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 all of 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 good start. Here's the rundown today. Hard out at 2 p.m. So, let's bring it until then. I'm all yours. Fire away.
    How to beat Vegas? Don't the Blues need to punch the bully in the nose? Nothing happened to Stone after his cheap shot knocked Bozak out for 1/2 the season. He has scored at will along w most of their team. Reaves skates around running players and his mouth. Petro is no longer the nice guy, beloved former captain. Where is this teams inner Berube? Borts, Clifford- get ready to fight Reaves...again and again. Krug - let's see you run players like you did Thomas. Vladi - can your shoulder hold up? Paranko- your back? Sure we miss Sundqvist, Maroon, Steen. Bring the young guns in. Finish every check. Some players need to lead the charge besides Binnington. But start with Stone. He started it. Either fight back or go quietly in the night. What say you Ben Fred?
    I say, do you hear those crickets chirping when the Blues ask themselves who wants to go toe to toe with Ryan Reaves? Bueller? Bueller?
    Vegas is tough because they're tough, but that's not all.
    They score. They suck up all of the air in the arena on defense. They can out-Blues the Blues at that kind of physical game you are describing.
    That's why I like the idea of a Colorado matchup better. Some confidence stirred by the final two regular-season wins. A simple goal -- don't fall victim to the Avalanche power play by committing needless penalties; that's something the Blues should be able to control.
    If beating Vegas was simple, the Blues would have beaten them more than they did.
    Playoffs are a different story, but I don't think two different teams would be showing up to that series in Vegas.
    After watching the Colorado series could the stars align and Story comes to the Cards? Areanado urges him to reunite. Cards deal from pitching depth before he walks. Dejong either moves to 2nd w Edman to OF, becomes utility IF, or traded. Makes great defensive team even better. The lineup has that 3rd middle of the order bat- reminisce of MV3. Is this a pipe dream?
    Feels a bit like a pipe dream, yes. DeJong has been very, very good at shortstop for a while now defensively. He's leading the team in home runs despite his ups and downs. I don't think the Cardinals are ready to pivot from that plan, and I don't think they are ready to pivot from playing Edman at second base, where he has looked brilliant so far this season. He's good in the outfield, too, but second base looks like a permanent home for him for a while. I'm not sure the Rockies front office -- now that the old GM is gone -- would be interesting in adding insult to injury to fans by trading Story to the same team they traded Arenado to. Those things do play into decisions, too.
    Hello Ben

    Ok, we know Pujols wants a full-time role on a team, which would eliminate NL teams most likely. I can see an AL team paying the minimum to bring him in as a DH. That is the most likely scenario.

    1. Do you see him willing to go to a losing team to get that role?
    2. If there are no good matches do you see him caving in and potentially wanting to come back to STL and pinch hit, and fill in a day a week? Can he fill in a 3rd as well as 1st?
    3. Do you see Mo making that deal?
    4. Do you see that scenario even working out? They would have to send down probably Dean. What flexibility would the Cards lose?
    5. Do you see the Cards possible bringing him in next year if there is a DH in the NL? Potentially a last hurrah with Waino and Molina?

    Thanks!
    1. Yes. If he gets to chase at-bats and the 700-homer mark, I think he would prioritize his plans to make the most opportunity first -- based on what we have heard from why he and the Angels came to a fork in the road.
    2. If he learns there's no team willing to give him the role that he wants, and if he wants to keep playing in a scaled down role -- the first one is likely and the second one who knows -- then why wouldn't the Cardinals be first on his list? There's a difference between the Angels making him a bench player and him signing on as a bench player with a new team. Maybe not to some, but to players there is. The expectation would be set up front. No secrets. Here's the role. Take it or leave it. If he wants that bat-off-the-bench role, and he might not, then there would be no better place for him than St. Louis, where every trip to the plate would be treated with great fanfare. That's if the Cardinals want him in that role and think it would work, and not get out of whack if Pujols starts changing his tune after a few games. He would not be playing third for the Cards. That was a one-time thing for the Angels this season. Not a realistic option there for a team that values defense and the Cards do.
    3. It would be a DeWitt Jr. call. If he wants Pujols to end his career here, and Pujols is OK with the role, then he will be the one who says yes or no. And I don't have a good read on that. Part of me could see DeWitt liking the idea, but part of me could see him saying, hey, we are OK with how that ended, and we are not going to cloud what could be the final rides for guys who stayed -- Molina, Wainwright, Carpenter -- for a player who did not. That would not be shocking to me if he feels that way, though I don't think it would be worded in that way.
    4. Pujols would take the place of Thomas or the other right-handed hitter on the bench is in that spot. It was Nogowski and Dean earlier. That's the job. Basically the right-handed version of the role Matt Carpenter is in now.
    5. I would hope the Cardinals would be interested in improving their lineup with at least a league average DH instead of someone who is being phased out of the league. Pujols is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest right-handed hitters ever. But what he is right now is a player who is on the cusp of being phased out of the league. If it works out for both parties and the Cardinals want to boost attendance when the ballpark opens up it could be a nice, low-risk feel-good thing -- if it works out and is a plus instead of a sad sideshow. That's this season though. Signing up up as the DH for an entire season for a team that wants to contend is a good way to weaken the lineup. Sorry for being so blunt.
     
    Cardinals need to get a solid outfield bat and put Tyler O’Neill on the bench as a pinch-hitter. Of the many outfielders They traded, they kept the least useful. Maybe the front office needs to ask for best talent evaluation not least talented
  • O'Neill looked great at spring then looked lost when the season started.
    After returning from the groin injury he looked great again.
    Now he's cooled off quite a bit, going one-for-12 in his last five games.
    That's the player he's been. Streaky.
    The Cardinals seem willing to give him the season to see if he can find steady pace. His slugging percentage (.468) is the highest it's been since his rookie season and he's shown an increased ability to not try to do too much, and let his power help him instead of hurt him. His defense and speed on the bases is a plus.
    A big key to this season, and the Cardinals said as much entering it, is getting a read on what they have in their outfield. That can be interpreted as what they have in O'Neill. Is a collection of impressive tools that can't put it all together. Or is this the season where he starts to.
    You can manage the ups and downs  it other parts of the lineup are performing and he's not being counted on in a middle-order role, which he isn't anymore, so that's taking some pressure off. You can't manage it if there are more lows than highs and he struggles to stay healthy, which has been a problem he's battled for a while. The groin injury was his fifth trip to the injured list since July 2018 for a 25-year-old player. His hamstrings, elbows and groin have given him problems and might continue to.
    A few weeks ago the chat was ready to start his statue.
    Always best to wait and see with O'Neill.
    I'm going to need a lot of consistent proof before I think he's the answer in left. He's just been inconsistent so far.
    If the Cardinal's are still sitting in first place around July 31, what are you hoping for at the deadline? I'd like to think they'd want to make a push to get back to legitimate World Series contenders.
    Impossible to know today with all of the twists and turns the season could take before then, not to mention the injuries. The Cardinals have a lot of key players on the danger zone that is life after 30 years old for baseball player. Keep that in mind.
    A locked-in and dealing starting pitcher at the deadline made sense before the season started. Call it the Max Scherzer argument, and I'm a fan of it. The Nationals are doing their part by starting in the basement of the National League East with a 13-17 record, too. Scherzer looks good. No surprise there.
    Enhancing the left-handed relief might be a need even before then. Miller was not pitching well before his toe blister and Webb has really struggled. If Zack Thompson or someone else does not emerge as the answer, that could be an important but underrated topic here soon.
    If the outfield experiment blows a tire, and it might, one of those spots could be ripe for an upgrade as well.
    I agree the Cardinals need to push it at the trade deadline this season. It's been too long since they have, and if they are serious about a) doing right by Molina and Wainwright and b) impressing Arenado before he makes up his mind about that first opt out, then they will need to find ways to reinforce the team if it does its part. So far, so good.
    Hey Ben. Important sports question here. Who wins a 100 meter race between you, Goold, and Hochman? What about a bench press competition, who wins that?
    I am not in the Martinez Fan Club but there seems to be some knee-jerk unrest among fans after his last start. I think we need to step back and remember that Carlos was an absolute wild card who the team was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst with. His last start wasn’t great but Waino has had a couple bad ones too. It happens. Neither player was expected to be an ace. I’m not saying the team is playing with house money with Martinez, he is making a pretty penny, but don’t move the goal posts one month into the season when he has a track record of being inconsistent.
    Seems like a fair read to me, Tack. I was the one questioning if Martinez should be in the rotation over Oviedo, so I will say what Tsunami has done has been impressive. He had a few OK to subpar starts, but then had three very strong ones. I'm more interested in how he responds after the one shaky one, which was apparently affected by his ankle. I think a lot of people who doubted him are looking for reasons to claim his good starts were a blip and nothing more. Let's see how he recovers and responds.
    I cannot see Albert taking a bench role in St. Louis. Maybe next year if the NL has DH.
    Can I ask why?
    The average -- not good, not great, just average -- OPS for an American League DH since 2019 is .768.
    Albert Pujols since 2019 has an OPS of .707.
    Why would you want to guarantee a hitter with that kind of production a spot in your lineup every game?
    I think there's an interesting argument about if the novelty of a Pujols return combined with the attraction to fans and the lack of production the Cardinals are already getting from the right-handed pinch hitters could result in a return that says the combination of hope for results and predictable marketing benefit makes it worth a shot. I don't necessarily agree, but I can see the argument. But giving Pujols a place in the lineup every day, when other NL teams will use that opening to add better-than-average performance? Seems like a good way to get worse.
  • Ben, why would Albert Pujols engage in a 10 year personal service contract for an organization that has no emotional connection to him and just sent him packing without any grandiose farewell? The money is maybe $3-4 mil post tax over the 10 years so that would certainly not be a reason. The Cardinals are surely not going to bring him back as a bench player but the opportunity to come back in some future ambassador role would seem possible. Thoughts?
    Shrugging of 3-4 million. Interesting. Can I have it? 
    It might not just be about the money.
    Pujols and Angels owner Arte Moreno, I'm sure, have discussed Pujols' legacy, from who he aligns himself with after retirement to how he prefers to enter the Hall of Fame.
    How those conversations changed based on the way things ended with the Angels remains to be determined.
    But let's not paint the Angels as complete villains here. Pujols is not playing well. Has not been for a while. They wanted to give him a big retirement sendoff. He did not want it and wants to keep playing on his terms. So the only real option was DFA.
    What Albert wants to do after he's done playing will determine his path. I don't know what he wants, because right now he seems determined to keep playing.
    Do you think the cardinals have thought to bringing a third catcher up to the majors, so Kizner can pinch hit? I would hate to see him rust away with Yadi playing the amount he does?
    Knizner will be fine. A season as the backup is not going to ruin him. He's averaging .208 with a .276 on-base percentage and a .264 slug. Not exactly demanding pinch-hit ops at the moment.
    Hey Ben,

    Hochman's column got me worried. Do you think Arenado opts out? Thank you for the chat.
    He can't make that decision until after the season, but I don't see many reasons for him to be thinking he should at the moment. He's settled in. Found his spot in the lineup. His team is leading the division and just beat up on his old team. His team is 21-14. The team everyone thinks he was dying to play before before he joined the Cardinals, the Dodgers, is 18-17. I think Arenado is liking life as a Cardinal so far. But if every week is going to be a litmus test on his opt out, that's going to be an exhaustive thing. He has said he's here to say. We all know words can change. The opt-out exists for a reason. He has two. One after each of the next two seasons. The best way for the Cardinals to guarantee they are nothing more than a formality is to prove he can do whatever he wants to do in baseball right here. He wants to win a championship. The Cardinals could use another one, too. Been a while since 2011. Ten years if they don't do it this season.
    I was thinking of the Columbus Crew ... sorry, Columbus SC, rebrand this week and how they are ditching a great team crest. It made me think about how clunky STLCSC is. How have you felt about it? What about STLCFC? The more I say it though, the more it rolls of the tongue. Just have to be sure I get all my Cs and Ss in order.
    Just call them CITY. It's much easier.
    Fire Berube. Hire Torts. He is the best coach in the NHL, even if Gordo is scared to cover him.
  • Gordo fears no coach. He's outlasted many and he's not done yet. Coaches, they come and they go. But Gordo remains. I'm Pro Berube. I'm old enough to remember when he led the Blues from dead in the water to their first-ever championship. Those were the before times. Pre Corona.
    Do you see the FO getting caught in between at the deadline with guys like Bader and O'Neill? What I mean is that both players, if you wait long enough, will flash at the plate. It is easy to get caught up in what might be with both of them but when it is crunch time this team needs consistency. There is a ceiling to this team while they are relying on offense from the trio of DeJong/Bader/O'Neill. An 0-for-12 with 6+ K's is still too real of an outcome to consistently rely on all three together night in and night out.
    I don't see the Cardinals being caught in the in-between with Bader if the season continues like it has for him. I think they will celebrate if this keeps up. He has a career-high .887 OPS at the moment. He's been very good since he got back from his injury. Taking much better at-bats.
    I think you are describing the difference between where the front office is with Bader, O'Neill and perhaps DeJong compared to some fans and some in the chat. You think they are who they are, so anything that happens moving forward is just confirming what you know or a brief turn away from it that will be turn back over time. The front office thinks these players, all 27 or younger, are capable of improving beyond the baseline you have drawn your conclusions on. That's the difference. We should have a much better read on who is right and who is wrong by the trade deadline. It would not be surprising to see the Cardinals, in the case of Bader and O'Neill, say they saw enough to want to see another half of the season from these two. Bader is off to a great start. O'Neill was off to a bad one, then an injury, then a nice surge, now another slight stall. Personally I think we have a better idea of O'Neill's ceiling than Bader's, but the front office seems to disagree there.
    Is there any reason to be freaking out that Coach Drink may leave Mizzou soon? Doesn't he have to prove himself capable of winning in the SEC first ? . And even if he did build something akin to Pinkel, why wouldn't he want to stay and benefit from the reduced pressure that would come with moderate success at Mizzou?
    No reason to freak out, because it won't help one way or the other.
    Drinkwitz, to me, is a modern day football coach. He will go where the money is the best and where he feels he has the best chance to win big and build his brand. If the school he's at gives him reasons to stay, he will. If the school coming for him offers more and/or a better chance to win, I think he will go.
    He's in the best conference in college football with a real chance to the third-best team in his division annually. There are a lot wore places he can go. But if he's dying to coach in the NFL, or impresses some of the more powerful programs in the SEC or top Power 5 teams elsewhere, no, I don't think he would twist himself in knots about leaving CoMo.
    And that's OK.
    Top teams and pro levels coming after your coaches is a sign you're doing something right.
    If Drinkwitz leaves via that route one day, it will mean Mizzou had some big seasons with him.
    And the job becomes even more appealing to the next guy.
    Signing Pujols for anything is just crazy talk. Lets remember him for all the thrills he gave us in his prime and not for what little he had to offer at the end. I remember Willie Mays after he was traded to the Mets at the end of his career. He was just a shell of his former self. Hopefully someone will talk a little sense into him. Chasing records for records sake is just selfish.
    I had kind of forgotten that Ken Griffey Jr. ended his career with the Mariners.
    Averaged .208 with a .310 OBP and a .369 SLG in 150 games between his age 39 and 40 seasons.
    No wonder I forgot! 
    It didn't hurt his legacy. It would not hurt Pujols'. But it might be forgettable, and that might be kind of sad. Or, he hits one or two or three homers and it's fun. Or he hits one big postseason homer, and it's awesome. Who knows.
    But again, if he's not willing to play a bench role, it's a non-starter.
    BenFred - I understand your point below about clouding the exits of Molina and Waino, but can we avoid grouping Carpenter in there? Apples and oranges in terms of what they have meant to this franchise and the legacy they leave behind. Two are statue-worthy players and one will be a hotly contested, borderline at-best Cardinal HOFer.
    I mentioned him because he's a lifetime Cardinal who could be done after this season.
    That resonates with people still.
    He gets a curtain call after every home run for a reason.
    I'm not the one leading that charge. Cardinals fans are.
    Hey BenFred

    Always enjoy your chats, I think Knizner worked well with pitchers in Yadis absence especially CMart. But in a previous chat you implied that the Cardinals pitchers hit the other players in the head because Molina wasn’tcatching. Knizner isn’t the one throwing the pitch, don’t see the correlation
    I just pointed out that Knizner was behind the plate for most if not all of the pitches that hit Cardinals opponents above the shoulders.
    He doesn't throw the pitch, correct. 
    He does call the pitch and its location.
    I'm not anti-Knizner. At all. But it's noteworthy.
    Hey Ben!

    What are your thoughts on the state of the bullpen - the backend certainly looks strong with Reyes, Gallegos, Cabrera, Helsley but the other half is starting to look a bit worrying. Miller and Webb almost look like they need to be considered non-factors going forward. Do you think the cardinals believe the younger guys like Whitley/Elledge can round out the middle relief to keep the back end effective? Also are there any other internal candidates to help the left side? Would they consider Liberatore or Thompson to the pen later this year? That seems unlikely given they must be trying to get their innings back up this year.

    Thanks as always for taking the time for this weekly!
    Losing Hicks is no small thing.
    And the left side is shooting sparks, as mentioned earlier.
    Mentioned this in last week's chat but right now the only other left-handed option on the 40-man is Bernardo Flores Jr. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers from the White Sox in April. He had one rough outing in a loss to the Mets where he walked two and gave up a hit and run before getting lifted without securing an out.
    Other non-40-man options include Evan Kruczynski, Garrett Williams and Austin Warner.
    Zack Thompson could be the guy. Would like to see that. Think he could be the best option.
    I think they would prefer to keep Matthew Liberatore in the starter's realm especially this early in the season.
    How long will Cardinal nation fixate on Arozarena? He may turn out to be a star or it maybe that he had one amazing post-season. His numbers this year.....underwhelming to mediocre.
    Randy's batting line is down to .267/.362/.383 in 120 at-bats this season.
    He had 141 at-bats in the 2020 regular and postseason combined.
    But he's old news, haven't you heard. The crowd is now fixated on one Jose Adolis Garcia. The former Cardinals outfielder who took that ill-fated tumble while rounding third base is slashing .295/.336/.590 for the Rangers over 105 at-bats. The Cardinals won't be the only team wondering what-if if that holds up. The Rangers passed him through waivers in February without a team taking him. Whoops? We shall see.
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