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.

  • Waaazzzzzaaaaabbbiiiiiiiiii!!! (I knew you would have to take my question after that intro) When J Bow comes back (pending no more injuries to our d-man) it is going to get very interesting on who the odd man out is going to be. I don't think it can be Dunn at this point and Gunnarsson has rebounded well from last year and Bortuzzo has his strengths specifically his physicality. How do you see this shaking out?
  • Hahah I loved those Wassup Bud Light commercials, and the date-at-the-sushi-restaurant one was legendary. Well, how do you like this. A year ago, some people wondered if the Blues were doomed when the Kevin Shattenkirk trade happened. Did STL have enough firepower from its blue liners? Well, they won a playoff series and Petro went from great-to-GREAT and now here we are, wondering which pretty good Blues defenseman will be an odd-man out. Dunn has been fun, but I wonder if they'd let him get some more seasoning. But I don't think I can "make my roster move" in the next 87 seconds. Like, very very seldom do I watch Dunn and think "ooooh, that's a rookie mistake." And like you said, Gunnar has been great - they've all been great. So I wonder if it's just a rotation of healthy scratches, depending on the opponent, playing the hot hand, that sort of thing? But how fun is this for you fans, right? The Blues are atop the conference, and almost every aspect of the team is firing.
  • Hi Benjamin.
    The A's are saying they have several good young 3rd basemen and 1st basemen. They may trade young Power Hitting 1st base/3rd baseman Ryon Healy for bull pen help? This looks like a perfect core type player for the Cardinals. 5 years before free agency, has hit 38 home runs in a year and a month in a big ball park, good batting average. See any hope there that Healy becomes a Cardinal?
    Thank You.
  • Ryon Healy strikes out a loooooooot. Like, he just struck out looking while I typed that previous sentence. Numbers-wise, I just see him as a infield Randal Grichuk. Of course, if you can get him cheap, why not, but I'm not giddy that he's the power bat answer the Cardinals need.
  • Knowing that taking care of ALL of the needs for the 2018 Cardinals is unlikely (all the needs meaning at least 1 and probably to MOTO bats, a solid starter and a solid closer), if you could pick only one, which of the needs would it be and who out there is the best fit? Not just who we should want the most, but the player that fits the best in terms of what we can trade for, or spend, etc.?
  • Yeah these are good points and a good question. And Derrick Goold mentioned it yesterday in his own chat about the reality of fixing all these issues in the offseason. It's possible that the Cards don't get, say, the closer or a starter, until during the 2018 season. Again, you're buying outs and inning-eaters. If they feel they can efficiently get as many outs and innings out of Carlos, Wacha, Waino, Weaver and Flaherty/Reyes, then they'll do that in the short term (of course, realistically, how many of those pitchers besides the great Martinez will flirt with 200 innings?). For me, the answer to your question is the bat. Get the bat. Donaldson is realistic because of the one-year thing, assuming they don't overspend for a guy who could have a down year and just have a Gyorko-y good-not-great season (and then you're like we traded ALL THAT for that guy??). Is Donaldson the gateway to Machado ("Hey Manny, look at how well this slugging third baseman fit into this lineup last season. Well, we could have you do that for numerous seasons -- and your fielding will help the team even more an all of our stud young pitching is a year more refined!"). But yeah, get a bat. Fish for a Marlin. Do something big, first and foremost.
  • I understand that people defend matheny and claim that if he had a good team, he’d win games like he did his first few years. This discounts the fact that he played moss at 1st and cleanup an entire 2nd half while batting less than .150 and that he played Craig over taveras to the point that mo had to trade him to get taveras some playing time and many other consistent managerial mistakes (or at best head scratchers). I only make this point to say that I’m worried that regardless of who we sign, they’ll be mismanaged and assigned to roles they don’t fit. Am I just an eternal pessimist or are my worries justified?
  • We often talk about Matheny in these chats (and in columns and articles and on Twitter and when people stop me at the gym, mid bench-press, to ask me about the decision to go with Cecil in the sixth last night). You're absolutely right about the Allen Craig stuff and the Brandon Moss stuff. And clearly there are bullpen moves that backfired, overusage that backfired, etc. Advanced stats show that Matheny could've been better with his bullpen decisions, sure. There are also long-term stats that show that the Cardinals' bullpen ranked high, overall, in numerous key pitching stats over the past few years. Two other things in Matheny's favor -- one is the un-calculable aspects of his leadership and team-growing. Second, I think people just kind of "gloss over" FOUR SEASONS of regular-season dominance. Heck, maybe even I'm guilty of it. It'll be a huge moment in a huge 2017 game, and he'll put Oh out there and Oh will blow it and we'll be like, "That was just another example of him making dumb decisions in key moments," and then someone will say, "well his teams were good from 2012-15," and we'll make some quick, general excuse for SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY EIGHT GAMES of managing, like "Mo built those teams not to fail" or "hard not to mess up those teams" as if every good decision made during four years of winning baseball comes with an asterisk and an excuse/explanation. Of course, you hear it all the time, "the Cardinals win despite Matheny" or "Francona woulda done THIS THAT OR THE OTHER!" I think Matheny is good. He's not elite. And it'll simply come down to this season for him -- a third year missing the playoffs, no way I suggest they go to him for 2019. But let's at least think that maybe, just maybe, he and Maddux and Shildt and Jose and everyone can work together to maximize each other's shortcomings and win a bunch of ballgames.
  • "How much David Pumpkins is in this?
  • "David S. Pumpkins!"
  • Mizzou has no doubt regressed under Odom. Sterk didn't hire Odom. The losing continues, the commitments are fleeing, the amazing class in St. Louis has no interest in heading to Mizzou, attendance is down. How can they keep Odom? (Please don't say they have won 2 in a row)
  • I've been saying it since the summer - if Mizzou doesn't win six games and make a bowl, you better have an amazing reason why they should keep Barry Odom. Mizzou is at a crossroads. You mentioned a lot of the stuff -- recruiting looks bad (BenFred has written some strong analysis about that lately) and as I've dissected numerous times in columns, the enrollment and lingering results of the protests mean Mizzou needs the "pillow" of winning football faster/now. Last year was fine, a stepping stone year for a first coach, who (w his staff) developed a pretty young QB and offense. But winning five or fewer games this season is unnacceptable in this climate. Especially, like you said, because AD Jim Sterk didn't hire Odom and because Sterk is making major moves with fundraising and facility-building and renovation and all that. Mizzou -- financially and historically -- is behind many SEC programs. Sterk often mentions that Mizzou has thousands of fewer donors than the average SEC school. Still, Sterk is finding ways to create momentum. He needs a counterpart to create momentum with football -- even if it's just winning six stupid games to get into a bowl you've never heard of. Of course, these are all beatable teams coming up. But of course, all four of those teams are saying -- "all right, we've got Mizzou coming up, a very beatable team."
  • My boy Trevor Trout's comments to BenFred about Missouri were depressing! Unfortunately, he is right on! This dumpster fire of a football program needs to be doused and first step is FIRING ODOM.
  • Here's the BenFred piece for everyone else:

    BenFred: Mizzou's false start undermines recruiting in St. Louis

    stltoday.comHope for signing a rising crop of local football talent fizzles.
  • "FOUR SEASONS of regular-season dominance" = Coming off of a WS victory and having the the teams record get WORSE every single year, culminating in back-to-back seasons w/ the playoffs. That's not dominance. That's a mediocrity sucking the entire team into his event horizon of mediocrity
  • Come on now. Yes, it is very easy to point out that the Cards have finished further from the commish's trophy each year (though nobody also adds 2012 into this, as if that great season just didn't happen. But yes, 2013 -- WS, 2014 -- NLCS, -- 2015 -- NLDS, 2016 -- miss play-in playoff game on last day of the season, 2017 -- ugh). But now give me the names of teams that even made the postseason in every season from 2012-15, regardless of how many playoff games/rounds they won? And we know the Giants, famously, had that funky run where they won it all, missed the playoffs, won it all, missed the playoffs, won it all, missed the playoffs. That's a lot of playoff misses -- would you be OK with that? What if I told you that the postseason is more or less random? I mean, if the Rangers outfielder had been standing two feet father back and caught the Freese triple, what would you be saying about La Russa's legacy or Albert's legacy?
  • Do you think Maddux's connection to Yu Darvish at all increases the likelihood that the Cardinals consider him, in the event that they have to pivot to pitching and run prevention?
  • Sure, right? I'd love to see Yu here. And unless there's some funny stuff we don't know about, Maddux and he worked together well to create some fantastic seasons.
  • Hochy, first off, your my boy. Second, I want Odom and Huepel gone as much as everyone else. However, according to my expert projections, there will be as many as SIX (6) head coaching vacancies in the SEC, (Tennessee, Arkansas, A&M, Ole Miss, Florida) including Missouri if they can Odom. Of these vacancies, I don't think Missouri can compete with most of them as far as wooing a coach to Missouri. How much does that impact the coaching decision?
  • A very fair point. But you have to wonder 1. how many coaches would Mizzou be competing with those teams for, anyway? 2. How can Sterk sell five-win-or-fewer Odom to donors and fans?
  • THANK YOU HOCHY. I'm so sick of hearing about how Missouri has a "favorable" schedule in the second half when Missouri is the most beatable team in the conference! What a JOKE!
  • Yeah, until Mizzou's defense is a reason they won an SEC game, it's like, come on.
  • HOCHMAN! Love the chats! Fan opinions on Matheny have been beaten into the ground, but I'm curious why you think there's such a divide on his skills among folks in the media. I know both you and Jose consider him a good manager, but other writers like Fangraph's Craig Edwards, Will Leitch and Bernie Miklasz have referred to Matheny as a liability if not outright called for his termination. Any thoughts on the divergent opinion?
  • I totally respect every man you mentioned there. And I'm clearly on the record saying if the Cards don't make the playoffs in 18, they need a new skipper in 19. And of course, with the firing of playoff managers this month, it shines a brighter, hotter spotlight on Matheny. This is his year, his redemption season, his prove-it season. I just think that mistakes get hammered on and success is just assumed -- as if a manager is handed 100 wins or something, and if he finishes with less than that, then he's responsible for why a team finished with that total. Look, believe me, I do not think Matheny is the best manager in baseball. But I also do not think that Francona's success with Cleveland guarantees that he would've had the exact success with St. Louis -- and was Francona even in the right mind set to take over the Cardinals in the winter of 11?
  • Do you believe the Cards will finally acquire a big bat this offseason? Also, closer? If so who?
  • If they don't acquire one, I'm curious what the sales pitch to the fans will be for buying into the 2018 Cardinals.
  • I haven't been this excited for a Cardinals off season since the winter of 2011. So many possibilities! Hope this one isn't as disappointing as that one. Although it did work out.
    Thank you for your service. -------CYE
  • That's a good point -- if anything, this is the most-fun Cardinals postseason in a while. Yes, there's pressure, so much pressure, on them not to bungle it. But 2011 was about replacing greatness -- 2017 is about infusing the current team with greatness (or really-good-ness). Remember the excitement of the Dexter Fowler signing, the anticipation, the gossip, the STL reporters at the Southwest terminal that night, hoping to get an interview with the WS CF? Well, now consider the Cards are in the market for a bigger bat than that.
  • Whats the over/under on dingers in LA tonight?
  • I've been extremely fascinated by this World Series baseball talk. I mean, Game 5 wasn't a baseball game -- it was like those slow-pitch softball games where both company's teams have like 8 dudes who are former college ballplayers and are now 24. Every ball was smashed, even the outs were impressively hit. And outspoken veterans such as tonight's pitcher, Justin Verlander (I'd call him Justin Upton, but that's confusing) have called out the league about the baseballs being juiced or, if anything, slicker in the WS. I know we've written a lot about players' launch angles and how batters are changing their swings these days to hit balls up (and strike outs be damned). But the home run numbers across the league make us easy to be skeptical, especially in a post-steroid era (back then, many people were writing about how a guy just lifts soooo many weights). Tonight, I expect four home runs. And a Houston victory. And here's the article with the Verlander quotes -
  • Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism as a journalist? I am working my first job as a reporter out of college and have had two incidents. The first was that I was not assigned to a project because I was told that my Jewish Heritage would prevent me from being objective. The second was this past week when I wanted to write a story on Bregman and was told to "save it for the Forward"
  • Oh wow, I'm sorry to hear you've experienced this. That's infuriating. I can't think of any serious anti-Semitism I've received, except for the occasional snide comment. I'll say this -- I've always been confident that any good journalist can write a fair article about a topic, because the story isn't about the journalist -- it's about the journalism. Columns, which I write, are a little trickier because the essence of a column is the columnist's personality and opinion. But yes, I would suggest asking them to give you a shot, and let you prove to them that you can nail the Bregman story of the other story because you're a good journalist, regardless of religion.
  • Does piscotty still have a future with the cards
  • A very interesting question, especially if the "impact bat" the Cards land on is an infielder. Like, let's say they trade a prospect or two for Josh Donaldson. Do you just pencil Piscotty in in right field? I will say this -- I'm all for Piscotty getting one more chance. Last season was, clearly, a weird year. We've seen him produce annually prior. We saw the contract they gave him. We acknowledge that he's a smart, savvy guy and talks about having a bounce-back 2018. But really, it comes down to maximizing assets. Let's say they do get Donaldson. Can you also trade an OF or two for pitching? Do you need both Randal and Stephen (knowing you've got Bader/Tyler O'Neill/Sierra/Garcia/etc. But yes, if the Cardinals go the way of getting a Marlins OF, you'd have to think the starting OF would be Fowler/Pham/Marlin, so then you deal Piscotty unless he can be your fourth OF.
  • Could you see the Cardinals bringing Jon Jay back sometime and grooming him as a future manager. He really seems to be a team leader and understands the game and the players well.
  • I mean, well, I don't know? I don't really know if Jay truly wants to be a manager after baseball. I do know that he had a fantastic season for Chicago and he'll be playing more years in the majors. I also know that he married a STL woman, so perhaps his post-baseball future could involve our fair city, regardless of what he does for a vocation.
  • Thanks for the chat. I for one still believe that Mizzou's second half of the season could turn out much better than expected with all the SEC east dumpster fires left (+the hogs). I'm not saying that HCBO should still be saved if they qualify for a bowl +1 (win 7 games), but if they do decide to go another route and start the search for a new HC, who do you think would qualify as someone who would be attainable and actually accept the challenge? Please don't tell me that isn't something you want to speculate on. Thanks again for the chat.
  • A very fair question. I'm cool with speculating and playing the name game, but the reality is, we don't know what Sterk wants (or all the people he knows). I think it's fair to say that the next coach won't be a homegrown former Tiger (though Brock Olivio apparently is doing some good things as an NFL assistant, so who knows, maybe he'll be a guy in the future?). And, yes, the Scott Frosts of the world ain't coming to Columbia unless they're stopping through on a trek across the country to have America's best cheeseburgers, so he shows up at Booche's (also, BenFred tried to sell me on Billiards On Broadway having better burgers than Booche's. He took me there, and it was great, sure, but Booche's is at another level. Like Billiards is Yelich, Booche's is Stanton. Also, to be fair, I did propose to my wife at Booche's. Also, does the apostrophe go after the E or S?). Anyway, I'm with you, it's all about reasonable expectations. Who would consider Mizzou (knowing, as a previous gentleman pointed out, there could be six openings in the SEC alone). But I'm fine with at least chatting up Les Miles, and talking seriously with Troy coach Neal Brown. And watch, now that we've done all this, Mizzou will win out.
  • Benjamin, follow up. I believe Jon Jay will stay in baseball after he retires. He's too smart not to, and owners and GMs love him for his high baseball IQ and unique ability to adapt.
  • I think that would be awesome. Jon Jay is a good dude.
  • Wouldn’t grichuk be the perfect 4th outfielder if we get a Miami outfielder and field fowler, Pham, Miami? He can play all 3 positions well, he’s got speed and the type of scary power you want off the bench
  • Very, very good point.
  • Hochman, did you really just state that Jon Jay "had a fantastic season?" Has fantastic reached epic lows in describing a ball player now? Good Lord!
  • ha ok, maybe fantastic was too much, but he hit .296 with an OBP of .374. That's pretty good for a 400-plus plate appearance guy!
  • I don’t think Yelich will make as much of a difference as Stanton will. But if we acquired Yelich, there’s no reason we wouldn’t be in the running to add Machado the following offseason right? Because while adding Stanton over Yelich seems like a bigger impact over one year, adding Yelich and Machado seems the bigger gain over Stanton only over two years.
  • Exactly. Money isn't the Cardinals' issue. They offered a lot of it to Heyward and especially with the TV deal, will be allowed to offer a lot to many free agents for many years. The player has got to decide also if he's the missing piece for a team. And yes, Yelich likely makes this team better.
  • If the football HC job opens up at Mizzou, are you going to apply I bet Matter would be a crazy good defensive coordinator
  • I see myself more as a special teams coach, grooming a mentally strong kicker but also cooking up a bunch've fake-punt-passes, which I called often on Madden growing up.
  • What is your opinion on the Guriel suspension? Shouldn't he have been suspended during World Series and into next season?
  • I've thought about that one. A tough and tricky one. He definitely should've been punished in some regard (which he was), but I also thought what the commish said about "the other 24" Astros is fair. I also thought about how I would've responded if Gurriel had made Jewish slurs (what I mean is, would I have been more mad at him if what he did was offensive to my people?). I think it comes down to this -- what is the desired outcome? That Gurriel feels bad for what he did and pays a penalty? I think it's bigger than that. It's -- what can we all learn from what he did? It's -- can you understand why it was offensive? Can this be a teaching moment for some fans who might've made similar gestures or remarks? What I'm getting at is - my opinion would've been to keep Gurriel in this WS, suspend him for next year but also do some proactive public service that could've made this a teaching moment. The NBA had a pretty strong ad a few years ago. It showed young people playing basketball, talking trash about someone's play ... and then the guy used "gay" to describe the player in a deemed negative way. The commercial suddenly turned, and the players said "using 'gay' to mean 'dumb' or 'stupid' is not cool. It's offensive. and you're better than that.' So maybe MLB could've used this opportunity to do a video for online or during the game, and make it a quick teaching moment. The whole point is to reduce the ---hole-ness in the world.
  • OK I've gotta head downtown for a meeting for 2 Bens -- we're trying to figure out the next step (I say 2 Bens in a Yacht)... thank you all! See you next Tuesday
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