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. Hello from the final day of Cardinals spring training. Cards are leading the Marlins 2-0 here in the bottom of the fourth inning. Bags are mostly packed. The moving trucks are preparing to roll. The lineup we saw today -- barring injury or surprise -- will be the one you see on Thursday's opening day. I'm here for a few hours but will eventually have to take a break to get back to talk to Steven Matz after his outing is done. Hang with me and we will get to as many questions as we can before and after that. Fire away.
    Thought you weren’t having a chat this week?
    Fair or Foul: The 5-6-7 spots in the batting order will make or break the Cardinals offense this year (Pujols/Dickerson, DeJong, Molina).
    Fair. That is the stretch of a lineup that tends to thump for great teams, hold its own for good teams and fizzle for bad teams. The Cardinals in the recent past have talked about a long lineup, but underdelivered on proving it. This one could be that one they talked about -- if the DH provides above-average production and DeJong carries over what has become an encouraging spring training. Don't overlook the bottom of things with Bader/Edman, either. That's some serious speed that could feed the top/middle of the order as it rolls over. If there's a gulch between the two, things will not flow as they should.
    I haven't seen one publication yet that predicts the Cardinals will be anything more than a middle of the pack team, and probably not in the expanded playoffs. Based on your observations so far, what makes you think that is true or untrue?
    The division is not very good outside of the Brewers, and the playoffs are expanded.
    I think the Cardinals are a playoff team, because of those reasons.
    I'm not convinced they are a legitimate World Series contender leaving this camp.
    They seem to believe otherwise.
    They could be, with the right moves as the season goes along, and if they catch the right breaks along the way.
    They will need to be more aggressive as the season plays out. They did beef up their DH options once spring stated. Adding Pallante to the bullpen despite him not being on the 40-man is a sign of resisting the urge to make the move of least inconvenience to prioritize what they think is the right move for the sake of winning now. I'm curious to see how the starting pitching bet plays out. Cardinals are confident they have enough, and they're going to go nontraditional with the fifth spot, at least while Flaherty is on the mend. Could work, or could be a repeat of last year's inning crisis.
    Hey Ben -

    Hoping to get your take on the Cardinal's bullpen plans. From what I've read through spring training, it sounds like the plan is to limit starter involvement early in the season - cutting everyone besides maybe Waino off at 5 innings/90 pitches. That leaves 4 innings (at least 2-3 guys) for the bullpen to pick up every game. THEN they want to go with an "opener" in the 5th starter's spot and work the bullpen for a full game every 5th day. I know we have a fair share of long relievers, and an expanded roster to start the season, but this is a HEAVY work load for a bullpen to shoulder. Do we have the quality and quantity necessary for this plan to work out? It seemed like last year we were getting in trouble day in and day out because our starters wouldn't go long enough into games and our bullpen was constantly gassed. Deja Vu in 2022?
  • Could be, but Mikolas, Hudson and Matz won't be held back for too long even if they are limited a little bit early on. Especially not Mikolas and Matz. Both have 200-plus inning goals and the desire to rejoin Wainwright in the workhorse camp. The more innings that can be handled by the top-four starters makes the WildCard fifth starter (patent pending) more likely to succeed. If something happens to one of those four after the Flaherty injury, the alarm will sound, loudly.
  • BenFred, thank you for highlighting in your piece on Saturday the fact that Mo is on his third hand-picked manager in less than 11 seasons. It brings in to focus one of the major issues fans have with ownership, where is the accountability at the top with this club? Does Mo have a stack of "Get Out of Jail Free" cards on the corner of his desk? Cashman has been the GM of the Yankees, owned by the volatile Steinbrenner family, for 24 years and he has only had 3 managers during his tenure. The Cardinals had just 3 managers from 1980-2011. Why does the onus for underachieving seem to continually land in the dugout with this regime? Are fans to believe it is the managerial style not the roster construction that annually fails this team in October? If DeWitt has put this organization on autopilot, defaulting only to Mo’s instincts and sensibilities, maybe it is time for a new pilot.
  • Mozeliak makes good business decisions most of the time and the ownership is usually much more pleased with how he does his job than not. He's also more than comfortable taking the arrows that come with the gig, and that takes heat off ownership too. He's got a great relationship with Bill DeWitt Jr., and there is much mutual trust there built over years of sustained success. All of that can be true, along with this truth: There really is nowhere else for the pressure to go. Mozeliak is on his third manager. The front office and roster are filled with his hires. His personally picked hitting coach is in a prove-it season. And DeWitt has come as close as he's every going to come to say he wants to win a championship with the Pujols, Molina and Wainwright trio. So, the pressure is on Mozeliak, as much as it has been, I think.
    Is is just me, or was the Kansas - North Carolina final just a giant billboard for the NCAA looking the other way on substantial violations for certain blueblood programs?
    I don't think it's a broadcast's responsibility to revisit every bad thing that has happened with a program over the course of history, but the fact the unsettled NCAA investigation into Kansas' place in the FBI investigation into corruption in college hoops was never once mentioned during the game? Yeah, that's pretty bad. Not surprising. But bad. Aw Shucks Bill Self is very good at minimizing the cloud hanging over his head -- and very few people want to point to it it seems. Sorry to be that guy, but it's not a great message for all of the coaches who were watching that game. Win big enough, and no one cares. Some do, of course. But they're outnumbered.
    Ben, do you think if Pujols doesn't make 700 HR's but has a decent year (16 HR's .250), do you think he would come back? Would the Cards want him back, with Gorman and Yepez waiting in the wings?
    No, he's made it pretty clear this is it.
    Molina as well.
    Wainwright is the only one -- despite the front office's talking points -- who is saying he is undecided about 2023 at this time.
  • Hey Ben. Can you explain the STL Pinch Hit app a little more. Is this a subscription in addition to the digital subscription I already pay for? If so, that's fine, just wanted to clarify. I guess it's no different than paying for Paramount + etc. if you already pay for cable.
  • I can, I hope.
    Thanks for asking.
    Here's the info . . . 
    The STL Pinch Hits site and app are going to offer even more coverage, analysis, videos and multimedia on all things Cardinals, from the major leagues to the minors.
    The app should be live now on the app store for your favorite devices.
    In addition to what we are already providing at STLToday and in the pages of the Post-Dispatch, STL Pinch Hits is going to offer additional content, like expanded coverage of the minor leagues, greater access to our Cardinals coverage archives, newsletters and more.
    If you are a current Post-Dispatch/STLtoday subscriber, you can access both the site and app for free until May 5, 2022, using your STLtoday.com username and password. After May 5, subscribers can purchase a subscription at the reduced rate of $4.99 per month. New subscribers who only want STL Pinch Hits access can subscribe at $7.99 for the first month and then $12.99 a month.
    The way it has been explained to me is that current subscribers to STLToday and the Post-Dispatch are not going to miss out on any of the Cardinals content they were getting previously, but that STL Pinch Hits subscribers will have access to any and all things we are producing about the Cardinals, including the added things we are launching (like enhanced minor league coverage) with their subscription.
    I hope that answered your question.
    If I didn't, the smart folks here can help you out better than yours truly
    stlpinchhits@bhmginc.com
    44-517-8885.
  • I know a segment of the fanbase is not showering the Cardinals with rose petals over the signing of Pujols and they are being labeled curmudgeons. I can speak for myself and tell you that I wanted this reunion all winter (last summer too) but I wanted it to be the cherry on top of an off-season that included an impact bat or an impact pitcher. Scherzer + Pujols or Story + Pujols would be wonderful. Matz + Pujols, feels like a nostalgia-based cash grab by a team who didn't want to pony up for the elite free agents. Sorry, but that's how it feels.
    No labeling going on here.
    And no apology necessary.
    This was a great year to upgrade shortstop if you wanted one. The Cardinals didn't.
    Scherzer wanted to pitch for the Cardinals. They weren't interested in giving him a three-year deal, and clearly thought Matz was the better contract to take on moving forward.
    The club's faith in DeJong and its belief in how Matz could fit and potentially thrive with this defense can be weighed against the production of the free-agent shortstops in their new homes, and with what Scherzer does for the Mets.
    After the spring Paul DeJong had, and the more sensible place he will be hitting in the order moving forward, I'm leaving spring pretty high on the shortstop. I'm less convinced the starting pitching is not going to put the Cardinals into a bind unless Flaherty gets back and stays healthy.
    I'm disappointed the Cardinals haven't spent near the 2021 level. Do you think they are keeping money available for in seasons moves is this team looks promising? I'm also on alert because of Edman's poor spring. Was he working on anything specific or just in a funk?
    There is a healthy debate going on about what, exactly, the Cardinals payroll is and how it compares to last season. The Arenado contract -- deferred money and Rockies paying for last season basically -- threw off some of the publicly-sited payroll math that gets mentioned often. No matter what the exact number is, the Cardinals will have the ability to absorb salary as the season goes along, if they decide to make deals that add payroll to the roster, which is the kind of deals they should seek, because that money added (accepted from selling-off teams) can be used to decrease the prospect talent ask of trades, which is the number-one reason we hear the Cardinals say they refrained from making in-season trades, especially around the trade deadline. The Cardinals could be poised to take on a pricier starter from a declining team if they accept a salary in order to protect their favorite prospects, for example. Hint. Hint.
    Edman's spring is concerning, yes. He had a hard-hit ball to the outfield today, which is a good sign. But he's been making a lot of soft contact without squaring up many pitches. A lot of pop outs and infield bleeders. He has adjusted his swing to try to be better against right-handers, and the results have not been as encouraging as he or the team hoped. Manager Oliver Marmol said today they're hoping Edman comes through the other side of it soon and that he is still committed to Edman being the regular second-base starter. If the slide continues in games that count, it wouldn't be surprising to see Edmundo Sosa get in the mix at second.
    what is the latest on Libertore and Gorman? thanks
    Both in Class AAA, where their goal will be to force the Cardinals to promote them faster than the preferred timeline. Neither had the kind of camp performance that forced the team's hand. We could see both in 2022, though.
    Derrick just tweeted a bit ago that Walker will start the year at AA. Did you get to see him much this spring? If so, what were your impressions? That is an aggressive assignment to be sure. How old was Gorman when he reached AA?
    Gorman was 21 when he made his first Class AA appearance.
    Walker is 19, headed there to start the season.
    For a totally unfair reference, Mike Trout also was 19 at Class AA. Same for Juan Soto -- for eight games.
    No pressure! 
    Kidding, kidding.
    It's hard to be anything but impressed by Jordan Walker. His at-bats draw a crowd. And they are loud. He's very tall, tall enough to at least wonder if he is a third basemen long-term. Just based off his build, he looks more like a corner outfielder.
    Do you know which pitchers on the Cards staff that made the team have minor league options this year? Was that a reason the team did not add to the pitching staff because of the risk of losing pitchers? We know they have to send two down as of May 1.
  • They did add to the pitching staff. Matz, VerHagen, Wittgren. They just didn't add names that made fans stand up and cheer. They added guys they think fit with their defense, and guys that fit with their price points.
    Hey Ben -

    Reviews on Pallante have been positive so far, but I don't know whether to be excited or concerned that there was a 3 man race composed entirely of rookies for that final bullpen spot. Is that a sign of immense promise in the pipeline, or rather a sign of our lack of quality pitching options despite an obvious need?
    My take? Of the things to criticize the Cardinals about, not overpaying for "proven" relief should not be one of them. Some of their worst contracts in recent memory have been to "proven" relievers. And some of their best relief performances have come from young arms that have grown into roles occupied by spent arms not delivering in the ones they were paid handsomely to hold. So, sign me up for the youth infusion in the bullpen, where roles are decided by the matchup and day, and guys are on board with that from the jump. Pallante adds a unique look and velocity, and velocity is good for late-game relief, especially if some of that velocity is going to be used by Jordan Hicks as the fifth starter from time to time. Jake Wodford, for what it's worth, is now pitching in today's game. He was originally going to be held back to make a starter-type start here tomorrow and then join the team in STL. Could be a tell playing out that he's now being viewed as more of a reliever and less of a starter? We'll ask Marmol after the game.
    A week or so ago, Justin Toerner wore #4 in a spring training game for the Cards? Any insight on why he had Yadi's number on -- with his name? His regular #28 wasn't in? Is just an interesting curiosity and he has a great story for his grandkids... "I was the last person besides Yadier Molina to wear #4 and I did it while he was still playing!"
    You are very observant.
    I had not noticed.
    No special story. There are only so many numbers to go around. There are actually two minor leaguers wearing No. 4 in this camp.
    Andrew Marrero and Justin Toerner.
    Hey Ben -

    Do you keep up with any of the tertiary Cardinals publications? Viva El Birdos came out with a great article on the difficulty of Marmol's job due to his "non traditional" approach. Basically the gist is that if you're bucking trends like having 5 set starters, naming a dedicated closer and using him exclusively in the 9th, switching up the lineup every day to maximize matchups based on analytics etc. then every decision you make (traditional or not) gets the microscope. Its a high-risk high-reward approach to coaching. Do you see this as a reflection of the pressure Mo is feeling after the Schildt firing? So interested to see how long we stick with the non traditional approach if things aren't working out as expected. How radical do you think this approach will be seen within the confines of the STL market and the greater MLB?
    I'll have to check that out.
    Viva El Birdos does some really compelling and thoughtful work.
    I'm writing about Marmol's viewpoint on how he is going to attempt to bring Cardinals fans along with him during this ride toward a more "modern" approach for Thursday's paper.
    He understands the challenge, and made a good point that there are other teams that would chuckle at some of what the Cardinals are doing as being described as "modern."
    But he is not joking about a big part of his job being explaining why and how things are going to change, and he understands that the best way to sell people on a new way is to win.
    I think he's going to be a good communicator about his decisions -- most importantly because he is not defensive about being asked, which is a great start that some managers never get.
    Any idea what the record is for most players over the age of 39 to start on Opening Day for one team?
    That one will take some research.
    The Cardinals' ace PR team had Elias dig up the last time three opening-day starters were older than their manager.
    It's only happened twice in the last 30 seasons.
    It as a lot more common in the past, back when player/managers were a thing.
    The two in the last 30 years: Cleveland in 2003 and Montreal in 1992.
  • Hey Ben!! Not sure how the Cards didn’t pounce on Correa. 3 years?? Or shorter. They could have easily absorbed that contract. Package DeJong and a prospect for solid starter. Then your legit WS contender. Another Miss. Dumb. Thoughts?
    They're high on Pauly D. His impressive spring has backed their belief. Time to find out if he can continue when games count. He looks a lot better than last spring. A lot.
    If Army does decide to trade Binnington in the off-season, do you think he'd prefer a bad contract for bad contract kinda trade (a la the Neal/Lucic trade a few years back) or a "heres a bunch of draft picks, please take this contract" kinda trade?
    I still think a lot of that depends on how this season plays out. I'm sorry to not be direct, but if you make the playoffs, and then if you make a push, and it's Husso over Binnington that whole time, then I don't think you can go back to Binnington. So you have to make a change. If you fizzle out with both goalies, it's a bit of a different story. Army had a player on his hands just last season that seemed like a must-trade, in Tarasenko. He didn't, and was rewarded for it. Dumping draft picks to dump a goalie doesn't sound like an Army kind of move to me.
    I had no real rooting interest in the NCAA Championship game last night (My daughter graduated from KU so I leaned west. What are you gonna do?) beyond hoping there was a way both teams could lose. I was just wondering what you think the long term effect of NIL will be. Will it level the playing field or will long-time Ph.D's in cheating like Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, etc. just continue to excel exponentially because of their longstanding expertise in paying players? Thanks, Ben, and have a safe trip home.
    No reason to wonder about the long-term effect. It's already affecting things. Ignoring it -- and too many are at least downplaying it -- doesn't change anything. Transfer-portal transactions are being won and lost left and right based on dollars available in NIL deals. Players are jumping schools without playing because of them. It's not right or wrong, it just is. What I think ends up happening in the end is that the most winning programs figure out what it takes to come up with the best NIL offers, but I do think there is opportunity for some schools to advance in terms of having a better plan, committing to raising a program's profile, or committing to finding the kind of support that makes it really hard to pull a kid out of his home state. That last one is where state schools like Mizzou and Illinois should focus, I think. If you can't prove to a kid in your state that playing for his home-state is the best financial decision, it's going to be hard to keep that player. But now the money is (more) out in the open. It's not fair, but hopefully it's more fair than before. Because buying players has been happening this whole time.
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