Chat St. Louis sports with BenFred, 11 a.m. Tuesday

Chat St. Louis sports with BenFred, 11 a.m. Tuesday

Bring your Cardinals, Blues and St. Louis sports questions, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

    Hey, chatters. I'm here! My apologies for the delay. Was in a morning meeting, but the good news is it produced an answer to a question that has been asked from time to time in the chat. So, thanks for your patience. Let's roll.
    BenFred,

    I think we can applaud that the Cardinals got through the season and made it to the extended playoff format. They cannot, however, tell us that the offense is going to improve internally anymore. Personally, I think that if they go into the 2021 season with a similar lineup, I'm going to be checked out of that season. Do you think the FO will try and fix this offense or wait until their bad contracts come off the books?
    That's a very fair place to land, I think. This season was about proving the answers for the holes in the offense could come from within. They did not. While a 60-game season is not a full slate, it's not nothing. Paul DeJong did not scream cleanup hitter. Tyler O'Neill went from starting to barely being used. Lane Thomas did not capitalize. Tommy Edman took a step back from a breakout rookie season. The offense needs help, and it needs help from the outside. Now, will it come? Good question. The Cardinals might not have to worry about fan distaste for the offense if there are no fans in stadiums in 2021. They might worry about it, but worry more about the financial pinch of the pandemic. There are a lot of balls in the air at this point, but one truth cannot be ignored and you hit on it -- Cardinals fans, and not just the wacky ones, are not fans of this offense, and have not been for two seasons now.
    Do you still expect there will be an end of the year press conference from Mo and company?
    I imagine so, yes. Other teams seem to do them sooner than the Cardinals. Last year there was a long pause. Could be the same this season. Imagine it will be a Zoom-only venture. No details yet. Honestly it would be best to wait until the Cardinals are ready to answer some questions. A bunch of "We don't know yet" won't do anyone any good, right?
    It seemed to me in the first two games against the Padres the cardinals were more aggressive offensively. They were attacked fastballs in the zone but they also attacked the get me over offspeed stuff. I know rest was a factor but could there have been a change in approach? Grinding at bats is great when you’re just trying to stay alive to get your pitch but sometimes the best pitch a hitter will see is early in the count. Especially for the cardinals since teams know they’re usually not aggressive early in counts.
    That's a good and accurate observation about the first two games. Against Chris Paddack and Zach Davies, the Cardinals seemed to be hunting. They were there to hit and chase the starters, and they did. There had been some talk in San Diego that Paddack was tipping his pitches or at least falling into a predictable pattern. The Cards seemed to have the playbook, or a good hunch at least, and they punished him for it. They used their familiarity with Davies to get after him. And then came the bullpen game, and it was like the mood changed. You could see it coming a bit as the Cardinals talked about how they were going to handle the Padres' approach. Looking back, a warning light was flashing.
    Here's how Matt Carpenter answered a question about how the team would or would not tweak its approach for the bullpen game.
    "It’s just kind of a slippery road," he said. "Typically, with a bullpen arm, they’ve got wipeout stuff and you don’t want to let one go early in the count if you can take advantage of it. But, I do think there’s some value in finding a way to get as many pitchers in a game as early as possible because it’s just not really set up for them."
    Turned up the game was very much set up for them.
     
    Ben, good article this morning on the Cards outfield. Why has a proud and glorious organization become so inept at judging talent? The once over abundance of outfield prospects has now been parceled to help fill the needs of other teams while leaving the Cards with scrap pieces.
  • That was a DG (Derrick Goold) joint, and yes it was a good read.
    The Cardinals have some big questions to answer.
    One: How did a team that insists on building a team from within part with potential impact players without giving them a fair shot at MLB level? I'm talking about guys like Voit and Arozarena, not Ozuna, who departed in free agency after two mostly disappointing seasons.
    Two: What mechanism in the talent evaluation mechanism needs to be fixed that informed some of these decisions? Example: Prioritizing Tyler O'Neill over others.
    Three: Why is there a growing list of players -- like Ozuna -- who are performing better offensively elsewhere than they did here, under hitting coach Jeff Albert?
     
  • Of all Mo's mistakes, the Carpenter extension will be looming larger than ever this winter with a tightened payroll situation. If they had just picked up his option on his initial contract he would be a free agent right now and the team would have $18.5 MM available. The fourth year for Fowler, the Cecil contract, they can all be justified. The Carpenter extension cannot.
    Hard to argue with that one, especially because that extension was mostly unnecessary. Sure, Carpenter wanted it. But he had no leverage. It was a bit of a peculiar decision at the time, and it has aged more than poorly. But you're also forgetting another potential problem it created. If the Cardinals try to get stingy with Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on extensions for next season, don't you think it's going to come up that the Cardinals' No. 1 reason for extending Carpenter was that they wanted him to end his career in a Cardinals uniform? I'm not sure the Cardinals are going to be able to justify drawing the line on legacy deals after Carpenter's extension and in front of Molina and Wainwright.
    Ben - Mo went all in on Jeff Francis and his "new" hitting system. He fired everyone who didn't bow before the new genius and his methods. The result has been an abysmal failure. Do you think Mo will swallow his pride, admit his mistake, and send Francis packing?
    It's Jeff Albert, not Jeff Francis.
    As for Albert's future, hard to say at the moment.
    I don't think he has had the success the Cardinals hoped, and I'm not convinced he's as popular in the clubhouse as some of his outspoken supporters make it seem.
    How the Cardinals decide to evaluate staff members is going to be interesting considering the COVID curveball, and Albert was affected by that situation, so we will just have to wait and see.
    Last season, one of the Cardinals' reasons to press pause on rushing to judgement with Albert was that he was also involved with the minor leagues. Well, this season there were no minor league games. So that can be scratched as a reason things did not work out this season.
    Stay tuned.
    Cabrera for Pham and Voit for Gallegos not looking so good now. If I was Incompetent in my job as Moe in his I would not have a job. What if you made grammatical and source errors in your writing. What they say well it’s just OK Covid?
    For either of us, it would really come down to what our bosses decided to do, right?
    Mozeliak has a boss, just like everybody else.
    Mozeliak's boss, cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., is pleased with his performance.
    Until or unless that changes, everything else is just noise.
    This statement will be labeled as water-carrying, sunshine-pumping, Kool-Aid drinking, etc.
    Label away.
    I'm just keeping it real.
    After watching the game between the Rays and Yankees last night, it was really sobering to realize the massive gap in talent and level of play those teams displayed compared to the Cardinals. The Cardinals contended this year because of the division they were in. They have a long way to go to get back to being an elite MLB team.
    I guess I'm watching different games. The Cardinals have the pitching and defense to stack up against these teams and beat them. What they need is the power. Power plays in this bracketball postseason, and it seems this is the approach that's going to stick around. The Cardinals put the slug in slugging percentage this season, hitting the fewest homers (51) in the majors and slugging a meager .371, which ranked second-to-last in the NL, only ahead of the terrible Pirates. The Cardinals don't need to be an offensive juggernaut if they keep their other strengths, but they do need to have more than one hitter in baseball's top-100 in the league ranking of on-base plus slugging percentage in order to compete at the highest level. If the Cardinals just had league-average pop, they would be a very dangerous team.
  • Yadi is a great player, but he needs to lay off the outside pitch when he is behind in the count. He is always reaching out across the plate when the pitch is clearly a ball. Could you let him know that for me? Thanks. :)
    The guy put on a hitting clinic during the wild-card series. Slashed .462/.500/.615 and was pretty much the only one who forgot to bring a bat to Game 3. I think he's got things figured out for the most part.
    What was answer from the meeting that from the chats
    Nothing too crazy. But a chatter had asked me for weeks about the status of that parking lot that was sitting smack dab in the middle of the MLS stadium's construction footprint. I finally got some info on it. An agreement between the ownership group and the co-owners of the parking lot has been reached, and it's going to be a problem solved without the use of eminent domain. Last month, P-D colleague Jacob Barker had the story about the ownership group tearing down a row of buildings for a temporary surface lot that will eventually be built into a parking structure. Part of the reason for that is the agreement that was struck to get the lot removed that was at the stadium site. I hope that helps!
    If they don't sign Yadi do you think Weiters and Kizner can handle the load? Possibly another low cost backup catcher?
    If they don't sign Yadi, they're in a jam. Wieters looked done at multiple times this season. Knizner barely got any work, and was not catching games in Memphis. Knizner should have played more than Wieters this season, especially if the Cardinals thought Molina might be moving on. It's part of the reason I think he will be back, and part of the reason I could see Knizner being gone.
    What, if any, moves would you expect from the Cardinals this offseason? It's hard to envision them making many changes in the outfield -- Carlson probably gets left field, Fowler has right field, and then Bader/Thomas are probably back in center field due to a lack of low-priced alternatives. If anything, they may look to shore up the rotation, but improving the lineup would take a bold move that seems particularly unlikely given the climate.
    The rotation should be fine. They have more arms than they know what to do with. Let every potential starter begin spring training as one, then move guys to the pen as needed. It's the lineup that needs help. There are a few ways to potentially go about it. They could address the elephant in the room that is third base. They could let Wong walk and use the money that would have been spent on him to pursue a free agent with offensive upside, taking the hit it would cause defensively. They could trade Bader, move Carlson to center field and shop and/or trade for a corner outfielder. The lineup needs a new face, or two.
    Can you imagine what the Rays FO could accomplish if they were in St. Louis and had the Cardinals revenue and resources at their fingertips?
    I'm the wrong guy to look to for Rays worship. Wake me up when they win something, or until there's a trophy given out for "value" moves by front office. Sorry!
    How do the position players get better?
    Cards are locked with contracts or options.
    Two open spots are Catcher and second base.

    What if the DH doesn’t return in 2021? Carp at third
    I could see trade Bader and O’Neill - give Carlson center and get a corner outfielder
    There are as many open spots as the team wants there to be, really.
    Carpenter doesn't have to be a starter at third base, and the DH could be back in play next season, making third base in play.
    Wong has an option that looked affordable before the pandemic pinch, but maybe isn't as big of a no-brainer now, we'll see. 
    I wouldn't assume any spot in the outfield is set, except for the one Carlson is going to play.
    I think Molina will be back.
    Improving the offense from within is an assignment for the hitting coach. Two years in, results have not been strong.
    Do you think the Cardinal organization thinks through changes in light of how hard it is going to be to get folks in seats next year? Meaning, they know they have to find a more exciting offense to go with their solid pitching. I think it seems fairly obvious Covid will not just go away and short of a miracle vaccine, not sure folks are as anxious to get into crowds without thinking it through. Especially is it worth risk to see a below average hitting ballclub at .5oo win percentage
    I think that has to be on their mind, sure. There is a growing distaste for a team that can't produce a National League average amount of runs. It's not just the lunatic fringe that is frustrated. And if this is the lineup next season, the team can't expect to move the needle like it is used to. Here comes the, "But." Right now, there is no news on what 2021 will look like. Will there be fans? Will there be fans at full capacity? We don't have the answers yet. If there is another shorter, altered season due to the pandemic, then that has to be agreed upon by the players and owners again, and those negotiations seem to go about as well as giving cats a bath. If things are back open, back to normal for 2021, then I do think the Cardinals would be wise to factor in fan interest into their pursuit of offense.
    I love Molina and I hope he never catches an inning in another uniform, but if he does, who cares? Look at the athletes across sports, with even larger national legacies, who have changed teams in the last 20 years: Jordan, Manning, Brady, etc. No one thinks of Jordan as a Wizard and no one will think of Brady as a Buc. Mo cannot allow emotion to dictate this decision, specifically if the contract is for more than 1-year.
    I think a lot of Cardinals fans would care.
    Maybe I'm wrong.
    Seeing Adam Wainwright pitch to Yadier Molina for the Reds against the Cardinals?
    I don't think a lot of Cardinals fans would like watching that.
    Hearing Jim Edmonds commentary makes me think he could be a good hitting coach. Albert out Edmonds in?
    Interesting chat name there . . . 
    I do think Jim Edmonds would be a good hitting coach -- if he wanted a full-time job that was incredibly demanding of his time and attention.
    I don't know the answer to that last part, and I don't know that Edmonds would know the answer until he was in it full-time.
    Does he want that grind back, or does he want an easier lifestyle that allows him to talk hitting with guys when they approach him while also letting him do the TV stuff?
    There's no question that he knows hitting, knows the players and has their trust.
  • The Voit argument needs context. Would he still be putting up these numbers batting between Goldy and DeJong? The Yankees order goes: Judge/Hicks/Voit/Statnton. I don't love the trade anymore than anyone else but to assume he'd be as productive here is a bit of leap.
    Context tells us Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMaheiu and Gleyber Torres missed a ton of time this season due to various injuries and ailments, and that Voit was often times the bat that helped carry that lineup while key cogs were out.
    Voit's legit, and the Yankees thought he might be when they traded for him.
    Gotta give credit where it's due.
    The thing to point to would be how perfectly Voit's swing is for Yankee Stadium.
    Check out his 2020 splits.
    Home: .319/.360/.767
    Away: .227/.312/.423
    One of the reasons the Yankees pursued Voit was they saw this fit, and it was a fit the Cardinals could not have with Busch. So, I would use that more in a pro-Cardinals argument more than the Yankees' lineup. 
    The Cards need a clean up hitter to drive in runs and protect Goldy. Rosario? Gallo? Conforto? They are all affordable contract wise and could probably be gotten for CMart and an OF, don’t you think?
    I think most Cardinals fans really overestimate Carlos Martinez's trade value. He's owed $11.7 million next season before options put buyouts on the table. Compare that to Kolten Wong, who plays every day and is the best defensive player at his position, and is owed $12.5 million this season if the Cardinals pick up his option. Martinez is no longer a two-time All-Star starter. He's an effective closer who doesn't want to be a closer, and has had a significant amount of injury issues in recent seasons.
    As for the power part, I'll agree with you. The good news for the Cardinals this offseason is the game is flooded with what its lineup needs -- pop. Power has become cheaper than ever before, so upgrades should be able to be located, even in a financially unstable climate. Upgrading power and ability to damage offensively -- the quest for crooked numbers -- without negatively impacting strong defense, or negatively impacting it as little as possible, should be the name of the game.
    Jack Flaherty's Game 3 performance sure could have been used in Game 2. I think that the Cardinals win the series if they went with Jack in Game 2 instead of Game 3. I realize Wainwright was great in the regular season, but Flaherty still had the best stuff on the staff for facing an aggressive lineup like the Padres. What was the reasoning for going Wainwright in Game 2?
    And the offense that swarmed in Game 1 and Game 2 could have been used in Game 3.
    We can do a lot of could-haves and would-haves for how things could have been different.
    Wainwright got the start because he had been the better pitcher all season long, and had come up huge for the Cardinals when they needed him multiple times -- not in his career, in 2020.
    The Cardinals slotted their best pitchers in 2020 for their first two games.
    I've got no problem with that, and liked the order at the start of the series.
    If Flaherty had pitched like he did in Game 3 earlier this season, he would have started Game 1.
    That's not a knock on Jack. He finished strong and looked great in Game 3. But he had struggled for much of the season, and even admitted his mechanics had been off.
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