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.




  • Hi Benjamin. Dexter Fowler looked awful batting right-handed vs. Jon Lester the other night. I looked at his splits and in 85 PA batting RH he is only .211 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. While batting LH he is hitting .252 with 13 HR and 30 RBI. Has he given any consideration to just batting LH all the time?
  • Hi there Tom, and I've wondered the same thing. I haven't had a chance to ask Dexter about this, but here's the interesting thing: His splits this season have him as a terrible right-handed hitter, but his splits over the past three years prior (14-16) have him as a waaay better right-handed hitter. Let's take a look. In that three year span as a righty, he's slashing .315/.404/.471 in 365 at-bats. In 1,121 ABS as a left, he's .250/.358/.401. So this is a new turn of events. For me, overall, there's a lot that Dexter can do offensively, at both sides of the plate, to improve this season. He's just had an awful July. I'd bet this season and transition is wearing on him.
  • Boy Meets World, or Small Wonder ?
  • Boy Meets World, no question
  • I enjoyed your Memphis-flavored columns. Were you surprised that Diaz didn't think he was having that bad of a season?
  • I was surprised. Basically, for those who didn't read it, Aledmys Diaz was sad in Memphis, wondering out loud why they demoted him to AAA. He did have a team-high it hits (but it's not like he was on the 85 Cardinals or something), and as I mentioned in the piece: Diaz stands by his 2017, but he’s been one of the bigger busts for the struggling Cards. He was supposed to create offense. His on-base percentage wasn’t even .300, and his slugging percentage wasn’t even .400 in St. Louis. In June, he walked only three times. His fielding has improved since 2016, but it’s still not big-league consistent. ... Aledmys must walk more. Aledmys must find more discipline at the plate. Aledmys must continue to work on his range. And Aledmys is stuck now, since Paul DeJong is slugging the heck out of the ball at Diaz's position.
  • Do you see the Cards making any major deals before the deadline?
  • I was just debating with BenFred on our upcoming "2 Bens" video about the possibility of STL trading Lance Lynn. You can make a case for keeping him for the next two months, taking advantage of his 3.30 ERA and .212 opponents batting average and hopefully stay in the division race. Also, STL would get a compensatory 1st round draft pick if, in the offseason, Lynn turns down their 1-year qualifying offer and becomes a free agent (which is likely to happen). So really the big question is: which is better, 2 months of Lynn and the first-rounder? Or 2 months of Luke Weaver/Jack Flaherty and whatever haul the Cards get from, say, the Yankees? The unknown, of course, is the haul. And it's hard to imagine them getting the equivalent to a first-rounder. But you know they'll try for one.
  • What's more likely More than 6 Mizzou football wins or less than 6 Basketball lossss?
  • What's up Drew. Good luck this season. Um... great question actually. I think the answer is football wins. Looking at the schedule, tallying the MO State and Idaho games as Ws, I think Mizzou football will win six games. Which means, Christmas in Shreveport!! I'm sure my wife will love to spend our first married Christmas together at a Tigers Bowl game!!! But the reality is, this team's offense is too good to not win six, regardless of what the defense does.
  • Why did the cardinals send hot hitting Serria back Down? Why do they not play hot hitting J.Martinez more? I thought you should play the players that gives you the best chance to win? Bet when the .230 hitting Penscotty comes off the DL he will be a starter again? And that is JUST WRONG if you want to win!
  • Penscotty is a player STL has invested in, and they believe/hope he'll be rejuvenated upon return and try to balance his career-high walk rate with some actual offensive production. But I don't think he's guaranteed to play everyday. Right now, Pham is the only OF I'd guarantee to play every day. As for Serria, he's electric, there's no debating that. But he's still learning the big league game. And some of his hits have been slappy slappers or floaty floaters. He's still growing as a hitter. And he probably wouldn't play everyday. Also, Grichuk is a guy want to play more often, to see him through (and he's hitting homers lately). As for Jose Martinez, his homer last night was pretty cool. Crushed it. But I don't see him starting in the short-term
  • Is Mo preparing for a rule change in a couple years where there will 8 guys in the outfield, 3 second basemen and no shortstops? I'm thinking maybe he's just way ahead of the curve...
  • The game is changing my friend. Silliness aside, the Cards do have a surplus of young outfielders. I was fine with the Marco trade because the player they got, O'Neill, has a track record of slugging. The modern game, with launch angles and technology and that sort of preparation, leads to more slugging (and Ks), and this dude can do it. When I was in Memphis, manager Stubby Clapp gushed about O'Neill, a player who was on a Canadian national team in recent seasons (and Clapp was on the coaching staff). You would of course have to think, whether it's by July 1st or April 1st, the nine OFs the Cards could have on the big club in 2018 won't all be there.
  • There has been a lot of talk over the past year of the Cards needing a change in clubhouse culture/attitude. When they brought Fowler in seemed like the front office thought that would be enough to shake things up a bit. However it seems like 'the culture' of the team continues to be a prominent topic of discussion. What do you see to be the areas of concern, and in the long term what's the fix?
  • What's up, hope things are awesome in Minneapolis. I love getting the Juicy Lucy burger when I visit. Another cool thing about there that people may not know -- at Target Field, the organist is set up in a bar in the stadium, so you can meet her and chat while she's playing for the whole stadium. Pretty awesome. I like your question. Spring was thrilling. There was a relaxed sense. Myself and the other writers in Jupiter wrote a variety of pieces, giving specific examples of how Dexter had positively effected the culture. One of my favorites was him bringing the stereo out to one of the practices and sticking his hands in the air. Wainwright said he looked like Cusack in "Say Anything." And yes, now in July, the team is definitely in a rut. Dexter doesn't seem to be as excited as he used to be. And his play is uninspiring. No, we do NOT know everything that goes on behind closed doors. Maybe the WS champ is providing leadership and mentorship there. But the president of baseball operations just told reporters that the attitude and culture of the team needed to be fixed. So then it's fair to point a finger at Dex, as well as Carp and Yadi and all the veterans.
  • Ben: Congratulations on the marraige. Hope it works better for you than it has for me. Do you see a move with a LH reliever in the next week? Some teams have 0, and we have 4.
  • Hello El Luncho. Thanks! And sure, it's very possible that could happen. But I don't think another team would want to take on Cecil's salary though (maybe I'm wrong), and Duke is just 2 games back from Thomas John, so that leaves you with Kevin and Tyler, so I'm not sure if they'd get the Cards enough back to make it worth a trade.
  • The worst part about all the outfielders, is that it sure does seem like none will be better than a good 4th outfielder. I hope I'm wrong...but that's how it seems.
  • A fair point man. I hear ya. And that's why the Cards are banking (literally and figuratively) on Piscotty being a key offensive producer in the coming years. I was in the clubhouse yesterday talking to Pisco with other reporters. He was honest, talking about how he can't do anything about his low stats from this season, but that he's confident he'll find his way and earn his pay. He's also going through emotional hell, as his mother battled ALS. With a lot of 2017 players, we can play the what-if game, but I'll at least do so with Stephen here: what if he had just done what he did last year, this year? -- .273/.343/.457 instead of .236/.348/.371? You'd have to think the Cards would be a game or two better, at least.
  • One thing to consider about the Cardinals this year:
  • They're in a really weird spot.
  • If they were in a regular division, their sub-.500 record would mean sell-sell-sell. But because they're on winning streak from first place, they have to try to also bolster the current team, but also take advantage of building for the future. It's a weird setup, but I suppose better than just being sub-.500 and hopeless.
  • Now that it appears the Blue Jays are potentially sellers, what could it take to add Donaldson? And then how would you shift the rest of the team to account for him, defensively and lineup wise?
  • Look. That excites me a lot. Hard not to get excited about Donaldson if they can pull it off. He has two more years of team control until free agency. He finished fourth in AL MVP in 13, an All-Star in 14, won the MVP in 15 and finished fourth in 16. He is on the wrong side of 30. Turns 32 in December. Even in this down year, with injuries and unfulfilled expectations, he still has a .361 OBP (slugging and such is way down though). Perhaps that makes Toronto ask for a little less of a haul? But I'm fine with making a blockbuster for Josh Donaldson, and then moving Gyorko into a different role. I love Gyorko, but I just don't see him being a bona fide slugger for the next few years. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong.
  • Each trade deadline we fans get worked up in hopes our Cards will be improved in several ways. Each deadline we hear excuses from the brass telling us how high the cost was and why they could only land a reliever. In other words, much ado about very little to nothing. Please tell us how you think this deadline will be different. Thanks!
  • Fair points Kevin. The Cards did step out of their comfort zone when they overpaid for Dexter Fowler in the offseason. But you're absolutely right -- the modern baseball player trade is lopsided, and the team that gets the big league talent must give up more prospects than in previous years.
  • Off topic: After months of seeing your name and seeing your picture, I now remember how I "know you". After a quick internet search I now realize that your dad was one of my elementary school teachers....about 42 years ago! I remember him as being a very caring and passionate teacher. Hope he is well and a Cardinal fan!
  • Love it! That is awesome! Yep Dr. Jere Hochman has had amazing career so far as an educator. And my mom and sister are teachers too. I'm the Black Sheep of the family.
  • Is this organization paralyzed by their desire to see certain players succeed, even if it comes at the cost of losing games while allowing players to "develop" at the major league level?
  • Another fair question. But with Piscotty, theyve already locked in the money, so they're stuck with him (but if we're talking about "stuck," I'm cool with being stuck with a heady 26-year-old who loves to work hard). But of course it's fair to say that the Cardinals are more in love with their guys and that sometimes gets you in trouble. But I get it. They devote themselves to development. They groom players to play the way they want them to play. They put all their eggs in a guy's basket. This, of course, is why the past two years have been especially frustrating -- the defense and baserunning has been inconsistent from guys groomed to be consistent.
  • Why do people hate Mo? Are they just not smart ordoes he just have one of those faces?
  • Ha. As we do in sports, we focus on the present and the future. What have you done for me lately. Tony would say things like you're only as good as your last game. Well, by August of 2015, Mo was Branch Rickey in the eyes of many fans. Now 23 months later, many of those same fans say he's gotta go. That seems a little extreme. I like the idea of looking at a guy's track record. And looking at the mosaic of their career, if that makes sense (does that make sense?). Clearly, the current team has some issues. But hating Mo seems a little strong. "Being frustrated with" Mo might be more realistic.
  • In regards to Tyler O'Neill, would Buddha be able to work some more magic with him in Memphis or is there a good chance there is a mental involvement needed?
  • Well, talking about track record, Mark Budaska has a nice track record in developing right-handed hitters in Memphis (good luck with Aledmys though, Buddha). So naturally, it's exciting to see what the Memphis hitting coach can do with the newly acquired prospect who slugs and strikes out in the spirit of the modern ballplayer. I've enjoyed writer Derrick Goold's profiling of Buddha, and I got to meet the man (Budaska, not Goold) this past weekend in Memphis. He's out there. I love it. A very worldly thinker, a very passionate teacher. Cool dude. Smart dude. Cards are lucky to have him in the organization.
  • Looking at the market, there seems to only be a handful of players that would qualify for what the Cards are looking for in a trade. It is the Marlins outfielders, and possibly a guy like Machado who isn't available. Who can fans really expect to see the Cards go "all in" for at the trade deadline or should we simply expect nothing until the off season?
  • A fair point, my fellow Ben. That's the thing. If Donaldson is available, then of course you take a hard look. But the reality is, there will be more options in the winter. And the reality is, there will be more competition in the winter. And the reality is, reports such as the one about Stanton not desiring to play in the midwest aren't fun to hear.
  • I know very little about Garcia from Memphis, what is his real upside in the near future?
  • He's super-fast. And fascinating. And can slug some. I saw him a little bit over the weekend in Memphis, and of course in Jupiter in the spring. In 89 minor-league games, he has seven total homers and .299/.351/.441. At worst, he's in Memphis next season.
  • Derrick says the last time he actually laughed out loud was at a Colorado game with you in 2015. He says the only reason he laughed was because of the reactions to a joke he told, and he wouldn't tell us the story in one of his previous chats. He said this was your story to tell, so could you please make everyone's day and tell us how it went down???
  • So ... I used to ask this question to people: For a billion dollars, would you have your arm/hand replaced by a horse hoof? Like basically a shetland pony leg as your arm. A billion dollars. And no, you can't use the billion to have that arm replaced. So... I normally get very passionate responses, but it's always 50-50. So it's a fun debate. Anyway, Derrick was in Denver, where I used to be a columnist, for a Cards-Rockies game. We were at Falling Rock Tap House (best bar ever), and he was pondering the question. Then he started chuckling and explained: "I can't do it ... because if I break my left arm, I get a cast, but if I'm to break my right arm in this scenario, they'd shoot me!"
  • And Patrick called it, I gotta run. See yall next Tues!
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