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 all is well. I'm in the saddle for a few hours. Much to discuss. Pujols heads west hunting 700. Cardinals offense is under the microscope again. Mizzou and Auburn both need a win Saturday. Blues camp starts Thursday. Team announced today that Scandella is going to be out a long while for a hip operation. City2 is giving soccer fans something to get fired up about in the MLS Next Pro playoffs, despite the headache of not being able to host it in their stadium. And whatever else is on your mind. Fire away.
    At what age is it ok to question Dylan Carlson's playing time/statistics without getting the response of "he's still just 23" It seems to be the company line with Carlson. Hopefully next season his age won't be needed to quantify his production.
    Here's a column about that very topic. Now seems like a really ripe time for Carlson to secure his place -- or leave it open for what could be a very interesting offseason for the outfield and its now-scrambled picture.

    BenFred: Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson gets another chance to run away with center field

    STLtoday.comIt's time for Carlson to prove what he is (and is not) with his play
    Ben,

    Regarding the baserunning glove. Is the runner limited to wearing just one? Knowing which hand to wear it tells me they know (through base stealing/running drills) which hand is going to be extended. Your thoughts?
    Additionally: I get the safety issue with the glove and that's a good point to the allowance of wearing a glove but I can see a situation where a runner is called safe due to the tip of the glove reaching base in time whereas a bare hand may not. While this may not cause any handwringing (pun intended) during a Pirates/Reds tilt I can see it blowing up in an important game in the playoffs/World Series where everything is under the microscope. I can just imagine the camera (embedded right at the base) showing just how close the play is. MLB/ESPN would have a field day with that!!
    They can use their non-gloved (mittened?) hand if they choose to.
    There is no rule that says they can only extend the hand that is covered.
    The left hand is most often used so that's the one that gets mitted.
    I'm not sure how a guy would wear too -- unless he's going to have the base coaches strap them on him like a parent before a kid goes out for a snow day.
    And that would probably be a negative for pace of play.
    There's not enough extra length of the sliding mitts to alter safe/out much. If the mitt is on the base/plate, you're safe.
    Marmol who I love as the Cards Manager will be making some tough choices for 3 starting pitchers for the playoffs. Wainwright should not be one of those starters if he does not get things straightened out in his next 2 starts.
    He's going to look at recent performance, sure.
    He's also going to look at the matchups.
    If the Cardinals host the Brewers, for example, I'd fully expect Jordan Montgomery to start Game 1.
    The Brewers are weak against left-handed pitching compared to right-handed pitching.
    Someone good is going to get left out of a three-round series of starts, but that doesn't mean that pitcher can't help the series or the next one. Starters often come out of the bullpen in the playoffs, and if you are planning on winning the wild-card series you would be smart to have a decent starter saved to be fresh for Game 1 of the NLDS, too.
    I have encouraged fans to not assume just yet. There's a good chance assumptions could be wrong.
    with Mizzou offensive line winning any SEC game is going to be very difficult. I see a 4 and 8 record, do you think Drink will get year 4. I know his buyout is huge for a program like Mizzou to absorb. The new athletic director didn't hire him, and she seems very driven to improve Mizzou athletics.0
  • I was at 5 and then talked myself into 6, and now I'm feeling kind of silly for doing that. We'll see if the Tigers can rally. Auburn is down bad. Would be a good win to get before the pain of Georgia comes. I think year four is the make-or-break year for Drinkwitz, not this one, but could more games like the K-State no-show expedite that timeline? Sure. Fans will have some say in that. Not the ones hollering on Twitter. The ones who go ( or don't) go to games. Mizzou has made a lot of strides to try to get people back at games and if the product becomes the biggest reason that momentum derails, that's a problem. Reed-Francois has shown that she will fire a coach she inherited if she feels a change needs to be made, and the example came with a coach she considered a friend and one she had worked with before in Cuonzo Martin. Chancellor Mun Choi is also worth considering. He got involved in the search that led to Drinkwitz, back before Reed-Francois was hired, and has a vested interest in Drinkwitz succeeding. He's interested and involved in athletics and was aligned with those who were ready to turn the page on Martin, and that opinion mattered. He should be backing Drinkwitz and here is no reason, at least right now, to assume he's not. Big picture, Mizzou can't just keep firing coaches every three or four years. It has to get the right coach and stick it out. That doesn't excuse Drinkwitz from giving signs he's the right coach. You would like to see some of those signs clearly by the end of year three, even if it got off to a rough start. I'm not trying to dance around the answer. I'd give him a fourth year with clear and high standards to meet then. But the ejections of Odom and Martin and the continued turnover of decision-makers at Mizzou has suggested patience is in short supply.
    It seems to b evident that ONeil is going to have a lot of injuries because of his body type, do you think the Cards will move him over the winter?
    I had a telling conversation with a smart baseball lifer the other day at the ballpark.
    It sent something like this . . .
    "What do you make of O'Neill?"
    "Man, that's tough. There are times he looks like a superstar. There are other times when you wonder what motivates him."
    "At what point is that answer the definition of him as a player?"
    This is his fifth season in the bigs. He's 27 years old. The Cardinals have begged him to take a star role and run with it. They have challenged him, bluntly at times, when he has not done it. There is befuddlement with O'Neill's season.
    If he's injured, he's injured. If he's hurt, could he push through more of some of this stuff? Maybe. That's for him to determine, not me, but between the hard time he has staying locked in at the plate and the hard time he has staying on the field, it's hard to bet on him.
    At the same time if you trade him away you fear he will put it all together somewhere else.
    He's a riddle.
    Good morning, Mr. Frederickson. Thank you for your time and the chat. The Cardinals are kidding themselves if they think they can be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, with this offense. There's entirely too much dead weight. You have The Lost Boys (DeJong, Gorman, and Carlson); at-bat Molina is an overweight shell of his former self and probably played one year too long; Dickerson has rebounded in the second half but isn't the power option off the bench the Cardinals anticipated; with Bubble Boy O'Neill you don't know day-to-day which version is going to show up -- the I'm hurt and can't play today version, or the strikeout-binge version, or the Good O'Neill; the outfielder the Cardinals called up from Memphis is a good-field, no-hit player; and at this stage in his career, Burleson is clearly overmatched. That's a lot of dead weight for an offense to carry; and while Nootbaar has been a surprise, he's very streaky. If Goldy and Arenado aren't hitting, the team is in trouble. And, as I believe you mentioned in a column or chat several months ago, the Cardinals staff doesn't seem to be able to help young hitters find the answer to their struggles. Marmol says he isn't concerned; he should be. Is that a fair assessment, or am I being too critical? Thank you.
    I think you can boil it down to this: If the Cardinals don't get production from Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt when it matters most, they won't be celebrating much in the postseason.
    You need your MVP candidates to play like that when the lights are on.
    That's any team.
    Good Day to you Mr. Frederickson, hope you are well. Fridays game Jack Flaherty was rather upset coming out of the game in the 5th after giving up the runs, and I bet it was because he was not happy with the out come? It has been mentioned that he did something in the dugout that was not professional like? Do you know what that was, I will hope he was blowing off some steam because of him not being happy with the results. I like him as a picture and hopes he can get back to as close as he was in the second half of 2019.
    thank you
    He wrecked the dugout fridge that holds water bottles for the players. He didn't punch the glass -- good call there -- but slammed the door shut so hard it shattered The glass had to be cleaned up and the fridge had to be replaced with coolers. The next day Flaherty was out to catch honorary first pitches, something rarely performed by a player with his much service time. Probably a bit of a punishment for his reaction. He said he was frustrated because he only went five innings and hates the idea of five-and-dive. I've been wondering if the Cardinals are going to soon tell us that the think Flaherty would be better off in the postseason coming out of the bullpen. If only a couple of his pitches look sharp, as was the case last time out, then he could be more effective as a strikeout-getting right-hander than a starter. A nice right-handed pairing with starter-turned-reliever (temporary for both) with Steven Matz. Just a thought.
    Ben, would the Cards offense look much different ex Goldy and Arenado than Cinc and Pitt? They have a lot of depth but where are the standouts? Dejong will be moved after this season, Carlson and Gorman have badly disappointed with the latter back in Memphis until he can hit a major league high fastball. Nootbaar is great defensively but his offensive woes project him as a 4th outfielder. Herrera didn’t impress in his two week summer audition and now gets less mention than a current Chicago Cubs catcher as Molina’s replacement. As for the over hyped minor league prospects, Walker’s offensive numbers are almost identical at the same age as the aforementioned Carlson, and Winn projects a flashy glove but only average offense. Pardon me for never getting caught up in the media hype of prospects and potential budding young stars mostly with position players.
    I don't quite understand this one, I'll be honest.
    Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado have combined for more than 1,000 at-bats for this team.
    If you take them away, the lineup is not very good.
    But that's why they're here, to help carry the load. And they're doing it, putting up MVP type seasons.
    If you take Jordan and Pippen away from the Bulls, Dennis Rodman doesn't win a ring.
    The Cardinals are going to need to be carried by Goldschmidt and Arenado. Goldschmidt has to get going. And the Cardinals' Rodmans who have lifted the season at times need to do their part again, or a churn needs to give new potential ones, or returning ones like Juan Yepez, a chance to perform in that role.
    The Cardinals are built to have some key cogs and other guys who get more time and opportunity when they're hot.
    If the key cogs are not performing, it's going to be hard to win when it matters most.
    What’s the deal with Gorman? Has the league figured him out? Will he be on the playoff roster? We need his LH power bat.
    Four hits and 17 strikeouts in his last 35 at-bats. Pujols chasing 700 and hitting better against righties. There had been some wondering if he was banged up and trying to play through something, but this suggests they want him to a) play and b) try to get back in sync. Yepez had been playing well in Memphis, forcing the issue since he returned from his injury. Gorman's line against righties this season: .227/.297/.428. And here's Yepez's: .262/.304/.494. Yepez has some overlooked reverse splits. This could be an interesting postseason roster pain point. It's under examination.
    I live in northern Illinois but grew up on a Missouri farm and went to college at Mizzou. When I retired, I got a digital subscription to the Post-Dispatch, mostly to follow the Cardinals and Tigers. I am seriously concerned about the offensive output of both the Redbirds and the Mizzou football team. I think the Cardinals have the capability of turning things around (they've got the proven hitters to do so) but I fear the Tigers are hopeless offensively against good teams. What's your honest opinion on whether they can win at Auburn this Saturday?
    They can win. Will they? No clue. But Auburn got worked by Penn State in the second half, and has now lost five consecutive games to Power 5 programs. Its coach, Bryan Harsin, is hanging onto his job by a thread. Mizzou's offensive line is proving to be suspect so far but it has to get better as the season goes along. Cook had an encouraging performance last week and that can be built upon. Burden will be more involved at Auburn than he was at Kansas State, if Drinkwitz's comments about making that a must come true. It's a tough road test at a hostile stadium, but it's the most winnable game Mizzou has until Vanderbilt comes to town, and the Commodores are playing better this seaason.
    BenFred, if you caught Albert’s 700 HR ball and you were just a fan and not a sportswriter who would feel obligated to give it back, would you keep it? If not, why?
    I'd give it back. If the guy who hit it wanted to give me something in return, great. And I would hope a player who received that kind of treatment would reward the fan for taking that approach. That's how it should work, right? Put yourself in Pujols' shoes, or any other player's. If you wanted the ball, and the fan returned it to you, wouldn't you go above and beyond to thank that person? This seems like a more mutually beneficially arrangement than a standoff or threat of an auction. Plus it just seems like how stuff like this should be handled.
    At its core, this offense is really a series of unexpected players making short burst contributions to fill in for the failed seasons by O’Neill and Carlson. While it has been fun to watch it is not a sustainable model, as we are beginning to see it deteriorate, especially as Goldy and Arenado have cooled. You remove Pujols from the mix this winter and then what is left? No one can blame Mo for pushing his chips in on the ’21 outfield, but this team needs some new faces (from the outside) in ’23 and with the revenue Pujols has generated it better not be from the discount aisle.
    Or, new faces for the infield (shortstop, catcher) with some of the players currently in play in the infield -- Edman? Donovan? -- spending some more time in the outfield. That's one potential route. Also: Jordan Walker is coming, and he's quite good. I agree with you that the offense is up in the air, I just wouldn't rush to describe the moves that need to come as outfield-only. Brendan Donovan and Tommy Edman look like every-day guys. Where that is can depend on the team. And that's a good thing.
    Any concern about the anemic offense the last couple weeks, against the bottom dwellers. They really looked bad. I'm glad I didn't dish out $$$ to watch this team flail away like high school players. Seems like they are not using instincts and just guessing at what pitch is coming. Dreadful!
  • A little harsh, Cal. Cardinals still have baseball's second-best OPS (.802) since the All-Star break. It's the Dodgers (.816), the Cardinals (.802) and no other team above .776. What does that tell us? One is that the Cardinals were incredibly hot, and unsustainably so. Another is that this current slog is probably not the true identity either. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. If the bats don't ship out west for this three-stop road trip against playoff-caliber teams, I'll be more concerned. This is a postseason stress test, and the Cardinals should be refreshed after the off day and motivated by the opponents.
    Morning Ben, The Yepez move is a head scratcher because Marmol doesn’t play Carlson regularly so why bring up another OF when Carlson should be playing regularly first over Nootbaar, burleson and DeLuzio who haven’t hit at all and shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt over Carlson.
    Yepez right now is taking better at-bats than Gorman was, and he's helped this team quite a bit before he was hurt. Yepez wont be playing center field. Carlson can. Carlson's the only thing standing in his way, not the manager or Yepez.
    I'd like to thank Albert for the memories and the money. No more post-pandemic turning out the pockets by DeWitt. Things are at full speed again and Pujols filled the revenue tank. No more Goodwill and Macy's shopping sprees in free agency. Get Mo's Sak's card and get ready to spend to augment the collection of young, cheap talent.
    You all know I will beat the drum for big spends (Scherzer, Harper) that would make a lot of sense for the Cardinals, but spend-just-to-spend advocacy isn't the way to go. Spend big when it's smart, like extending Goldschmidt, and taking on Arenado's contract. If Arenado wants more money to stay -- and I'm not convinced he will force a raise -- then do that. Marmol has spent all season speaking about the need for a high-strikeout starter. Go buy him one. Address the catching need proactively after getting backed into a bad spot. See which bat could be a fit. But it's worth noting that Pujols cost the Cardinals $2.5 million. Big production and impact doesn't have to come with a big price tag -- if you get it right. The Cardinals have always had money to spend, and they spend a large chunk of it. The Pujols-Palooza is not going to make them spend recklessly. Not when it was produced by a bargain deal. Not ever, under this ownership group.
    Mo handed out a lot of bad contracts last winter but it may the one he didn't hand out that might even surpass the value of the Pujols deal. How smart does he look for not extending O'Neill?
    It was a lonely place around these parts suggesting back then that the Cardinals should wait for one more healthy, productive season from the outfielder before going down that long-term road.
    If I told you in March that this team would win the division with little to no contributions from Flaherty, O'Neill, Carlson, and Molina you'd have called me a liar. For that Oli should get Manager of the Year consideration. But the takeaway for me is that this organization needs to put a much shorter leash on their expectations for players. DeJong should not have been the Opening Day SS, period. And maybe if they had signed Correa to the deal Minny did then Goldy and Arenado aren't on fumes.
    Marmol will get manager of the year consideration.
    As he should.
    But the best teams in baseball are all in the National League, and what Buck Showalter has done with the once-miserable Mets is hard to ignore.
    The Phillies have had a season pulled back from the brink.
    The Braves and Dodgers are machines.
    The Cardinals, remember, were not picked by many national types to win the division.
    (I picked them as a wild-card team, for reference.)
    This was supposed to be the Brewers year, said many.
    That should get factored into Marmol's favor, as should the turbulence he had to overcome after the very messy firing of Mike Shildt.
    The Cardinals are always going to lean toward giving their internal options who have produced more chances than not to get it right. That was the case with DeJong, and it just hasn't worked. I think a change of scenery is best for both at this point, after this season.
    Hey Ben! Thanks for doing these chats, they're a great distraction during the workday. My question...and I'll caveat it with, I'm not ready to give up on the likes of Carlson or Gorman, BUT, it seems like here we are again, with two highly regarded hitting prospects who once they get to the majors, can't maintain success. Yes, they both can still turn it around, but this seems to be a pattern. What is it going to take to get a prospect who kills it in the minors to actually have offensive success in the bigs?
    A lot of it depends on how you define success, I think. Linear success that gets bigger and better every season upon arrival is pretty hard to find. It's part of the reason Pujols was so amazing, and so rare. 
    Right now, even with his struggles this season, Carlson has a career adjusted OPS of 106. That's six percent better than league average. Gorman is at 106 as well. Brendan Donovan, who was not mentioned, is at 123. Tommy Edman is at 104, but 112 this season. Lars Nootbaar is at 120. Juan Yepez is at 114. Are these encouraging numbers, or disappointing ones? None in the group is older than Edman's 27. Most are 23-24-25, with reasons to think they should be learning from these reps and improving.
    Maybe Jordan Walker becomes the next one to make it look easy? 
    I find it humorous that last year, the Cards were a pitch to contact team and just happy to have strike throwers. Now we say we need swing and miss pitchers. Don't think these are simultaneous characteristics. SO pitchers don't go deep into games because they throw too many pitches getting Ks. So you should pick your poison and realize the strengths of your staff. With one out and loaded bases, i would rather have a ground ball than a K. The swing in emphasis seems rather short sighted. Why such an abrupt change in philosophy.
    I didn't say we. I said the manager thinks it. And that's what has changed. Marmol is a big believer in swing-and-miss stuff being a must. He's made decisions that show that and has made it clear he wants more of it, from the guys they have and from the guys they're looking to promote and, I would imagine this offseason, from the guys they're looking to add. Keep the ball off the bat, and when it hits the bat, keep it on the ground. Those are his preferences, in that order.
    RE MU football: Seems like the position coaches should be naming the players who are on the field, not the head coach. Is Drink throwing his O line coach under the bus by his statements about changes.
    The position coaches, especially the ones on offense, answer to the head coach.
    I didn't read it as a dig.
    Just an acknowledgement that everything there must be evaluated, because performance has been lacking.
    The question is will changes lead to a better product, as in do they have the guys? 
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