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 your week is off to a strong start. We will hit hit hard until about 2 p.m. today. Plenty to discuss. Let's roll.
    I still want trade. I only come back to this place to score goals on blues team and to piss on your grave.
    The language! I approved the comment because it made me laugh. Tarasenko is certainly sticking it to those who doubted what level he could reach on the ice this season, and yes, that includes me. Time will tell if Blues GM Doug Armstrong still wants a trade. He's winning either way. By not trading Tarasenko for nothing or worse, he is getting this inspired play out of Tarasenko while his trade value increases at the same time. Armstrong made a questionable decision, but it looks like the right one so far. Seattle must be wishing it took No. 91 in the expansion draft. I'd be surprised if Tarasenko starts the postseason with the Blues, but then again I was surprised he was there for camp. Tarasenko certainly has the fan support. No doubt there. Some guys fall out of favor for wanting a trade and pushing for it. Tarasenko has turned it into a rallying cry. Impressive.
    I have also been reluctant to the changes in how much front offices control. But after hearing Kevin wheeler talk about it yesterday I have the same question he did. Why is that a bad thing? The best teams in baseball the last few years have very hands on front offices. Dodgers, giants, astros, Red Sox, rays… these teams shove data and information down their coaching staff’s throats. But they win.

    This has me wondering how will the cardinals use this information to their advantage? Will they platoon bader with another outfielder and sit him against righties? Does his improvement in 2021 keep that from happening? Do they platoon edman and Gorman at second? Will yadi drop down in the order? There are definitely some tough conversations that Marmol is going to be having with this team but if this is the route they take and he can get the players to buy in, 2022 could be a very successful season. As long as there is a season, of course.
    It's really not an either-or situation, as much as some would like it to be.
    There is not a manager left in baseball who does not work collaboratively with his front office. 
    Those who don't get fired.
    Did Shildt get fired because he would not work with the front office, or because he did not work with the front office as much as the front office thought he should?
    There's a difference, but there's only one group that gets do judge, and it's the front office.
    So, the assumption that Marmol will be fighting -- fairly or unfairly -- is that he will be less likely to go against the grain if he feels he needs to.
    I thought he showed some willingness to do that, honestly, when he went out of his way to thank Mike Shildt for being his managerial mentor. Marmol gave Shildt more thanks than the organization did, which was telling.
    The rub the current Cardinals manager is in, no matter his name, was mentioned by Marmol in the press conference.
    He says what people want to hear from the Cardinals manager: Anything less than a championship is a disappointment.
    The front office he works for says a 17-game winning streak that produced a 90-win team and a wild-card loss is a great success.
    Tony La Russa was the last Cardinals manager who found ways to help nudge the Cardinals' sustained-success model toward the win-now side of the spectrum. I think Shildt was trying, but he crossed a line and it cost him. Marmol will have to find a better way to try -- or prove that fully embracing the tools the front office offers can lead the Cardinals back to being a feared presence in the postseason. That's his challenge.
    This front office has won and has the sustained success box checked, but it's been 10 years since it won a ring, with some regrettable contracts mixed in.
    It's now placed itself firmly in the spotlight, so we will see what happens.
    Ben Fred, thanks for the chat. All the “moves” everyone hopes the Cards front office makes will have to wait until a new CBA is agreed to, seeing multiple stories a work stoppage is inevitable, what are you hearing in regards to how far along things are in the negotiating process?
    If it wasn't for the managerial change here, we probably would be spending most of today talking about the latest Associated Press story that more or less states a shortened spring training (at least) is expected due to what will happen after the collective bargaining agreement ends when December begins. It's not looking good, friends. I hope a lot of this is just bluster. Have said from the start that a shortened spring training is no big deal. The worst kept secret in baseball is that everyone hates spring training. Cut it up all you like, but taking a chunk out of the regular season would be a very bad move for owners and players combined. Hopefully smart folks on both sides understand that.
    From Ronald Blum of the AP if you missed it:

    Baseball’s ninth work stoppage and first in 26 years appears almost certain to start Dec. 2, freezing the free-agent market and threatening the start of spring training in February.

    Negotiations have been taking place since last spring, and each side thinks the other has not made proposals that will lead toward an agreement replacing the five-year contract that expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 1.

    The luxury tax system that started with the 2003 season sunsets with the expiration of the labor contract, with the exception of completing accounting and payments for the 2021 tax year. Uncertainty over the 2022 season probably will cause high-spending clubs to delay reaching pricier player agreements.

    Free agents can start signing with any team on the sixth day following the World Series, and this year’s group includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Trevor Story, Max Scherzer, Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Michael Conforto and Kevin Gausman.

    MLB may attempt a signing freeze with the start of a lockout, or the marketplace might grind to a halt on its own, even more pronounced than the slowdowns of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 offseasons.

    New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t know the parameters of what he has to spend.

    “I have yet to have the conversation yet with what potentials, acknowledging that we have budget commitments already in play and depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement works out over the course of time, hopefully sooner than later,” he said.

    Agents say they have received no guidance from the players’ association. Some have braced for a two-week scramble to sign next March or later, whenever a lockout ends.

    This lack of pace in negotiations is similar to what occurred in 1989-90, when the agreement expired Dec. 31 and owners announced on Jan. 9 that a lockout would begin Feb. 15 absent an agreement. A deal was reached March 1 and opening day was delayed a week until April 9, causing 78 games to be postponed and rescheduled.

    Maybe it doesn't make much difference but in the past when a move was made during the game fans would question the manager's decision making. Now we won't know whether the decision was made by the manager or by the data guru in the front office. Do you think that the team will be forthcoming about who made these decisions or will it always fall on the manager to take the blame?
    Ha. No. That's part of the beauty of this trend, if you are a front office member. Front offices get bigger and bigger. With far better job security than managers. And managers keep taking the blame in the end if something goes wrong. 
    Dave Roberts says he has one of six votes on who starts a postseason elimination game. That didn't stop the Fire Dave Roberts chatter after the Dodgers lose in part because they treated their starters like relievers and their relievers like starters. Managers still catch most if not all of the heat even as things like lineups and pitching changes have become more collaborative decisions. Mozeliak insisted yesterday that the idea of Marmol not having the chance to put his fingerprints on the job was both unfair and inaccurate. He said there's misinformation about it. I asked him to clear it up if so, and he said he doesn't go into the manager's office with a lineup and a list of pitchers he wants to see in order. (Sometimes the front office has absolutely pushed for certain players to play, for what it's worth.) 
    "I think we will keep doing it the way we always have," Mozeliak said. "We have given the manager a lot of autonomy on how he thinks about lineups, on how he thinks about using his pitching staff. But to echo what Oli said, there is a level of collaboration with what you have going on upstairs. When you think about analytics and you hear things about performance department and baseball development, these are all groups that are looking at data to help make the best decisions possible. Having Oli and his coaching staff work with that is something we want to continue. But ultimately we are hiring him to be the manager so he will be given some autonomy."
    A lot of autonomy. Some autonomy. Depends on the day, and the topic. But, at the end of the day, every manager knows who wears the blame for the decisions made in-game, so he better be on board with it and be able to explain it with conviction.
  • I wonder how many times in Marmols post game pressers next year when the team blows a lead and loses the game that that word "collaboration" will come up?
    Marmol is a smart guy. He's not going to point fingers at anyone but him if in-game decisions don't work. He didn't earn this chance by not figuring out who has to own those things, whether he loved the idea or not.
    Still does not seem like national media is high on the Blues, this team appears to be far better than I anticipated. Thomas and Kyrou are electric and Tank is giving us flashbacks of 5 years ago. Obviously they will not maintain 5 goals a game, but do you think this is close to what this team actually is?
    The national media didn't give the Blues a chance to win the Cup when they did it either. Don't sweat that. This team is good. It needs to get a little better defensively. Maybe there's an addition there along the way. Probably should be one.
    Some Blues news that seems rather important: Ryan O'Reilly and Brandon Saad are on the team's non-roster COVID-protocols list, as announced this morning. Dakota Joshua up from AHL. Per JT, Jordan Binnington is not at today's optional, which could be something or nothing at all. Story is up now at STLToday.com.

    following on that, how does a team that is tight on cap upgrade on defense?
    A trade of a trending-up Tarasenko, perhaps?
    Which team's Opening Day 2022 uniform for Albert Pujols?
    Don't think it will be with the Cardinals.
    I'd bet on retirement over that.
  • When we talk about the Cardinals using analytics is it simply Mo getting information from the analytics and performance divisions and relaying that to the manager or are there intermediaries from those divisions who relay information to coaches and players? Surely Mo isn't the individual who is running back and forth with this information.
    The Cardinals have invested heavily in baseball performance and development departments. Spent a lot of money on those and want to see them used to their full extent in decision-making on the field and off. Mo is not the one running the papers. Correct.
    People talk about sports records that will never be broken. My two cents: Cy Youngs 511 wins. How about you?
    I don't think anybody will be touching his 749 complete games, either.
    Ok, this odd manager chapter is over. What are Mo, Girsch, and DeWitt going to do to put Marmol in the best position to win a championship?
    Great question. Figuring out his staff is first up. We've talked plenty about the routes the Cardinals could go: rotation, middle infield, DH to plug holes in the roster or upgrade the talent there. Maybe we get a little more direction on what's on the Cardinals' offseason shopping list during upcoming GM meetings. At least one prominent front office member in baseball has said it's going to be hard to plan for the offseason without knowing what the 2022 season will look like after labor negotiations that hopefully result in a new CBA. I think the Cardinals would agree with that assessment, and I would prepare to hear something similar when they get around to talking about their offseason plans.
    Morning Ben. During the press conference to introduce Oli -hey, you wont have to be correcting chatters over their misspelling of Shildt's last name anymore -anyway, Oli expressed that his philosophies on hitting were in alignment with his old friend Jeff Albert's. Considering that the Cards 2021 offense didn't take off until after a "hitting intervention" took place, and they became a more old-school offense, does this mean we are going back to the 3 true outcomes brand of boring baseball? Please tell me no. P.L.E.A.S.E. :-)
    Marmol did say he agrees with Albert's approach but also said there are "messaging" issues that need to be corrected. That's been something the front office and even Albert have acknowledged as well. So, better get them fixed!
    Do you know how much involvement the Front Office wants in day to day matters, like who is playing, the lineup, pitching changes, etc?
  • I know what they say they want.
    I asked Mozeliak to clarify this yesterday, because he felt there has been misinformation, so he deserved a chance to clear it up.
    Here's what he said when I asked how it should be viewed.
    "I don't think our front office is overly active with how you're thinking about pregame preparation . . . When you start the game, there is almost like a script on how you want to think about following it. You know who is available and who isn't. You know in certain scenarios, if you are winning, who you are going to use, versus if you are losing. And all that we try to do from the front office standpoint is give these guys the tools in the toolbox to help make the best decision. If they want to have an open discussion on how we think about bullpen usage or starting pitcher usage, we certainly would welcome that, but we are not running downstairs, and I'm not throwing a piece of paper on his desk saying this is who you are going to put in the lineup today, this is what your order is going to be, and this is who you are going to close the game with. That just doesn't happen. This is much more organic. We just want to give our major league staff resources to make the best decision possible. And obviously from an analytics standpoint, we have the horsepower up there to help them do that. Obviously as Oli as stated, we want it to be a collaborative environment, one that is a two-way street. One we can have open conversations on this. That's what we are going to welcome. Candidly, we had that in a lot of ways. Not a lot is changing there. It's ultimately going to be giving them the tools to make the best decisions."
    Some translation: The manager will make the calls but the front office views the ideas provided from upstairs as the right calls, more times than not. I do think it's a little less of a democratic at times, especially in certain examples (contract politics is one). The part about not much changing should be added to the evidence file used to combat the false narrative that Shildt was anti-analytics.
    Back in the day pitchers would try very hard to alter a baseball before a pitch, either by spit (Gaylord Perry) or loosening or scuffing the seams (Phil Niekro). Now, every pitched ball is thrown out of play (to be sold by Major League Baseball as game-used memorabilia) and the pitcher gets a new one for darn near every pitch. What has changed? Why would pitchers want a new, slick ball instead of one loosened by previous pitches? Why don't we see a Gaylord Perry or a Phil Niekro any more?
    It's not completely dead. Sometimes you see a pitcher requesting the same ball back instead of a new one, for those reasons. Sounds like soon the balls will be given some sort of league-approved sticky substance, so I imagine pitchers will want the freshest ones possible to get the stickiest ones possible.
    Has Doug Armstrong stopped looking for a trade for tarasenko? If the team continues to win does tarasenko take back the trade request? Just curious if we should still be on the lookout for a trade to happen but the team chemistry seems surprisingly strong early on despite everything that happened in the off-season.
    Tarasenko building his trade value should not be interpreted as the Blues or Tarasenko shutting the door on a trade, would be my advice.
    Ben,

    Thank you for the great article yesterday and today's chat!

    In the press conference yesterday, I found it interesting that Mozeliak used the word “we”, and not “I” in his references to the Shildt firing.

    In the press conference where Mozeliak announced Shildt’s firing, he used the word “I”. Mr. DeWitt’s body language certainly did not appear to express agreement with the firing. He seemed uneasy and agitated.

    How did you see it?
    I thought DeWitt seemed a little annoyed, and rightfully so, with the announcement of the Shildt firing.
    He doesn't like firing people and he doesn't like having to request special permission from baseball to make bad news on a day of a postseason game.
    He cut through the noise pretty much from the start of that one when he said Shildt and the front office could not get along.
    It was the most candid comment on a day where there weren't many.
    That Shildt Zoom firing was hard for people who matter to watch. Uncomfortable. Unprofessional at times. Not the image the team wants to give.
    I didn't sense anything awkward about the Marmol introduction.
    DeWitt knows Marmol and appreciates and values his rise through the organization as a player and a coach, and it seems their conversations about the transition went well.
    I know there's a lot of Shildt talk, and I get it, but don't let that turn into underestimating Marmol. It was his presence on the staff and the organization's belief about his future as a manager that made it easier for the Cardinal to eject Shildt.
    Ben,

    Do you think friction between Shildt and Mo started around the trade deadline when Shildt may have asked for help and was frustrated by the slow response and what he was given to work with? At some point the Cardinals are going to have to use the deadline like the Braves did. We can all see the results of impact moves to help a team midseason.
    We don't need to guess about what we know. While all of the details of why Shildt was fired are not crystal clear, two obvious friction points that came to exist were Shildt's friction at times with hitting coach Jeff Albert and his willingness to call for roster upgrades as publicly as he felt possible. These were part of the tapestry of a manager at odds with his bosses. Some threads are missing, sure. But there's no need to guess about the ones we know.
  • Ben,

    You had wrote some columns about it being a necessity that the Blues trade Tarensenko because of his off season trade request. Although I agree that incident was not handled properly, it didnt make sense to trade 91 for pennies on the dollar, even with the risk of some locker room friction. Do you think any differently on it now?
    The Blues look wise for holding on to him, whether it winds up helping this team in the long run with his play on the ice, or in what he nets in a trade now that his value is increasing again. And Tarasenko gets credit for proving wrong (so far) those who didn't think he could get back to playing at this level. Last week chatters were questioning Vlad's performance. Now they're singing his praises. It's been five games, but the Blues' bet on letting a sour situation simmer and Tarasenko's bet on proving himself seems to be working out so far. I'll wait to see how it plays out a bit more before anything more declarative than that. Other than this: His teammates welcomed him back with open arms. Wasn't sure they would. Good for them, and for him for having that relationship with them and repairing what was damaged.
    Oli seemed in lockstep with ownership and the front office on all fronts yesterday, except one. He mentioned that the expectations are to win a World Series. He might want to double-back with Mo on that one because there has not been a roster iteration over the last 7 seasons that suggests that is the franchise’s current goal. The “get in and see what happens” directive has been the guiding principle since 2014.
    As I wrote in a recent column: It's hard being the Cardinals manager, because you're likely go win enough to get fired for not winning a championship, but you might get fired for trying to push for that championship.
    Given the evidence, is it safe to say that Shildt did not consult with the analytics and performance offices enough and would go rogue in his decisions? Seems like whatever Shildt was doing was working, though.
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