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.

    Hey gang, hope everyone is having a great Tuesday. I'm in the saddle until about 2 p.m. Fire away with any questions and comments you've got. Plenty to discuss with Cardinals trying to hold on through the All-Star break and Blues making some offseason moves. Let's roll.
    What does the wildly successful City2 soccer team mean for the main club?
    It should mean early encouragement and reinforcement that the plan can work. I see it as a good sign for lots of aspects that will be important to establishing the top team as one that can move the needle: talent evaluation, coaching, and on-field strategy especially. Throw in the success of the two younger academy teams in their first seasons, and you an add in positive feedback about the amount of talent and development already happening in this area, where the team will look to pull from for its players, with the hopes of local stars turning into SC players. It's worth mentioning that other MLS Next teams, like a Class AAA baseball team, are dealing with players being pulled up and down to the big club over the course of the season, and that's not something this team has to deal with -- because there is no big club yet. But even with that factored in, the success is exciting and the style of play -- attacking, high-energy soccer with a defense turns into offense approach -- should transfer up pretty well as long as City continues to get the right players for how it wants to play. If the academy and Next teams stunk, we would not be feeling great. The opposite is true.
    I know Mikes Mikolas is pitching like an ace at present. But with the giant questions surrounding Jack Flaherty, doesn’t the need for an ace need to be addressed soon? This has been a concern for two years. Am i wrong that the cardinals will need to set aside a sizable amount for one soon?
    If the Cardinals are counting on Flaherty for anything more than a potential pleasant surprise at this point, they are setting themselves up for trouble. With his move to the 60-day injured list yesterday, a late August return is now the best-case scenario. No one knows how this new road to recovery will go. Not Jack. Not the team. No one. If he comes back and pitches great, that's great. But you can't lean on that hope at this point this season, considering his previous setbacks. 
    The bad news is I don't know that there is a true "ace" available on the trade market. There are some guys who are going to be overhyped because they are the best available. Some of those same guys have injury issues popping up recently, which should be pretty significant red flags. Health and production is a must for trad-deadline additions.
    The good news is the Cardinals don't have to sell the farm for the best starter available. They do need rotation help, but the need is reliable starts and innings. Quality. A chance to win. Something like what they did last season with the better-late-than-never additions, but perhaps some more upside. That's why I like the Madison Bumgarner idea. Also because he has a significant contract -- one that would decrease the prospect ask for the Diamondbacks if they move him.
    The Cardinals are not dealing their most coveted prospects at the deadline -- unless they are putting up one heck of a smokescreen. They are excited about the farm as they have been in a very long time, and they have recommitted to not letting exciting prospects go before they get a fair shot in STL.
    They can take on salary; the Pujols deal has been a financial windfall. They can deal blocked and non-prioritized major leaguers. They could deal young talent, but I don't think they will. 
    Does it seem like the gap between Tripple A and the majors is larger than ever? Granted, it’s always been big, but it seems like you see more and more players these days who are too good to be in the minors but not good enough to be in the majors.
    I'd argue it's smaller than ever, honestly. Some of the Cardinals' best performances this season have come from guys who jumped up from Class AAA and proved they belong. Jordan Hicks has spent barely any time in Class AAA due to his aggressive promotion, and there will be others who follow that blueprint in the future. The majors are getting younger. The designated hitter lets hitters who are ready develop defense on the fly. There is more player development going on at the major league level -- and therefore more mistakes visible in certain areas -- than ever before. And the minor leagues have been shrinking during that time, too. So, I'd say smaller, not bigger.
    Why are the cards who are trying to win bringing up the gas can of McFarland? Thompson and packy are better options. Even the base ball reference says he isn't good. They have to swallow their pride and admit the mistake like with witgren
    McFarland is basically on a get-it-done-or-goodbye return this time around. He's healthy. He has to throw strikes and get groundball outs, or he's gone. The Cardinals are not going to carry four lefty relivers, so Thompson goes back to retool as a starter -- unless McFarland flops and Thompson returns to take that spot. As discussed earlier, Thompson could be some help for this rotation in need of help, and if McFarland can hold a role, that's a win-win. But it's fair to doubt his ability to do that based on the results this season. This is his chance to prove that wrong or go the Wittgren route. Corey Dickerson is in the same spot offensively. That game last night could have been big for him.
    Ben - As a person of advanced age, I vividly remember when the Blues announced the signing of Scott Sevens at 12:01 a.m. on the opening day of the free agent signing period. Anticipating early-morning fireworks this year?
    The biggest buzz at the moment hinges on a player who could be leaving, not coming. The hockey talking heads are assuming David Perron is gone through free agency because of unproductive -- but not contentious -- talks with the Blues about an extension. I hope that pivots. Blues would really miss Perron. One of the most competitive players on the team and one of the best performers in the playoffs last season. If Perron does go for bigger money elsewhere, you would think it would make the Blues a lot less likely to trade Vladimir Tarasenko -- unless Doug Armstrong has something big brewing. You never know with Army.
    Based upon Molinas career as a Cardinal I really resent many statements that I’ve read regarding him rehabbing in Puerto Rico.
    My understanding is that he’s recently experienced family/personal issues and feel like these should be kept private and that Cardinal Nation should be understanding and supportive of such a great Cardinal player. He will certainly be missed!!
    And also……GO CARPENTER!!!
    Some fans seem to forget Molina "rehabbing in Puerto Rico" means he's rehabbing at home.
    If he made his home in Davenport, Iowa, I don't think there would be such outrage about the location.
    Rehabbing at home is not uncommon. But the list of folks who are nudging Molina to return to the team, privately and publicly, is growing. That's why I wrote what I wrote last week. It wasn't to disrespect him. It was with hope he hears what his team is saying about needing him back.
    If he's not up for that, that's his call, but it would be a bummer of a way to end it.
    Congrats to Carpenter. The Cardinals have to be wondering how they could not unlock him. Sometimes a change does a lot of good. Also not playing beneath the weight of a scrutinized contract can make a difference. But beyond that it sure sound like he has addressed a swing that this coaching staff had no answers for anymore. Makes me wonder about what Paul DeJong ould do elsewhere. He's only 28.
    I agree with Whitey herzog.If they don’t win it this year fire the whole bunch!
    Did Whitey say that? I saw he was on with Frank the other night. That would be news if he called for heads.
    There was a lot of happy talk at spring training about the World Series. Manager Oliver Marmol, in perhaps a reminder to the front office before the trade deadline, brought it back out with a harder edge the other day. Paraphrasing here, but his line about winning seasons not meaning anything was a direct contrast to Mozeliak's talking up of the consecutive winning seasons streak. I picked the Cardinals to be a wild-card team before the season with the Dodgers emerging out of the NL. That's tracking as of now.
    For all of those waiting for the Cards to make a splashy trade deadline deal, please don't hold your breath! I think they have the pieces to make a deal, but I think Mozeliak is feeling snakebit, and doesn't want another Arozorena or Ozuna deal or to come back and haunt him. The Cardinals just don't make these kind of deals.
    No need to wonder about if they have the pieces to make the deal. The Cardinals have seven prospects in the latest Baseball America Top-100. No other MLB team has more. Lots of teams would love to give the Cardinals major league talent now for those future players. The Cardinals, I think, are going to have to go pretty far down that list before they would consider dealing highly ranked prospects, though. Gorman and Liberatore are helping this team now and look like key components of the future. Winn (likely future shortstop starter) and Walker (exciting bat) are going to the Futures game as two of the most exciting minor league players playing. Graceffo has MLB-ready stuff off the mound now and could help this team sooner rather than later. Herrera has debuted and is in the long-term plans unless they have changed. Maybe Alec Burleson gets moved -- but he would fit the bill of a hitter knocking on the door at Class AAA the Cardinals could come to regret not giving a chance later.
    Looking back over the last 20 games and forward to the all star break it seems like it would have been pretty easy to keep Burleson in the lineup. I can't understand why he hasn't got a chance and they kept running outfielders out there that haven't done well with the opportunities given. Maybe Noot or Dickerson will get hot. Has there been any word on Donavon? he's missed like 5 games they might as well IL him at this point?
    I agree with you on Burleson. He's not on the 40-man roster, so the Cardinals did the thing where they talk themselves out of bringing him up because it didn't look like a long-term chance. But with the time O'Neill has missed due to additional delays and the extra patience with Bader, there was a chance for him to get a decent look of regular playing time that the Cardinals missed. Especially with Donovan's illness costing him time, too. Capel did a fine job but he's not an impact hitter. Carlson has been exceptional in center lately and Burleson could have gotten some  time in corner outfield and DH. With how some of the Memphis additions have boosted this team this season, I thought the Cardinals should have kept the conveyor belt going with Burleson. If O'Neill is back, and that could happen any day now, the window begins to close. But the Cardinals cost themselves a window, no matter how they want to explain it away. And if Buleson does wind up joining the team at some point -- say, like Juan Yepez did last season for the wild-card game -- then he could have used this chance to get a taste of the majors. The downside would have been the 40-man complications, but the Cardinals make dropping a guy who is not getting it done sound like a massive problem. Teams do it all the time. 
    Donovan could be back today, if he felt good after his workout at Busch yesterday. Doesn't sound like it's COVID with him -- or if it was it's cleared -- because he was able to be  around the team yesterday. Sounds like a flu or something. Oli compared it to what he had early in the season when the manager missed a couple games.
    Is now the time to trade Jack? Maybe for Syndergard? Angels eat money, Jack goes out West, we get a quality arm?
    Other teams are aware of the injury history, and the SLAP tear information Mozeliak revealed at spring training. I don't think teams are lining up to ask for Flaherty now. They're waiting and watching to see if he can get healthy and perform, like the Cardinals.
    How would you grade Marmol at this point of the season?
    I think he's done a pretty good job.
    I appreciate his bluntness and candor.
    He balances that well with some humor and sarcasm.
    Right now his team is exhausted due to a 17-game stretch of consecutive games, thinned out by injuries to some key guys and hoping to get some help from the front office sooner rather than later.
    Sound familiar?
    There are times when Marmol has sounded like Shildt when it comes to suggesting the Cardinals are doing the best they have with what they can.
    A key for him is going to be navigating those waters in a way that gets him more help -- and doesn't drive a wedge between him and the front office.
    Do you think fans have become way more knowledgeable about their teams' minor-league systems in just the past couple years, and does that make it more difficult for the FO to make deals from their depth? The Athletic's Jim Bowden suggested recently the Cards should consider dealing Burleson and Graceffo to Miami for Pablo Lopez, and the boldness of that really struck me. Aside from still feeling the sting of trading prospects-who-excelled-in-the-majors to Miami in the Ozuna deal, it's hard to imagine the team being able to publicly justify trading two guys like that who get such regular attention in chats like this, even more so now than when they dealt away pretty highly-regarded guys like Zack Cox, Brett Wallace, Daric Barton, Tyrell Jenkins, even Oscar Mercado.
    Man, that's a good question and I've thought about it a lot lately.
    I think it depends on the fan.
    I hear from some who are legitimately pumped about the future of some of these prospects, and part of that is because of the amount of attention now paid to these prospects.
    Heck, the P-D is a part of that. We are covering the minors like never before.
    Some others are only interested in the major league level, and would gladly trade any player who has not debuted for a championship now. There will be some who ask how the team publicly justifies NOT trading prospects to try to make it more likely that Wainwright, Molina and this strong season from Arenado and Goldschmidt don't result in a championship.
    Just depends.
    I've mentioned before my iceberg theory. It's that most fans see the part above the water only, while the team sees the whole thing, a large part of that being the minor league system that hopefully feeds up for a draft-and-development style team. I do think more fans are seeing the whole iceberg now, and that's probably good news for the team, because the top part of the iceberg has been melting a bit.
    Wishing on MadBum, and looked this up:

    The cards 2022 total payroll is $159M per spotrac...it was $181M in 2019 and $175M in 2018. That would indicate there may be money to spend? Am I missing something?

    Do we know if Mo's contract rewards him more for winning or for profitability? Overall, I think he has done a very good job (trading away Alcantrara, while it hurts now, was absolutely the right move at the time--and Goldy and Arenado trades have been excellent), but I wonder how he is incentivized?
    The publicly-tracked payroll numbers are not always accurate as they might be lacking how certain contracts are handled and such, but the fact is the Cardinals are benefitting from steady attendance at the ballpark and the Pujols return moved a lot of tickets. They can take on money if they want at the deadline, especially if they don't want to give up prospects to get better. That has been clear for a while.
    No one should judge a 162-game season by 7 days but last week sure felt like a preview (replay) for October. Cards make playoffs, offense goes limp, wash, rinse repeat since NLCS 2019. It's fine to be excited we are 2 games back of a team that just lost 4 of 6 at home to Pitt 7 Chicago, but it feels like this team's fate has been flashed to fans. Will the FO do something to change the course of it?
    Everyone is twisting themselves in knots trying to figure out if this Cardinals offense is fixed, still flawed or fake news. I'll wait and see what happens in the postseason, because the track record of a Jeff Albert coached offense is that it can pummel average and worse pitchers, dries up against good to elite pitchers and can seize up badly in the playoffs, when the arms are great and there is a ton of time to dedicate to scouting a team's specific weaknesses. I don't go nuts about the offense dragging now because the lineup falls off a cliff after Carlson most nights. O'Neill and Bader out changes this offense a lot. To a lesser degree, Molina too. Some teams can lose these kind of players and still cruise. The Cardinals are not that deep, and that's not on Albert. And yes, better hitters would help. But I don't think the Cardinals will be shopping for much offense before the trade deadline. Maybe a catcher that can hit a little bit if they don't feel good about Molina's status.
    What do you make of Oli Marmol's propensity to criticize his players in the press?
    He's often saying the same things to the media that he's already said to the players. As long as that's the case, there's not much for players to get mad about. Most of these guys get it.
    Think Mozeliak will be buying a lot more sage for the clubhouse in the coming weeks? That'd be a lot cheaper than Bumgarner's remaining contract, so I assume he's gotta be making it a priority.
    I asked Mikolas if it's not a true sage streak until Schnucks starts selling it.
    He warned that sage is not to be used for commercial benefit, and that could do more harm than good.
    He passed the test.
    BenFred how important do you think the all time battery mate record is to Yadier Molina assuming they are unable to set it this season? Do you think he would reverse course (again) and come back next season assuming Waino does? Yadi is tougher than nails and I just hope the man can walk unassisted when he is 60. His body has taken a horrible beating. Thanks!!
    He's not playing next season. There's still a chance to break the record -- if he gets back after the All-Star break.
    Hi Ben!

    It’s Deja Vu all over again!

    Last year we were desperate for starting pitching and needed help at the trade deadline, costing us players. Then comes the Off-season and plenty of starting pitching available…we signed Matz and NO ONE ELSE.

    Now…2022 we are in the same boat as 2021.

    What gives with MO’s reluctance to sign more pitchers in off-season? We can always trade surplus if no injuries occur.

    Thanks!
    The Cardinals are big on building a roster that looks pretty good as long as everything works out great. Inevitably, things don't work out great. It takes luck for every team that makes a deep run. Some need more than others. Some teams try to build a roster where things have to go really wrong to derail it. The Cardinals have trended toward building one where things have to go right to stay on track.
    The only thing the risk adverse Cards brass plays to is its consistency model. Win more than you lose and shoot for that last WC. That said, the Cards will not part with prospects or spend a ton of money to improve the team at the break. Tweak it a bit, and roll the dice. And oh yea, hope everyone gets healthy with no thought of someone else getting hurt. Ben, where am I wrong?
    Bumgarner, Mahle, Montas... it should have just been Max last winter. Mikolas is basically giving the team what they hoped Jack would. Waino is Waino, dynamite at home but rough on the road. So that leaves Hudson and Matz. If Matz return isn't moving the needle than why did you sign him to a 4-year deal? How many back end starters does this team need? And who is the ace next year? It should be Max leading the way.
    Let's see what Matz can do when healthy. That said, yes, Max Scherzer wanted to pitch here and would have been an awesome addition. He was told he was out of the Cardinals budget. Again.
    Any thoughts on when OK and TX will finally play in the Big 12? Any push to get this done before 2025?
    The Austin American-Statesman is as tuned in on anything Texas-related as any outlet. It reported last month that joining by 2024 was the goal. The sooner the better. This lame-duck phase before all of the schools switch is going to subtract from the importance of the seasons, I think. And that's a bummer.
    Except for Goldie and Arenado the Cards offense has been generally anemic for the past few weeks. Occasionally the bats bust out with a barrage of hits and runs like last night but that’s not been happening consistently. It seems like most of the young guys are trying too hard and feeling the pressure to come through. Do the players ever do any fun non baseball activities to get out of their heads? I’m thinking something like clubhouse karaoke might help.
    That's why the Mikolas sage stunt came at a good time. Made people laugh. Lightened things up. Marmol can feel his guys pressing. During a pitching change in Atlanta he reminded his players this is supposed to be fun. I do think the Cardinals at times miss a lighthearted presence in the clubhouse, but then again the way the Cardinals go about things kind of washes away those vibes. It's a business-like team, for better or worse. The biggest thing they are dealing with is 17 straight games and injuries and illness that have robbed them of some important bats. This offense isn't going to be very good when O'Neill, Bader, Donovan and Molina are all out at once. Get Donovan and O'Neill back and things should get better. Also the All-Star break should work wonders for this team. They're gassed.
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