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 you all didn't lose too many branches in the big storm. If you're like me, you were hoping some hail damage might polish off an old truck. No luck. Anyway, let's roll. Plenty to discuss. All-Star shenanigans. Stephen A Smith said something dumb, again. Another chapter of Rams drama. Important days ahead for Blues GM Doug Armstrong. Lots to discuss. Fire away.
    The Cards are presently projected to finish at 78-84. Does this seem realistic to you? What will management do if this is the case to appease the fan base moving forward?
    If they don't improve the team, it does. Hoping that injured starting pitchers are going to come back and pitch great has not been a formula for success for the Cardinals so far this season, so I'm not sure why anyone should bank on it for the second half. Some upgrades around the trade deadline would help things and could make sure the Cardinals finish on the winning side, even if it can't spark a push for the playoffs. A losing season would be the Cardinals' first since 2007. That's a big deal. With as much importance as the ownership puts on the run of consecutive winning seasons, it would be hard to imagine nothing significant being done if that turns out to be the case. But then again, it's been hard to imagine ownership watching the team shrivel up as the starting pitching eroded this season without demanding the front office do something of substance to help the slide.
    Greetings, Ben! What letter grade would you give Mozeliak, Shildt, Albert and Maddux, respectively, for 2021 thus far....
    Just for the first half of 2021? 
    Drumroll please . . . 
    Mozeliak: D. Cards needed pitching help and front office slow-played it. Team suffered as a result. Still some time to make some magic before trade deadline or maybe even after it, but I can't blame anyone for feeling like it's going to wind up out of reach for a team that has not been aggressive enough.
    Shildt: C-minus. Don't think he's been at his best and I understand why some have been turned off by his always positive messaging. Could have played Edmundo Sosa more sooner. Could have given Big John Nogowski a shot in the outfield. Could have moved Carlson up in the order before he did. Pulling some of those levers might have helped, but the roster is in my opinion a bigger problem than the manager's use of it.
    Albert: F. Cardinals got one of the NL's best hitters and he's hitting like it. Still have not been a NL average offense. It's the third season of Albert. At what point can folks expect results?
    Maddux: F. Too many walks. Too many hit batters. It's one thing if you don't have the talented arms to get the outs. The strikeout and hit-by-pith nightmare is something else entirely. 
    How'd I do?
    Let me guess: Not hard enough! 
    Bader looks like a different player from last year in a positive way, agree or disagree.
    Not exactly, but in a good way. Bader's 2020 was one of his more encouraging offensive seasons so far. It was shortened of course. And splitty; due to his success against lefties and his below-average production against righties. But altogether he posted a career-high adjusted OPS of 113 last season, which is 13 points above league average. There were positive signs if you looked for them. And there are this season, too. He's had a little more success against righties. His power is present. Would be nice to see his .308 on-base percentage climb in the second half, in part because of his game-changing speed. But enough about the numbers. I'll say this. I think the Cardinals are showing they are a more confident, energetic and bouncy bunch with him in the lineup. The team was kind of searching for a spark, and I do think he's doing everything in his power to provide that. Along with great defense.
    Carlson has struggled batting lead off. "Don't change something that was working" w him batting 2nd. Back to Edman? O'Neill? Bader? Sosa? Or.... Carpenter?
  • Kyle Schwarber turns into Super Man every time he hits leadoff. Maybe give Tyler O'Neill a swing at it? Back to Edman is my bet after the break, with Carlson sliding back down to No. 2
    Ben, does the front office upgrade the Cards at the break or just peddle bobbleheads and dollar hot dogs to sell tickets in Aug and Sept?
    Don't forget the Willie McGree lawn gnome!
    It's hard for me to knock the Cardinals for going to the promotion well, because I see firsthand how it works. Fans flock for the giveaways. Cards know their audience well.
    The Cards are not in the spot, at least at the moment, where true rentals would make a ton of sense. Acquiring some help that could help now and later would make more sense. A sell-off would make some sense, though I don't see the Cardinals taking direction unless the second half starts with a collapse.
    By not acting earlier to bolster the pitching the Cardinals backed themselves into a hard place.
    In hindsight, I suspect when Kroenke first got involved with the Rams prior to moving to St. Louis, he knew all along that if he played the long game he could eventually move them back to LA, and make a pile of money on both relocations. Reasonable speculation or giving Stan too much credit?
    More than reasonable. He removed himself from the NFL committee on Los Angeles opportunities before he became the majority owner to avoid signs of conflict of interest (hilarious, right) and registered the Rams as a California company in one of his first acts as majority owner.
    cards are at the half way point. they need some SP help and better bench.FO has to get going on helping the team that's on fumes
    BenFred,

    First and foremost, thank you for your amazing work on the STL lawsuit against Kroenke and the NFL and a shoutout to Karraker for his work as well.
    Yesterday was a long time coming, and it has even sparked some national coverage with Mike Florio from PFT writing several articles about the situation. Based on his writing, it seems he has changed his tune on this lawsuit.
    Did you ever imagine that there would be so much damning information coming out of discovery? It is a treasure trove of smoking gun evidence that Kroenke and the NFL defrauded the city of STL and negotiated in bad faith. It doesnt seem likely the lawsuit goes to summary judgement. How does Demoff keep a job after this? Even in doing Stank's bidding, his words/actions fueled the city of STL's lawsuit and may cost Stank billions.
  • You bet. I enjoy covering it and I'm glad the interest has remained. I knew it would be a long process so I've tried to do regular updates on it from time to time, with my opinion of what is happening mixed in. Joel Currier has done a great job on the news side, and I enjoy working with him on the coverage. I hope between the two of us we are giving folks a good mix of news coverage and commentary. I did appreciate Florio covering the news, and I spoke with him a bit this morning about his interest in the case. Seth Wickersham of ESPN also deserves credit for a) being an outstanding reporter and writer and b) showing a real interest in this saga. His stories have moved the ball on the coverage, and he was there in the courtroom with us yesterday. So, yes, while the blanket claim the NFL-centric media has largely ignored the story is often true, it's not always the case. And as the story gets bigger, and it will as it continues to near trial, it will have to be covered by more people. As it is with anything, those who have covered it from the jump should be the most informed and educated on the case. With respect to Florio, his opinion or mine or anyone else's is not what matters. It's going to be up for the jury to decide, if this gets there. It seems to me like the STL side has a very compelling timeline that is going to show what the Rams and the league were saying publicly and to task force leaders that will not compare favorably with what was being said and done by the league in secret. And it seems to me that the NFL/Rams side is going to attempt to prove that the task force pretty much knew it had no chance of keeping the team -- and I think that's going to be really hard to prove. It's also going to come down to how the relocation guidelines are viewed. Are they mere suggestions? Are they a contract that if breached constitutes ground for damages? These are the questions we are seeing the two sides square off over time and time again. It's quite ironic that this is all bubbling up as the Rams prepare to host the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. Karma, right? I would not be surprised at all if Demoff is done soon. He's going to catch hell for this, and Kroenke might need a new human shield. Good point on the Kroenke tab. Remember, he's on the hook for all of the league's legal fees with this case due to the agreement he signed before the move. Those costs have added up fast, though not quite as fast as his stadium cost overruns in Inglewood.
  • The Cardinals have a history of trying to backfill the non-starter/peripheral positions of the 26-man roster (Back-up-C, Front-end of BP, 4th OF, Back-up-IFs, and Pinch-Hitters) with young unproven players and that has not served them well.

    Example: Nootbar, Knzyner, J Rondon, Fernandez, Waddell, Ramirez, Garcia, Elledge, Woodford, Whitley, Ponce De Leon, Oviedo, A Rondon, Webb, Thomas, Williams, Dean, Hurst, Moroff have contributed very little.

    Totaling the OPS, HRs/RBIs and IPs-ERAs, HRS, SOs & BBs of the 19 players above is shocking.

    Sosa is the one player, given an opportunity, that has stepped up and made significant contributions.

    We have to give Mo and the 2 Mikes credit for that one! Sosa has been terrific.

    FO needs beef-up the peripheral roster slots. 3-5 games per year can be won by doing so.

    (Note: I did not include Carpenter, as he is there be default)
    At one point during the offseason the Cardinals were mentioning the idea of bench upgrades as something on their shopping list. That faded, and you're right there is evidence it should not have. It's lacking, and it's hurt them this season.
    Ben,

    In listening to Karraker and Smallman this morning, Randy went through an exercise to try and determine what STL may ask for in punitive damages. In the language of the lawsuit, they are entitled to ask for the lost taxes, the cost for the debt of the dome, the cost for trying to keep the Rams in STL, the relocation fee, and the increase in franchise value after the move. Those add up to 3.3 billion. Is this your understanding of how this may play out in court? Also, its been suggested that the NFL will urge Kroenke to settle. With how much momentum STL has right now, why would they consider settling?
    I can't imagine the league, or the owners included in yesterday's coverage, are thrilled about handing over a bunch of financial documents that essentially explain their net worth. There was already grumbling around the league about this lawsuit becoming a bigger pain in the rear than expected, and now it's taken a step forward. The discovery has been intense, acquiring phone records that could go public if used in courts, and now this. In Missouri, before punitive damages can be put on the table as an option for a jury, plaintiffs have to prove to the judge that there is enough evidence to open that door before the plaintiffs are essentially allowed to get the financial status of the parties who could be hit with punitive damages. Example: It doesn't make a lot of sense for a guy who is worth $10 to be tagged with a million dollar's worth of damages that will never be paid. We're not talking about $10 parties here. We're talking about incredibly wealthy owners, meaning the opening of the door to potential punitive damages could mean a lot of money, perhaps money beyond what the STL region can convince a jury it lost in its doomed effort to keep the Rams. That was why STL side felt like Monday was a big win. The judge green-lighted some big names but also said the STL side needed more specifics on others before their financial data can be pursued. The STL side has 10 days to make those claims sharper and stronger. If they can't, that does not mean those defendants are scrapped from the suit. It just means they don't have to hand over their financials. The dollar amount, I don't know. I think the STL side will aim high, and I don't think they have much interest in settling -- and at this point I don't think there has been much interest in the NFL side. Maybe that changes as more and more gets out. That's also why Monday was big. It was the first chance the STL side had to reveal some (not all) of what it turned up in discovery. The protective order has kept everything quiet on that front until now. So it was a little preview of what is to come. If the league did not like the preview, it could start to change its tune. Again, I do think there is some chatter within the league that it does not want this issue clouding the Rams hosting the Super Bowl in LA. Why settle? If the money is big, and right, and there is enough reason to think a big win in court would be walked back or dismissed by the appeal that would almost certainly follow.
    Reputation, pride, and the fear of public shame was so 20th century, so I'll avoid asking about Demoff/StanK today. What are scouts saying about outfielder Alec Burleson and when could he potentially arrive in St. Louis?
    Not sure what scouts are saying about him, but his numbers are quite impressive. Slashing .295 with a .349 on-base percentage and a .521 slugging percentage in 57 games between Peoria and Springfield. 22 years old. Lefty. Outfielder. Can play first base, too. The organization has been impressed and pleasantly surprised with his rise.
    I read today that Mr Hicks may well be off limits this season, if the pln is to move reyes to the rotation next year might a closer be on the shopping list for the offseason or will they work from within as usuaul?
    I think the days of shopping for a closer in the offseason are probably over for the Cardinals. Reyes grabbing that role and thriving in it is an example of why. He didn't have experience. He had the talent, and he did great when given the chance. If you find out you do need a closer and don't have someone who can handle it from within, you can add one during the season.
    I think the answer for DeWitt is pretty simple; there is a direct correlation between Mo’s accumulation of power over the last 6 years and the diminishing/stagnated results of this ballclub on the field. Mo installed Shildt and Mo installed Albert, whose offensive philosophies are now apparently so deeply interwoven in the fabric of organization that he can’t be fired only maybe reassigned? Mo’s failures are always conveniently explained away at year end but I think an honest audit of his performance since 2015 would suggest some action needs to be taken by DeWitt. At the very least a new voice needs to be greatly empowered within that FO and clear out the echo chamber.
  • I doubt he sees it as quite so simple. Mozeliak has won him a lot of games, and made him a lot of money over the years. The two are in lock step or close to it on the sustained-success plan. That said, yes, I think Mozeliak is under as much pressure now as he has been in a long time, in terms of the direction of the team and the distance growing since the last World Series championship, which reaches a decade if the Cardinals do not make some sort of miraculous run this season. I would not put the Shildt hire down as a minus. He's won a manager of the year award and finished in the top-three for it another year. The Jeff Albert hire and empowerment, the free-agent whiffs, the unnecessary extensions and most importantly the bad reads on some of t he Cardinals own prospects are the biggest problems that have developed, and Mozeliak as the head of the baseball operations has fingerprints on all of them. Hence, the pressure Mozeliak is feeling. Where does that pressure lead if the season is not salvaged? Good question. Could be a firing. Could be a reassignment. Could be a changing of the front office beneath Mozeliak to bring in some more outsiders and different ways of doing business. Could be a shrug. That's on DeWitt to determine, and he's made no indication lately about which way he's leaning, other than making it clear in his actions over the years that Mozeliak is pretty safe. We'll see if that changes depending on how the team performs and what the front office can accomplish the rest of the season.
    Does the FO office value cost and control over actual talent? I could see this organization looking at a guy like Edman and saying “yeah, but we are getting THAT for $596,000 with 4 more seasons of control!” That’s great but take a step back and look at how that production compares to other second basemen around the league? Edman has the 2nd lowest OPS and the 2nd lowest OBP of the 18 second basemen who qualify (3.1 PA per game). DeJong might not even be the best SS on the team anymore and yet he plays almost every day, why? Because Mo thought he got some bargain when he bought out his arbitration years and the team refuses to admit that the past 26 months are who DeJong really is as a hitter? I realize that they can’t field a roster of Arenados, but Tommy Edman can’t be your leadoff hitter because he is inexpensive and DeJong can’t be your everyday SS because you overvalued his upside in 2018.
    They value both, along with their budget.
    As most teams do.
    That said the Cardinals are as budget-minded as about any team out there. I think they do too good of a job of setting a budget and sticking with it even when some tweaks, like bringing back Kolten Wong, for example, could have been worth it.
    What do you make of Team USA basketball losing to Nigeria and Australia, back to back? Cause for concern at the Olympics or do they just not care about exhibitions?
    Some concern is fair. Correct me if I'm wrong but they have usually rolled in those exhibitions during their gold medal seasons, right? Might be missing LeBron's leadership? Somebody better step it up. Jayson Tatum, come on down. Motivation should not be lacking after we are all now wondering if they're going to lay an egg.
    Two days ago, Mike Florio suggested that St. Louis is the NFL's preferred decision for a new franchise when they expand to 34 (London being the other location). At the time that seemed random, but knowing that the NFL is getting destroyed in the lawsuit, I think by the end of this week we're going to hear heavy rumors about NFL expansion back into St. Louis. And I imagine Enos will be footing the bill.
    Rumors are fun, but nothing more until there's something of substance. It would not surprise me if the NFL floats stuff like that to try to get people to turn on the lawsuit as something that could damage the chances. If you're trusting the NFL at this point, you're doing it wrong. You all know where I stand on this one. If it was a one-man vote and I was the one voting, I would vote for STL to not take the NFL back.
    Enjoyed your article in today’s PD providing an update on the Rams relocation lawsuit. Is Stanley setting up young Mr Demoff as his human shield and potential fall guy or is that not realistic? Thanks
    That's nothing new. When Stan stopped talking relocation completely and Kevin was left spinning lies, the decision was made. Kevin was going to be the professional liar. What a great label applied by Charlie Marlow. He should get an apology from his station for having to apologize for using it.
    If you were St. Louis, what would Stan Kroenke need to be willing to pay for you to drop the lawsuit? I'm thinking 5 billion dollars.
    I think Dr. Evil had it right. One billion dollars. *Raises pinky finger*
    The Cardinals have a 1% chance of making the playoffs. They need to be sellers at the trade deadline. Other than KK who else can they trade away (and get something in return) without significantly hurting next year's team?
    Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright would be desirable, I imagine. Both are on expiring one-year contracts. True rentals. It would require a true sellers' mindset and a willingness to a) let their legacies end that way and b) believe whatever they were traded for (it would not be top prospects) would help you more in 2022 than having Molina and Wainwright back on another one-year deal would. I think it would be unlikely that either of those guys would return to the Cardinals if traded away. Maybe I'm wrong there.
    John Gant and Andrew Miller could be viewed as desirable for teams with bullpen needs. Gant offers versatility and length. Miller has been better after a rough start, and has plenty of postseason experience.
    BenFred,
    Still beating the DH drum I see. Yes Cardinals pitchers were reported as being injured in the function of being a batsman. Flaherty I can see as totally being from hitting, but did he even take a practice swing before approaching the plate. Many don't. Carlos Martinez, while injured hitting a ball, could just as well have been injured getting out of a cab or taking a shower. This is the same person injured celebrating a home run. KK was injured running to first base. More he aggravated an injury from spring training which he directly attributed to overthrowing pitches trying to gain velocity--not hitting. Heaven forbid we expect a pitcher to run. How will he cover first base? Or back up home or 3rd? Or chase down a bunt and actually bend over to pick up a ball. I guess it was wrong to expect them to be more athletic.

    Having said that all of baseball has been going towards a DH for years. When you see it in leagues designed for teenagers it's clear they don't want pitchers to hit.
    But it's not that they can't hit, it's the coaches, managers, etc., who limit it. No, not everyone can Shohei Ohtani or Babe Ruth, but they make no attempt to develop them. If you look at players the Cardinals just drafted and already have in their system many of them could both pitch and play the field, which means hit. Once they signed the contract the organization picked which way they'd go, but none would do both. Almost every college team has a player who does both. When pitchers don't hit in MILB they'll never be able to do it aptly in the big leagues.

    So yes, we most likely will see it come out of the next CBA. While not a proponent of the DH, it's ridiculous only 15 teams in all of professional baseball don't use it. We thought we'd see it this year.

    How big of a bargaining chip do you think it really is in the upcoming talks/negotiations?

    I don't see it as big of a chip as I did in the past. NL owners can't say they're traditionalists because the big league team is the only one who doesn't use one. In MILB they want the DH because it helps them develop one more bat.
    My biggest argument is both the American League and the National League should play by the same rules. I think it's crazy that such a difference is allowed by two different sets of teams that are competing for the same prize.
    I would love to see a grassroots campaign dedicated to the return of pitchers hitting. Growing up, we all knew the best pitchers were probably also the best pitchers. Why should it have to change? But it does change, doing nothing to change that fact while ignoring the agony of watching pitchers attempt to "hit" in the majors is, to me, not worth defending the lack of a DH. I just came around on admitting that, yeah, watching this part of the game -- pitchers striking out -- is not fun. I don't enjoy it. It's more of a minus than the strategy argument I often hear as a reason for it.
    You're right that the DH is one of the few things players and owners should agree on during CBA talks, but them agreeing on it doesn't mean they agree on who should value it more, and who should give up what to get it. That's the standoff that's been brewing. 
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