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, gang. Sorry for being a few minutes late. Was finishing up a new Eye On The Tigers video with Dave Matter about the AD hire in CoMo. He's got the details of the contract and will have a story posted shortly at the site. Plenty to discuss today. We're going to hit it hard until about 2 p.m. So, don't show up late! Let's roll.
    Ben, do you see a time when the Cards would elevate their organization philosophy from building competitive teams to building elite teams, the latter which carries a higher risk and reward?
    It's a balancing act always but the needle has been moving in the wrong direction for a while now. The team has gone from publicly discussing a desire to win championships, to celebrating makin the postseason, to pointing to the record of winning seasons. And with this team, even that is in question this season. It doesn't look like much when you see it in the moment, but when you zoom out it's pretty startling. The man in charge of the needle is chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. Ownership. Not Mozeliak. Not Girsch. Not Shildt. Not the players. Unless the top boss is not pleased with the declining direction, the urgency to upgrade the intensity won't be there. Period.
    For this Cardinals team now well into the dog days of summer, what do you suppose "catching lightning in a bottle" might look like so many of us die hard Cardinals fans will be sure to stay more alert so not to miss it?
    I would not expect any lightning catching. Time to do things that put the team in a better position for 2021. One of which was adding Lester and Happ to better protect guys like Oviedo and Woodford from getting their confidence eroded even more than it had been. I'd like to see some of the excelling prospects at Class AAA get a chance before they get jumped over and wind up exceeding elsewhere. I thought Mike Shannon's summary of the Cards was pretty telling Sunday. Just not very good. When you've lost the Moon Man . . .
    Where do you feel Dylan Carlson will ultimately land up in the Cardinals everyday lineup? And can you please share his splits especially if you think there might be a case he might land up batting in two different spots depending on whether a righty or southpaw opposing pitcher is going that day.
    I think Carlson could very well be the leadoff hitter for years to come.
    Switch-hitter. Power. Speed. 
    You'd like his on-base percentage to grow, sure.
    But remember, he's 22 years old. Now is not the time to be putting ceilings on his career. He's played all of 144 games.
    Here are DC's splits this season . .  .
    Vs lefties: .326/.371/.463
    Vs righties: .234/.327/.404.
    I like the Edman/Carlson platoon approach to leadoff more than one or the other there all the time for the moment, and I would not be against a higher OBP guy getting that spot for the short-term moving forward, to take pressure off both. Leadoff lack of production has been a big factor for the under-performing offense so far this season. You know who would have looked good there? Kolten Wong.
    Hi, Ben. Thanks for the chat. And, thanks for all the coverage of the Cardinals by you and your colleagues. It's the main reason I subscribe to the Post-Dispatch. I try to be restrained, and at least somewhat rational, in my criticism of the Cardinals, but for me this is a hard team to watch -- and I've watched some pretty bad teams in my 50 years as a Cardinal fan. I watch games on TV, then listen to Shildt's comments afterward and wonder, "Did we see the same game?" I don't expect him to throw players under the bus, so to speak, but his view of a good team and mine appear to be very different. If his team is so good, why is it struggling to play .500 ball?
    I would argue that a team of recent Cardinal castoffs could more than hold its own against this club.
    1B -- Luke Voit; 2B -- Donovan Solano; SS -- Aledmys Diaz; 3B -- Patrick Wisdom; OF -- Randy Arozarena, Tommy Pham, Adolis Garcia; C -- Carson Kelly; DH -- Randal Grichuk; Starting Pitchers -- Lance Lynn, Sandy Alcantara, Max Gallen; Relievers -- Robert Stock, Roman Wick, Steve Cishek.
    Given the front office's performance in recent years in upgrading the roster (though it definitely deserves praise for landing Goldschmidt and Arenado), I'm not optimistic it can get the Cardinals out of this quagmire.
    Can you give me some reason think otherwise? Thank you.
  • The castoff team would not compete very well with this one once you get past the starting pitching.
    I understand the eyerolls Shildt draws with some of his comments, but remember he's not the one who is building the team. Mozeliak is with DeWitt's budget. So, my view is that it doesn't make a lot of sense to crush the manager for the roster, because he does not control it.
    That said, I think Shildt has room to grow in finding his role in improving the roster in terms of using his chances to move the discussion in that direction. He has said a lot of read-between-the-line things about needing help, about doing the best he can with what he has, and those things speak to the fact he has wanted upgrades this season that did not come. In fact, he's never once been rewarded with significant trade-deadline upgrades since he became the manager. Despite winning manager of the year once and finishing high in the voting another time.
    You can make an argument Shildt should be getting more out of this team, and perhaps that is correct, but I don't see how any other manager would be getting much more than .500 from this group. That's why I don't go nuts about him being upbeat in the post-game pressers. It's just not that relevant.
    With Matt Carp likely playing his swan song this season, I now marvel at the optics he exhibits daily as a positive influence primarily a cheerleader in the dugout these days. How do you think the average fan who also saw him break in with an enormous amount of success early in his career, including an integral member of one pennant winning team and of course very notably those two Clayton Kershaw at-bats likely process as a whole all he did - good, bad and ugly?
    Time heals most wounds. I used to think he was going to be a relative lock for the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Now, I'm not so sure. But it wouldn't surprise me if he winds up getting in. He didn't give himself the contract extension that aged poorly. And you're right, he is a good teammate. Far better than some of his critics insist. I think you can scratch the likely from your question. Carp might play elsewhere next season but can't imagine his time with the Cardinals extending. Time to turn the page to whatever's next.
    The Cards have these last 50 games to find out if they have an internal option at LO. How about giving Bader the next 25 games and if that doesn't fit let O'Neil have a shot?
    If Bader was still burning it up, maybe. He's six-for-36 over his last 10 games with 11 strikeouts and three walks. Not saying he shouldn't get the shot but you don't send him up above five for the first time this season without something cooking. I wouldn't, at least. The O'Neill-as-Schwarber leadoff thing interests me, I'll admit. Hey, if there was a time to tinker, it's now. But the Cardinals don't see it that way yet. They are still talking about that "run" that is coming. So, we wait.
    So last offseason cards made their 1 big move (Arenado) and fans knew the Cardinals needed more while the FO disagreed. So are they just lying to our faces or are they that bad at their job?
    They had too much faith in their pitching depth and failed to address it as it started getting punctured with injuries.
    They left their positional depth short and paid the price.
    Some of those hope-based decisions were directly linked to their determination to keep close tabs on the budget during a season that was still affected by the pandemic's financial pinch.
    That's as straight as I can shoot it.
    It was combination of overconfidence in the talent and under-confidence in the belief expanding the budget would pay dividends.
    BenFred - Concerning the lawsuit against Kroenke & the NFL: in your last chat you said there are a couple of lawsuit hearings scheduled for August that should shed more light on things including additional financial records for the remaining owners. Do you know those exact dates?
    Unless something has changed, there could be some action on that front tomorrow. Checking in on some of that today.
  • Theres not much to complain about eith Tyler O’Neill this season. He’s shown great improvement. However, next step he needs to take is batting with RISP, especially with less than 2 outs. He’s batting .197 with RISP and less than 2 outs. He’s batting .200 with RISP and 2 outs. A player who has batted 4th and 5th most of the season needs to have more than 41 RBI.
    I agree with you and will just point to another stat, a rate-specific that tells us more than RBI totals that don't take into account games played. Remember, O'Neill missed time with injuries this season. But your point stands, and I think this one proves it even better. Check out the at-bat per RBI rate of some of the regulars . . . 
    Arenado: 6.09 AB/RBI
    Goldschmidt: 6.68
    Bader: 6.74
    Molina: 6.76
    O'Neill: 7.49
    Carpenter: 7.62
    DeJong: 7.88
    Carlson: 8.85
    Edman: 13.94
    And then there's the handy batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs.
    O'Neill is seven-for-35 with 12 Ks in that pressure-packed setting. 
    Molina is 14-for-40 with 7 Ks. (Pretty stinking good.)
    Something to work on, for sure.
     
    Hi Ben, I wanted to get your opinion on the medical treatment given to players by doctors employed by a sports team. In routine instances it works out fine. But for more complicated situations you come up against the team wanting to do what is expedient for their interests vs what is best for the player. Look at the Jack Eichel situation for example. The NHL's CBA won't even let him make his own decision about his long term health and career, which has led to their impasse Locally, we've seen both Scott Rolen and Vladimir Tarasenko have a couple of surgeries by team doctors with no success and they've sought outside help. In all these situations, the player gets labeled a malcontent. I've also read where some teams bid out the team physician position, not based on merit but on who is willing to pay up. A lot of issues with this and hard to narrow it down to a chat question, but curious on your general thoughts....
    It's complicated, indeed. But players have to be their own advocate, first and foremost. And it's in the best interest of teams to provide top-notch care so they can get the most out of their athletes. At the end of the day, like anything, you have to look out for yourself, first and foremost.
    Tarasenko is not being labeled a malcontent just because he has beef with the team docs. Beef that is, it should be noted, not really proven. He played great after his first shoulder surgery, something no one really mentions. He's also been a whiner about not being named captained, his role on the team, and other things. Every week it seems his agent has something new to add to the boiling pot of his problems with the Blues. If it was just the issue with his shoulder operations, I'd give it a little more consideration. Mostly it just comes across like Tarasenko and his representation using everything within their power to force an exit.
    How is the Trevor Bauer situation any different from DeShaun Watson? MLB seems to be trying to do the right thing in all of this while the NFL is looking the other way. Its hard to believe that NFL Security was able to dig up info that Drew Lock was called to the principal's office in his freshman year of high school, but numerous stars get into big trouble but they can substantiate evidence. PEDs in baseball are a major scandal while in the NFL it elicits a shrug at the most. Have we just decided as a society that MLB should be held to higher standards for overall conduct and the NFL is allowed to be an anything goes, blood lust and greed league?
    I would advise against ranking the morality of pro sports leagues.
    It's a good way to wind up looking silly.
    I went to the game on Sunday, and it was increasing apparent in watching that this offense doesn't have the talent to win very many games if the pitching falters. Is there any change in approach that could better utilize the talent the Cards do have? With the roster for the most part locked in for 2022, how do they get any better? Even if they add a SS/2B that can add offense do you think it would be enough, it doesn't seem like they get all of the pistons firing on the offense at the same time?
    They need to figure out their plan for the instruction of the offense.
    John Mozeliak has defended hitting coach Jeff Albert at every turn but the numbers are the numbers, and they are not good.
    Have they gotten better after the All-Star break? Yes. After Shildt intervened and said they needed to start doing things differently. Good for him. Bad for Albert.
    You can see some of the minor leaguers finding traction with the Albert philosophy. Hard line drives. Impressive power. You can't knock him for one thing and not acknowledge him for something else. I mean you can, but I won't. 
    I wonder if it would be better if he had an office instead of a spot in the dugout. Or the Cardinals need to add a former player to the mix so guys can have some been-there, done-that voice to their instruction. Something is not clicking. I don't know that Albert needs to be shipped out, and I can see the value the Cardinals are pointing to in their desire to modernize the entire operation, but something is missing in the dugout when it comes to sizing up opposing pitchers, snapping out of slumps and doing whatever it takes to come up with enough runs to win consistenlty.
    Paul DeJong is a huge example. No one has been more pro-Albert than DeJong. And he's totally lost. Something must change beyond the talent.
    I keep reading about what the 2022 CArdinals need but I see no mention of the lack of productivity of the OF. If we have an OF with 60 rbis at the end of the season I will be surprised and 60 is nothing as far as OF production. IMO 2 of the 3 should be 80--90 rbis to be considered productive. What is your opinion?
  • Whether you like the current outfield or want it upgraded, the counting stats (like RBIs) won't be very telling for the group this season due to the injuries. Bader and O'Neill both missed significant time. The Cardinals' season-long on-base plus slugging percentage of .732 ranks 10th in the NL (not great but not horrendous) and the numbers have been better since July, when Bader, O'Neill and Carlson were all healthy and the experimentation with Lane Thomas and Justin Williams stopped. I think the current outfielders have given more reasons to be positive than negative, but the idea of upgrading the spot should not be out of the question -- especially if someone slumps very hard to end the season. That said the Cardinals' biggest problems this season, compared to the rest of the NL production, have been the lack of production from the middle infield. DeJong's slump has hurt, as has the Cardinals' bad habit of asking Tommy Edman to do way too much.
    Ben,

    Thanks for the chat today and the great article eliminating "Injuries" as a 2021 excuse.

    Yesterday, Derrick Goold told us the Cardinals will have approximately $60M of salary space heading into 2022 with roughly 33% of that amount earmarked incremental arbitration raises leaving approximately $40M to improve the ballclub.

    If we can assume the signing of Molina + Wainwright will happen soon and cost around $20M, the Cardinals will have approximately $124.5M committed before addressing the needs below:

    The areas the Cardinals need to address while spending $30M or less are:
    Offense-

    1) DH who can thump and hit behind Arenado
    2) LHH 4th OF than spell the starting OFers and pinch hit effectively
    3) SS- would great if he could leadoff

    Pitching
    1) Either a SP or Closer (contingent on how Reyes is used). Hicks will need help!
    2) Two arms in the BP (Re-signing McFarland and LeBlanc would be good values and cost about 2.5M)

    Ben-how would you fill “holes” above? I would also like to hear how my fellow chatters would fill the “holes”.
    I'd love to see a true mauler of a DH to usher in the STL era.
    Overload on starting pitching and the bullpen will benefit as a result.
    I'm not quite ready to give up on Paul DeJong but wouldn't mind seeing him play second with Trevor Story at shortstop, which would free Edman to play often everywhere as a super-sub, Zobrist style.
    I'm out on buying closers. Find one from within. Seems to work OK for the Cards. Too volatile to spend much on that spot if it's not at trade deadline for team that's trying to make a run.
    Just my immediate thoughts after reading.
    Has anyone in the Cards organization considered that DeJong's 2019 might have been the statistical exception, not the career mean? If I had a nickel for every time I have heard the manager, sports talk radio, bloggers, journalists, etc. talk about the need to "get DeJong going" I would have a lot of nickels. What evidence over the last 24 months suggests that this is going to happen? What I see is a team who loves the idea of paying a starting SS $15 million total over the next two seasons and wants to avoid having to get involved in the free agent SS market.
    I think everyone has considered that. Another thing to consider is, instead of sending DeJong out for a replacement who is older and more proven but might be on the decline soon, perhaps add offensive help for middle infield AND keep DeJong so he might benefit from the scaled-back expectations and become the kind of lineup threat we so often wish the Cardinals had -- like a ambushing seven-hole hitter on a deep, dynamic team. Sometimes I think people get so caught up in one-in, one-out style thinking that they forget a guy might be a pretty good player if his first sign of success is not immediately spun into bigger expectations immediately. The Cardinals did this to themselves. DeJong flashed. They immediately decided he should be the cleanup hitter. He hasn't been that guy so now he's got to go? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe part of the reason he had such a hot start to his career was because he wasn't being counted on to be That Guy. Good teams have those guys, and put them in positions to succeed. Just saying.
    Interesting take from Will Leitch on MLB.com

    15. Cardinals (1.4 percent)
    The Cardinals are basically the opposite of urgent right now, with no offseason acquisitions other than having Nolan Arenado fall in their laps and Deadline acquisitions of two starting pitchers who are old enough to be Wander Franco’s dad. This is a listless season for a franchise that appears to have lost its way. Will it have more urgency in 2022? Does it remember what urgency is at this point?
    Sounds right. I would have added the reminder that the Cardinals have lately shown more interest in building a massive, overcompensating replica of the Commissioner's Trophy at Ballpark Village than they have shown in winning one on the field.
    I mentioned the idea of a DH mauler to Derrick yesterday, and he seemed to think that the team would prefer to use the plan of rotating the starters through the DH to get each one a day of “semi-rest”, with a versatile player like Edmun rotating to cover in the field. This doesn’t excite me, I have seen this when we play in an AL city. Hard to get excited by adding a utility infielder bat to the lineup. Do you have the sense that the team is leaning this way?
    That's how they used it when it was dropped in for the 2020 season.
    I think it would be a mistake for two reasons.
    One: It robs you of a chance to add instant offense without defensive concern to a team that desperately needs an upgraded offense, again.
    Two: It's not fun. This team is getting a bit boring. A basher would move the needle. Sometimes entertainment value must be considered. Same reason I wanted Cards to go big for Bryce Harper. He's making an NL MVP run by the way. Shocker.
    BenFred who would you like to see the Cardinals bring up as September call ups to get a look at?
    I'd like to see Juan Yepez get a debut, since we are talking DH. He could be a guy who has a chance at that role. He can also play both corners, infield and outfield. He would have to be added to the 40-man. The horror! He's the Cardinals' No. 17 prospect, so he's worth getting a good read on, not some old guy. He's only 23. Displaying big power at Memphis. Question on his major league potential will be if power plays when he gets the call. Would like to find out.
    Concerning NL ROY, we hear very little about Alex Reyes chances to earn the honor.
    Why is that?
    Reyes has surpassed the rookie qualifications.
    He's not eligible.
    Old friend Patrick Wisdom is.
    He leads the NL rookies in homers.
    Any surprise the team hasn't bothered with adding a 4th OF? Doesn't need to be a star or anything, but like the Lester and Happ additions, it would allow them to have a veteran in that spot so a young guy like Noot can go back to AAA and continue to develop. Guys like Dee Strange-Gordon and Josh Reddick are just sitting there, probably willing to take league minimum. Just seems incompetent at this point.
    I'd much rather see guys like Lars get a shot at major league action than a short-timer who is only riding it out until the end of the year. The Cardinals felt the need to add rental pitching because they had no starters who were ready. They have outfielders who are deserving of chances, Lars being one of them. They also want to get this current mix of starters -- O'Neill, Bader and Carlson -- as much action together because that's the outfield they seem to want moving forward.
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