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, and hello from P-D headquarters at Cardinals spring training. The team is off today from Grapefruit League games and workouts, but there's plenty to discuss here and back home. I'm sure we will talk plenty of Albert Pujols? We are going to go a couple of hours today so I can wrap up a column for tomorrow's paper along with our special section stuff. Keep a look out for that section before opening day. It's always a keeper. OK, fire away.
    Can we assume the main catalyst in the Pujols signing was the inability of the Memphis kids to impress in Jupiter? Or is it as most people believe, a PR move that will sell more tickets in lieu of nightly bobbleheads?
    It's all of that, and more. Pujols will sell tickets and move merchandise whether he succeeds or not. He's good business. But there is a baseball reason, too. He can still crush left-handed pitching, and he did it even better than usual once the Dodgers made him a part-time player after the Angels released him. That fit made sense to the Cardinals, if Pujols was interested in the role, once the DH was in play, for sure, in the NL. If Juan Yepez had lit camp on fire, there were folks in the organization who would have pushed for him to get the chance instead of blocking him with a Pujols addition, but he didn't. The org isn't giving up on him or anything, but the lobbying for Pujols got more and more lobbyists as camp continued. If Molina, Wainwright, Arenado and the manager want a guy, and he's only going to cost $2.5 million, and he's open to the role, and he moves tickets and merch, and the internal option is not crushing it . . . it became a no-brainer.
    What has the front office done to significantly reduce the gap between the Cards and the pitching rich Milwaukee Brewers?
    Good question. I wouldn't sleep on the Brewers. As long as that front office is intact, and the manager is Craig Counsell, they should be viewed as a legitimate threat to win the division. The Cardinals pitching feels similar to last season in some ways. You could see how it could work out. You could see how it could not. And injuries during spring training thinned depth considerably, just like last year. The hope for the Cardinals is an increased commitment to not tolerating walks and keeping the ball on the ground will feed an elite defense. Gotta keep the ball in the ballpark though, and there are going to be games where hits get through on a pitch-to-contact staff.
    Pecota and FanGraphs are again underwhelmed by the Cards roster at the start with a win total of 80-82 and only a slight chance for making playoffs. The organization did little to fix the starting pitching. Can we assume the genius John Mozaliak will be quicker to fix any deficiencies earlier in the season if this pitching staff is as bad as many expect?
    Those projections don't mean much. That said there are plenty of reasons to have legitimate questions about this team. Rotation performance and depth, for sure. Paul DeJong's bat. Rookie manager. And more. The good news for the Cardinals is the division is pretty weak outside of the Brewers, and the playoffs have expanded. This should be a playoff team. We also know teams that make deep runs find ways to get better as they find out what they do and don't have during the season, and the Cardinals have not done that aggressively for a while, so editing and adjusting the team as games provide proof of what can be counted on and what must be improved is a big factor. The Cardinals need to get out of the habit of talking about in-season improvements like it is rocket science. Fans know better.
    When porters sign I got excited about mizzou basketball again then he got hurt. Apathy set in the last few years. I am excited again with gates. He has the personality that will resonate with mizzou fans and recruits. Not sure how good we will be the SEC is very tough. I do feel he will recruit so much better than Martin and we will have an offensive philosophy.
  • Gates has made a good first impression. That's better than the alternative, certainly, but we haven't learned too much yet. He is going to promote his recruiting more, which is smart, because that plays well with recruits, media that covers recruiting and fans. He's much more willing to play the social media game that Eli Drinkwitz excels at, and that's a must these days. It can help build good energy until wins and losses are earned on the court.
    Does Albert still have a personal services contact with the Angels after he retires? Can the Cardinals buy it out?
    The way it's worded is that it kicks in once he retires. He could reject it and not take the money. The Cardinals could give him a role that helps offset the money lost from rejecting it. Lots of things could happen there. None decided at this time.
    Any chance the cards could get sandy alcantara back in a trade? Seems the marlins would trade him for Lowe prospects and draft picks
    I don't think the Marlins are planning on moving him, and they shouldn't. They signed him to a five-year $56 million extension during the offseason. He's a 200-inning, 200-strikeout guy now. And no one talks about him very much in the one-that-got-away conversation.
    Do you imagine Pujols announcing his own retirement plans likely add, subtract or are essentially a wash on the chances in Waino's own mind set in considering whether or not he ultimately decides to play on beyond this season?
    Wainwright said here this week that he's likely to retire after this season but he does not want to make anything official before he knows for sure. He is being pulled to spend more time with family, understandably so, but he's also feeling so good and pitching so well that he isn't sure he wants to walk away after this season just yet -- and doesn't want to be a guy who announces something, then changes his mind. Why the Cardinals keep referring to this as his final season, I'm not sure. It's kind of weird. Better marketing, I suppose, but Wainwright has repeated, including yesterday, that his mind is not yet made up. If he wins a World Series, he's out I would imagine. If he doesn't and is close to a Cooperstown conversation, that would be a pull to come back, too. Depends on how this year goes. He's leaning toward calling it but isn't convinced yet.
    Is Jordan Hicks now in the mix to start the season in the closer by committee group or what?
    Sure. He looked good yesterday. That got overshadowed by the Pujols news.
  • Who are the likely candidates in serious consideration now to benefit for at least the month of April in breaking camp with the varsity squad being roosters are expanded by two until May 1st ?
    If Cardinals go 15 pitchers there won't be many surprises. 
    That likely means Brendan Donovan starts in Memphis.
    Juan Yepez is going to get sent to Memphis now that Pujols is back with the Cardinals.
    Nootbaar as fourth outfielder.
    Sosa on the bench.
    A non-Pujols question! Corey Dickerson won a GG in 2018, but I have only heard his name in context of a Lefty DH role. Do you know if he's being considered for the OF rotation at all?
    Yes, he can play some outfield. He's solid out there, makes the routine plays and can be trusted. He and Nootbaar can play out there if there's a need, or if a starter is at DH for the day.
    How do you for see Edman play time being allocated especially should his struggles against righties continue fairly far into this regular season?
    I think he's the pretty regular starter at second base but his spot in lineup could shift between leadoff or ninth depending on where Carlson and Bader hit, and who is pitching.
    Man, this whole time I've been adamant that I've only seen Albert with birds on the bat across his chest when he was the best player in the world, and wanted it to stay that way, not risk him being back as a 'shell' of his former talent. But dangit, if I didn't spend the whole afternoon beaming after seeing him walk in from right field... You think he's got actual juice in the tank? How do you feel about Yadi and Waino now sharing the retirement tour with the guy who left StL for the last decade, versus them having stayed here the whole time?
    If Wainwright and Molina are cool with it, who am I to object?
    We knew Molina wanted it.
    I asked Wainwright about it yesterday.
    He laughed at me for asking, as if to say, are you kidding me?
    "We want to win, and he helps us win," was his response. Wainwright was part of the lobbying team that pushed for Pujols.
    So, there's the answer on that.
    He was all in.
    Pujols, physically, looks good. Toned up and slimmed down. People were impressed with his cuts in the cage. He's been working out and staying ready. It's all about how the Cardinals use him. The Dodgers found a really nice role for him and the Cardinals should learn from it. Hit him against lefties, pick some spots against righties when the numbers justify it, and if Goldschmidt needs some rest Pujols can play some first base.
    Asking him to do too much is a good way for him to get overworked and overexposed.
    Stick to the plan, and this could work.
    What does it say that Girsch wasn't part of the front office PR crew that introduced El Hombre yesterday?
    Not much, really. He attended it. Just wasn't seated up there in front of the cameras with the leader of baseball operations (Mozeliak), the chairman of the team (DeWitt), the manager of the team (Marmol) and the player being welcomed back (Pujols). Mozeliak likes to be the face of this stuff. Girsch is just fine with that. Mozeliak is the head of baseball operations as the president of baseball operations, just like he was when he was general manager. I think some people forget that in their attempts to dunk on Girsch, for reasons I don't really understand.
  • Any idea what kind of presence Albert will bring to the clubhouse? Fascinating looking back at who he was to this club and that clubhouse to now and how he steps into there as now a bench guy with leadership voices that are already in place and leading on the field today....
    Here's a cool story about that. Yesterday, Adam Wainwright said he saw some young Cardinals hitters getting ready to leave for the day. They had showed and changed, were headed for the door. Then they realized Albert and Yadi were in the batting cages. So they went back to their lockers, changed back into their workout gear, and went into the cages to watch and hit with those guys. That's what he brings. The reputation of one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time, and a willingness to share his insight and advice.
    Is it just me, or does Albert look a lot better in his new shade of “LA Angels Personal Services Red”?

    He’s back where he belongs. For life this time.
    He looks to be in pretty good shape. Has lost some weight. He had a great line: "I've been working out -- as you can tell." I'm going to try that one on my wife.
    If Albert struggles how long will Mo let him occupy a roster spot?
    The Cardinals are not going to cut Albert Pujols.
    If he stinks and can't hit, he would retire.
    They're not going to put him in a position to fail like that, though.
    At best he's a DH against lefties who can do some DHing against righties and play some first base.
    At worst he's a bench bat who rarely gets used.
    At worst worst worst, he bails early or gets hurt.
    Do you think the Pujols signing hurts Wainwright a little bit in terms of spotlight? This was going to be the last ride of Yadi and Waino. Yadi was certainly Cooperstown bound, but Waino was in the Hall of Very Good and I thought the spotlight pups be needed for whatever little chance he had to get in. Pujols will almost certainly be higher on the bill for fans now and while I’m one who is thrilled to have him back, I do hope you and others continue to hold him up in the light he deserves.
    Wainwright probably needs two more stellar seasons, not one, to create a compelling Cooperstown conversation for most voters. A championship would help him more than sharing a spotlight would hurt him, and he thinks adding Pujols back can help that hope. He's not talking about Cooperstown. He is talking about wanting to go out with a new ring. He's on board with the decision, truly, so I don't know why anyone else would not be.
    Cards still need pitching if they want to give these guys a ring and world series
  • Not much available now. Could need to add some during the season, for sure, if results are not as hopeful as the Cardinals think they will be.
  • Read your article on how Pujols should be used, and I totally agree. My concern is that many Cardinals fans come from a considerable distance for a weekend series, and can only come once per year. They will want to see Albert, and the Cardinals ( especially top management) will want to give them what they came for, even against right handed pitchers. Have you had any indication that they will be able to resist this temptation?
    There are some right-handers Pujols should hit against, for starters.
    He will have a history against some of the pitchers that bodes well for an at-bat, and the Cardinals will and should mine the data available to see which right-handed arms he matches up well against.
    If Corey Dickerson struggles, that could mean more right-handed at-bats for Pujols, too.
    If the Cardinals are up (or down) a lot in a game, it will be a nice treat for Pujols to get a shot at a homer.
    That's how you handle it.
    There will be times he doesn't get an at-bat in a home game, I'm sure, and that will be disappointing for folks, but they are going to need to understand the role he's in, and that at-bats are not guaranteed to Pujols with the purchase of a ticket. 
    Thanks for the chat today! Which 10 relievers go north?
    With VerHagen probably securing the fifth starter spot out of the gate, looks like Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks, Kodi Whitley, Nick Wittgren, TJ. McFarland, Genesis Cabrera, Aaron Brooks and Jake Woodford, who likely pitches piggy-back style with Dakota Hudson in the beginning. Jake Walsh, Zach McAllister could get in the mix at No. 10. We'll see.
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