is signed by the Phillies or Yankees, what spin is put on why a Will Smith is in our bullpen instead of Britton?
  • It's Zach Britton, not Eric.
    Zach Britton and Andrew Miller.
    Those are the top-two LH free agents available, and both are very much on the Cardinals' radar.
    I think Britton is the way to go, but I won't pretend to be a reliever whisperer. It's a crapshoot with these guys.
    I do think the Cardinals have a decent chance to end up with one of the two.
    They are also exploring trade options as well.
    There are a million reasons why the Cardinals might not get the free-agent reliever they like: He might not be worth as much to them as another team thinks and offers, He might not want to play for the Cardinals, He might like the role another team offers better than the one the Cardinals are willing to commit to.
    This isn't spin.
    It's the things that get discussed when free agents exercise their right to shop.
  • Any chance the Cards pursue both Smith and Britton?
    As I've said earlier, every mention of bullpen work by the Cardinals has referred to moves, plural.
    Maybe it's a coincidence.
    I'm not so sure.
    At this point does it sound like they'll be trading Jose whether they get the appropriate value for him or not?
    That's the question for me.
    Seeing him shipped for parts or prospects would be a hard sell for a team that say "2019 matters"
    Seeing him shipped for high-end relief? Tough. But understandable.
    Cardinals leave the meeting without seeking a private audience with Harper. Do you believe that Mo is going to rest on the laurels of the trade for Goldy?
    It's amusing that so many people rip Mozeliak for the Cardinals' stance on Harper.
    There's a reason Scott Boras spent his winter meetings address praising the owners -- not the president of baseball operations or the GMs  -- of the willing-to-spend White Sox and Phillies.
    A contract of Harper's nature is the owner's call.
    The Cardinals' stance on Harper is clear. They are not high on a 10-year deal. If he's willing to go down, maybe they are willing to change their tune.
    Mozeliak has a big part in that discussion, but the one who ultimately decides to make the Harper call is chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.
    How is Manager Shildt viewed by the players and other coaches? How do you envision his 1st full year as a coach going?
    By Cardinals players: They love him.
    By other players: They don't really know much about him. Not a former major leaguer. Spent years on the minor league side, so unless they came across him in that fashion, he's more of an unknown. New utility man Drew Robinson, for example, knew Shildt from crossing paths in Class AAA. Younger guys are more likely to know Shildt from that world.
    By other coaches: They respect him. He's paid his dues. He has the endorsement of TLR and many other veterans. He's obsessed with baseball, open to and interested in where the game is headed. He can connect with the new wave and the veterans.
  • I've noticed that Ozuna was criticized alot last year, but, now we have fans clamoring for a 9 figure contract. Ozuna has to hit alot more HRs and show he can throw people out to get that amount of money. You agree? We sign another bad contract we will be the Orioles.
    Yep. Ozuna needs to perform for his big pay day. He knows it. Cardinals know it. Right now, Cards look smart for not extending him. That's if he would have been open to it at the time of the trade.
    Basically I look at the Goldy signing as the purchase of a $14.5 million Teflon shield from adverse PR. But as a one-year “loaner” at a position that was already locked-down by team WAR-leader Carp and not the lefthander we’ve been sorely needing. Goldy acquisition more of a hindrance to rebuilding this team than a help. Especially. wth the Great Exodus of 2020 breathing down our neck.
    I think that's a really odd, pessimistic way of looking at a trade for one of baseball's best players, who could be extended if things go right.
     
    These chats have been filled with questions about how the Cardinals might acquire mega talent. They did it. They could extend it. It's worked in the past. Jason Heyward did not forever ruin the model.
     
    It's OK to still want Harper. To dismiss the impact of Goldschmidt is making me question the most knowledgeable fans in baseball stuff.
     
    Does that include a dash of some optimism? Sure. But your take includes a ton of negativity and also some reaches. The Cardinals, if everything goes wrong, could be in for a major change of scenery in 2020. But using that theory, if everything goes wrong, then that flexibility is even better for 2020!
  • If Ozuna has a good season or a bad season, does it seem like it'll be his last for the Cards regardless? Just hasn't felt like they are too keen on re-signing him.
    Where things stand today, yes, I agree with that assessment.
    A lot can change in a season, though.
    Is this Shelby Miller re-acquisition talk real?? He had a 41 ERA plus last year. Didnt know that that low a number was even possible. I can't believe the Cardinals wouldn't want to leave "I Told You So" well-enough alone.
    It's in the realm of possibilities, yes.
    Low-risk, high-reward potential.
    That's how they view it.
     
    It seems the majority of these long term deals end up being great for the player but not so great for the club - especially in the post PED era. Harper seems injury prone to me - do sense that the 10 year deal is really out there for him or is this Boras trying to work his magic?
    With the Phillies broadcasting their willingness to spend, I wonder.
    The White Sox also seem desperate.
    We'll know soon enough.
    A lot of posturing going on, and not just by Boras.
    I know Michael Girsch is GM, but what role does he have exactly? Seems like Mo is still the one that notifies the media in regards to transactions, via trade or free agency. Seems like MO had a larger role as GM than Girsch does now...
  • Girsch has always been more of a behind-the-scenes guy, but don't mistake his time in front of a camera as a correlation to his real job.
    Depending on their relationships with certain teams and agents, Girsch and Mo split up who takes point on certain projects.
    And Girsch's role with the media is growing. We talked to him more here at Winter Meetings than we talked to Mo. Three days to one, for those keeping score.
    I know it's become a thing for fans to point out how little he talks at press conferences, but I would warn against assuming that has any correlation with his role in baseball business.
    Another thing: When Mo was GM, there was not a president of baseball operations above him. Worth noting.
    Girsch has become more comfortable talking with the media as he has gained more experience doing it. Fans should like hearing from him. Sometimes, he says more than Mo.
    Don't question the knowledge of the fans. Understand that it's based in frustration. Yes, we all love the Goldy trade, but that coupled with the lack of interest in impact free agents underscores something that seems to be becoming a trend. The organization seems to be unwilling to commit to anything beyond a year or two. The one time they did recently was Fowler, who they paid based on a 4.1 WAR in 2016 that was an outlier in a post 30 season. Now they want us to keep being force fed that decision. Are we not allowed to recognize this and be angered by it?
    Isn't Britton an impact free agent if he is added to one of the worst bullpens in baseball?
    I know the Harper appeal, but there is a vocal portion of fans who have turned not signing Harper into not trying to win.
    And yes, I know that's not every fan. And no, it's not fair to say the most vocal represent a base. I get all of that.
    The Cardinals are willing to commit beyond a year or two.
    I think they would sign Goldschmidt to a five-year extension today, right now, if he was willing.
    If Stanton said yes, boom, they would have had him on the payroll for a decade.
    They are reluctant, and always have been, to commit 10 years to any player.
    They were willing with Stanton. They are standoffish with Harper.
    They knew Stanton better, though. As well as they could without having him play for them. Harper is more of a mystery. That means more risk.
    Harper should not be used as a litmus test for caring about winning. That's skewed. And I like Harper.
     
     
    Point being, how is it smarter to pay a guy coming off a career year for his 31-36 yo seasons w/ full no trade than paying a guy 26-36 and actually get his prime?
    As I imagine you know, those scenarios could be viewed entirely differently depending on how they play out.
    It's not "smart" if the 26-year-old you committed a decade to doesn't live up to the expectations of a massive contract.
    It's "smart" if the 31-year-old you committed a half-decade to does.
    The Cardinals would much rather sign Goldschmidt to a 5-year extension than Harper to a 10-year deal.
    There's significantly less risk, more flexibility and ... it's cheaper.
    Do you know if the players sent to ARI for Goldy would have been different had he signed an extension with the Cards?
    I would think so, yes, but the Cardinals did not pursue rare trade-and-extend path that offers a short window to convince the player.
    They felt that would hurt their chance of an extension more than help.
    They want Goldschmidt to experience being a Cardinal.
    Girsch had a really good quote about this.
    I used the first part of it in a previous column but it's worth reading the whole thing:
     
    "I don't think you trade for a player like him without interest in having him around beyond this year. Our understanding of the trade was that it was for his one-year contract. We knew that going in. We know a lot about him.We think he is going to love it here. We think we are going to love having him here. We think that, when the time comes, we will discuss in more details what the next steps look like."
     
    "It was not fair to him (to force him to decide immediately). The deal was never going to be contingent on it, so why make him make an awkward, forced decision. Look, we have confidence in our culture, in our organization, in our city, in our fan base, that, when the time comes, we will be in good shape."
     
     
     
     
     
    Prediction. The FO will spend big to get a big time lefty reliever giving the fans what they’ve been crying for in a reliever. Said lefty will have a subpar season and those same fans will blame the FO citing their lack of ability to evaluate talent.
    And if the Cardinals don't sign that lefty, he will be elite elsewhere and the Cardinals will be cheap for not signing him. Rock.
  • If Fowler is so revered in Cubsland as you say perhaps we could approach them about having their "star" player back. Work out something with the contract and give him a chance where he is loved. Just have little faith that a slow moving OF can regain a glimmer of his former self....which was average at best. Adolis Garcia and/or Tyler O'Neill would be better options if JMart is dealt IMO.
    The Cubs, I heard this week, are of the mind that no 30-year-old center fielder should get a deal of five or more years.
    Looks like a smart stance now.
    Of course, they also signed Darvish. Ouch.
    It should not be a surprise Cubs fans love Fowler. He played well there and helped make history.
    Doesn't mean the FO would want him back. They didn't want him back, on the terms he wanted.
    Don't the knowledgeable fans that are complaining about the Cards not going after a huge contract realize they themselves are the same fans complaining about Fowler and his free agent contract? Aren't they knowledgeable enough to know that they way that Fowler's contract has not worked might be a reason why the F.O. are a little hesitant to jump into the unknown?
    I'll defend that crowd a bit.
    Harper shouldn't be compared to Fowler.
    Compare their production up to age 26 season, and remember the age difference.
     
    Man, Fowler is losing support in STL by the minute. First he is basically tabbed as the front runner for right field (which most people disagree with). then he decides to ditch the Winter Warm-Up to sign autographs for Cubs fans in Chicago. Thoughts?
    I would encourage people to stop with this narrative.
    Too many unknowns.
    The WWU schedule can be adjusted.
    We don't know what his commitments are.
    He could wind up being there.
    He hasn't had a chance to explain why he isn't on the initial WWU schedule.
    And it's not a Cubs-specific signing, either.
    I'm sure he would be happy to sign for any Cardinals fans that attend that event.
    People are seeing what they want to see here, and making a lot of assumptions off of a poster that is circulating the Internet.
    Don't.
    I asked before about Miles Mikolas' free agency. How can he be eligible when he will onbly have 5 years in the bigs?
    Negotiated by his contract.
    Why do you think the reliever market is ticking up? Familia and Kelly are off the market.
    It's starting to move.
    Let's go lefties, get moving.
  • In regards to your comment about comments disregarding Goldy. It’s not that most of us don’t really like it. It has to do with the fact that even with his addition the Cubs still have a better lineup. They beat us last year and their MVP caliber 3rd basemen had a hurt shoulder. I know our left fielder did too, but let’s say both are healthy which 1 is better? I often feel like this team is in denial the past few years because of something you were kind enough to answer me about earlier. It doesn’t matter what they do people will show up to the park.
    When it comes to the Cubs, I've started comparing the Cardinals to a boat. It used to be on top of the water, easy. It's not sinking. But the tide has risen. Or is it some of both? Depends on whom you ask. Regardless, the Cardinals have to decide if they were going to pull up their anchor and move, or stick with their plan and believe their plan will prevail, the tide will cease, they will mop up the mess and go back to basking in the sun, and be rewarded for their gumption. The Cubs could be ceasing, by the way. Manager on a hot seat. Front office tension with Joe Maddon. No pitching. Two bad, big contracts in Darvish and Heyward. Etc. Oh, wait. The Cubs are no longer the highest-water mark. That's the Brewers! Can they sustain? The Cardinals have been more stubborn than scrambling, but they have made changes. Managers. Coaches. Players. They would argue the Goldschmidt move is a departure from their stance, and to some degree that is true. A massive departure in terms of all-in spending, splurging and prospect trading for a win-now approach? No. They believe in their sustained success model more than they believe in the Cubs' and Brewers' ability to maintain. That seems clear.
    I consider myself a rational fan, but Fowler not coming to ANY winter warmup since his signing does bug me a little bit. That being said, he seems like a nice guy and I'm rooting for him to have a comeback season.
    That's fair. I can share this. His absence the first time was tied to the snowstorm that scrambled travel arrangements for multiple players. His absence the second time was related to a family gathering he had scheduled. There is the context we don't have about him not being on the initial schedule for this year's event. I agree with you, that it's good for players to be at these things. It matters to the fans. It matters to the team. I'm not making excuses for the guy. I'm just saying we need more info on his plans for this year, and comparing it to a separate autograph session he's doing in Chicago isn't entirely fair. I would not blame him for feeling more love from Chicago fans than St. Louis fans these days, but putting yourself in a spot where people can draw conclusions might not be the best decision. I'd like more details.
    Regardless of contractual obligations, shouldn't we expect the team to put the best product on the field? If we trade our 2nd or 3rd best bat (Martinez) for a reliever that we could find on the free agent market (probably better), and start the season with an outfield of Ozuna, Bader, and Fowler aren't they giving fans a subpar product?
    You can expect whatever you want.
    That's your right as a fan.
    I'm just trying to keep it real. Baseball is a business. The Cardinals hate, hate hate eating money.
    If they were willing to simply eat Fowler's contract, they would have done it by now.
    They also genuinely believe Fowler can be better than he was last season.
    They think he can be the guy he was in 2017.
    Some of that thinking might be influenced by the money they owe him.
     
     
     
    Fowler started off 2017 hitting .200. He did not hit above .250 until the first week of August. Ended up at .260+. I think he was hurt that year. In 2018 he ended up at .180 +/-. Under Shildt, with Fowler playing, the team was 7-8. Fowler goes down and the team takes off. I'm sure you don't know but in your opinion, how long is the leash the team gives Dexter before effectively benching him?
    The big unknown here is Shildt, right?
    He went along with the return to Dexter as interim.
    He made the best out of it.
    Now he has more security, and a bigger voice.
    He's up for the idea of it, as he said here in Vegas on Wednesday.
    And if it works, great.
    But you have hit on the big unknown.
    What if it doesn't?
    Shildt said he wants to see positive signs during spring training. Not numbers, but proof he's healthy and looking like the guy he was before 2018. 
    I thought it was telling Mozeliak described Fowler needing to climb the lineup.
    Sounds like Fowler is the starter entering spring, with need to prove he can hold it, and I wouldn't bet on seeing him high in the order unless spring goes well.
    Do you get the impression fans are losing patience, or is that just a social media thing?
  • Hard to say.
    I think sometimes I make the mistake of thinking the Internet is the real world.
    Trying to get better about that.
     
    Gotta run for now. Thanks to everyone who jumped in. Unfortunately I had to leave some questions on the table. If you email me or get a hold of me on Twitter (@Ben_Fred) I will try to answer throughout the day and evening. Thanks a ton for following our coverage from Vegas. Gotta get writing.
     
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