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.

    I think something needs to be cleared up about Luis Garcia. Since he’s been on his scoreless streak I see/hear on the radio, on Twitter, or other mediums that Garcia has been lights out since he “imploded” against the Cubs on July 20.

    In that game Garcia faced 3 batters and these were the results:

    1) struck out the first batter but Molina let the ball get to the back stop

    2) got a weak ground ball that dejong made a wide throw and an error

    3) walked a batter and then he was removed from the game.

    At that time I saw so many complaints that Garcia was in the game in the first place. It was a 5 run lead. He did his job. It was one of the rare times the defense didn’t do their job. And then of course Reyes came into the game and that was the real implosion.

    And now for my question… Is Garcia under team control beyond this season or will the team need to sign him this off-season?
    Both Garcia and McFarland are free agents at the end of this season, yes.
    Ben really enjoy your writing. I am an 80 year old lifelong Cardinal fan. Baseball must do something to speed up the game to make it more exciting. A normal game runs over 3 hours with numerous walks and strikeouts making for very boring viewing of a game. Personally I record the games and find out what innings something happens and fast forward to that inning. Younger people are not interested in baseball describing it as boring. I don't think I would like the mound moved back perhaps the hitters can learn to hit to all fields. What say you?
    It sounds like the experiment of moving the mound back in the Atlantic League was disastrous. I agree that is not the answer. One thing that would help, right away, would be teams putting their money where their mouth is. What I mean by that is, how often do we hear managers or front office types talk about wanting players to be better at adjusting and/or beating the shift that has dragged games down? But when time comes to hand out contracts, how often do the versatile hitters get rewarded? If baseball is going to continue to pay guys who hit into the teeth of shifts in order to chase home runs at the expense of the bad that comes along with it, then more players will continue to do just that. For some it's worth the gamble. For a lot, it's not. Some would be better off adjusting, but aren't they less likely to if they don't see that style as incentivized? 
    Or, just ban the shift, which I think is the easy way out and would be opening the door to other consequences. Players can and should adapt, but teams would speed up the process by rewarding those who do.
  • Mr. Ben,

    Yesterday, Mr. Hummel stated his belief that a top of the rotation pitcher should be the # 1 priority this winter. IMO, The areas that need attention this winter are (in random order) Bench, DH, Front End of BP, SS, and SP.

    What are your top 3 areas need? Please name 2 players per each of those need areas that you see as good “Cardinal fits”. Thank you!
    You covered it. 
    Commish is right about the rotation.
    This team is one that needs quality starts to have a chance to win.
    Its record shows that.
    When a starter gives you six strong innings, the bullpen has its roles assigned and the offense tends to do enough to scratch together a lead. The defense helps constrict games late. But when the starter falls behind early or exits early, losses are likely headed.
    So, fixing that is critical, and simply assuming Flaherty and Hudson and Mikolas are going to be good to go is a good way to get burned again in 2022.
    Ben, thank you for the opportunity to vent, lol. Shildt will be going into the last year of his contract in 2022. Will he enter next season as a lame duck manager or will Mo give him an extension before the season begins? I'm sure Mike Shildt is a good man, husband, fisherman, etc... but as a major league manager? I really think with his mindset he would be best served in AA or maybe AAA. I'm not saying you have to be a Vern Rapp but his post game pressers are just too hard to watch. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there with "Shildt fatigue"... followed closely by "Mo fatigue", lol. Thank for all your hard work with the Rams reporting too.
    That most of the Shildt complaints I hear about stem from his answers in post-game press conferences, to me, suggests there aren't too many complaints about how he's managing the roster he's been given. The painful post-game Zooms have done more damage to Shildt's brand or whatever you want to call it than anything else, and that's as much on the format as the manager. The setup is not a good one for talking baseball with a manger who enjoys doing that. Shildt can be defensive at times after a loss. That's most managers. The Cardinals are not above firing or letting the contract of a manager expire to direct attention elsewhere, but I don't think Shildt should be in the crosshairs of any improvement plan.
    The upcoming schedule is tough - 3 @ Reds, 3 @ Brewers, 4 vs Dodgers then 3 vs Reds. I think this stretch will knock the Cards out of the 2nd wild card discussion. It will be a reality check for those still believing, or at least hoping, the Cards will make a run.
    Either that, or we will have to give credit where it's due.
    The Cardinals failed to capitalize on the cupcakes.
    Now the big boys fill the schedule in September, minus the freefalling Cubs.
    Somehow the standings say the Cardinals have a chance but they are going to have to reverse their pathetic record against winning teams to keep it that way.
    I am not old and certainly am not that crotchety, but Javy Baez thumbs down to the fans is ridiculous. As much of a struggle that baseball and its parties have in getting out of their own way with arguing over rules to restart last year and then prior to the season this year, is this just the latest episode of turning some fans off from a great sport prior to a very tense (and probably ugly) labor negotiations that could harm it more?
    Baez didn't think that one through, did he? I think he was probably trying to stick up for his pal Lindor, who has not handled New York well, but it's going to ding him in free agency and anyone who suggests it wont' be a factor for some teams simply doesn't understand how some teams work. There's a decent conversation to be had about the fan-athlete relationship these days and how it has decayed, along with how we talk to each other online and even in person. Baez could be a great spokesperson for that. He's gone from a mostly supportive fan base in the Cubs to one that demands a lot despite not getting much recently in the Mets. But any chance of a productive talk went out the window the moment he explained the thumbs-down gesture. He gave fans a test of their own medicine, sure, but he's going to be the one feeling the side effects this offseason.
    Hi, Ben. Thanks for taking my question about Paul deJong's struggles, but I think you missed the point of the question. I'm well aware of the paper's coverage of DeJong's struggles this year; I read the Post-Dispatch every day. But, the point of my question is that DeJong's problem started before then. Check back a couple seasons ago, when DeJong's production dropped from overuse because the Cardinals couldn't seem to find a way to rest him. Then there's DeJong's decline after working with HC Jeff Albert. The Cardinals bear some responsibility in DeJong's decline as a hitter.
  • I didn't miss the point. I'm just confused as to the suggestion the territory has not been covered. Often. And in detail.
    Of course the Cardinals bear responsibility for a young and promising hitter falling off a production cliff.
    These kinds of hitters encountering significant turbulence has been a huge theme for this team.
    Below I've linked a recent in-depth story from Commish about what DeJong's been going through this season.
    I've often said that DeJong is big of a question mark for Albert than any other player, as DeJong used to be one of Albert's most outspoken supporters.
    These topics are not new.

    Cardinals' DeJong seeks answers with his swing as team struggles to stay afloat

    STLtoday.comShortstop has 14 homers but has skidded to a .198 batting average. 'I want to stay in this position, stay in this city,' he says.
    Thanks for doing this ... I remember when Carpenter was an All-Star 2b. He moved to first, then to third and wherever the team needed him but eventually his offensive production went way down. While Wong was excellent as a defender he struggled hitting for awhile and when I or others would bring up Carpenter playing 2b .... The writers kept poo pooing it. I think it's interesting that Carpenter played 2b for awhile THIS year many years after the fact ... but I digress - I am concerned that Edman will be thrown around like Carpenter did. 3b, ss, 2b, of. Edman is talented but I hope he nabs a stable home. Do you share those concerns? Also, respectfully I am used to people justifying Ozzie's, Wong's, Molina's lack of offense due to their stellar defense - but all three of them became a force on offense as well. I love Bader's defense but is he a .230 hitter and worth being in a offense that needs more bats? Do you think Dejong's offense is an annomoly or it is what it is?
    Carpenter's defense has been pretty bad at second base this season, for what it's worth.
    Bad enough that he's a minus-7 in defensive runs saved in a little over 200 innings there.
    That was part of the concern about playing him there, at least for me.
    I do think Edman is capable of bouncing around and if he was on a deeper team that very well could be the best role for him, starting regularly but in a different spot often. The Cardinals are not that kind of team at the moment though. Could be in the future, perhaps. Edman's a good player, a versatile player. I think the Cards have asked too much of him this season offensively, but not defensively. He's flexible out there.
    My thoughts on Bader are back to where they were when the season started, more or less. He's an every-day starter if you value defense first in center field, and if you have a lineup that can do what he can't around him -- because he's that good in the outfield. But the Cardinals are in a jam because they don't have that kind of an offense. So they wrestle with what to do with Bader. And will continue to until they make a change or enhance the offense around him. The hope for this season was he would be a bigger part of the offense. That looked promising for a while but not so much at the moment.
    DeJong is a better hitter than he's shown this season. He's not a cleanup hitter like the Cardinals hoped. Maybe it's time for a change, but don't be surprised if he bounces back elsewhere. Again, the Cardinals need to take a long, hard look at why they haven't been able to crack the code with the shortstop. It's a big problem for the team until it gets fixed, even if DeJong is shipped out.
    Any chance that Vladdy takes his talents to South Belarus by playing in the KHL if Army can't find a suitable trade partner in the NHL? While Vladdy would leave a lot of money on the table, playing in Europe against lesser competition could help to at least establish his return to health, and he wouldn't have to play for the mean ole Blues anymore. If the man is willing to waive his trade protections and risk ending up with the Red Wings, cant' see how playing for the Jokerit could be much worse.
    That would be pretty stunning, and it wouldn't be the preferred plan of Tarasenko's agents, who seem to be running the show for No. 91 these days.
    I think this is going to end with a trade, even if the Blues have to eat some salary.
    If Armstrong doesn't find a way to unload Tarasenko, all of his talk about prioritizing guys who want to be here goes out of the window.
    It casts a cloud over the team, and who can possibly expect Berube to handle this well? 
    Gulp.
    One more: What happens when Tarasenko gets hurt?
    The team docs and trainers he tossed under the Zamboni might tell him to head to the nearest urgent care. I would. 
    Some sort of trade is the answer. The sooner the better.
    Please tell me the 3 batter rule can go away in the next CBA. I absolutely hate it!
    The seven-inning double-headers and the extra-innings ghost runners are going to be gone it sounds like but haven't heard much about three-batter minimum. I hope it goes poof, too.
    Obviously we don't see what happens behind closed doors, but Schildt's demeanor in the dugout and in the post game show a zen master and constant optimist. Yes he's doing the best he can with what he has. Yes his team has been underserved by the front office. But also, we're not living up to the potential of the roster. Is it possible that although Schildt is not at fault for the team's struggles this year, he also isn't the type of manager this team needs? Guys like Arenado, Bader, Yadi, Oneill, flaherty, reyes and more are emotional high-octane players that may respond better to a manager who is not afraid to show some emotion. One of my biggest bones to pick with this team is the absolute inability to capitalize on momentum. We're never too excited, and never too down on ourselves. Steady as she goes won't make the most of this team. Lets get a fiery manager in that's not afraid to flip a table after blowing a 5 run lead to the Pirates. Fair?
    Hasn't Shildt been tossed like four times this season?
    He's either too fired up or not enough.
    Again, a claim that changes by the day.
    I think Paul Goldschmidt tossing the proverbial table would do a lot more -- if we are handing out that assignment.
    The criticism of Shildt you just presented sounds, to me, like it might be better suited for the quiet, steady first baseman.
  • OK, folks. Court is underway. Rams/NFL is preparing to argue for a change of venue but first requests the hearing is closed to press/public. Rams/NFL side says it believes coverage is increasing chance of an unfair trial. The Post-Dispatch's lawyer is here to make argument hearing should be kept open.
    I see the name Randy Flores often mentioned as a part of the Cardinals brain trust. A number of years ago the Cardinals had a relief pitcher named Randy Flores. Are they one in the same? A player who successfully transitioned to the front office?
    Look back at your really successful managers in the past 30 years, guys like Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog, Lou Pinella, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, Buck Showalter. They all, despite their sometimes quiet demeanor also had plenty of piss and vinegar in them when they needed to show it. Shildt just reminds me of the kid in school that kept losing his lunch money all the time.
    I would go as far to guess you wouldn't try to take the manager's lunch money if you two shared a lunch table. In fact I'd bet on it.
    Well, the judge granted the Rams/NFL request, in part. We have been cleared out of the courtroom for the Rams/NFL argument on why the venue should be changed. We will be let back in for questions from the judge on specific arguments, we were told. Post-Dispatch lawyer John Hessel made the case to keep it open entirely. Didn't work. Big smiles for Rams/NFL legal team as reporters are cleared out of the courtroom.
    Hey Ben, thanks as always for the chat, and sorry to hear the judge is kicking reporters out and preventing them from doing their job. I'm curious why you think there seems to be such a divide among the Cardinals writers about Shildt. I won't name names, but as an example there's a popular Cardinals podcast that on a weekly basis criticizes Shildt for his reliance on "my guys" over better options ala the previous manager, to undeserving happy talk and to burning out bullpen arms. It seems you and Goold have pretty much dismissed those critiques of Shildt, saying most of the issues are the fault of the front office. I get people having different opinions, but it seems like Shildt really divides opinions to opposite extremes.
    I can't and won't pretend to speak for others. I just call it like I see it. Shildt's most outspoken critics seem to have a hard time pointing to specific decisions he made that were wrong and cost the Cardinals games. I pointed to one earlier in the chat. He let the sky come crashing down on Cabrera's head against the Pirates. He managed that flat-footed, and it cost him. Someone else should have replaced Cabrera sooner, even if that replacement failed. OK, so there's one. Where are the other games Shildt has cost the Cardinals, without question? I don't see a ton. I see a lot of complaining about how he gives answers in post-game Zoom settings. I see a lot of assumptions about those answers being the same thing he says when he's not on Zoom, which is not the case. I see a lot of how-can-he-possibly-use-that-guy without suggestions on who would have been better on this often-thin team. The front office built this team to thrive on good starting pitching and defense then let the starting pitching crater before seeking help. It entered the season with a short bench and it cost the team. It didn't give Shildt a significant trade-deadline upgrade for the third time in three years and admitted publicly it was just hoping for the best. Shildt isn't perfect. No manager is. But the idea that he's the big problem with this team is one I just don't get.
    Hi Ben, appreciate the chats, as always. Regarding the rotation for next season, can you see the Cardinals signing Happ, Lester, or Kim to bolster depth within the rotation? Thanks
    I like the Lester possibility more than the others but none of them are on my must-keep list at this time. Love KK but his injury history concerns me.
  • If St. Louis wins the NFL lawsuit and wins all of the appeals in the coming months/years, who actually gets the money?
    The groups suing the Rams/NFL would get the money.
    The lawyers representing those groups would get their cut as well, and it will be a healthy one.
    The groups are the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.
    I'm sure there would be much debate about how those specific groups spend the dough.
    You can bet on that.
    One thing to keep in mind: In Missouri the state gets half of punitive damages.
    I find it funny that people complain about Bader and DeJong's offense but not Yadi's! Both of them have higher OPS than Yadi! If you want to talk about moving a player down when he's cold, or sitting him, I agree. Yadi had a wRC+ of 42 and 52 in June and July, and no one complained. Notice he didn't move down for those much higher OPS guys (both of them were hot during some of that time). By the way, DeJong has a higher WAR than Yadi too. The line up issues, I just mentioned, are my issues with the manager too. Why does no one talk about the Cardinals record when Yadi catches Vs when Knizner catches?
    Yadi has accomplished a lot in his Hall of Fame caliber career. One of the most impressive? Largely avoiding chat angst from chatters. He pops up occasionally but not very often. I'd just point out he's pretty much this team's best situational hitter, even still.
    Is being last in walks and 25th in runs scored fair criticism of major league coaching?
    BenFred - friendly jab that Jesse Winker is on the IL- do you favor Reds, Pads, Phils or Cards for WC2
    Dumb mistake on my part. Apologies. The blog has been updated with a correction. I think it's the Reds.
    Are you ever able to interview players away from the media and team presence. I know players talk to each other about team problems and wonder if you are ever privey to such information not sanitized by the team management.
  • Yep. One-on-one interviews have been going on on the field before games for some time now, and conversations happen away from the ballpark at times, too. The Cardinals are not a traditionally chatty bunch about their problem areas. There have been points of frustration at times. One is Jeff Albert. Some guys are in on him, and some are not. I think there was some disappointment more help didn't come sooner from the front office.
  • Did you see what Wong said to the Athletic about having to forget everything he was taught as a Cardinal. (hitting wise) It made it sound like, as hitters, they are micro managed to an a level that is not productive. Isn't that a reason to get rid of Albert, or at least reign him in ?
    Add Wong to the list of players who have fared better offensively elsewhere after departing.
    One thing that jumped out to me in that article was Wong explaining how the Cardinals' insistence that he grind at-bats by seeing a lot of pitches did him more harm than good.
    I agree with that and do think the Cardinals at times stress "working" an at-bat more than the point of an at-bat ... hitting.
    Some guys are built to battle. Others should smash a fastball even when it's a first pitch. Kolten is the latter. Same for Bader.
    The power topic is one I don't fully agree with Kolten about. I think he's best off when he doesn't chase it. But, whatever he's doing now is clearly working for him, and it's not just a Miller Park situation. His numbers surprisingly have been better on the road.
    Coaching great athletes is more about getting them to be the best at what they are good at than it is changing them, usually. It seemed to me he felt like the Cardinals tried to change him. But there were also times when Wong agreed he needed to change. And yes, he's a little salty about the Cardinals not wanting to pick up his option, so keep that in mind.
    With the DH in the mix, do you think the Cardinals have any appetite to bring back Pujols (assuming the feeling is mutual) to PH and occasionally platoon matchups? With Yadi being on a retirement tour, potentially Waino as well, and Pujols in the mix, seems like a PR dream.
    I like the idea as the DH against left-handed pitching and some occasional starts at first base, sure.
    Another mistake Shildt made was leaving Reyes in for too long on July 20 against the Cubs. It was pretty clear that Reyes didn't have it as soon as he came in, but he let him cough up a five run lead, then pulled him. I understand the three batter rule and the fact that he's your closer, but pulling him one batter sooner would've given Gio a shot to get two outs and hold a 6-5 lead.
    Yes, he's been a little too reliant on Reyes as his performance has dipped lately. No debate there. But again, consider the options.
    No offense, BenFred, but I'm kind of glad the press got tossed......the judge has to throw the Rams/NFL a bone following all the rulings that have gone against them. My question.....what do you think the odds are this lawsuit gets settled before ever going to a jury? I would love to see it go to a jury! Do you think the league has any regrets now how this was handled and wishes they'd gone with the original vote for Carson?
    Don't be glad if you are expecting updates on the trial! 
    Hopefully this is a one-time thing.
    I was hoping if they were going to rip me for my columns I'd at least get to listen :) 
    I don't think the league regrets the move, but this case has become a thorn in its side.
    Some very rich owners have had to hand over some private information like phone records and will soon have to fork over detailed financial data.
    The league is annoyed, I have been told.
  • Time to go. Court is back in session. Thanks, all. Have a good week.
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