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 your week is off to a strong start. Quick programming note before we begin. No chat from me next week. The Cardinals chat will be on Tuesday that week instead of Monday. So, we will have to make this week's chat twice as good. Fire away.
    It’s hard to know what to expect from QB and RB, but what’s your confidence level for the rest of the team? How do you view Mizzou’s O-line, receivers, and defensive units? Do you believe those position groups can be above average and carry the team?
    Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and nothing else comes close. A good example was last season. Mizzou had one of the best performances at running back as any team in the nation, thanks to Tyler Badie. And still the ceiling was limited by QB play. If Cook can expand the ceiling beyond what an often-limited Connor Bazelak could do while playing through physical limitations, then that's a plus. I do think the receivers should be better. Luther Burden is a big reason. And others will benefit around him Drinkwitz has made some changes in the group in terms of who plays outside and who plays inside and that should help in having better roles for all. I hope Drinkwitz is playing coy about maybe having Burden return punts. He should absolutely be the lead return man on punts. He's a weapon there. Defense has to be solid, and solid from the start. The incoming transfers who are expected to play immediately are not  new to this level, unlike last year. They should be good to go. If the defense can be solid -- unlike last season -- it buys time for the offense to find its level.
    The announced attendance last night in the Queen City was 11,051. The only thing believable in that number is the 51. How did a once proud franchise in one of America’s better baseball cities fall off the cliff?
    Well, the team president, who happens to be the son of the owner, threatening fans with relocation sure didn't help matters.
    Here in St. Louis, the Cardinals sometimes take heat for being too dedicated to their model.
    In Cincinnati, the Reds sorely lack one.
    BenFred, I admit I did not think at the time of your column that 700 was a possibility. But, he is at an absurd 383/437/798 with a wRC+ of 243 since the 7/10/22 game against Philadelphia (The Seranthony Domínguez Game). I have no idea how or why, I am simply enjoying the ride from her until 10/5/22 because things will never be the same after that.
    A couple things are happening in addition to Pujols swinging a scorching hot bat . . . 
    The All-Star game fired him up. I figured it would and it did. He feeds off stuff like that.
    The Cardinals are building a cushion that makes it easier for manager Oli Marmol to let Pujols go homer hunting. Him swinging it well makes that easier too, sure. Obviously. But when you are 6 games up and your schedule is crammed with beatable teams, you can be a little more generous with playing time against righties despite the splits. That's part of the reason I said it was possible. Because it seemed pretty likely the Cardinals were going to have a chance to run away down the stretch.
    I do not remember Zack Thompson hitting 99 earlier in the season. Barry Larkin on reds broadcast calling it power stuff. I did not see the Zack Thompson and guy they got for Edmundo Sosa (I know his name is JoJo Romer) taking over for Genesis Cabrera in September plot twist coming.
    Thompson did not initially respond well to the back-to-back work he was sent down to prepare for, but kept at it and now this. Impressive. As for Romero, credit to Marmol. He was high on him from the moment they got him and had mentioned him to me as a guy who could sooner rather than later. That was the reason I mentioned him in that names to know column a while back. It's common, especially with the Cardinals, for a bullpen refresh to be needed entering crunch time. It's happening again and could grow to include Matz, if his strikeout stuff can play in a relief role.
    What's the chances we see deyong in cards uniform next year? Pretty low?
    The chat was irate last week about DeJong getting some more time. It should be happier this week. He's played just one complete game since last Wednesday. This has felt like a change of scenery situation for a while now, and that feeling is back after his initial burst upon the return from Memphis has cooled. He's averaging .167 with a .250 on-base percentage and a .259 slugging percentage over his last 20 games. His defense is strong but not enough to carry an OPS+ that is now more than 30 percent below league average.
    Ben - thanks for the chats....what do you hear about Albert's personal services contract with the Angels? Can't imagine they or he would be interested...and it seems like the Cards could pay him $1mill a year for the next 10 years to hang around spring training, do personal appearances, radio and tv hits, and what not. Would seem to offer big benefits to all involved.
    The latest came from Pujols to Derrick Goold in mid-May, when he said: “I have the personal service (contract) with the Angels, so I’m going to be active with some baseball stuff."
    That would suggest he wasn't, at the time, thinking about declining the contract.
    But he could.
    And things can change.
    Since then Arte Moreno has started shopping the Angels.
    I wouldn't worry about it too much, and don't think the Angels, who cut Albert, are going to have an issue with him being around the Cardinals if he chooses to be. 
    We'll see.
    Ben, seriously considering dropping my subscription to the daily PD. What is the time stories have to be to make press time. It seems as though I don't get Cardinal articles and results for about 1/4 of the games. Tell your editors to try and get the press time moved back.
    If it was that easy, it would have been done by now. Some things are not within our control here. That said, if you are online and engaging in this chat -- I'm glad you're here! -- you can find gobs of coverage, including instant game coverage, on our site and apps. The web is not limited by corporate-mandated deadlines and print schedules, and we flood the web with coverage before during and after games that the print product could never have enough room to package.
    Thanks for taking our questions. How would you characterize the Jake Woodford situation at this point? It seems like Marmol/Maddux don't want to let performance confuse what analytics say they should be seeing with him. At least he is getting some playing time lately, sometimes in higher leverage situations, sometimes in garbage time. Do you see any movement on this front?
    I think it's a combination of things. I think Woodford has improved in areas the Cardinals challenged him, and I think the Cardinals have been more convinced that he can help because his results continue to stack up. There's been progress toward the common-sense middle regarding what Woodford can and can't do, and the obvious fact -- he can help this team in some way -- is no longer getting ignored as much. Didn't need to take this long.
    Which Albert gets most of the credit for the Cardinals' offensive improvement this season?
    If Jeff Albert has to take the arrows when things don't go well, he should get the roses when things do. And things are going well. If Tyler O'Neill stays on the rails, things could be going really well. I'll add, though, that the Cardinals offense under Albert's instruction needs to prove it can do more than various stages of melting in the playoffs. That one NLDS win against the Braves in 2019 can only hold up for so long. In the playoffs opponents have both great pitching and targeted scouting reports that get a ton of time and attention. The Cardinals will need to combat it. The approach that has crystallized lately -- simply refusing to swing at balls and bad strikes and punishing good pitches to hit -- works any time of the year.
    Do you feel like Flaherty's relationship with the organization has further deteriorated, like irreparably, this year? Some of his quotes in the P-D stories esp recently have sounded very aggravated and almost like he is just trying to get through being a Cardinal. Am I reading too much into it, and is it mostly his own frustration with being injured? Thanks for the chat!
    No, I feel like things are actually in an OK spot, at least for now.
    I think Flaherty is frustrated with how this season has gone, understandably, and he seems frustrated over the way his last return was characterized by the front office as him pushing to return earlier than expected. But that is what happened, pretty much. Flaherty thought he was ready. Everybody agreed. It didn't work out, though, and I can see how Flaherty could feel like he was left out to dry in the after-the-fact questioning of the plan everybody had a chance to weigh in on.
    But that's in the past now. 
    To me he's in prove-it mode. He doesn't want to talk. He wants to pitch and pitch well. He knows he has to prove with his pitching now, not his quotes.
    Do you think there are multiple people within the organization that will breathe a collective sigh of relief in October after Yadi plays his last game?
    I think they would be breathing easier if they had a clear answer as to who replaces him.
    Knizner has played better as of late offensively, no doubt. And that's some nice resiliency on his part after a frustrating season. But he has not screamed he's ready for the lead job after this season, even as the lead job will not be what it was like when Ironman Molina was stacking up the innings.
    The Cardinals are, understandably, not doing cartwheels down the hallways about how odd this final go round for Molina has been, but they did know it was going to be different. They are aware of the initial reservations he had about coming back in the first place, but figured -- understandably -- that it would be smoother sailing than it has been. And no one should or will be surprised if Molina doesn't come up big when it matters most, and that's in the playoffs.
    When does Waino make up his mind about returning next year? Surely,there is mutual admiration from both parties to continue this relationship,right?
    He made a comment lately that seemed to suggest he was leaning toward hanging it up, but again I'm going to believe it when I see it there. I wouldn't expect him to announce anything final one way or another until after the season. If he wants to pitch, the Cardinals should make that as easy as possible. Part of me has wondered if Wainwright would have any interest in finishing it up with the Braves, the team that drafted him in his home state. Just my tinfoil hat theory.
    Any thought in the Cards clubhouse that they can overcome the Mets and Braves and get a bye? The schedule, except for the West Coast swing, is pretty easy.
    It could happen, but it would take some help from both of those two teams, and neither Mets nor Braves seem like a club that is going to come undone. But there's a shot if the Cardinals continue their surge as baseball's hottest team since the trade deadline. No one is catching the Dodgers. The other one is hard but perhaps doable. The Cardinals are mostly talking about beating the Brewers still.
    I don't want to over analyze the differences between Shildt and Oli because Oli has a different team with a deeper bench. That said, I don't see any scenario under Shildt that DeJong and Carlson would not have played in 4 straight games or that Nootbaar and Donovan would be entrenched at 1-2 in the line-up. My question is whether or not the FO has backed off this year and are letting Oli make his own moves?
    Shildt benched DeJong for Sosa down the stretch last season, and started Sosa in the wild-card game.
    That said Marmol is much more comfortable with a fluid lineup and one that maximizes splits and matchups over static.
    He's working with the front office and analytics types to make some of these calls.
    Marmol meets with two groups daily to discuss the last day's game.
    One is been-there-done-that types. Another is analytics group.
    The conversations are similar. What did he mess up. What should he have done differently. What worked. What didn't.
    He wants opinions in those meetings. Sometimes he agrees. Sometimes he disagrees. What he does next game is often shaped in those conversations.
    Marmol is more collaborative is one way to explain it, and that's something that makes all parties feel validated -- even if their opinion doesn't get used that day. 
    I know Mikolas got lit up in Cincy earlier this year, so maybe it is the venue for him, but how concerned are you by his post-All-Star break numbers?
    Not too worried at this point. He doesn't pitch well in Cincinnati or Colorado, and those bad starts are influencing the second-half splits. He's had quality starts in four of six starts his month. Let's see how he responds next time out. He's been really good against Atlanta, Philadelphia and Milwaukee within the past two months. Those are more telling than starts in Colorado and Cincinnati.
    Ok, if you had beginning of the season Noot O'Neill and Dickinson as the best three and starting outfield for a first place team going into September then step up to the window and cash a winning lottery ticket because I didn't and I'm very grateful that I was wrong. This is a legit top three starting outfield in the league. And I can't say enough about the top of the order talk to Noot and Donovan taking professional at bats and doing and doing whatever is needed of them. Punching waaaay above their experience. I love it! Go Cards
    Let's not hand out league-best medals just yet. Dickerson is salvaging what was looking like a lost season. O'Neill is trying to do the same. Nootbaar has been a revelation and now it's about sustaining a high level of play moving forward. The Cardinals thought they had their outfield all sorted out entering this season, and no matter where the season ends they're going to have to look at it in the offseason.
    BenFred,

    Enjoying the ride the Cardinals are taking us on and loving the Pujols majesty, but what’s up with DC3? He’s having a pretty forgettable season offensively. Should the organization be concerned if he finishes the season with a similar line that he currently has?
    He has to hit better. Simple as that. If he doesn't, he's not an every-day, no-matter-what starter right now. I don't think that's his future or his ceiling, but it's too important of a time and others are playing better at this time, and those are the breaks. The Cardinals wanted to make him the every-day center fielder after the Bader trade and I think that's what they would still want today, but he's getting beat with fastballs up and breaking stuff down, and they've challenged him to perform better or sit more often.

    So many embarrassing losses during the previous coaches tenure. I hope we don’t have another one this year I mean Wyoming? Indiana?
    I don't think Mizzou should be a 19-point favorite on Thursday night. Seems too high. La Tech is better than last season's 3-9 record indicated if you look. Played Mississippi State tough on the road in the opener (35-34 loss) and lost by just a touchdown at ranked NC State. New coach who runs the Air Raid, something Mizzou's defense has struggled with before. So, don't be shocked if Tigers don't cover. Do be disappointed if they lose. You don't schedule games like this one to lose.
    On March 28th of this year I thought the Cardinals bad the biggest blunder of their franchise history by signing Pujols to a one year contract. I told my friends and I believe I even chatted on this forum that this was not going to end well. I also thought Molina would come into camp all slim and in great physical shape for his last season. So much for buying lottery tickets tonight.
    You know the Cardinals would not have let the Pujols situation fester if things had gone poorly, right? This is an image-conscious team. They would have found an exit ramp if things had gone that poorly. Both player and team.
    But that's all in the past, as it's gone better than anyone could have possibly expected.
    As for Molina, there's no sugarcoating it. Not how anyone drew it up. But no one should be surprised if Molina comes up with some moments of his own. The Cardinals just have to keep him invested if he's not hitting. He's frustrated. He's still valuable. His career has come full circle in that it really doesn't matter what he hits if he's doing what he can do behind the plate. Would it be great if he hit? Of course. And with how Knizner is hitting now, he can play more and should. I'd still want Molina behind the plate in a playoff game.
    Catcher, shortstop and the OF/DH (bc Pujols will retire) can't all be quantity over quality positions in 2023, one of them needs a serious and permanent upgrade. Which position do you see being the most likely target for an external upgrade?
    Great question and totally agree with your point. A guess now would be just that. Catcher seems like a must unless Knizner, who has come on strong offensively, convinces the team he can be ready for that role next season. A lot of names and how they finish, and how some young guys are projected impact the rest. Edman. Donovan. Nootbaar. Carlson. O'Neill. Walker, as in Jordan. A rocking shortstop could do wonders. Same was true last offseason. Cardinals could wait on Masyn Winn but he's probably a bit behind Walker. Lots to discuss and debate this offseason, for sure.
    I have to give the Brewers credit. They could’ve collapsed with the Cardinals winning streak ahead of them but they just keepwinning
    . Trying to get their chance
    They're hitting it pretty well as of late and have a cupcake conveyor line to fatten up on: Pittsburgh, Arizona, Colorado. They're not going to spin out but they can be shoved out. Check out mid-September for them. Cardinals. Yankees. Mets. They will either be back in or out after that stretch.
    What’s happened to Cuonzo Martín? He still in Columbia? Is there a job for him in admin at Mizzou. Good man.
    He's in Florida enjoying some down time by the beach. Not sure what will be next for him after a year off.
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