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.

    Ben, in your conversations with the Cardinal's front office do you get the impression the team expects to be a major player in FA this offseason? While not normally this team's MO, it seems like a variety of factors are falling into place to make this coming offseason an exception. Labor peace (a necessity before the 2022 season ever starts) combined with payroll flexibility, a flagging fan base in need of a jolt, and an aging core of Cardinal HOFs the organization would love to be able to market one last time as chasing a championship would seem like the perfect mix to get the team motivated to add players and not just hope for some internal improvement.
    I know better than to pump you all up about the Cardinals' free-agency plans.
    Let's see what they do not what they say, or suggest, or hint.
    Should the Cards try to re-sign KK? When he's right, he seems to be really effective and has said he would like to stay. But, he's on the wrong side of 30, has had back and elbow problems this year, and seldom gets beyond 5 innings. Seems like a contract that could implode on the Cards, but probably wouldn't cost much. I know you can never have enough pitching but should the Cards take the money that it would cost to sign him and look elsewhere?
  • A couple of weeks ago I'd say sure, but not now. 
    Too many physical problems popping up.
    I don't like how this latest elbow issue was handled.
    Team was being shady about it until Matt Carpenter spilled the beans.
    Too many bad signs for me at a concerning age. He's a free agent after the season. I'd move on.
    What do you expect from Carlson in 2022?
    Just that he continues to grow into his game and ignore the noise. His calm, collected beyond-his-years approach is going to pay big dividends soon. That's it, honestly.
    He's played more games and had more at-bats than any other MLB rookie this season.
    These numbers from the top-two rookies in terms of at-bats this season might surprise some folks.
    Rookie A: 407 at-bats; .256 average; .337 on-base percentage; .418 slugging percentage
    Rookie B: 387 at-bats; .251 average; .296 on-bae percentage; .486 slugging percentage
    Rookie C: 380 at-bats; .268 average; .344 on-base percentage; .458 slugging percentage
    Rookie A is Carlson, who as an on-base plus slugging percentage of .755
    Rookie B is Adolis Garcia, who has an OPS of .782.
    Rookie C is Randy Arozarena, who has an OPS of 
    Carlson is 22 years old.
    Garcia is 28.
    Arozarena is 26.
    A little patience is going to go a long with with Carlson.
    If you want to see Lars as 4th OF vs veteran - how about young pitchers or prospects vs Happ and Lester that won’t be back next year (unless FO wants to justify the trades they made).

    We all understand they don’t want to rush Liberatore but I’d rather see Woodford and Oviedo than Lester pouting with another umpire over some bad calls that didn’t go his way🥎
    Because of what I said earlier -- it's pretty clear those guys are not ready.
    Oviedo's confidence was being eroded before our eyes.
    Woodford's too at times.
    Ideally Liberatore and Thompson would have been ready to step forward and give folks something to get fired up about for 2022, but they have not performed well enough in Memphis to take that step.
    On a more optimistic note - am I alone in thinking that Tarasenko coming back would be great news for the blues? Dreaming of the scoring and depth the blues would have in their forward lines:

    Buchnevich- schenn - tarasenko
    Saad - Oreilly - Perron
    Sunqvist - thomas - kyrou
    Kostin - barbashev - Clifford/Sanford

    I could see all top 3 lines getting 15+ minutes a game and not really sacrificing scoring chances. Sure D is still an issue, but if Tarasenko is even a 25 goal scorer thats a scary good team. Plus for all of his pouting about missing out on the captaincy and everything else, we've never seen him put in any less than 100% in a game situation.
    Count me out on that one. I'm not sure how a player who has thrown the team medical staff and the coaching staff under the bus is going to get back on track with a Craig Berube coached team. Some of the teammates who had been quietly tiring or playing with Tarasenko might not be so quiet this time around. I think Army's gotta offload him for the sake of team chemistry at this point. Rip the BAND-AID off. In theory, I get your point. But it ignores the fact these guys have to work together, play together, win together. It's really hard to un-burn bridges.
    Of the shortstops I've seen mentioned the Cardinals should get in the offseason only Story is as old as Dejong. So this response when asked whether the cards should go after an elite SS doesn't hold water.
    "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"

    Dejong-28
    Correa-26
    Seager-27
    Story-28
    The one shortstop the Cardinals have been linked to, specifically, is Story.
    They had some sorts of conversations about him with the Rockies at the trade deadline.
    He's almost a full year older than Paul, check the birthdates.
    Story's OPS has dropped for three consecutive seasons, down to .789 this season.
    I'm not saying Story would not help, and I'm not saying Cards should not upgrade shortstop after DeJong's rotten season, but what I was saying earlier was that it doesn't necessarily have to be a one-in, one-out thing, and that DeJong could benefit from a depressurized role on this same team. That's all.
    I was specifically referencing Story in that answer about the age.
    Also Javier Baez. He's about a year older than DeJong as well. I like the Baez idea more than most.
  • Thanks for the response BenFred! - Definitely get your point that the game isn't played on paper and that there are real people and relationship dynamics involved. I'm interested though - are there signs that the players and coaches fed up with him personally? I understand it would be hard to forgive a guy whose agent has torched the team as often as possible, but players understand that this is a business and he's just trying to do what's best for him. I guess I didn't realize that players and coaches had grown resentful of him and his personality?
    Tarasenko is fine to play with when he's playing well and scoring.
    Not so great to play with when he's not, because he does not do the other things.
    And when he's not scoring, he pouts.
    It used to be more or less just shrugged off. I think it's an assumption that it would be now. People within the organization are rolling their eyes at his scorched-earth approach this offseason. If Armstrong thinks this team can win this season, I don't think he gives No. 91 a chance to pollute it. 
    Have you listened to the "Crushed" podcast and did it change any of your views on the steroid era in baseball? I was trying to explain to my kids the meaning behind Big Mac Land at the game on Sunday and found it hard to paint McGwire as a villain with all that has come out since the summer of 98, and how his arrival here signaled the start of the turnaround of the Cardinals organization from the early 90's. You can't leave it out, but you don't want to talk about how great steroids, etc can help you become either.
    I have. Joan is a great friend of mine. She did an awesome job with it. She managed to not pull punches but also show the human side of the debate -- and the divide. I especially liked hearing from the players who didn't do it. That's a side that too often gets lost. "Everyone did it" is what we hear. Wrong. And those who didn't suffered as a result.
    BenFred - no one is counting on DeJong this season, at least since his return from injury, and the results still aren't there. DeJong is the last of the Grichuk Era where Mo & Co. rushed to baptize players as "middle of the order solution" based on a very small sample size. To your point, look at Grichuk he still has good value, but that value needs context and better bats around it.
    I like the Grichuk comparison. Send him out because he wasn't the middle order solution he was presented to be, but are there not times in recent past where he would have looked like nice piece for this offense? Sometimes scaling a guy back in terms of his projected role is smarter than shipping him out, and I wonder if that could be the best solution for DeJong.
    Ben, I've seen a lot of discussion recently about money coming off the books in 2022 for the Cardinals. Fowler's scenario was brought up, and it made me wonder about Cecil and Leake. Can you remind me of when the Cardinals were able to stop paying them to not play baseball for them? And am I forgetting anyone else that's recently been paid to not play baseball for the Cardinals?
    Those are the big three recently. They stood out because the money paid to go away was considerable, a rarity for the Cardinals.
    Do you expect the Cubs to have a lengthy rebuild after their sell off or reload through free agency?
    Based on the big old pool of top-30ish prospects they netted in their fire sale, it shouldn't be too long. Maybe a White Sox style renovation? Beware the absence of Theo, though. Jed's a one-man band now trying to use the two-man playbook. No guarantees it works.
    Power numbers are awful in Busch, especially for RHH. It seems to be worse since One Cardinal Way was built. Do you think there’s a possibility of moving the left field fence in and adding some more seats?
  • It gets called for in the chats often but I've heard nothing about the team being interested in the idea.
  • Ben, Time and time again I see Cards batters up with one or zero strikes, against the shift, failing to bunt. Does this come from Shildt?
    Turn on some other games and you will see the same thing. A lot of guys won't do it. A lot of guys can't do it.
    BenFred the Cardinals have given up on this season proven by their actions ( or lack thereof) at the trade deadline. If they have, so will I , and I agree with their honest assessment of the team. Hopefully a productive off season will enable the team to be competitive in 2022 and beyond. I almost (I said almost) feel sorry for the Wrigleyville faithful as their stripped down team will take longer to be relevant. On the bright side they have 2 more seasons of Jason Heyward to build their team around.
    Heyward went from worrying about the Cardinals' aging core to being on a team that has no core! And how he's the aging guy. Life comes at you fast, as the kids say.
    I am ok knowing that this year was going to be a "transition year". But if this team brings back essentially the same team minus Carpenter and Miller, I don't see this team being significantly better. The team seems stale and needs a shake up from the outside of the organization be it the coaching staff/ and or incoming talent. Would you agree?
    I wouldn't agree that this year was supposed to be a transition year.
    That's not the message the team was sending when it traded for Arenado and brought back Yadier Molian and Adam Wainwright.
    After Sunday's fiasco which culminated with both Edman and DeJong looking at called 3rd strikes in the 9th (Edman without so much as a twitch, much less swing), there was lots of outrage that went something like, "See? Too many guys taking called 3rd strikes. We're horrible about that." So I looked it up, STL is near the bottom (i.e. fewest), #25, in team percentage taking called 3rd strikes, about 23%. When looking at good teams - based on W-L record or and/or likely to make the playoffs, all but 5 teams are above league average in 3rd strike percentage, with HOU #1 at 30%. What do you make of that?
    There are a lot of reasons to be disappointed in this offense. A lot. But strikeouts are not one. At least not for those considering context and living in reality. The Cardinals have the fewest strikeouts (906) of any team in the National League.
    And while that's great, they are bottom-five in the NL in homers, extra-base hits and second-to-last in walks.
    So, lots of issues. But strikeouts are not the problem.
  • Who is the center of the Cards' identity going forward? It's been handed down from one icon to another (in my own lifetime, some notables include Ozzie, Willie, Lankford, McGwire, Morris, Pujols/Rolen/Edmonds, both Carps), but with the twilight of Wainwright, Molina, and Carpenter's careers, I'm not sure I see who picks up that mantle. Is it Flaherty and Bader? What if the former departs in FA? I'd hoped Wong would be the person who defines the team for the long term, but clearly Mo'/Girsch didn't see it that way, so who is the face of the team and the heart of the clubhouse (and are those necessarily the same thing) when the current long-time vets move on?
    Follow the money.
    Goldschmidt and Arenado, based on the current contracts.
    Flaherty on deck. 
    When will the post-game press conferences go back to normal? Why can’t they be in person for those writers who want to do it that way and Zoom for those that don’t?
    Hopefully after this season ends. We are doing the pregames in person. Not sure why we could not do the post-games in person. One reason seems to be not everyone has a representative on the road, which doesn't seem like much of a reason to not do it to me.
    Hey BenFred, I appreciated Ben H referencing Wong's success in Milwaukee in his article this morning, contrasting it to the Home Team having no clear leadoff hitter setting the table for the offense all season.

    I feel like refusing to re-sign our star 2B has to be among the biggest mistakes in Mozeliak's tenure, possibly among the biggest FO goofs of the DeWitt era, but I'm curious for your thoughts on that.
    Most of you are aware of my stance on that decision by now. It's been covered here often. They didn't even need to re-sign him. They just needed to pick up the option. I think it was a mistake. It looks shortsighted, and to be honest, cheap.
    Jim Edmonds has such a natural gift at understanding the nuances of hitting and fielding. I'd love to see him brought in as the hitting coach. It is clear in listening to him that some of the players are already coming to him. Would Jimmy be interested in the position, and does the FO have it within them to do so?
    He's a hitting savant. No doubt about it. But being able to help some guys -- and he does -- and being the day-in, day-out hitting coach are different thins. I'm not convinced Edmonds wants the job as much as he wants to be wanted for the job, if that makes sense. He's got a pretty good gig as it is.
    Does it make sense to you to promote Alec Burleson to Memphis and then have him sit the bench 2 straight games last week? The left fielder those two games is 28 years old (obviously no longer a prospect)
    I'm sensing The Chat has a new favorite prospect
  • Ben, I'm curious about this season's Cardinal home attendance. Is it tracking toward three million as previous seasons? If the answer is YES what hope does the Cardinal fan have of change to the team's roster if mgt doesn't feel the pressure to put a winning product on the field? Even Cubs fans figured out they had to stop supporting their team before change occurred. I want a winning Cardinal team like I knew in the 80's and 2000's!
    The numbers are going to be impacted by the fact the ballpark was not fully open for the whole season, but if you just use the eye test you can see the enthusiasm is lacking. Some of that can be explained away through COVID concerns even with the ballpark being opened, but I imagine the stands would be pretty full despite COVID concerns if the team was a legitimate playoff threat. Don't you?
    Time for me to jet, folks.
    Chat recap will be up tonight.
    I'm pretty surprised it was not brought up, but I did want to let you all know a little bit about what I'm hearing about the new Mizzou AD, Desiree Reed-Francois The more people I talk to the more impressed I become. When she was at UNLV, she called up Nick Saban and asked if she could come observe his program to see what a championship team looks like up close and in person. He said come on down, and she did. One coach who has been interviewed by her said she showed up with a convincing pitch, and a packet of potential homes in the area for the coach's wife. She's been described as incredibly motivated and organized with the right blend of compassion and drive. The former Tennessee AD who hired her for her first Power 5 job in sports administration told me no one will outwork her, and that she has spent her career attacking all of the areas her doubters said she needed to strengthen before becoming a Power 5 AD. And now she's here. I think it's a good hire. Dave will have a lot more in the story I contributed some reporting for in tomorrow's paper. I hope you check it out. Thanks and have a good week.
    -BF 
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