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.




  • Benjamin: I saw the Blues play in their very first season. I'm 63 now, which means that according to the life-expectancy scales for American males, I've lived 80 percent of my life. Should I waste any more of it thinking that, some glorious day, the Blues will come marching in?
  • Well... let's talk about this. The St. Louis Blues have played more games than any team NOT to win the Stanley Cup. Because of the Cardinals' existence, I think that takes away from the national (or international) perception that St. Louis is a long-suffering sports town, but the reality is, Blues fans have gone through as much as many other suffering fan bases. Fifty years, no Cup? You've been a fan since junior high, and you haven't even seen a Stanley Cup Finals GAME here since the early 70s (and those come with an asterisk, because STL was simply the best of the expansion conference). I want to sit here and say to hold on to hope, but I don't want to guarantee anything. I will say this -- I love Jake Allen's play, 91 is a superstar and Parayko and Fabbri and Schwartz are young stars.
  • If Gyorko continues to play well, does Mo deal for a 3b at deadline?
  • Here's a story about a man named Jedd. The Jedd Gyorko acquisition has proved extremely fruitful for the St. Louis Nine. All he does is hit balls hard. It's been incredible. Every test he's been given here, he's passed. Right now, he's slashing .337/.392/.652. He's got six homers, and they all seem to come in key late innings. Last season, that was his bread-and-butter. And his glove is sturdy. The good thing about your question is this -- it doesn't have to be answered today. I'm not trying to dodge it, I'm just saying that the Cardinals can see how Jedd does in the coming months. If he keeps this up, well, that's all-star stuff. If he dips, maybe you realize you have a great 400 at bat guy to Zobrist his way around the infield, but maybe not an Evan Longoria guy to build around for the next half-decade.
  • What do you think the chances are of the Blues bringing me back? You can never have enough agitators!
  • I'd love to have you back Otter! But Ryan Reaves has emerged as the guy who can muck in the corners and still provide actual good skating for the fourth-line shift!
  • Going to Denver in August & will be staying downtown -- recommendations? Places to eat? Already planning a Mile High tour & a Rockies game.
  • For Cardinals fans in this chat, I highly highly recommend going to Denver for the Cards' lone series there -- May 26-28. It's Memorial Day weekend, and folks, Coors Field is one of the coolest stadium experiences in Major League Baseball. Sit on the first base side on an evening game, and you can literally watch the sun set over the mountains WHILE watching the national pastime. You can hang out in their right field upper deck bar area and just mingle with the locals and catch some pitches: You'll be guaranteed to see a lot of mountain-y beards, a la Carp. But beware of Dinger the mascot. He's the anti-Fredbird. I think Fredbird is awesome, an iconic NL mascot (I know some disagree). Meanwhile, Dinger is the worst mascot in sports. Actually, sports history. He looks like a third grader's art project. As for your trip there, make sure you get a burger at My Brother's Bar (not literally MY brother), but a place in downtown with amazing jalapeno cheddar burgers and local beers.
  • hello Ben, Jesus Ortiz has been saying that the soccer stadium deal is not over yet. That there is momentum growing behind the scenes. Should we still keep our hopes up or put this to rest for good?
  • So what's the deal with this whole MLS2STL thing
  • I personally have not heard anything, and I read a Dave Peacock quote that said any rumor was "silly." But I don't know if anyway is trying to make magic happen. I would LOVE MLS here. As the weeks go on, I keep meeting people who live downtown who truly didn't understand how the money was going to work in the whole process.
  • But if Jesus is reporting it, then I trust my colleague's reporting, so let's keep our eyes on it!!
  • Ben, I hate to be negative. I'm glad the Blues went as far as we did. But a big reason we didn't advance to the next round to me is because of the lack of big contract player's production. Bergie, Lehtera (Perron took too many penalties also). I believe one day the Blues can win a cup. But Armstrong needs to go in my opinion. I don't think he knows how to clearly evaluate talent in the future.
  • These are fair points, yes. It is true that Perron struggled for much of the postseason, and he was particularly bad in that final game in Nashville, when he spent seemingly as much time in the penalty box as he did on the ice (before he was benched in the third period, playing just a lone shift). I was surprised by Berglund's lack of production in the postseason. The reality is -- and we cannot just push this aside -- but the offensive production of Bergie and Perron were imperative to the Blues' regular season performance. As for Lehtera, I supposed my in-depth analysis of his is: "ugh." I disagree with what you say about Armstrong. Colton Parayko, Robby Fabbri, Joel Edmundson, all young guys that have been scouted and scooped up by him. The Jake Allen extension and the Mike Yeo hiring have proven to be fantastic investments. Look, in the past two postseasons, the Blues have won 16 games. The Blackhawks have won three. In the vacuum of the past two seasons, the Blues went to hockey's "Final Four" and then, in a transitioning season, still cracked the "Elite Eight." Yes, the Blues have some holes, but I'm optimistic that they can compete at a high level in the coming seasons.
  • Ben, also could you see the NBA ever coming to STL? With renovations to Scottrade wouldn't we have a suitable arena at least?
  • It's a question we've been asking in St. Louis for generations. By the way, one of the greatest NBA players of all time played in St. Louis -- Bob Pettit played for the Hawks here from 1954-65, and The Bombardier from Baton Rouge averaged 26.4 points and 16.2 rebounds FOR HIS CAREER. That's an All-Star season EVERY YEAR. As for the NBA here, my mouth would waters as I yearn for a team, but the reality is -- we couldn't even find a way to lock in an MLS stadium and team, when we had hundreds of millions of private money available to be invested. With the NBA, we'd need substantial upgrades on Scottrade, as well as proactive corporate sponsorship. I just worry it would never pick up enough steam.
  • Ben, okay you do make fair points. And I will give Armstrong credit, he hit a HR on the development of Allen. Yeo is still too early to tell in my opinion. I like him but next season will really be his team. That's not to take away from the job he did this season. But here is his first offseason as the head coach.
  • True -- let's see how Yeo and Army work together this summer. There will be plenty of questions involving players in the Las Vegas expansion draft and such. But I'm all for Yeo.
  • Funniest moment of the weekend: Lilliquist went to the mound to discuss with Oh whether to walk the lefty and pitch to the righty. Everyone in the ballpark knew what the discussion was so no need to cover the mouth (which he didn't). So as Eugene translated to Oh he covered his mouth just in case there were Korean lip-readers in the opposing dugout I guess. Can't make this stuff up.
    On to my question: Waino has clearly earned a longer leash than most. But, at what point so you have to consider a change? If he was at least giving seven innings to rest the pen you could see it. But that's not happening.
  • Ha! That is awesome, and I respect Eugene Koo, the consummate team translator. I still think Koo's live video of him running onto the field for Opening Day introductions was the neatest thing I've seen all year. As for Adam Wainwright, I do wonder how many more bad starts will have to happen before a Tyler Lyons or Luke Weaver or even Jack Flaherty gets a start (pitching for Class AA Springfield, Jack has a nice 0.69 ERA and an incredible disparity of 40 strikeouts to just five walks). Wainwright, who pitches tonight, has yet to record a quality start. Tonight would be an ideal situation to do so -- lackluster opponent and the Cards are playing good baseball. But yeah, you'd have to think that if he gets to June without a quality start (literally or figuratively), he might skip a start, right?
  • Ben, makes sense regarding the NBA. Funny story, my friend and I went to see the Mavericks play against the Lakers last month. It was a coincidence my buddy and I got to see Dirk get his 30K point. Everyone around us was going nuts and we are just sitting here like "Yeah we didn't intend to witness this but it's cool." We are both transplants to the city but we got free Dirk 30K shirts. I've tried getting into the NBA but I just can't ever since Michael Jordan left the game. Plus the music they play during the game is so annoying. I can't imagine being a college player and having to transition to having to play to Demi Lovato.
  • I love that you stumbled upon sports history. It reminds me of the story of my Mizzou Journalism classmate Charlie. Similarly to me, he's now back in his hometown. So he goes to dozens of Minnesota Twins games a season. He's all over it. Sure enough, he was in San Francisco a few years back and decided to check out the Giants and their stadium. And Matt Cain pitched a PERFECT GAME. There have only been 23 perfect games ever. And Charlie witnessed one -- but NOT at the stadium he's been to a zillion times.
  • Ben, what do the cardinals do with the log jams on the roster? Trade Adams, Wong, Grichuk to make room for DeJong, Wisdom, Bader or trade from AAA for bullpen and starter depth? Seems like the Cardinals have created log jams all over the diamond by handing Wong a 5 yr extension and holding Adams this long. Do you worry about losing guys for nothing at this point due to a roster crunch? I have not been impressed recently with the clubs decision regarding the 40man. I fear more casualties to come due to lack of moves during the season to thin out roster.
  • Some fair points, but I think the Kolten Wong investment will pay off for St. Louis. He's a game-changing, hit-stealing, pizzazz defender at second base, and lately, he's been hitting like he's 1985 Tommy Herr. But yes, the Adams existence and also Jhonny Peralta definitely lingers on this roster. But look, Adams isn't that bad all of a sudden. When he struggled while being wedged into left field in April, it was the biggest story in St. Louis since Karen Foss retired. I, admittedly, was in favor of giving the move a shot. At the time, he had a home run robbed in his first game there, and after a strong spring, he truly seemed (to me and Matheny and that's about it) like a guy who could make an impact without giving up much in the field. Well we saw how that played out. But now, without the pressure of playing some weird position, Adams is hitting well in his role. .302/.354/.419 is pretty good in 43 at-bats. And here's one thing to remember -- we get very excited about these minor leaguers who dominate the minor leagues. But this doesn't mean they'll then have those same stats in the majors. We get excited about the shiny new toy a little too much in modern sports.
  • Ben, when do you think we'll see Luke Weaver suiting up at Busch? This year? Also, I've asked a few times about your sizzle reel, and still haven't been able to find it. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks!
  • Oh yes, I definitely think Luke will be returning to the big club this season. Weaver has been sensational in his two Memphis starts since returning from injury. On May 2, he went six innings, not allowing a run. He struck out five batters, allowing only three hits. And then on May 7, he went seven. Also scoreless. And struck out four. And he didn't walk a batter in EITHER start. Incredible. As for my sizzle reel, my agents are still compiling the best of my performances, including my role in Angela LaRocca's 2017 film "Must Fool Everyone," but I think that my best work was my improvisation at my bar mitzvah, in which, during the prayer for the wine, 13-year-old Benjamin chugged it. Here's the video, which celebrated it's anniversary yesterday on May 8: www.youtube.com
  • Kolten Wong is "game-changing"? I just spit out my coffee, and I wasn't even drinking any. The only game he singled handedly changed in his career that comes to mind is Game 4 of the 2013 World Series. He certainly changed that one.
  • All right all right. Yes, that's a hard one for anyone to let go. And we've all written numerous things about the fascinating mental focus of Kolten Wong -- he made numerous blunders earlier this season, but also made some, yes, game-changing plays, including that triple before the Carp walk-off grand slam and, also, numerous plays that, if he didn't make in the field, would've let to hits and long innings. He changes games by preventing the other team to change games -- and preserving his pitchers. Yes, his overall advanced stats aren't incredible in the field this year, but I bet they'll play out OK. Also, doesn't it seem like Wong is always in the "eye of the storm?" For a while there earlier this season, it was as if every high-leverage situation involved him.
  • the game seems to "find" him
  • I agree with your "shiny toy" comment in modern sports. I've always thought that prospects can help your major league team in two ways. They can make it to the majors and contribute (Wong, Piscotty), or you can trade them for major league players who contribute (Brett Wallace for Holliday). Prospects are just that, prospects, until they give you something at the major league level. I think the success that the Cubs have had has been the exception more than the rule. Tanking to get top prospects is great only if those prospects pan out. People get excited about their minor league team, when their big club is awful. That's strange to me. You need to have those guys pan out. Otherwise, you become the (Cleveland) Browns of baseball.
  • Definitely some good points there. And yes, sometimes it's fun just to look back at the lists of top prospects from previous seasons, just to see how many of them panned out of not. And yes, the Cubs mastered the whole thing, leading up to last season. Not only did they hit on draft picks, with Bryant and Schwarber and such, but they also compiled enough prospects to make the big trade for Chapman, a historic transaction in, now, baseball history. The thing about the Cardinals that is riveting is that they haven't "tanked" -- they've remained competitive for most seasons during the Jocketty and Mo era. The sustainability is really incredible if we step back from it. But when there is a "down season" in between numerous successful seasons, we get so caught up in the down season (because it's the present, it's the now) that we get overly emotional. I mean, there were fans calling for Mo's job in April. Seriously. I saw it on Twitter. Now the Cards are above .500 and in first place. I'm not saying that STL will win the Central. But I'm saying that a season is a marathon.
  • How can I justify the purchase of Fox Theater season tickets to my wife, when I really only wanna see Hamilton?
  • Because seeing Hamilton will stick with you forever -- it'll be a top-10 "event" of your event-going life.
  • Thanks for the chat, Ben!
    Josh Donaldson became an MLB starter in 2013, and from then up until this day the major league WAR leaders are (1)Trout with 39 (2)tie between Kershaw and Donaldson with 31 (4)tie between Paul Goldschmidt and Max Scherzer with 24.
    If you can upgrade to Donaldson at the hot corner without giving up Carson Kelly you do it. Jedd can take over 3rd base full time again in 2019, and meanwhile Gyorko can continue to be a big part of a bueno bench.
    Donaldson is already in his early 30's and will make ~$40M over the 2017/18 seasons, so he shouldn't cost a *fortune* in trade. Well mebbe just a small fortune.
  • Yes. If the Cardinals can acquire Josh Donaldson, without giving up Alex Reyes, then I'm all for Jedd playing the role he was eventually traded for in the first place. Love the idea.
  • Just because high leverage situations find him doesn't mean he's a game changer. Find me a 2nd baseman in this league that isn't equally "found". Sorry, that dog don't hunt.
  • I see what you're saying, but I'm talking about on the base paths or his turn in the lineup coming up in key moments. Here's what I wrote last week about Kolten's goods and bads:

    Hochman: Wong's performance mirrors Cardinals

    stltoday.comWong’s performance stands out in wacky week.
  • If you could add one player to the Cardinals who would most impact our team and is "worth the cost" likely needed to acquire him, who would it be and why?
  • Luis Robert. Now, yes, I'm falling into the "shiny new toy" trap that I mentioned earlier in the chat, but the reality is, smart baseball people peg him to be a stud, and to get him you wouldn't have to lose a player. The Cards will just need to out-bid and out-entice the other teams looking at him. I believe the date he can sign with a team is May 20th. And no, I don't know if he'll crack the 2017 Cardinals, but this is an investment worth making.
  • OK I've gotta run, but thank you AS ALWAYS for hangin' out with me in this weekly Tuesday chat. Also, big "2 Bens" news to come in the coming week. Stay tuned. And if you don't follow me on Twitter, I'm on Twitter - @hochman (or www.twitter.com/hochman )
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