Benjamin Hochman Live from Cardinals spring training

Bring your Cardinals questions and comments to a live chat with Post-Dispatch columnist Benjamin Hochman in Jupiter, Fla., beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday.






  • Ben, Anyone in particular you're looking forward to seeing in camp?
    What are your impressions so far?
  • Hi there, hope things are going well for ya. So if you haven't been reading all of our stuff on stltoday.com (how have you not been reading all our stuff on stltoday.com!?), today was the second day of pitchers and catchers. For me, it's just been fun catching a peek at Jordan Hicks. The 100-mph fireballer is 21 years old and wears No. 89, perhaps an homage to the speed of his changeup (just kidding.) I would venture to say that Hicks will make his way into a Cards uniform at some point this season -- he had a 2.74 ERA in A ball last year and, obviously, could be some fire out of the bullpen.
  • Ben,

    If Waino bombs as a starter what is Plan B with him? Hide him in the bullpen and only use him in non-critical situations? And then who takes his place in the rotation?
  • Hey there, yes Adam Wainwright made a proclamation to the media here in Jupiter this morning -- he doesn't want to talk about his future. He doesn't want to answer questions on a daily basis about his contract expiring. He just wants to focus on pitchin' baseballs. Manager Mike Matheny, often optimistic, seems vehement that the Cards are going to get a viable Waino this season. So we'll see. As for Plan B upon a bombing, Jack Flaherty makes the most sense. He's No. 53 on the Baseball America prospect list (two slots ahead of catcher Carson Kelly) and he'll surely get some St. Louis starts regardless of how No. 50 does this season. As for Waino, I wouldn't rule out any Smoltz-like slotting into the closer spot at some point, but A LOT has to happen for that to happen -- namely, both a Waino bombing at starter and the Cards having questions at closer. One thing to be optimistic about is the arrival of Mike Maddux and how his approach to pitch counts and spins through a rotation can potentially maxinize Waino's starts.
  • Is our pitching as bad as the fans think or as good at MGMT thinks?
  • A good question, and really it's tough to truly gauge on Feb. 15. I mean, 30 of the 162 starts will go to a guy the fans know little about, Miles Mikolas. Now, new pitching coach Mike Maddux has worked with Miles before, and clearly all of Miles' numbers overseas are sterling. And, reports said the Cubs were interested. In a Theo World, that at least gives you some feeling of comfort, that the Cubs wanted the dude too. So yeah, we'll have to see with MM. His first time through the bigs, he relied on his fastball-curveball a lot. And he had high walk rates. He's learned to pitch differently since then. So yeah, a lot of the pitching success revolves around Miles.
  • All offseason I've heard more than once that the Cards FO didn't want to sign any big name free agent players that could potentially block the development of some of their young players. So, they go out and sign the likes of Mikolas and Norris, etc, etc. Therefore I must assume that these players are not going to be blocking some of the younger players. If these signing can be considered stop-gap for the year, then that tells me this FO is not serious about fielding a playoff competitive team this year. Please explain to me how my thinking is way off
  • I hear what you're saying about the young players. But lets break it down. Five starting rotation spots. Of Weaver/Reyes/Flaherty, how many of them are ready, in late March, to start the season as a full-time big league starter? Probably just Weaver. So you gotta fill out a rotation, so that's why they signed Miles. So it's Carlos, Wacha, Waino, Weaver and Miles on the staff. Reyes won't even be ready until early May. And we'll see about Jack. And Norris, for $3 million, not a bad get for a guy who had 19 saves and was pitching stellar until injury. And can be a fallback starter. I don't think those signings impede anything.
  • Benjamin - Do you think it's possible/likely that the Cardinals did not spend on free agents over the winter to save cash for a run at Machado?
  • Anything is possible, Kevin Garnett once screamed, and of course Machado is a thrilling potential get for St. Louis. If they can offer the Arch/brewery/Riverboat McDonalds to Giancarlo Stanton, they should do the same to Machado, who has a splendid glove, who is 25 right now, and who has hit 30-plus homers in each of the past three years.
  • Now playing at Jupiter coffeeshop -- Patrick Shwayze's "She's Like The Wind."
  • Unless Mo adds a significantly paid player during ST, the payroll on Opening Day 2018 will be about $5 million less than it was on Opening Day 2017. How does that jibe with the "Of course the Cardinals are committed to winning -- look how much they almost (theoretically) paid Giancarlo Stanton!" narrative that the Post Dispatch likes to push?
  • They literally offered that money to Stanton. Who would you have wanted the Cards to splurge on? Do you wanna give $140 million to Yu Darvish?
  • From ESPN's Keith Law, and his weekly chat earlier today:

    Mike Maddux "hasn’t had a great track record with young pitchers so far, which would concern me given how guys like Flaherty, Weaver, maybe Hudson will all be expected to contribute in St. Louis this year."

    Your thoughts?
  • It's kind of a blanket statement, since the guy has been a pitching coach for decades. They said the same thing about Dave Duncan, something that ticks off Tony to this day, but clearly Duncan had success with at least SOME of the young pitchers over the years. Mozeliak yesterday said that the signing of Mike Maddux was a "no-brainer." Here's the thing though -- even if, privately, Mo is wary about how MM will work with young pitchers, the Cards also have Bryan Eversgerd on the coaching staff. The Pride of Carlyle, Illinois was the esteemed pitching coach for Memphis. He had much to do with the development of the men mentioned by ESPN. I hope people don't think the bullpen coach is a hall monitor of the bullpen or something like that -- this job is demanding and he's a part of most of the meetings and thought process. So yeah, Maddux is the big get, but "Gerdy" is Maddux's Maddux.
  • What is the Cardinals' level of interest in Tim Lincecum? If they like what they see will they make an offer to sign him?
  • I suppose it's a situation that you "can't not" take a look at him if he's doing a throwing session. But of course we all know that Lincecum wasn't his old self last season with the Angels. He had an ERA+ of 44 (basically like 1/4 of what he had in his Cy seasons). He was smacked around. Reporter Jon Heyman had a typo yesterday in his tweet about the "Time Lincecum" workout. But yeah, Time is a key factor for Lincecum (man that was pretty cheesy of me. Florida sun is getting to me)
  • If we're stuck with Carpenter on the roster, why in the world would Matheny bat him third? He's famous for drawing walks, and that's about it. Last four seasons, his BAs are .272 (twice), .271 and .241. He had 84 RBis one year, a whopping 59 another year.
    by Shirley in Fenton edited by Mike Smith 2/15/2018 8:29:40 PM
  • OK let's break this down. One, I wouldn't look at the Cardinals or any team being "stuck" with Matt Carpenter. The name of the game is getting on base, and he walked 109 times to be exact (or 9,810 feet), and he finished second in the league to Joey Votto, who, incidentally, walked 9,810 times. Here's what Carp said in late Sept of his walks, but low batting average:
    “Part was me not being able to do exactly what I wanted to do with my swing at the plate, and some of the physical things going on,” he said, “... And I just think that as you age in this game, little things like strike-zone discipline improve. I think that's just part of who I am as a player.” ... So now we have a rejuvenated Carp, coming into camp. Look, I've wondered before -- if it ain't broke, why fix it? Why not just have him leadoff until he stops being productive there. But Carp himself has some more mash than Fowler (even though we saw the opposite last year), so here's thinking that that make more sense to stagger them that way. And also, Carp himself has said that multiple times he felt himself getting out of a slump in the No. 3 spot when he was moved "north." So then that coincided with his new spot in the lineup. And Carp, a walk machine, will have more protection with Marcell Ozuna hitting fourth. Also, RBIs are a fun stat, but keep an eye on stats such as slugging and wRC+ when determining run production (I'm not saying that Carp was much better in those, but it's something to at least expand thinking of Carp).
  • Orioles signed Andrew Cashner for 2 years, $16 million earlier today, a bargain in today's market. My question: what did Mo have for lunch? BLT? Club sandwich? Or was it something exotic, like a quinoa salad with pickled radishes?
  • I think it was a muffulata.
  • So Mo thinks signing Bud the Stud Morris & the lizard dude as "enough" for the team. Granted Ozuna was a major pickup but the rest is pretty underwhelming to a large number of Cardinal fans. How come no one from the PD is pressing this issue with Mo. It seems that every article has the PD toing the company line. The cubs get Darvish we get Bud the Stud.
  • What's up Mr. Long. I'm with ya -- the Cards could have used much more bolstering in the bullpen. But a very enticing get such as Brandon Morrow ended up choosing his team, and he chose a pretty dang good team. And look, I know Gregerson isn't as sexy a get as Reed (who the team seemed to have some questions about, as did other teams, if he ended up with Minnesota), but there's quite a lot to be optimistic about with the Cards' bullpen, be it Bowman or Brebbia or Tui or Leone or LYONS or REYES when he's healthy or, perhaps most importantly, the influence of Mike Maddux. You'd think -- we'll see though -- that the bespectacled Brett Cecil will have a bounce back year and earn some of the cash. But I'm with ya. Clearly, clearly, the Cards approach to pitching this season doesn't sell tickets and T-Shirts. But let's talk in July when we're raving about Weaver. As for Ozuna, an important get -- but was it the right get? Was Yelich the safer get, the better investment? We'll get to watch this play out in the division.
  • And as for the Darvish and Bud The Stud thing, it wasn't like Bud was the Cards' "reaction" to the Darvish signing. It was just timing. Cubs filled their rotation spot that day, the Cards filled a bullpen spot the next day with #BudChuck.
  • Do you think that the Cardinals overvalue their minor leaguers a little? Every year they have a few guys that are untouchable for trades but how many of those guys panned out? 4 years ago they would have never traded Piscotty and Grichuk, this year they traded them for bench players.
  • That's a storyline that I've brought up this winter a few times, and I agree with you. They missed on Grichuk and Piscotty (though, I wouldn't give up on Piscotty yet, since he dealt with such rare psychological stuff last season, and that might've played into his production). So yeah, we can get excited about Reyes and Weaver, but it's hard to not also think of those other gents while getting excited.
  • Also, the Cards sold us on Todd Zeile as the next Ted Simmons, and look how that panned out!!
  • Flaherty, Kelly, O'Neill and a Hicks type prospect for Archer and Colome... Would give the Cards a rotation of Martinez, Archer, Weaver, Reyes for at least 4 years and add a closer to the BP. To me, this trade would make the Cards legit contenders.
  • Archer is a guy I definitely, definitely find enticing, and maybe that's a fellow the Cards could trade for if the Rays fall apart (though they are considered a sexy pick for a turnaround ...though they are in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox). I'd looked this up before about Archer: It's astounding – in each of the past three seasons, he's finished in the top-three in strikeouts per nine innings. For some perspective, last season Archer finished third in the AL with 11.14 strikeouts per nine innings. Our town's Carlos Martinez tallied 9.52, ninth in the NL (and most folks were satisfied with Carlos' 2017). And Archer doesn't walk dudes much. And Archer gobbles innings. And Archer doesn't have an injury history in the past half-decade.
  • Hochman,

    Some off baseball questions to give you a break. One, what are your fav places to eat in Jupiter? DG has already said he likes Snack Shack and Hurricane Grill. Do you have something different you like? Give Center STreet Nook a try for breakfast..amazing! Two, if I see you guys in Jupiter and come say hi will Derrick Goold be snarly and bite my head off? Three, what is your favorite thing to do in Jupiter?
  • Greetings Chappy! To be honest, I haven't gotten to do much away from the ballpark area so far this season, though I'm currently writing this chat from Crux Coffee, which is a must-go-to place when you visit. They have these pourover coffees that are just wonderful. I'm having the Mexico Oaxaca. So good. But yes, in the past I've been to a place called Leftovers and they have succulent seafood (and the time I was there, they had an accoustic guitar player doing songs from the 1990s and 2000s, and he did Waterfalls by TLC and it made me laugh because BenFred, when he was a kid, thought that song lyric was "Don't go, Jason Waterfalls.) Hurricane Grill has amazing lemon pepper wings and these cheesy Parmesan fries that are deliciously devourable). Also, if we're talking about restaurants, congrats to Vicia back in STL -- I saw today it was named a James Beard semifinalist! And no, Goold will be super-nice if you introduce yourself (especially if you tell him your favorite Marvel character or member of the 1993 Colorado Rockies).
  • How pumped are you about Mizzou basketball? Possible NCAA bid and possible MPJ comeback. They could be dangerous come march...
  • I'll put it this way. I saw a BenFred headline today, talking about how Cuonzo Martin could win coach of the year. Even if they HAD Michael Porter Jr., but had the record and resume they do right now, Cuonzo would be considered a coach of the year choice for turning around this once-dismal program so fast. Let alone he's done it WITHOUT MPJ. Incredible. The team is so fun to watch. Kassius Robertson is like a more-refined Clarence Gilbert. Jontay Porter is like a Frankenstein of fundamentals. It's cool that STL's own Barnett is blowing up. Puryear has so much heart. Of course, of course, this team has turnover issues, game-closing issues. Here's thinking it'll get them at a bad time in March. Here's another thing though -- if MPJ comes back, people will make a big deal about how he'll impact this team with scoring, but let's be real ... his biggest impact will be as a point-forward handling the ball.
  • Hello sir! Thanks for the chat!
    It makes sense to me that Carp bat 1 and Dex 3. Dex did a heck of a job there last year and we know about Carp's woes when he is not leading off. Hope it changes and what do I know but my question is this. Could it be that Dex batting lead off was a concession for his move to Right Field? Thanks!
  • You know what's funny Burt, I wondered that myself. I'll at least get to as Dexter that tomorrrow -- he's supposed to talk to the media then. But I do think the Cards made decisions strictly around how to maximize OBP and run production, and my guess is -- they look at Dexter's power surge from a year ago as an outlier -- and they think a healthier Dex will be more of a weapon on the basepaths, leading the way for the Cards. Baserunning is so important -- smart baserunning.
  • Do you see any similarities between the 2015 Mets young pitchers coming out party during the World Series and all of our young arms? We all know how that ended up for the Mets.
  • It's fun and convenient to think that way. A lot of it revolved around Alex Reyes. I will say, we got to talk to Mike Maddux yesterday here, and he spoke of the first time he saw Reyes pitch in Jupiter as a Cards coach. It was earlier this winter. And just the look on his Maddux's face was -- HOLYYYYYYYY. Maddux kept gushing about how the ball so easily and speedily and freely came out of Reyes' hand. So yeah, it's fun to wonder if Reyes and Weaver (and Flaherty, and maybe the Triple-H guys out of the pen) will enhance this team. It's just frustrating because the Cubs and Brewers are so dang good, there's not much room for error.
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