Join columnist Ben Frederickson for a live STL sports chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday

Join columnist Ben Frederickson for a live STL sports chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday

Ben Frederickson answers your Cardinals, Blues, St. Louis City, Mizzou and SLU questions in Tuesday's 11 a.m. live chat.

    Greetings, chatters. Hope everybody is having a decent start to the week. Nothing can make the local baseball team feel better than playing the worst team in baseball. So far, so good. But using four of your best five relievers to beat the Diamondbacks in game one of a series does not bode well for a Carlos Martinez start. We shall see. Plenty to discuss, as always. Let's roll.
    Could the Cards offensive drop off and woes be tied to both Edman at leadoff and Molina at 4/5 being super hot when the team was clicking early in the season to now both going cold together this last bad stretch? No one in front of Carlson/Goldy/Areanado to get started and then behind to continue the push/ or drive in runs.
    That's part of it, sure. But realistically, it was hard to think both Edman and Molina were going to keep up those hot streaks forever. Edman's swoon has hurt. During his leadoff run he compiled the most at-bats of any player in baseball this season, and he was not getting on base nearly often enough for those opportunities. Carlson was the obvious answer to take his spot, and the move could have been made sooner, but someone still has to backfill for Carlson. Molina is fourth on the team in slugging. He's outslugging Paul Goldschmidt, by a lot. I think the biggest individual problems for the offense were the erosion at leadoff, the disappearance of Paul DeJong and most importantly the struggles of Paul Goldschmidt. The good news there is Goldschmidt is finally climbing out of it. He's slashing .273/.340/.477 this month with some more home runs starting to leave his bat.
    Too much is wrong with the Cardinals, starting with the injuries to Hicks, Mikolas and, most importantly, Flaherty. These are things that are out of the Cards' control. But things that are in the Cards/ control? Like analytics that divert pitchers from the real key -- location, location, location -- in pursuit of spin rates and velocity. Or that divert hitters from the real key -- hit'em where they ain't -- in favor of launch angles and exit velocity. For well over a century, this has been a game of adjustments, and I'm tired of watching this team failing to adjust. Players, coaches and front office are all refusing to budge off of approaches that are just not working. Enough already.

    What I want to see with the rest of the season:
    1. As with 2018, I want to see a change before the break. Albert has to be the first, if for no other reason than sending the message to Shildt, Maddux, and the players. If DeJong trusts Ludwick, you start there, because this lineup can't lengthen until DeJong gets it together.
    2. Another starter must be acquired. Stop thinking of the 100 mph. One of the best starters of my life was Tudor, with his 75 mph fastball and 60 mph changeup. Find someone who can throw strikes and pitch 7 innings.
    3. Flip flop CMart and Reyes. I would have preferred this from the beginning, but I get the Cards' choice. But CMart just isn't getting it done, and Reyes can and should do it for the next several years. Time to find out!

    Am I missing anything?
    Some thoughts on those demands . . .
    1. I think those who read into the comments by Edman about the lack of preparation and in-game adjustments and DeJong's comments about Ludwick are . . . spot-on. I'm not really buying any attempt to say those things were not public jabs at Albert. The Cardinals must consider a change there, but it might not be as simple as telling Albert to go. The Cardinals insist he has helped modernize the organization's language about hitting for the way baseball is now and the way it's going, but there seems to be at least some acknowledgement that maybe he is not the best person to be trying to see the big picture while also relating it on the ground floor, in the nitty, gritty details players need to digest in the fractions of a second before deciding if they should swing or not .So, perhaps it becomes a reassignment or something if the offense continues to sag. It's a totally fair question, and one I have raised, to wonder why someone who has been in chare of the offense for 2.5 years should continue to lead its direction when the product has not performed. The team has suggested that it's not that simple, and that Albert has resonated with some players just as much as we have heard some distance themselves from him. Different strokes for different folks, or something like that. But at some point if you are labeled as the hitting coach and the team can't hit to a league average level, something has to change.
    2. Yes the Cardinals need an impact, proven starter if they're going to have a chance. The fit has been clear since they left spring training. It's not a want now. It's a need. Quality starts are lacking and it's crippling the team. Wrote about that (again) for today's paper.
    3. I wanted Reyes in the rotation innings limit and all to start the season. And pointed out Cards attempting to get him around 100 innings out of bullpen was going to be nearly impossible. And it has been, especially since he's locked in and succeeded at closer role. He's got less than 35 innings about halfway through the season. Not good for his chances to start next season. He's not lengthened out enough to simply start starting now as a regular starter, but he could be used as an opener. The Cardinals should consider it. Too often they are not using one of their best starters, and they have a rotation crisis at the moment. Gotta get leads before you can worry about who's coming in for the save.
    Can you envision Waino and Yadi (two of the Cards greatest on-field pitching leaders) behind closed doors w Maddux and Shildt drinking a Bud and talking about putting on a good face until this SP mess is resolved? Gant stays in the pen, Oviedo goes down before he's ruined and Martinez and KK move on. They're dreaming about one more run together next year w a healthy Flaherty, Hudson and Reyes as the top 3, fingers crossed for Mikolas, young guns Liberatore, Thompson, and Oviedo seasoned and ready joining the ageless Wainright to have one of the top staffs in MLB. Wouldn't we all drink to that?
    You're assuming the 2022 season is going to happen as a normal one not impacted by bitter labor negotiations between the owners and players. I'd drink to that hope, but I'll need to see more signs these two sides can avoid sabotaging the product this offseason.
    When you are the age of Wainwright and Molina, you don't sit around hoping about next year.
    You want to get the most out of this year.
    I can see them sitting around wondering why the front office brought them back and got Areando only to sit and watch as the team caught fire after Flaherty went down. That, I can see. 
    Has there ever been a Cardinal prospect come out of high school and hit like Jordon Walker in a pitchers ball park.
    Two names were mentioned yesterday in discussions at the ballpark. Albert Pujols and Oscar Taveras. The Palm Beach power Walker displayed is wild, and rare. Might be worth a trip to Peoria to see him swing it.
  • Why does St. Louis media want to blame Coaches players etc. when the problem is the front office that picked all of the People being blamed. The fault of this disastrous team, the And put in bench the bad extensions all falls on Mo. He’s the one that needs to go along with his yes-man cronies
    "St. Louis media" is not a singular thing.
    I'd encourage you to find, read and support media members you think do things the right way.
    Mo is mentioned often here in these chats, and the front office's decisions that have not worked have been covered plenty in the P-D coverage.
    And yes, he's on the hook for everything from the construction of the coaching staff to the building of the roster (and what it did not include) and so much else, as he is in his current role the top dog of baseball operations.
    What I find funny especially in the chats, is that those who demand accountability for Mo act as if it's the writers who are going to fire him. It's the owner of the team who either will or won't. Rarely does chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. face much scrutiny in the chats, and he is the only one who dictates if Mo finishes his extension or not. He's also the one who decides what the team spends, when and when not to. Mo is discussed as if he's the owner of the team sometimes. He's not. But maybe that's part of what makes him valuable in the eyes of ownership, too. 
    BenFred: it was so surreal to finally see the Cardinals play a good game and actually win last night. But, that positive vibe could disappear with Carlos Martinez on the mound tonight. He had been simply awful over his past five starts seeming disinterested and unfocused. I don’t believe his teammates have confidence in Carlos’ ability to rise to the occasion and pitch well to give the Cardinals a chance to win. I know the team owes him $11 million dollars this season and does not want to eat the remainder of his salary but the Cardinals will cut ties with him when the season ends anyway. It may be time sooner than later to shake up this team by removing one of its most disappointing, unproductive players so the rest of squad can focus on winning without the CM distraction. Your thought?
    It would be a lot easier -- and could have been done by now -- if there was an answer as to who takes that start.
    There isn't a good one at the moment.
    Carlos doesn't need to thrown overboard as much as he needs to be reassigned to the bullpen.
    Look at his numbers as a reliever dating back to 2018.
    He's good at it, even if he doesn't like it.
    Carlos, like Gant, should be in the pen now with another starter taking his place.
    Problem is, that other starter doesn't exist at the moment.
    Matthew Liberatore is not quite ready, in the eyes of the team. It is sensitive to calling him up out of desperation, not a call-up that is dictated by his performance. He needs to dominate in the minors to force their hand. Better yet, add someone who is more proven and can step right in. That should have happened before now, but especially after Flaherty got hurt.
    Last night, at first, I took the runs scored in the 7th inning with a grain of salt. It was against a pitcher on fumes who was leaving everything over the middle of the plate. But I think we need to appreciate the runs and remember that the cards offense have been getting pitches over the middle of the plate throughout this entire skid that they’ve done nothing with. So when they finally come through with some hits we should be happy about it and not find a reason to dismiss it.
    I'd take anything good against the Diamondbacks with a block, not a grain, of salt.
    They've won 10 road games all season.
    If we get to early august and it’s clear the cards are out of it should they start considering slowly stretching out Reyes to reach his innings goal to be a starter? Because at this rate, he’s not going to be close. And as much as I love him as the closer, I’d love even more to have him as a starter.
  • He could get some more innings and help the rotation pickle if the Cards could find a way to use him as an opener. Two, three innings and out. You would not have him for the save situation if it came up but he would get his work and you would probably get more certain of a start than some of the current coin-flips.
  • Fans keep saying the cards should just hire Edmonds or Holliday. But no one seems to consider that those guys have to want the job. Holliday seems happy working with his brother at OK State. And Edmonds said recently on the broadcast that he enjoys getting to go home every night to his family. Edmonds’ comments were in relation to broadcasters not going on the road but the overall point still stands.
    Bingo. There's a big difference between talking hitting with guys sometimes and being the one in the trenches every day. Could Edmonds do it? Sure, but does he really want to? Does he like the idea of it more than he would like the actual job? I think that might be the case. It's also worth mentioning that he's complicated the potential with some of his tabloid adventures in the Real Housewives world. That's . . . a question mark. I do think what the Cardinals could be missing is the former player in the dugout who can help take the advanced stuff and boil it down, some been-there-done-that factor. The Cardinals don't have much of it on this staff. It's not needed in every role, but having it in some role, especially a hitting one, could help. Holliday is a great name. Here's another: David Freese. But with both, they would have to want to do the work. And no one could blame them if they didn't. They've got pretty good lives at the moment.
    It appears that the Cards don't have a team that will make the playoffs this year. The 2 wild cards will come from the west or perhaps one from the east. The cards are 8 games out of first at this time so I would hate to see the cards trade one of their top prospects for a marginal pitcher to help this rotation. What say you?
    This idea that the Cardinals will HAVE to trade Gorman or Liberatore to get better at the trade deadline is not one I understand, and people falling for it should review the deadline moves other teams in the recent past have made to address needs. And if the Cardinals have as many up-and-coming third baseman as they think they do, along with a Hall of Fame one who's currently there for the foreseeable future if he does not opt out, then yes, they should probably be willing to deal from that area of prospect strength to get something they need now, especially if it's a starting pitcher who can help this season and next. The Cardinals are not out of the playoff hunt -- yet. But they could be if they don't get some help.
    Morning Ben! Thanks as always for doing these chats. I'm sure with the current state of affairs with the Cardinals they can be quite difficult. My question: Is the FO looking at the offensive struggles as a continuation of the previous few years, or a 2021 vacuum/anomaly? It seems when Mo talks about it he fails to mention that this has been a downward trend for several years now.
    It's a great question. It seems to me that, in terms of hitting coach Jeff Albert, they are more interested in evaluating internal aspects only they can see. Such as, how they have made strides in talking, teaching and evaluating modern hitting. Modernized is the word that gets used a lot. Long-term plan has been mentioned often. The disconnect for me is, well, when are the results supposed to show it? Shouldn't 2.5 years be enough for some good signs? And if that is not a fair expectation for that role, then why is the role titled hitting coach? Should there be another voice added to the mix? We hear Albert is targeted unfairly, but there's no answer on who should be responsible for an offense that has moved in the wrong direction in terms of production and actual results. Hence the confusion, and honestly a bit of a whiff of a cover-up.
    The Value of 1st Pitch Strikes

    The statistical validation for 1st pitch strikes is irrefutable. 92.7% of first pitch strikes lead to an out or strike one; so that means that less than 8% of first pitch strikes become hits. 69% of strikeouts start with first pitch strikes and 70% of walks start with first pitch balls. Major league hitters hit .068 on first pitch strikes (total first pitch strikes which include foul balls, called strikes, & outs divided into hits).

    Major league pitchers throw approximately 57% first pitch strikes. They are capable of much better if we just look at the (3-0) strike percentage, which is 80%. This is extreme, but if a big league pitching staff improved their first pitch strike percentage from 57% to 80%, it would translate into one 100 fewer runs allowed over the course of a season. That translates into 10 more big league wins.

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching Wade LeBlanc pitch last night.
    He is a dying breed, but should not be……
    Wade LeBlanc threw 47 strikes out of 71 pitches last night-66%

    The information above should be the foundation on which MLB Clubs base their pitching philosophy, pitching development programs, and Evaluation Systems. Unfortunately, baseball has gone down the rabbit hole of maximum effort/maximum velocity/maximum strikeouts, which has led to 3 outcomes 1) Strikeout 2) Walk 3) Home Run which has hurt the sport in many ways including attendance. The media’s love affair with launch angle and exit velocity romanticizes harder swings, which further perpetuates the three (3) aforementioned outcomes.
    Careful with your canvas reference to The Media.
    I've been hollering about the first-pitch strike crisis all season.
    Le Blanc was a breath of fresh air, and it's why he's getting a shot in the rotation.
    I loved what he said last night about knowing he needs his catcher and his defense to stand a shot, so his best bet is to pound the zone.
    Hopefully it's contagious.
    This team is hard to watch… and makes me wonder if we’ll be a seller. Especially I with wano and yadi. I would like to see them trade Martinez but idk if that’s possible. What do you think?
    Second, next year I do not see Paul Dejong as our shortstop he has struggled and has been very streaky. Do you see them resigning him or even attack someone in free agency?
  • I don't see the Cardinals selling off Wainwright and Molina. It's more likely they're back for 2022 if there is a 2022. Both have played well this season.
    DeJong's future is fascinating, and for the first time it's hard to guarantee he is the shortstop of the future. This was kind of the season that was supposed to answer that, and it hasn't. So, all bets could be off, with the free-agency carousel that could be coming at the position. I see the Cards keeping their options open there.
    If opener is used who would be fit for that role? Reyes?
    He's the best pitcher the Cardinals have who is not being used enough. And he needs to pitch more, right? He would be my pick.
    Is there worry within the organization based on the records of all the teams from MLB to Low A?
    Not much. Most of the Cardinals minor-league teams are on the younger end in terms of the important prospects there. Cards are more interested in individual developments than minor league team record this season, especially considering the minor-league season in 2020.
    I firmly believe NEITHER John Gant or Carlos Martinez deserve to be a part of the starting rotation based on their lack of consistent performance and results.

    How do you think Shildt, Shildt & Maddox, or Shildt, Mo, & Maddox, whoever was involved in the conversation with John Gant justified removing him from the rotation, but allowing Martinez continue as a starter?

    It could not have been based on ERA or Wins vs Losses. What was it based on? Whine/Pout fear factor, flip of a coin, number of piercings? Your thoughts……..
    More than anything, it's based on the lack of better options.
    Carlos has about a 40 percent chance of giving a good to better than good start, still.
    So, Shildt and Maddux flip the coin and hope for the best -- until the front office provides a better option.
    I know one of the Cardinals strengths this year is the 3 headed bullpen monster (if Hicks comes back close to his 2019 self wow!), but considering what the Yanks got for Chapman, do you think the Cardinals should entertain trading one this July regardless if they are buyers or sellers? It’ll definitely sting, but the return could help set up the future and if Hicks comes back close to normal (never trust the “if”) and with demand looking to outpace supply, would you consider trading one of the three?
    If you are punting on the season, yes. But if you don't trade a performing piece of your three-man bullpen strength if you are interested in making the postseason and trying to do good things once you get there. It's fair to wonder how long Gallegos (29 years old) can keep this up, and if it might be the time to maximize his value in a trade -- but only if you're punting.
    Ben, I don’t understand why Shildt yanked LeBlanc last night in the 5th? He only needed to get two more outs to get the victory. Why not let him go and at least get two more outs. Just because he gives up a long ball is that justification for pulling him. He was pitching a good game, much better than we’ve seen from other starters recently. He just seems like he over manages sometimes. If I’m LeBlanc I think I’d be a little miffed this morning.
  • Managing to get the pitcher a pitcher win is a good way to get beat.
    I imagine Shildt wanted to get LeBlanc a good experience in his first start, but more importantly than that, he needed to get his team a win.
    Shildt has been nudged multiple times by the front office to "mix things up", so I imagine he's going to be a lot more aggressive in how he manages pitching now. Gant back to pen. LeBlanc in. Using his "win" relievers in a tie game.
    If it continues, the next conversation will be about how he's riding certain relievers too hard, but here's the deal. Unless the front office adds help it's one of two things -- guys who are not good enough to be pitching the amount they should be being overexposed, or guys who are good enough getting overused.
    Mo stated he was going to bring in a starter a month ago now he's going to wait for the deadline will this team be relevant by then . Thanks for the chat
    When he told DG yesterday that he could not go back in time, it was as close as he was going to get to admitting they over-bet on the internal options while more or less turning up their noses at the free-agent options who were on the table. Passing over on those guys hasn't really bit them yet, because no one has jumped on them, but you do have to wonder some of those guys if grabbed up with time to get in game shape could be helping more than the current arms.
    What moves do you think the Cardinals will make in the coming weeks and do you think they can get back in the race?
    They're shopping for starters -- and I imagine being disturbed at the ask at this time.
    The leverage of potential sellers goes down as the trade deadline nears.
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