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. What a time for St. Louis sports, right? We had a good thing going with the Blues championship, NHL All-Star Game, BattleHawks and more. And then the pandemic came and messed up everything. But wait. Here we go again. Gymnastics trials rocked with attendance records. Ascension golf tournament crushed it, broke attendance records. Now NASCAR is planting a flag here. Cardinals are surging for the postseason, winners of nine straight. Blues are gearing up. Big Mizzou trip to Boston College Saturday. Good times for sports. I'm struggling to keep up with it all -- and that's a great thing. As always, we will go where you steer us. Let's ride. I know I've cut the past couple of chats shorter due to Rams relocation hearings taking place the same day. Nothing on that schedule today, so we will go long and take those questions as well. Let's ride.
    Assuming fan graphs weighs heavily on remaining games-strength of schedule as an integral part of crunching their numbers things, Meanwhile most everyone around the league better understand especially the Yadi-Waino duo make the Cardinals extra tough with others digging in and never really giving up on postseason even when things look dire. The Dodgers also have fared very well with Kerhaw being a mainstay. Why do you suppose these so called experts don't find a practical way to better bake in the flavor of such things like team chemistry?
    The pure mathematical calculations and those who rely solely on them tend to argue those things -- leadership, experience, etc. -- don't mean as much as what can be tracked with hard data. I would disagree and it sounds like you would too. I get a kick out of tracking the postseason projections but living by them isn't wise, as the Cardinals have proven once again just recently. The truth is the Cardinals have not looked like a team with great chemistry for the whole season. Most of their initial inclusion in the wild-card hunt was mostly just because they were not caving in on themselves like some of the other teams. Then they caught fire.
    I enjoyed your article today on things that often can not be explained -thank you. In that regard, is there a way to check batters stats of NOT swinging at pitches out of the strike zone as often perhaps playing into why the on base slugging % against right handed hurlers is more recently on the mend?
    Thanks! FanGraphs has a tool, free to the public to view, called O-Zone Percentage. It lets you see the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside of the strike zone. It can he helpful but I've not used it for anything more detailed than comparing seasons. You would be looking for a more detailed breakdown by month, I imagine. You could always do it by hand, using box scores on MLB.com that come with a breakdown of the at-bats per pitch, its location and result. Very work-intensive, but doable. Just be careful when looking at the numbers, because they can be a bit misleading. If I asked most of you what has been the secret to Tyler O'Neill's success, you would say he's swinging at fewer bad pitches. I would say the same thing! Technically, he's swinging at a higher percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone this season, compared to last season. But swinging at a ball you can mash is a lot different than swinging/lunging at a pitch low and a way you can't make good contact with.
    Even with declining skills Matt Carp continues to do the little things like cheer leading and maybe behind the scenes is even helping a youngster or two on the team to better cope with the tougher mental aspects of this game. I am certain as a professional sportswriter you can more eloquently describe his essence on this particular team than me. Please consider taking a shot (excuse the pun) to briefly capture MC's more indispensable qualities.
    I'll just say this: It should surprise no one if Carpenter comes up with a big pinch hit in the wild-card game. The way things are going right for this team, it's just begging to happen. Another thing: His last two at-bats most likely secured his place on the postseason roster.
    By moving up JL's start to last night that puts him in line on regular rest to start the wild game should the team make it that far and assuming Waino is also needed to pitch game #162. Is that in essence morse code being telegraphed out by the Cardinals brass now at least unofficially are sending a SOS call to Lester to be on high alert as their #2 starting pitcher?
    The more cushion the Cardinals create the better the chance Wainwright can be scheduled for the wild-card. That's the reality the Cardinals can create by continuing to take care of business. That's what they want, understandably so.
    Mr. Ben,

    Good morning and thank you for the excellent Redbird articles. I love the Wildcard Tracker!

    1) If you were the POBO/GM, who are your top 3 SP targets for 2022?
    2) What other areas would you target? Please include names.

    Thank you,
    Thanks, Bob.
    I would be interested in a Jon Lester reunion as depth for the rotation if he wants to keep pitching. I asked him if he was interested in that notion a while back, and he said he's always open for conversations but suggested he's going to take the time after the season to talk over his future with his family. Retirement could be a real option.
    The Cardinals took themselves out of the Max Scherzer sweepstakes once and should not do it again.
    Scherzer would be the kind of pitcher who demands a spot open in the rotation for him. Lester might be more willing to show, compete and see how it goes. The Cardinals have arms but enough question marks to need proven quality depth. This season hopefully reminded them of that.
    Shortstop and designated hitter are other obvious areas to upgrade. Sosa has been great but I'm not sure he's the long-term answer during what will be an offseason for shortstops. Some of it will depend on how the Cardinals view Nolan Gorman's readiness. I think a bopper at DH would be good, not a hot-potato approach between position players.
    Understanding it is best to remain focused on things they can control themselves, which team do you figure that is trying to chase down the Cardinals should concern them the most?
    I'm down to the Reds and the Phillies.
    Both have schedules begging them to make runs.
    Lots of bad teams ahead for them.
    Phillies probably more than Reds because Phillies have Harper power, and Reds can't seem to string together more than two wins at any point before losses.
    The word on Twitter these days is that Shildt is making the right moves now and that’s why the team is winning. I haven’t really noticed a difference other than he might pull a pitcher a little quicker if he’s struggling. But you can’t do that all season long or there wont be any pitchers left in September. How do you tell the difference between a manager making “the right moves” and the moves he usually makes just finally working out?
    Team wins = manager is smart.
    Team loses = manager is terrible.
    That's the long and short of it for most critics.
    I do think we have observed an uptick in aggressiveness from Shildt, but it's matching what the players are bringing with their play.
    The truth is, now more than ever, it's on the players. If they are checked out or flat or feuding, there is only so much a modern manager can do.
    Example: Jayce Tingler.
    The hottest manager in baseball a year ago is at risk of being fired because no one can get Fernando Tatis Jr. out of his brooding mood as the Padres fall apart.
    The old flip-the-food-spread narrative isn't realistic anymore. For a while, Shildt and the rest of the team seemed to be in play-it-out mode. Circumstances changed and he's adjusted accordingly. Remember, it was the front office that more or less admitted it was hoping for a fortunate bolt of lightning to strike. Well, it did.
    My starting position for the upcoming MLB negotiations would include the following
    1) Minimum salary for any player on 25 man roster is 10 % of max salary on roster
    2) Player called up from minor leagues to play in a major league game gets a minimum of 10 days salary for each call up.
    3) All players in the minor league are guaranteed $ 5000 per month during the season.
    How feasible are these in your opinion?
  • I don't expect the MLB players union to do much advocating for the minor leaguers. There seems to be a wall there, and the MLB players union worries most about the players on the MLB side of the wall.
    Curious about Ponce DeLeon. Was the blow up with Molina the straw that broke the camel’s back or was it the walks, along with high ERA and hit totals. You gotta pull for the guy after what he went through at Memphis, but you’ve got to expect more at the major league level, right?
    If the blow up happens and Ponce had been dealing, you deal with it. But that wasn't the case. Ponce has struggled, doesn't have much of a role and popped off to the one teammate you can't pop off too. The Cardinals have a good thing going. They don't need someone not pulling in the right direction. Ponce is a good guy and I like him. He's frustrated, and I get it. But it boiled over at a bad time, got caught on TV and while it wasn't THE reason he's gone, you would be fooling yourself to assume it had nothing to do with it.
    So, by the end of the week, is the Cards rotation ranked #1 Waino, #2 Lester! (Not a total shock given his track record, he’s got Yadi now)
    And #3 is Flaherty for a few innings?
    Jack's been mentioned as a potential X-factor for the bullpen, not as a starter once he's back. Unless the Cardinals get really weird and go the opener route. Why not?
    Good morning BenFred! I am guessing you will have a little less excitable chat this morning than normal. That’s a good thing. The Cardinals are looking better to me than perhaps they have in possibly a couple years. They are playing with confidence and verve. They won’t win every game but should they continue their current stye of play I don’t imagine any of the other contenders will be overly excited to play them. In trying to understand the upswing I attributed it to the veteran strike throwers. Your article this morning helped clarify it even more for me. Heck even Matt Carpenter has gotten a couple doubles lately. A threat off the bench could be huge. They inexplicably have made the season fun, exciting and relevant. Good for them!! Thanks
    This is how September should feel in St. Louis. Not always for a wild-card spot, but with the focus on THIS season instead of the offseason or next season. That is part of what the Cardinals promise to their fans with their desire to be annually relevant, and that's what we are seeing. For a while, it wasn't there. Felt forced. And the NL wild-card crowd did the Cardinals a big, big favor by melting down to make an opening. But credit to the Cardinals for going from hanging around to running through the opening. Now they're playing some of the best baseball around. I would not bet against them in a wild-card game if Wainwright is on the mound. Against Scherzer, tall order. But Cards are at another level when Wainwright starts.
    I’m less shocked with Lester performance as it goes along. 200 career wins, going to be in HOF of Cubs and Red Sox, three years younger than Waino. Is he following a similar adjustment period that Wainwright did a few years back? Throwing to Yadi helps too, almost Duncan-esque
    He's talked a lot about Wainwright and Molina helping him find this groove. He's explained watching Wainwright find success with his location and pitch selection has his velocity has declined, and mimicked that. He really loves working with Molina and taking the game plan the catcher comes up with. Those two have hit it off as well as anyone could have hoped.
  • Ben what’s your take on the release of Ponce? I believed it to be inevitable and necessary. He simply had no role here. Rarely pitching couldn’t have helped him. He currently is a one pitch pitcher. High fastball followed by higher fastball. He deserves all the credit in the world for having the cajones to get back on the mound after a nearly fatal injury. Many or most would have hung em up. If there is any ex Cardinal who I hope succeeds after moving on its him. I hope he has a fine career. Thanks
    He could wind up back with the Cardinals. Shildt said he hopes that is the case. I don't think the blowup with Molina means he could not get another shot down the road or anything like that but I agree that his role is pretty limited these days. I think he would be best off going to a less competitive team in need of arms. A set role and regular use could help him find some real traction and value.
    Do you think that Sosa and Edman have played the Cardinal's front office into thinking that they should spend money elsewhere, like pitching or an elite DH next year? Does Sosa go into next year as the starter at this point or does DeJong's contract weigh on the decision too heavily?
    I think Edman is more likely to have done that than Sosa.
    Edman has rebounded from his in-season swoon and regained a productive role as leadoff.
    He hit the sophomore slump and punched back hard. Great sign.
    Sosa to me looks like exactly the kind of player we were kicking the Cardinals for not having on their bench to start the season, back before we (and the Cardinals) figured out what he can do. 
    I'm not ready to say he's the starter at shortstop for a contending team. For a team that thrives on defense he has at times left something to be desired there. I think he needs to play quite a bit, but not yet ready to be convinced he's The Answer at shortstop especially with the names that could be on the move this offseason at that position. I do think the Cardinals should get involved there. DeJong probably needs to go, but don't be surprised if he rebounds elsewhere.
    Is it safe to say the Tyler O'Neill the Cards were expecting has arrived?
    Yep. Dynamic player. It's finally all coming together. If he stays healthy he's an All-Star next season I imagine.
    A player doesn't hit for a month and a half (and barely all season) and then gets two hits during a winning streak where everyone is hitting and that secures his place on the post-season roster - now that is classic Cardinal baseball!!! Have fun with that post-season at bat.
    Kind of a microcosm of the team, no?
    I had a chance to meet Desiree Reed-Francois last weekend. Very impressive. I told her, no offense, but I hope we never have that chance to see you hire a football coach. She didn’t miss a beat saying, “I don’t plan to, but if it happens, I promise it won’t be a dud like Barry Odom”. I love her already.
  • Odom should charge rent for the amount of time he spends in some of your heads. He's doing just fine. Making bank at Arkansas, coaching a great defense, waiting on his next shot as a head coach. One will come. Some already have, but didn't make him want to jump. When the time comes, he will be better off because of what did and did not work for him at Mizzou. He would have loved to have DRF as an AD, by the way. And, for the record, she has already tried to hire him. She tried to hire him at UNLV as soon as Mizzou fired him. She came to meet him with an assistant AD and wowed Odom with a presentation. He didn't go. UNLV an almost impossible place to win football games. Worked out better for both of them in the end. He's a big fan of hers and has praised her hire at Mizzou.
    How do you for see Alex Reyes being utilized from here out?
    It's kinda funny. He's got the role now we thought he was going to have at spring. X-factor reliever. He's not limited to save appearances or one-inning spots. He's a shape shifter. Could be a good spot for him.
    Interesting how the Giants and Dodgers will both win 100 games yet one must play the wild card game. Who do you suspect out of the two will prevail for the division crown? Noteworthy a one game 163 could be in play for them too.
    It's nuts, right? The projections have it as a coin flip. I think the Dodgers find a way to win the division and the Giants wind up in the wild-card.
    Basement bathroom
    toilet replacements?
    Shower Replacements?
    Kitchen faucet?

    Hey Ben,

    As someone who has been following this story closely, I’ve heard you say in a few of your radio hits that you just can’t see St. Louis getting a team in this whole relocation lawsuit mess.

    While I agree a new team coming here is probably still more unlikely than likely, I think the one key thing to remember here is that the NFL loves money. That’s how we got here and a settlement that puts a team here offers the NFL a path to actually make more of it in the future with TV, and betting, and merchandise revenue. If you poll all 32 owners right now, even knowing they are indemnified, they would still rather the investment in the league vs. simply lighting cash on fire.

    The lawyers will have to get paid too, but don’t put it past the NFL to work something out that can be mutually beneficial financially.
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