Benjamin Hochman Live

Bring your Cardinals, Blues, Mizzou and STL sports questions, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Benjamin Hochman in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

  • Folks: Slight delay here at the start; Benjamin will be here shortly. Thanks for your patience.
  • OK, I am here, please send in any (any!) Qs about Blues, Cards, Mizzou, NBA, favorite sitcoms moms...
  • Based on all the expert picks the Blues aren't getting a lot of love heading into the 2nd round. I am not naive and I agree certain areas of our game likely need to improve in order to make it past Nashville. How do you see this series going? I think people also forget we only had Stastny for one game in that series. Having him the whole series would have had a trickle down effect starting with winning more face-offs which drives possession numbers and so on.
  • Well, here's what is tricky about this series between the Blues and the Nashville Preds -- both teams dominated in the first round, but they did so different ways. Yeah, they both ended the series pretty easily, but the reality is -- the Preds had better puck possession and more scoring from their big names. That line with Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsso looked like an all-star line at times. But you make a great point about Paulie. The Blues struggled at the dot, no question. And he can help there. But he's also a play-maker and scoring threat -- he had one of the first good looks of Game 5 and then, of course, a key goal in Game 5. And the trickle down is huge -- and sure enough, it was the Sobotka-Lehtera-Paajarvi line that got the GWG. How do I see this series going? I say Preds in 7.
  • For the second straight year, the Cards approach is to chase for that elusive wild card game. How long before the organization fields the best team possible to chase down the Cubs and a division title and a possible championship? At the moment, the Cubs are arguably stronger at every position including catcher and right field. How have the Cards closed the gap? Seems like there is a lot of work to do.
  • Maybe, but the Cubs aren't necessarily running away with things right now. The Cubs are only 11-8, though they looked like world-beaters once again last night, when they won 14-3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Look, I've been saying it all winter -- the Cubs have the best defense and offense around, but there are question marks with their starting staff. That's not only with age, but also with simply sustaining the run prevention amazing-ness that we saw last year (which was similar to the Cards in 2015). Hendricks' ERA right now is 6.19 -- he goes tonight against the Buccos. An Arrieta is back to earth. Have the Cards closed the gap? Maybe not. But I think they'll still be in the mix in Sept.
  • better goalie in the series??
  • I think this is the question of the series -- both Pekka Rinne and Jake The Snake Allen have been extroadinary in the postseason. Check out this stat from my cohorts over at the Tennessean newspaper: "Rinne is one of four NHL goaltenders in the league's expansion era (since 1967-68) to win all four games of a playoff series with a goals-against average of 0.70 or less. He allowed three goals to the Blackhawks on 126 shots, which translates to a .976 save percentage." The difference is, he faced less of a barrage that Jake Allen faced in the Minnesota series. Jake essentially won Game 1 for St. Louis, and take away his bonehead pass in Game 4, which led to a goal, and he's got a sterling GAA. I think I'm going to go with Jake as the better goalie -- he's been playing at such a high level since the coaching change. It really is an extraordinary turnaround.
  • Can we change the name of Mizzou Arena this upcoming season to the "PorterHouse"?
  • Hahaha I keep hearing Judge Smails in Caddyshack screaming: "Porterhowwwwwwse!" Incidentally, who is the best Caddyshack character? I've argued that if you ask 100 people, you'll get 25-25-25-25 with Smails, Spackler, Webb and Czervik. But yes, as for the Mizzou Tigers, it's certainly exciting. A lot of people (myself included) are getting so caught in the weeds about Knox or Tilmon or whomever, we keep forgetting that this team got the No. 1 player after winning eight games! Yes, The No. 1 player comes with an asterisk -- but consider this, he fell for Mizzou hoops, even after living in Columbia for much of the Kim era! (Obviously MPJ wasn't going to play for Kim, but he still felt the bigness of a SEC basketball team in his hometown). He likes the storyline of coming home. But yeah, the most important person to come home was Michael Porter SENIOR. He's the Reggie Jackson -- the "straw that stirs the drink," to make a 1970s sports reference. But yes, at minimum, Mizzou Arena will feature two Porters on the women's team, a Porter aunt in the coaching box, and then on the men's side, the best player in the country (Michael Porter Jr.) and his dad -- and possibly Jontay, who had his visit yesterday!
  • Hi Ben- thanks for the chat
    Re: Jack's ?- I agree on Cub's pitching and believe this is the lone area the Cards hold advantage, esp. if Waino and Carlos get in gear. But Jack is correct on the Bird's starting 8- hard to see any of the Card's position players starting for the Cubbies, might have a hard time for any to crack the Nationals. This is an issue. Card fans can only hope the youngsters in the farm are future stars...
  • Well, the Cards offense is not going to remain as bad as it currently is -- it's TOO bad right now. Guys like Piscotty and Dexter are going to ascend. But the big question is the slugging in the middle of the lineup. I've been bullish on Grichuk and he's been swinging and missing a bunch -- if you listen to the latest edition of the Best Podcast In Baseball, Derrick Goold of our paper provides an interesting description of how Randal feasts on mistake pitches, but rarely makes something out of tough pitches. As for other slugging producers, Jhonny looks lost and Pisco's numbers are down like I mentioned. It's a fair question that Jack asked about the matching lineups -- but again, this sport isn't just about offense. Run prevention can be vital, but right now, we're not seeing that with the defense.
  • I'm currently about a third of the way in to the latest BPIB so maybe you guys will touch on this on my drive home today, but what feel do you have for the possibility of Cards signing Luis Robert? At this point, are their chances as simple as 1 in (however many teams are in the bidding) or do you feel they have an edge in some way?
  • Right away, I love last names that end in the "eir" sound. Luis Robert. Bobby (and Guy) Hebert. It's just fun to say (not as fun to type). Do the Cards have a chance of signing Cuban prodigy Luis Robert? Sure, definitely. Because of the timing of this, they'll have money to spend and they'll be able to make a strong pitch. The fact that the Cards have been active in the Cuban market can't hurt. The fact that Aledmys Diaz made the All-Star team in his first year with the Cardinals, and that Adolis Garcia signed with STL are both positive things. It sounds like, if there was ever an international player to splurge on, it would be Robert. And considering the Cards lost some draft picks and such due to the hacking scandal,here's a way to try to compensate.
  • I don't see why everybody is fretting over us not having enough to win the division, all that matters is making the playoffs. The Giants have won 3 WS in five years, and guess how many division titles during that span.....the answer is 2. The Dodgers won the division 4 times, and guess how many WS titles??
  • A fair point. And obviously the 2011 Cardinals were Wild Cards -- and the Cards had a good run after winning "The Other Pete Kozma" Game, baseball's first-ever Wild Card play-in game, against Chipper and the Bravos. So yes, once you're in the tournament, you have a shot, but you can't necessarily proclaim "we're playing for the wild card," because that's not how competitive executives operate. And also, the Wild Card game is tough because you're forced to use a key pitcher just to get you into the next round -- and thus won't have that pitcher for a little while into the series.
  • Benjamin, the Rockies are off to a nice start. Most teams have a natural or longer term rival...STL-Cubs, SF-LA, etc. Wondering from your time in Denver, do the Rockies have a team they consider their main rival?
  • They don't, really. For a few years there, they had some trash-talk stuff going with the Giants if I recall, but because the Rockies are wedged into that time zone, it's hard to create rivalries. The Diamondbacks are nearby, but neither team has been consistently good.
  • Hi Ben, I had the privilege to tour the Yogi Museum with none other than his grand daughter Lindsay this past Sunday. When I told her how I was an avid Cardinals fan and how much enjoyment there is going on line weekly with your chat, it immediately got to you and her are pretty close amigo's. Lindsay sends her best regards, as she used to see a lot more of you covering hockey. On the topic of Yogi, what # do you regard him of all-time best catchers?
  • Oh yes, Lindsay Berra is an amazing woman -- one of my favorite people I've met in this business. I even quoted her recently in a piece I wrote about Yadi (

    Hochman: Yadi joining Yogi in legendary status

    stltoday.comNew deal for Yadi would seal his place.
    ). Honestly, and this might sound weird -- but I feel Yogi doesn't always get the credit he deserves. I think casual fans think of him as a great catcher but more of a larger-than-life personality, because of his quotes and quips and commercials and such. But man, if you look at Yogi's numbers -- he is a Mount Rushmore catcher (up there with (and I know I'm forgetting someone) Johnny Bench, Mickey Cochrane and Keith McDonald). But consider that from 1950-56, Yogi finished in the top-4 of the MVP EVERY YEAR and won THREE MVPS. Yogi was awesome, even if he never said anything awesome.
  • Is Jonathan Broxton now officially on the endangered species list to continue on as a redbird?
  • I would say so, but the problem is his two-year contract!! But yeah, I'd be afraid to pitch him in a game for Clayton versus Ladue.
  • My close informed sources tell me that Mark Smith, the heavily recruited guard from Edwardsville wil announce his college choice. Someone asked his coach, what the choice will be??? Coach said he had no idea........
  • It's exciting indeed. My man Frank Cusumano said the press conference for Smith will be Wed. I'm guessing it is ILL.
  • I'm thinking Stastny and Steen probably could have used those extra days of rest had one of those other series gone 7 games. Do you know if the Blues were rooting for that or if they had a preference to get the next round started?
  • I think it just depends on the dude. When you're hot, you're hot, and a lot of guys would want to just keep playing. But yeah, clearly Paulie and Steener are playing through some pain (as was Granlund on the Wild -- did you see he played the series with a broken hand? Holy moly.). So perhaps they could've used the days off. So really it just depends.
  • Morning, Ben.
    Didja know, Adolis Garcia was actually Luis Robert's teammate in Cuba for three years. (When Robert was age 16-18. Yes, Robert was in the Cuban major leagues at 16.) Could be an advantage to the Birds in recruitment.
    Question: What's up with Carlos M?
  • Love it, that's good stuff for sure! As for Carlos, he's gotta find the strike zone, but I have faith that he and Yadi and Lilli will come up with a plan of action that gets Carlos back to Opening Day Carlos.
  • What are your thoughts on Brenden Schaeffer?
  • One of the brightest young minds in STL sports. Give him a follow -
  • Hi Ben; thanks for taking questions from us. Tried to ask DG this but I guess it didn't make it. Something I've been asking myself a lot lately is why baseball managers, broadcasters, etc. are married to bullpen roles like closer and setup man. I tend to think of saves and holds as marketing stats that should only matter to agents, shirt-sellers, and fantasy baseball people. If it's the 7th inning of a one-run game and the other team has 2 men on, wouldn't it make more sense to put in your best pitcher in that situation rather than saving that pitcher for the 9th inning hoping that some other guy will be able to get out of that situation? This is just one example (and the most common) of how I think bullpen guys get misused. What's your take?
  • I'm with you, I think the next decade will showcase a restructuring in bullpen usage, focusing on what you pointed to -- the high-leverage situation. I actually got excited in the first series of the season, when Matheny brought in Oh for the five-out save, because Mike was essentially saying: "We need our best guy out here, and we've got a day off tomorrow, so let's use him." YES, yes, Brett Cecil had the "handed-ness" matchup, but the reality was, Oh is a boss. Well, he blew it, yes. But still! I liked the outside of the box thinking! The one problem with newer bullpen roles -- that of the high-leverage-situation-guy or the multi-inning-Andrew-Miller-guy is the concept of rest. Andrew Millers can't do that every game. So what do you do when he's resting and you have a similar situation?
  • OK I'm off to do 2 Bens in a Benz with BenFred! See you all next week!!!!
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