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, Ben: I have a kind of philosophical question for you. What do you think the obligation of the Cardinals is to its fan base? Here's why I ask: We all understand that baseball is a business. Certainly, it would be unreasonable to expect ownership to spend to such a degree that they lose money every year. Even though we know that the value of the team is over a billon more than when they bought it, that's still not reasonable. However, in many ways, fans see the franchise as a kind of public trust, and they support it that way, and to a degree, management talks about it and sells the franchise that way.

    It's likely that in order to improve this team for next year, management would have to be willing to spend to a degree that might lose money for one season given the likely reduced revenues next year thanks to Covid's continuing presence in our society. I think it's reasonable to expect the team to do what it takes to improve even if it means operating in the red for a season. I believe the team has an obligation to its fanbase to do so not because it refuses to spend (it spends, but often not wisely), but because the offensive malaise that has dragged on for seasons is a function of management's own making, and you can't sell the fans on the idea that you are competing for titles if everything comes down to simply looking for value. There will likely be some contracts of talented players that teams will be willing to move for economic reasons, and if such opportunities present themselves, I believe the organization should take the financial hit in the short term in order to achieve long term gain.
    You make a fair and compelling case.
    It really comes down to how each side defines money spent, money lost and money made.
    What the Cardinals see as a big hit financially might not, and probably will not, be in agreement with what the fans see as a big hit for the Cardinals.
    There's that line about spending other people's money that comes to mind.
    My advice?
    View it as a business.
    With any team.
    If your team does not earn your dollar, don't give it.
    It's cold, I know, but sports in this realm is business, and business is often cold.
    If a team points to the state of the business as reason it can't get better, it can't expect fans to not start thinking the same way.
    Do you think Shildt over managed Game 2, going with match ups over the hot hands? I think he should have pitched Gomber and Helsley one more inning each.
    For me, the most questionable pitching move in the series was lifting Ryan Helsley after one hitter in Game 2.
    He had a big strikeout of Wil Myers on a triple-digit heater to end the fifth inning and send the Cardinals into the sixth with a 4-2 lead.
    The Cardinals added two more in the top half of that inning, making it 6-2 entering the bottom of the sixth.
    Shildt went to Genesis Cabrera next, and the two leadoff walks he allowed set up the Fernando Tatis Jr. three-run homer against Giovanny Gallegos that tilted the series for good. (Yes, I know the Padres did not have a lead off that Tatis homer. But it was the turning point. Machado homered again right after Tatis, and the Padres were rolling.)
    Things were not the same after that.
    Shildt did think about going back to Helsley, who would have had to face at least two hitters the following inning because of the three-batter rule, which says a reliever can be lifted if he does not face three batters but ends the inning, but must face three total (the one in the previous inning counts) if he returns after an inning ends.
    I asked Shildt about the move. Here's what he said.
    "There was (consideration)," Shildt said. 'He (Helsley) was asked to go out twice last night, and he was brought into a high-leverage situation. I like to bring Cabrera in clean (no runners on base). Take him through (Trent) Grisham (third batter up that inning). He (Cabrera) has to start with Nola, but he's more than capable against all those guys. And then we would have Gio (Giovanny Gallegos) for Tatis (Fernano Tatis Jr.) if we need him. Ideally, I was hoping to at least get two (outs) and then bring in Gio for Tatis, with maybe a guy on. But, a walk to Nola. He's a walk guy. And then the walk to Cronenworth. Give him (Cabrera) credit. He came back and made pitches to Grisham. And then we went to Gio. Tatis put a good at-bat on him, and Gio put a ball where he could put a swing on it."
    So, in short . . . 
    Helsley had pitched 1.1 innings the game before -- and while Shildt did not say this, using him more than he did in Game 2 could have made him off limits for Game 3.
    Cabrera's walks were brutal. Game changing. Series changing.
    Gallegos had two strikes on Tatis and didn't get his slider low enough.
    Series changed because of it.
    What MLB rule changes from this year would you like to see going forward?
    I'm pro designated hitter.
    I don't mind seven-inning doubleheaders, especially because double-headers are pretty rare in normal regular seasons, so I don't mind if they stick around.
    I don't like a runner on second base automatically in extra innings. Little League stuff.
    I don't like the three-batter rule.
    I despise expanded playoffs.
    While I don't believe in moral victories (and by the way, why isn't it "morale victories"? Isn't that what that phrase is supposed to imply?), I have to say that Connor Bazelak looked impressive. Big arm, yet throws a catchable ball. Very good accuracy. More impressive is his pocket presence. He doesn't get flustered as it forms around him. He went through his reads, and seemed to have a good sense of pressure. He strikes me as the real deal. It might have just been one game, but the tools are clearly there. What are your thoughts about him, and do you see him winning this QB competition over the course of the season?
  • Good point. Now I'm probably going to have to double-check to make sure I'm not putting "morale" victories into my newspaper copy. I've already received enough emails for my typo saying the Cards played 60 games this season instead of 61. (Please stop emailing me about that. It was a mistake. I'm sorry!) 
    I'm on the Bazelak train now. Almost jumped on it after Game 1 but wanted to slow-play things because Shawn Robinson had not played a game in more than a year, and his first start back came against Alabama. Tough sledding. But two weeks is enough for me. Bazelak throws a better ball and looks more comfortable in the pocket. There will be growing pains. Bet on the upside.
  • According to BLS statistics the $150mil DeWitt paid for the Cards is worth $256mil today. Instead the Cards are valued at $2+ billion. The argument that’s not cash flow is fallacious. With interest rates currently so low, DeWitt could easily borrow against this equity and the annual value increase would cover the interest and more. So far the valuation has increased 11% per year. This is a standard practice in a businesses rapidly increasing its value. The loyalty of the fans apparently does fit into the equation. Fans deserve more. This is also why the players are never shown the books.
    You're barking up the wrong tree, my friend.
    If owning a sports team was such a financially tough business, there would be fewer successful business people owning sports teams.
    Which of this season's players could have started for the 2004 team?
    Most would have been too young.
    It seems most participants in these chats offer opinions and criticism but rarely solutions. I have a solution that worked well for me and could work for the Cardinals. Three years ago “George” was a productive member of our beer league softball team who could be counted on as a solid hitter. After two years of nonproduction I, as the manager, said “George we need to talk. I think you can help us out best going forward by coaching first base.” This spring Mike Shildt needs to say “Matt, we need to talk……..”
    Did George make $18.5 million to play first? If so, can I join your team?
    Do the Cardinals realize - or care about - the optics of allowing Andrew Miller's option to vest by one appearance, then crying poor in the offseason?
    They haven't cried poor -- yet.
    Fair to bring up if they do.
    Also fair to point out that if you are going to intentionally and pretty obviously mess with a guy's season in order to dodge an option, it might be better to do it with a player who is not an outspoken, active and well-respected veteran of the players' union.
    I am surprised at the number of people who want to get rid of Wong. He is one of the better 2nd basemen, and one of our better players. what gives?
  • In normal times, picking up his $12.5 million option would be a no-brainer.
    These are not normal times.
    I'd bring Wong back, but I can understand the argument for moving Edman to second and putting that $12.5 million for power at third base or outfield.
    Previous attempts to slash defense for power have not played out all that well -- some remember Jose Martinez playing first base, for example.
    But I get the debate.
    And then there are some who just refuse to give Wong credit for maturing into an elite defensive second baseman who has found his role as an on-base and speed hitter. There's no winning with that group.
    Bader will be 27 next June. If he is going to hit it better be soon, otherwise he is the Cards version of Billy Hamilton... who was out of baseball at age 29.
    He made a quiet step forward this season, but the feel-goods went away in the postseason. His postseason numbers are brutal. Coincidence? No. There isn't a wasted pitch in the postseason. There isn't a lazy fastball left up for him to clobber. It shows.
    Designated Hitter.... bahhh, humbug!
    I admire your dedication :)
    The Cards offense needs almost a complete overhaul. Yet, until the club can part ways with Carpenter, Fowler, Martinez, and Miller to create payroll flexibility, we will see more of the same team next year. If fans can return next year, better get those bobble head promotions in high gear. Fair assessment?
    I really don't think the offense needs a complete overhaul. I think it needs another above-average hitter or two. Some pop. Someone who can slide Paul DeJong to sixth, where it seems he belongs. Someone to keep Goldschmidt from being walked as much as he is. Again, if the Cards keep their strengths strong (pitching, defense) then they don't need to be a world-beating offense. They do need to be a more dangerous one than they have been for the past two seasons. Shildt has sharpened edges that had dulled. Now he needs some thump that can take a little pressure off those edges with runs on the scoreboard. The Cards should be able to come up with a lineup that can score at or above the NL average in runs per game. That's not asking too much, and it would not require a massive overhaul.
    The offense is atrocious, but we also shouldn't dismiss the fact that the Cards lost to the Padres because their bullpen wasn't good enough. My take is that the pitching and defense this year was good, not great, but was over shadowed by a very bad offense during the regular season. To win in the playoffs, this team needs to upgrade its pitching in addition to adding a bat or two from outside the organization.
    The bullpen was held scoreless by a team that did not have a starter in an elimination game?
    News to me.
  • I was taking a look at Harrison Bader's splits and he actually seems to hit lefties pretty well. I don't think his bat plays as an everyday guy, but he definitely has value as a defensive replacement and pinch runner, plus AB's against LHP. Joc Pederson can't hit lefties, but has arguably more power than anyone currently on the roster and can hit righties What would you think about signing Pederson and platooning him with Bader? Certainly not a fix all, but I wouldn't think you'd have to break the bank to sign him and you're not blocking Carlson.
    When this idea came up in the past, the Cardinals were adamant they weren't looking for platoon-type answers.
    That might change considering the circumstances in play for 2020 and the importance of getting creative.
    It's a good one to bring up again.
    Gotta jet, folks. Thanks for a lively discussion and debate. Chat recap will be up by tomorrow morning if not earlier. See you all next week.
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