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 1 p.m. Thursday.




  • Ben, I think you or the other Ben expressed sympathy for the NFL take-a-knee demonstrators. I know Jose Ortiz did. Jose was not pleased by my question. What is your take on the point made by the Steelers OT Alejandro Villanueva:
    "I don't know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that's providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year ... when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year."
    Villanueva, who is of Spanish descent, served three tours in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor
  • Villanueva made very strong points. And I respect the heck out of him, and what he did for our country. But the whole point of protesting is for a person to try to get his/her point across by doing something that draws your attention. I bet that some of the NFL anthem-kneelers feel bad that they're disrespecting the flag, but to them, the issues are bigger than symbolism -- the issues are the present day, and what's going on in our society,the injustice. Change doesn't come from hoping. I wrote a piece recently on David Meggyesy. He was a 1960s football St. Louis Cardinal, and in '68, he protested the Vietnam War during the national anthem. Columnists ripped him. Fans called him a communist. I interviewed Meggyesy the passionate Cardinal who protested to bring attention to social issues.
    “It’s going on again, we’re seeing it again,” Meggyesy said. “The league is 70 percent black, and guys are saying: ‘Look, we’re speaking for people who don’t have the standing, who don’t have the visibility. That’s who we are, we’re part of this community.’ So it’s amazing, it really is wonderful. And of course, (President Donald) Trump stirred the pot — and deflected the issue toward one of patriotism and not around the real issue, which is the relationship between the police and the ‘policing’ of the black community. …
    “In a lot of ways, the degree of divisiveness that was in the culture in 1968 is here now.”
  • Can we have faith that, should El Birdos not pursue Stanton who I would guess wants eventually to be on the left coast, they will charge in the direction of Yelich/Ozuna and/or Colome/Archer/Longoria or another beneficial direction? Or is it another 'Gee, we tried. Just couldn't part with the Faberge Eggs (which are cost controlled). Aside from bad contracts like last winter will Don Mo actually make and recieve offers that can't be refused?
  • Nice Godfather reference there at the end. So, I don't think the Cards can get away with a gee-we-tried this offseason. They got to get somebody. There's no way they can sell the fans on the "upside" of Piscotty and Diaz and Grichuk and all that. Now, it's very possible that, say, Piscotty or Grichuk, will have a nice season in 2018, but that'll have to be as a complementary piece for the Cards ... or, of course, as a member of a different team due to a trade. I've/we've all written ad naseum about the upside of the "other two" Marlins, notably Yelich, who probably hasn't reached his ceiling yet, and of course Ozuna, who may have hit it this past season. I've always adored Evan Longoria, the way 2004 Benjamin adored Eva Longoria. But last season, the Tampa third baseman was just OK, slugging .424, hitting only 20 homers and striking out eleventy billion times. So lemme try that again -- up until this past season, I've always adored Evan Longoria. Anyway, yes, this is the offseason the Cards make a big move and go out of their comfort zone and try to nab a cornerstone guy -- or, a corner guy for one season, like Josh Donaldson, and then do it all again in the fancy free agent class the following year.
  • I would like to see the Cards resign Nicasio, and get Meyers, Donaldson, Cobb, and one of the former KC closers. Do you think it's doable and do you think it would be a good set of moves (obviously depending on costs)?
  • Let's talk bullpen. Last season, the big buzz during October was getting the "Andrew Miller" type, the team-first reliever who didn't get saves, but instead shut down opponents in the highest-leverage situation -- and maybe the next inning after that, too. Indeed, Miller himself was resplendent this past season for the Indians, with a 0.83 WHIP for the playoff squad. This October, the buzz is about building a bullpen as a weapon, over-arming it, specializing it in a way that would make Tony proud. The idea is, simply -- starters aren't going as longer, and every inning is important. So yes, I'm very fine with the Cards signing Nicasio and getting one of the old Royals closers (is Jeff Montgomery available?). But the reality is, the Cards don't often sign big closers. Who was the last big one, Izzy? I would be wary of any sort of super-long-term deal with Holland or Davis, and you'd have to think that there are teams out there that would splurge. The bullpen is important, but the bat should be the key focus. If they're able to get their cake and eat it too, the one wonder is -- is the best closer for the Cards a guy they can get at the trade deadline and not in the offseason. One other thing to consider is -- will fellas like an Alcantara get to be in the pen, and will he and his 100-mph pitch become closer-y, at least for this lone season A lot to unpack there.
  • odds of cards still having the same 25 players minus lynn and Oh and duke next year?
  • They gotta add some muscle. A fear factor. A Ben Frederickson-type.
  • So... should we go ahead and pencil in Petro for a top 3 finish in the Norris Trophy race now?
  • Man, he has been just so much fun to watch. He's a boss out there. I was at the game last night, and from the way-up-high press box, you can see the plays develop, and man, Petro's patience before ripping his shot for a goal was astounding. How well has Alex played so far this season? Consider that through his first 10 games, he has 12 points (four goals, eight assists). That's tied for the second-most ever by a Blues D-man in the first 10 games (MacInnis did 12 twice, and with 13 were Jeff Brown and remember Steve Duchesne?) This month, it's like every sentence involving Petro also includes the word Norris, which is natural because of excitement, but lets not forget that this is a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong season, and it's possible that Petro might just have a very very nice season, but not be literally the best defenseman in the entire NHL. Also, Norris Power Rankings: 1. Chuck 2. Trophy 3. Bud.
  • Hi Ben, love the chats and thanks for taking the time. Realistically, how quick do you see the Cards moving on a closer, and who do you think ultimately is the guy? I honestly hope it isn't Holland, his lackluster second half performance and drop in velocity during that span doesn't sit will with me given he will likely want a 4 yr deal...thoughts?
  • Yea that's the thing -- I followed the Rockies pretty closely this season, and his August was atrocious (I just looked it up -- a 13.50 ERA!) However, the narrative that he had a terrible second half is a little off, because if we're going to talk about his August, we should also mention his September, arguably his best month of an All-Star season, with a 1.86 ERA. I just don't get enthralled about signing a closer for close to a half-decade, unless that guy is like Chapman or Kimbrel or Bruce Sutter. But if the Cards are just going to make it rain all winter, and aren't worried about the consequences, than definitely nab him for a long-term deal.
  • I am a Mizzou fan and StL native living in DC and road tripping with some friends to see Mizzou play UConn this weekend. Curious to see a) what you think I will see on the field in East Hartford b) with the recruit de-commitments starting to pour in, is this going to be my only chance to see an Odom led Tigers team in person (hopefully?)
  • Enjoy the road trip! You should try to get Dave Matter's autograph while you're up there! I think you'll see a Locked-in Drew Lock, so that'll be entertaining, and I think you'll see another embarrassing outing from the Mizzou defense. I think Mizzou can win this one -- and Odom must win this one if he wants to be here in '18 -- but I think it'll be a high-scoring affair. And yes, clearly the de-commitments are a blemish on the program, a program that just doesn't have much momentum it seems.
  • I have to admit I had my doubts when I saw our projected 3rd line before yesterday's game. However, I am not too proud to admit that it was the best our 3rd line had played all year. Its a small sample size but I am intrigued enough to look forward to watching them play together again and see if they can keep it up.
  • I mean, I just don't get too excited about anything involving Oskar Sundqvist. But yes, clearly he and Bennett and Magnus had some quality shifts last night, and some big hits and such. And yeah, maybe coach Yeo goes with the same group in the upcoming games. Look, I take a lot of crap for this, but I've liked some of the REGULAR-SEASON play from Berglund this past season, so here's hoping that by the new year, he will be the key ingredient to making the third line consistent. I will also say, I'm rather disturbed by what's happened with Ivan Barbashev. He was playing with the top line at times last spring and just seem to have that youthful energy out there, making a play or two that you wouldn't think he could've pulled off. And then this year, it's like it's like they got the plane tickets messed up and they sent over his twin brother Sergei Barbashev.
  • As does Knibb High football.
  • For Mizzou football to progress and seeing that the recruits are jumping ship, what will AD Sterk do?
  • Look, I don't think Jim Sterk will make a firing during the season. So we'll just have to see this thing through. And stranger things have happened. Remember Mizzou's inexplicable comeback against Arkansas last year? I mean, who knows ... maybe they beat UConn, lose to Florida but then defeat a Tennesee team in flux in Columbia on 11/11? At that point, they'd have four wins with two games to play -- at Vandy and at Arkansas. Stranger things, right? Maybe, says the optimist, they win six and make it into some bowl for some company you've never heard of in some city you've never been to. But that would still probably (probably) keep Odom around for Year 3. OK, so ... much of that seems realistic, so I think Sterk deserves to press reset on the program and make his own coaching splash.
  • where do Cardinals rank among teams using analytics? I have read they were early innovators, but seem to have faded. Fair?
  • Obviously it's hard to rank this, and I would say that you're right on with the early innovators -- but I wouldn't say they've faded as much as that other teams have caught up to them. Cardinals writer Derrick Goold has broken it all down in some pieces, looking at the front offices across the Central Division, notably Chicago and Milwaukee, where forward-thinking execs are building dynamic teams. So we're seeing the Cardinals make some moves, so public, some subtle, in efforts to MAXIMIZE their brains. Of course, the most-public one is the firing of Lilliquist and the hunt for a new pitching coach who is 110 percent open to analytics and re-thinking standard mindsets on pitchers' rest and pitching programs and all. Young pitchers these days have come up through a generation of data and technology that has made them pitch smarter. Their boss must be on board with that.
  • Where did you go to high school, and what year did you graduate?
    *Festus, '93 for me
  • Clayton 98, Mizzou 02, Yale Law 05
  • With what seems like a rise in concussions and other brutal injuries in the NFL, do you think that fewer athletes will choose football? If so, would you expect MLB to benefit from more athletes looking to baseball as a healthier choice?
  • I've attended some HS games in my area this season, for instance Clayton and John Burroughs, and it is stunning to see how few players are on the sidelines. I will also say this -- journalists such as Alan Schwartz from the New York Times were trailblazers in regards to reporting on head injuries. Back when I was a columnist for The Denver Post, from 2013-15, I tried to follow his lead (as did hundreds of others) and wrote pieces about concussions that alert parents and everyone the crazy dangers of playing this roulette of a sport. I once wrote: "The Broncos may make it to the Super Bowl this year. But will Wes Welker remember it?" I think it's important to be impactful. Clearly, many people disagreed with my stances on concussions and football and probably were screaming that I was a wimp or that players needed to "man up" or "be tough" or whatever, all I know is that Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little sometimes accidentally leaves his keys in the refrigerator. What will happen to the future of football? I can see more households with a strong parent or parents making the tough decision -- I'm investing in my son's future by making him not play football in the present.
  • I really don't understand this fixation on adding a big bat in the outfield. This team needs a legitimate power bat at the first and third base positions, as well as a defensive upgrade. Hosmer and Machado, or Hosmer and Donaldson is a better fit.
  • Why is Hosmer thaaaat enticing? I mean, I'm all for adding something, but of all the choices, I just have to wonder if Hosmer is the answer. He's a career .781 OPS. Yes, he's still in his 20s, and yes he had a big year last year -- career high in homers with 25 and in the slash stats (.318/.385/.498). I dunno, maybe I'm too attached to Matt Carpenter. Is that so wrong? He walks SO often. And Matheny seemed to think he improved as a defensive first baseman over the season. If you upgrade at third with Donaldson for the short-term, then you can have Carp at first. I will say this, I'm very excited about a healthy Jedd Gyorko as a reserve infielder/pinch hitter. Yes, he may be overpriced for that role, but that's the kind of talent you can yearn for at that reserve spot -- and not at that need-him-to-carry-the-team spot. But yes, it's very possible that we start this season of 2018 with Jedd at third, Carp at first and one of the Marlins OFs out there with Dex and Pham.
  • Hi Ben. Thanks for the chats! I keep reading how Kolten Wong had such a good season and turned the corner. How does a paltry 4 HR, 42 RBI and missing 54 games constitute a good season?
  • Well, the injuries were certainly a problem, but Wong's impact isn't made by homers and RBIs. That's not the kind of player he is (also, and this could be a huge debate for another day, but RBIs aren't deemed as important these days, due to the notion that a player can't control who is on base when he gets to the plate). As for Kolten, he was pretty dang good for stretches with the glove. He makes game-changing plays -- game-saving plays. And often times, they seem so routine, we overlook how important and timely his defense was. He also had a career-high in walks, which stands out in numerous regards, notably since it was the fewest amount of starts he's had since 2013. So he hit .285 with an OBP of .376, stealing 8 bases, only getting caught twice, and did so from a lower spot in the lineup? I'll take it.
  • Do you know if the Cardinals have an opening for an assistant to the traveling secretary?
  • They would have to have some experience in importing and exporting.
  • I love having Oquendo back with the Cardinals, but it brings up a really serious problem...who wears #11?! As a guy who has a weird interest in jersey numbers (and as the owner of a DeJong 11 jersey), I need to know!
  • I've lost sleep over this!! I'm TORN! OK, so on one hand, we've got a fan favorite player who established himself as a coach/instructor for decades after his playing days. He was at the visible third-base coaching spot with that No. 11 (and that hoodie underneath) in numerous postseasons. He's Jose Oquendo, so popular here that almost a third of the front page of the Sports section, announcing his return, was a photo of him). But then, we've got an ACTUAL PLAYER, a breakout slugger in Paul DeJong. He's on the actual team. Shouldn't he get to keep his number? Anyway, my suggestion is to petition the league to allow Oquendo to have the first triple digit uniform number in history: 111.
  • Or, if we're allowing three digits for coaches, then maybe he could also do 314.
  • Now that Girardi is free to be hired, why would we keep an inferior guy like Matheny?? I know that Girardi made 4 million last year and Matheny made 1 million, but is saving money all that matters to this organization? I for one have no intention of renewing my season tickets.
  • Mike Matheny isn't Bruce Bochy when it comes to bullpens, but they're not going to get rid of the manager who has made the playoffs four of six years just to scoop up Joe Girardi. Now, if Matheny misses the playoffs for the third-straight year ....
  • Surprised to hear about Girardi?
  • I was. Clearly we don't know about all the behind the scenes stuff, but the Yankees were such a fun team and surprise story of this season (though, I did pick them in spring as a playoff team in our newspaper). But we see it often in any sort of work place -- a person just gets stale or burnt out and instead of seeing them through to the bitter end, you make a proactive move to rejuvenate things.
  • All Stan Kroenke had to do was get the Rams out of St. Louis, and they'd be winners again. Who knew? Well, that and get Jeff Fisher far away from the team.
  • Yeah I think the Jeff Fisher thing had a lot to do with it. And this new coach seems like a home-run hire. And wouldn't you know, a top draft pick QB is actually playing like one. And a stud running back is actually running like one.
  • Thoughts on the Mike Maddux addition?
  • Seems to be a fascinating fellow, with a strong resume and clearly the Nationals' pitching staff was one of the finest in the game last season, finishing in the top-three in numerous key stat categories. I just googled this story, which gives us a little glimpse into how Maddux works with Max Scherzer, the STL native on Washington - www.federalbaseball.com
  • HA! now that would be somethin.
  • Do you know anything about Mike Maddux's sabermetric chops?
  • I don't know the details of this breaking story just yet, but clearly he is forward-thinking or else the Cardinals wouldn't have gotten him. I like this hire because the Cardinals were hoping to bring in a pitching "coordinator" type, a guy who could oversee/overlord the pitching and the decisions that go into, yes, calling on the bullpen. Maddux, Greg's brother of course, is an experienced coach, one who we've seen through here a bunch, first with Milwaukee, then with the Rangers in the 11 World Series and lately turning the Nationals staff into a powerhouse. Again, this is all happening in real time, but I've always heard strong things about him, and because of his pedigree, he'll quickly be able to establish himself as an authority with the Cards. Maybe, just maybe, this is the complement that Mike Matheny needs. Here's is something from the Washington Post on Mike Maddux, as that newspaper discussed his possible role with the Nats, before the Nats cleaned house: "The 56-year-old was considered a coaching catch when the Nationals signed him, and is well-regarded within the clubhouse for his hands-on approach to game-planning and relaxed in-game demeanor, as well as his ability to notice quick fixes for big pitching problems. While the Nationals and their supposed super-rotation were not exactly awful the year before his arrival, their pitchers have compiled the second-lowest FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in the National League during his two seasons, and the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.05)."
  •  
    Here's Derrick Goold's story about the Ken Rosenthal news that Maddux is comin to STL: 

    Report: Cardinals set to hire Mike Maddux as pitching coach

    stltoday.comST. LOUIS • Less than a week after the search for a pitching coach got complicated by an onrush of established candidates available and new teams in need of a
  • DeJong plus Alcantara plus Hudson or Hicks for Andrelton Simmons, who's been worth 26 WAR over the past 5 years, per Baseball-reference. And then Gyorko, plus Piscotty or Grichuk or Pham, plus Hudson or Hicks for Manny Machado (also worth 26 WAR over the past 5 years).
    Cards would have the best defensive left side since Belanger met Brooks, and this would alleviate the impending 40-man roster crunch as well. Thoughts?
  • Look, I love the glove of Andrelton Simmons. In my Simmons power rankings, he's pretty high -- 1. Ted 2. Bill 3. Reverend Run 4. Andrelton 5. JK 6. Richard 7. Bobby 8. Gene. But why why why trade DeJong for Simmons -- I would consider, maybe, DeJong in the Machado deal, but not for Simmons. DeJong his 25 homers in the bigs (26 if you "count" the one robbed over the fence by the Cubs outfielder). And he hit 13 more in the minors. Power and fielding prowess at shortstop is rare. You speak Orioles it seems, so you know what I'm talking about with the fellow you had there for a little while. And I wrote about this earlier this month, but consider that DeJong’s 25 were the second-most in baseball (behind Francisco Lindor) by players primarily playing shortstop. Well, five of the top eight were on playoff teams. Sure enough, in 2016, five of the top eight were also on playoff teams (and four of those five were different guys than the 2017 shortstops). DeJong said he believes he can be a 30-home run shortstop. Lindor hit 33 this year, and before that, no shortstop had cracked the 30s since 2011.
  • Michael Porter is an early favorite to be the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Can he do what the last two #1 overall picks, Fultz and Simmons, could not, and get his team into the NCAA tournament?
  • I think so, because Mizzou seems to be a very talented team -- not just like a team with one star and some duds, like when Will Smith joined Carlton and Cornflake on the Bel Air Prep team that one year. Dave Matter, Ben Frederickson and I were in Columbia for Saturday's Mizzou Madness and then in Kansas City for Sunday's exhibition against Kansas, and the Tigers battled, man. Jeremiah Tilmon and Jontay Porter are legit rebounders. Kassius can shoot. Blake Harris blazes down the court. And then consider that Mizzou surely would've been a little better than last year, just with Puryear-Barnett-Phillips getting another year under their belts. Well now the three best players from last year are key role players. Should be a stout team.
  • OK I gotta run, but ALWAYS fun.. and keep coming to www.stltoday.com/sports for more updates about the Mike Maddux hire.
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