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.




  • I know its football season...but all I can think about is MIZZU basketball.
  • I hear ya! I haven't been this excited for Mizzou basketball since tip-off against Norfolk State! And obviously the Michael Porter Jr. signing is the greatest get, maybe, in Mizzou history (he's the No. 1 player in his class -- well, No. 2, now that Marvin Bagley Jr. reclassified and went to be the next Jayson Tatum at Duke -- and he's been like the Pied Piper for recruits). But I'm also excited about those other recruits, notably the two big men, because, presumably, Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon will be here for a couple years (and you can say the ol' "if they go pro, it means the team probably did well"). And coach Martin's teams traditionally play defense at such a high level. That's an important coaching quality for a guy who has corralled an All-Star team of talent.
  • Thanks for hosting the CHAT! Looking aroung the league at lineups (Dodgers, Cubs, Nats) I think the Cards are more than two big bats away from contending. Do you believe the big bats are available in '18 free agency? Do you like Josh Donandson or Manny Machado?
  • Well, I like Machado a looooot more than Donaldson. Of course, Donaldson is a talented ballplayer, but on Dec. 8, he turns 32! Machado just turned 25 this summer. I think we can all agree that the Cards need the big bat(s) you mentioned. It's funny, when you name off the Cardinals individually -- Wong, Pham, Carp, Dex, Yadi, DeJong -- you're like, "Dang! That's a lot of offense!" But the reality is -- with some of those fellas, the offense is only in the past couple months (which got us to this point) and then its the other fellows, often hitting fourth or sixth, who strike out a lot and don't mash. So I think everyone is on the same page -- fans and management -- by Opening Day of 2018 (or, dare I, 2019), the Cards will have a big-name bat in the lineup, and they'll have to give up more than they've EVER given up before, be it in a trade or with money in free agency. And that's the nature of it all. Yes, a lot of people say if Oscar didn't tragically pass away, he would be that big bat. Maybe yes. Maybe no, too. Nothing in this world is guaranteed. So here we are. And the big thing is -- they gotta do somethin'.
  • I read a fantastic article recently on the “Warthen Slider” (something between a slider and cutter, basically a 90+ mph dropping slider) and its usage by the Mets pitching staff. I’m wondering if this is a pitch utilized by any current Cardinals pitchers or a pitch that Derek Lilliquist has thoughts on? I think particularly of Luke Weaver, a hard throwing pitcher in search of a 3rd pitch, as someone who could benefit from experimenting with it. I also wonder if Reyes would be killer with it as a fourth pitch paired with his high fastball.
  • Man, I used to throw the Warthen Slider all the time in wiffleball at Mizzou! Drew Green could never hit it! Actually, I'd never heard of it until right now ... So here's a story on it for all of you. Next time I see Lilli -- which, because of this road trip will be in seemingly mid-September -- I'll ask... Here's an article on it, for everyone:

    Mets’ Pitching Coach Keeps Young Arms From Harm’s Way

    The Mets’ pitching coach Dan Warthen monitors all aspects of his young staff to prevent his pitchers from going through what he did when he was a major league pitcher in the 1970s.
  • After this disastrous season is over,to get back to being a World Series champ we need to resign Lance Lynn, sign Yu Darvish, Wacha, Leake and Wainwright who knows? Martinez has pitched good but not like a ACE. Theyneed to replace the bull pen and get 2 big power bats. What do you think they will do this winter?
  • 44 minutes To go let's stay focused on your goals Ben. First- keep your contact with the little people to the bare minimum 1 hour. Second, be sure to get enough questions for your 10 questions piece. Then go take a shower cuz the thought of having had to endure a whole hour with normal non-journalist fans makes you feel sooo dirty. You are so courageous! Keep it up!
  • Come on Patrick! I'm doing my best!
  • back to the previous Q:
  • It's funny how it all changes so fast, right? Before the trade deadline, the narrative was -- "trade Lance Lynn, get as much as you can for him, since surely the Cards aren't going to re-sign him." Then, Leake strings together like 37 awful starts, Waino goes to the DL and Wacha shows some signs of vulnerability. Now it's like "GIVE LANCE ANYTHING HE WANTS! Redesign the Arch to be shaped in an L!" ... The reality is this -- next year, the Cards will have 1. Carlos (who, by the way, ace or not, I'm totally cool with as a top of the rotation dude for years to come). 2. Waino 3. Leake 4. Wacha 5. Alex Reyes 6. Luke Weaver ... but if they're cool with spending, why not lock in Lynn, knowing that, really, he's never had a bad year! And Reyes and Weaver can't guarantee you 200 innings each.
  • Good morning Ben. I am getting a bit tired of this "stress" excuse for players who get big contracts. Piscotty was "stressed" about getting a contract settled in spring training, and now he's not performing b/c he's "stressed" to perform to the level of that contract. Same could be said generally speaking for Fowler, Cecil, and Wong (who has finally turned the corner). War veterans and military who put their lives on the line daily would scoff at these guys. What's your take?
  • Stress is an interesting topic, because it's not a stat, yet it affects performance. I think it's fair to bring up stress in a discussion of a player, but make sure it's just one of numerous avenues of dissecting his play (because stress is anecdotal, meaning we can't fully know how stressed every player is, but we can fully know every players OPS). The reality is, Piscotty was not himself this spring and then is dealing with something few of us can relate to -- his mother having ALS. And from a baseball standpoint, Piscotty has had a miserable season. He was seemingly rejuvenated in Triple-A -- and he rewarded Matheny with that controversial start in the Williamsport game by playing really well -- but since then, Piscotty has been pretty bad. Since his return, he's has had 39 at-bats. One third of them have been strikeouts (13). As for the veterans and military -- yeah, that's a totally different world. They do admirable things at such a high level. I hear ya about how they might "scoff," to use your description. But the reality is, mental health is a real thing in any line of work.
  • The news that there will be a book out soon (and a book-signing tour!) featuring Gary Pinkel has left me scratching my head. This would be the same Gary Pinkel who left the Mizzou football program in utter disarray, right? His final season was a bust, and he left the cupboard bare for an overmatched Barry Odom and staff. Translation: He and his staff stopped recruiting. Further, he alienated much of the fan base with his stance in support of a player boycott. That alone makes me wonder if he absorbed too many hits as a Kent State tight end back in the day. You make $4 million a year to coach 12 football games, and you're publicly advocating that the players not play the games?!?! I just think it's revisionist history, presenting the Pinkel years as being all warm and fuzzy. Thank you for letting me rant.
  • You say that Pinkel wasn't doing much for recruiting -- imagine if he HADN'T backed his players during the boycott??? What message would that have sent to future recruits? "Come to Mizzou, where your coach doesn't have your back." As I sift through your words, there are two things on the table here. One is the recruiting, and yes, he didn't have his best class in that final year, but that class did include a big-time QB recruit (who enters this season with the most starts of any SEC QB) and arguably the best defensive player in the nation, Terry Beckner Jr. As for the player backing, that was a bizarre time, but I think it was the right call. It was a pivotal moment in campus history. The players were passionate. They wanted to change history, change the culture. We can make a zillion arguments back and forth, but the reality was -- numerous football players risked forfeiting a game to make their campus culture better for then and the future. That's big-time stuff. Pinkel needed to back them. He couldn't not. So I don't think it's revisionist history. And -- by the way, say what you want about the guy, but he's one of the most important people in the history of Mizzou athletics. So -- buy his book! I hear it's extremely well-written.
  • Benjamin - At this point, is there any way the relocation of the Rams and Chargers could have gone any worse for the NFL?
  • Ha! And we're loving every minute of it here! Hopefully that stadium will be ready for the dang Olympics!
  • A month or so ago, prior to the trade deadline Front office believed there to be a culture issue for this team. I was surprised after stating that. no changes were made. Does front office still believe there is a cultural issue and who do they think should address that?
  • That's a great question. We zoom through the season so fast, right? That's a very fair question, because even though they rattled off the eight-game win streak (which was exciting and all that but was against Cincy, KC and Atlanta), the team has had many holes in it. In the past eight games, St. Louis has averaged only 3.9 runs per game (though, optimistically, they have a great road per game scoring average, and theyre on the road for the next 10). But to be honest, I don't know if there's a still an issue in the culture. There's an issue in the production. So, to spin it forward, this road trip will tell us a lot about the culture of the Cards -- September comes, still in the mix, away from home for 10 days... whatcha got guys?
  • So generally the idea of acquiring Stanton has been dismissed on the grounds of contract undesirability. Couple things that tie into a question: 1) The Cardinals want to contend during Martinez’s prime (otherwise it would make sense to trade him). 2) Harper and Machado are a year away and likely going to get higher AAV than Stanton. 3) In the likely event the Cardinals aren’t able to attract those two, they’ll have to wait another year to have a shot at older targets like Arenado and Goldschmidt, missing more of CMart’s prime 4) Of all potential middle order bats that could be acquired via trade Stanton, because of his contract may be one of the most affordable prospect wise. 5) The Cardinals can probably afford at least 180 million in payroll instead of 150 million. So when we put all of that together I have to wonder why pursuing that option wouldn’t make sense? Of course the Marlins or Stanton himself could nix the possibility, I get that. But if it was possible, it doesn’t seem like such a move would be the worst in the interest of contending now. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins would take some of the contract in exchange for getting better prospect value in return.
  • What a dramatic turn-of-events this could be. Earlier this summer, it was reported that the Cards wouldn't want to take on Stanton's $$. Now, national guys are reporting that the Cards and Stanton could be a fit. First off, I like where your head is at. At some point, they're going to have to make the big, uncomfortable play for a superstar. And you make a good point -- waiting doesn't guarantee anything. If this modern-day Maris or Mantle from Miami is available, and you've got this crazy-large prospect pull (including enticing dudes like Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson and Maggie Sierra and like 73 other outfielders), why not consider this move? I'm sure they look at it from numerous angles. One to consider -- what's the worst that happens? Can one contract sink the St. Louis Cardinals? I wouldn't think so -- but, to use another boat analogy, this is uncharted waters.
  • If the goal is to compete year after year, and the Cards miss the playoffs in consecutive years, does a shakeup need to happen?
  • Shake up, sure. But is your definition of shake up different than mine? Or someone else's? Clearly, unless this Cards go on some crazy, historic run, the team will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row -- that hasn't happened since 07 and 08 (where have you gone, Troy Glaus?). So yes, I think there will be some sort of a shake up, but I think that the biggest names -- Mo, Girsch and Matheny -- will be back. I'd imagine some coaches get canned, because that could change the culture a little bit around the club. And of course Alex Reyes will be back. And you'd think they'd make a play for a big bat. And you'd think that one of the key outfielders this year (Grichuk-Piscotty-Fowler-Pham) won't be back next year. And you'd think that they'd flip some of their minor league outfielders for MLB help. So yeah, I think there will be plenty of new faces in Jupiter in February. But I'm not sure that's the shakeup you had in mind? Or maybe it is.
  • Yesterday, BenFred wants to see what Waino has left. I say put him in the bullpen as he hasn't been good the past 2 seasons. Over the last two seasons Wainwright has a 4.81 ERA in 56 starts. Look, I LOVE Waino just as much as all Cardinal fans, but I do NOT want to see him start another game this season (unless we are out of it, then who cares). I would want Weaver, Flaherty, etc. to start for Waino the rest of the season. Thoughts?
  • The long-term numbers are the numbers, that is true. But lets also look at these numbers. After the July 3 debacle against Miami, Waino had five starts BEFORE the start that put him on the DL, and his ERA in those was 2.89. But -- he only had one amazing start, and that was his 7 2/3 innings against the Cubs (a brilliant effort, even though they lost, at a crucial time of the season). I'm fine with letting Waino have at least one more start upon his return, to see if he's returned to where he needs to be. But if that one doesn't work, then, yes, let's talk pen for the rest of the year and ride Weaver. As for Jack Flaherty, it's not as easy as just calling him up -- if they do that, it'll knock a dude off the 40 man roster, and possibly have the Cards lose a talented youngster in the Rule 5 draft. So that's something to consider as we consider Flaherty.
  • How spoiled are we as Cardinal fans? I know the expectations are high and they should be...but everyone needs to take a few steps back off the ledge. The Cardinals probably won't make the play offs...but if they could stay above .500 they will avoid a losing season for the 11th straight year. I know the standard is higher than that, but a little perspective, the Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since 1988.
  • Good points indeed. I think the fair go-to in this situation is -- since the turn-of-the-century, the Cardinals themselves have made it clear that they want to contend annually, that they want to reward their fans. So two years is indeed a loooong time to be average. I also think that in this bubble of St. Louis -- and even in the bubble of social-media/instantaneous everything -- we're more emotionally invested than ever before, and we know more than ever before. The what-have-you-done-for-me-lately aspect has never been stronger. It's harder to say -- "OK, we've been spoiled, so I'm cool with this 2-6 in the last eight"... it's -- GET IT TOGETHER RIGHT NOW!!!!!
  • Fowler is a big disappointment, striking out in crucial situations and taking days off because he is "sick." Do you think the FO regrets signing him to such a large contract? He was suppose to be the cure to all the ills.
  • Come on man, Fowler has responded quite well in the cleanup spot -- he's slashing .383/.500/.617 in 62 plate appearances there. So let's consider the now.
  • When you're alone, and life is making you lonely
    You can always go.....
  • Switching gears here because I'm desperate for college basketball talk.

    Understanding that there can be different definitions of success in this case, who has the more "successful" men's basketball season. SLU or Mizzou? Why?
  • That's a great question. I still think Mizzou will have a more "successful" season -- I think they'll be in the top-25 and a top-five seed in the NCAA tournament. SLU will probably be pretty good too though, and I'm truly excited to see all these new faces out there. So here's thinking both will have "successful" seasons for their definition of success -- but Mizzou's will be even grander amid that definition.
  • "amid." Do people use that word or just me?
  • Next years opening day lineup:
    Carp
    Fowler
    Stanton
    DeJong
    Gyorko
    Pham
    Yadi
    Wong

    Thoughts?
  • Um, I thought Yadi was always supposed to bat fifth???? But I like it.
  • What is your prediction for the Mizzou football season? Thinking 7-5 is a must. 8 or 9 wins would be nice though. If that defense steps it up, they should have a good team.
  • Missouri State W
    South Carolina W
    Purdue L
    Auburn L
    Kentucky W
    Georgia L
    Idaho W
    Uconn W
    Florida W
    Tennessee L
    Vanderbilt W
    Arkansas L

    They'll lose one they're supposed to win (Purdue), and they'll win one they're supposed to lose (Florida). A revenge win by Arkansas will make a hot Mizzou team cool off, but the Tigers will end the regular season with seven wins.
  • OK I gotta go downtown and film "2 Bens!" I think I get disproportionately excited about the 2 Bens videos. Anyway, so much fan chatting and playing GM with you all -- let's do it again next Tues.
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