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 you week is off to a good start. Lots to discuss today. Cardinals can clinch against Brewers with a win. Blues are off and skating. Luther Burden mania is alive and well after he posted a cryptic social media message. And of course, whatever else is on your mind. Fire away.
    For the postseason is Albert now for all intensive purposes the teams' full time DH ?
    With how Oli Marmol values matchups, I wouldn't lock in any lineup or rotation just yet -- other than Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado being in it and starting at first and third. That said, Pujols has presented a pretty compelling case that he is one of the most reliable bats on this team, regardless of splits, since the All-Star break. He's averaging .315 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .678 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. Not just against lefties. Against all pitchers. Seems to me like a guy you would want in the lineup for most postseason games, especially considering his knack for rising to the occasion.
    I am sure that you have had this conversation already but I must have missed it. What is your honest opinion of MLB giving the TV rights for these select few games during the year? I for one do not care for it, as I live in a area that has trouble streaming. The Friday night game at LA should have been broadcast on the regular Cardinals network in my opinion! MLB would sell it's soul (fans) to the devil for money. As it was I listened to the game on KMOX radio and John R. making the calls, he does a great job of bringing the game to us. I have heard many more games over the radio than I have watched so I guess I should not complain but it makes me angry the way MLB treats the game and us fans. As a side note... I can almost hear Harry, Jack and Mike making the calls in their own ways, maybe watching the reruns of numbers 699 and 700 were actually better and hearing the calls on the radio better than APPLE TV calls. Thanks to you and your fellow writers for these chats, please give us your opinion on the matter.
    As someone who doesn't have a ton of interest in the NFL these days, I find it remarkable how hard it is to avoid the product. When I turn on the TV, it's there. When I open up my social media  app, it's there. It's unavoidable. Baseball is too often the opposite -- hard to find. I understand wanting to grow the almighty revenue streams as much as possible, and I realize live sports sells and companies like Apple that bid big on it don't want competitors showing the same product. But baseball, I think, has overlooked the importance of being unavoidable. It has allowed itself to be hard to find, and because of that it risks being off the mind. The best example to me of the lack of vision is the MLB TV package. If you shell out what that costs -- its not cheap -- you should not be blackballed from viewing any games due to blackout restrictions. That's nuts. The league streaming package should overwrite everything else, period. And it should include games that are "streamed exclusively" on YouTube or Apple or anything else. We are deep into the streaming world and it's hard to see that changing. Everyone has to adapt, but baseball isn't making it as easy as it should be.
    I have followed MIZZOU football and basketball for 35 years. They are the only teams I have great interest in. Sat is one of the worst losses in MIZZOU FOOTBALL history. There is little doubt this MIZXOU team will go 3 and 9 or maybe 4 and 8. But, I see little reason to fire Drink and start over again. I read a article by a national college football writer in why drink is a good fit. He is a run first coach, try to throw less than 20 times a game, shorten the game when you are out manned in most games, and play good defense. Let's be honest no MIZZOU coach will ever have the same talent as most of the SEC teams. Burden doesn't fit into Drinks offensive scheme. I hope he goes were they spread the field and throw 35 times a game. Bottom line to me drink deserves year 4 and if they can win 7 games , which at Mizzou is very good then he should stay year 5 and more. Thanks
    The offense you just described is not what was advertised when Drinkwitz came to Mizzou. He was billed as a QB whisperer, an offensive guru and innovator, among other things. I'm not saying those are accurate, but that was the spin. And that reputation has helped him get highly thought of skill-position-playing recruits, like Luther Burden. If the offense is going to be mostly vanilla game management, that's going to be a change from the expectation, and it's going to be a harder sell as the years add up. People want points and touchdowns. They will tolerate a defense-first head coach if it leads to wins, but Mizzou is probably not going to be a defensive powerhouse under Drinkwitz. Why not? Because he's the head coach, and his brand is offense, and defensive coordinators, if they have a lot of success at Mizzou, are going to be tempted by head-coaching openings or bigger DC jobs at bigger powerhouse programs. The offense was supposed to be the cornerstone under Drinkwitz, and the struggles this one has had along the line, in the backfield and at quarterback so far are concerning when looking at big-picture trends. I agree a change now would be premature. I've always thought year four needs to be the big breakthrough season for him. That said, things can get off track so much in year three that year four becomes too hard to imagine as a positive.
    If Burden doesn't fit into a scheme of an offense that could not beat Kansas State or Auburn, the problem could be the offense, not Burden. And unlike some, I'm not glossing over the fact he's made some freshman mistakes. Still, he's a game-changing player that the head coach who is in charge of the offense has not found the best way to use in two significant road losses.
    What are you hearing about the soonest we might see Tyler O'Neill back on the active rooster?
    He missed about a month with the last hamstring issue. The team has been hopeful this one won't keep him out as long and that he could be back before postseason play. He was set to start a running program this week, which is encouraging. His ability to stay on the field and stay locked in at the plate is under the microscope, but he can't prove either until he's back.
    Oddly I find myself coming to Drinkz' defense: the pull up for a field goal was arguably a good call when you have an all american kicker (the OT fumble confirms that). Eli had them set up for the win but the players didn't execute. I've been following Mizzou since the late 60's and the only coaches who have had success have had the time be become successful. Consistency is underrated.
    I get the frustration about the loss. I get the frustration about the lack of Luther Burden touches. I get the frustration about seven penalties costing the team 45 yards, and the Tigers being second-to-worst in average penalty yards surrendered (69 yards per game) in the SEC. But I don't get the frustration about trying to set up arguably your best player (Mevis) to win the game. And Eli didn't drop the ball at the goal line, either. You don't back into road wins in this league. You have to take them. Plays you don't make will lead to them being made against you. Tough lesson for players to learn, and while coaches try to teach it day in and day out the game teaches it best.
    I remember when Mizzou made fun of Illinis for the Bielema and Walters hires and saying Mizzou had formed their "dream staff" and it was the future. Now they are all calling for their jobs and Illinois is clearly trending upwards in every statistic. Do you think it's time for the Mizzou overhaul including the AD?
    I don't recall many mocking the Bielema hire. I thought it was a good one. And Walters was well-respected at Mizzou. So, not sure I agree with the premise there, but Illinois does appear to be moving in the right direction. Bouncing right back form the heart-breaker against Indiana showed some real resolve. Schedule gets much tougher now.
    Mizzou has an overhaul habit. It is stuck in a churn of coaches being hired by ADs who then leave or get fired, which leads to new ADs managing coaches they did not hire, and on and on it goes. It's going to be very yard to find and sustain a decent level of success in this revolving-door manner. You are better off finding the right coach and sticking it out, hoping the long-term goal is worth it in the end. What Desiree Reed-Francois has to decide eventually, and I don't think it will be this season, is if Drinkwitz is the football coach she wants to bet on for that vision, of it she would rather make her own hire, like she did when she let Cuonzo Martin go and hired Dennis Gates. Most ADs I've encountered tend to want to take their shot at revenue-sport hires eventually, and coaches who are inherited by new ADs know this. It's a reality that can make for tension when times are tough.
    Ben - Do you think Waino’s recent struggles increase or decrease his chances of returning in 2023?
    It could, sure. He's said from the start of spring training that he would have a hard time walking away if he was performing and feeling good. He's got a string of the opposite kind of starts stacking up entering the postseason, and if his arm doesn't respond well to some of the rest he gets before the postseason then it could factor into things. He has not yet decided, he confirmed to Rick Hummel not too long ago.
    Ok, so what was the cryptic tweet?
    He removed all of the Mizzou stuff from his bio and sent out something about patiently waiting. The Internet panicked and multiple sites -- not ours -- wrote stories about could it mean he's transferring. He reacted to the panic with this post this morning: "Mizzou fans: Please don’t misunderstand my intentions. I’m always a TIGER! Jus be patient, here we come!" . . . 
    If all of this makes you feel very old, I'm with you. And I can't think of any other fanbase that could work itself into such a frenzy that every loss leads to star player transfer watch. If a guy wants to leave after four games, he probably didn't have too much interest in being there in the first place. Don't smother him. Stop being a stage-five clinger!  
    The Cardinals are 4th best in the NL in runs scored and runs allowed. So why does it feel like neither their lineup nor pitching staff are really a threat to the other contending teams in the playoffs?
    Mostly, I would guess, because their offense has been scraping along -- including a Paul Goldschmidt slump -- and some of their most important starters are searching a bit. Those are two pretty key elements of a performing Cardinals teams that are not clicking at the moment. If it wasn't for the Pujols 700 celebration, this reality-check road trip would be the big story. Back-to-back series losses against National League postseason-bound clubs.
    What do you make of Luther Burden removing all content and mentions of Mizzou from his Instagram, as well as making that cryptic story update? Is this pure theatrics or is this the end of the LBIII era at Mizzou?

    Also, what do you think is the best way to try to right the ship at Mizzou? They have potential and promise, but have yet to consistently achieve that.
    I think people are paying far too much attention to a teenager's social media bio, and I think a teenager who understands the spotlight is aware of the attention he can receive and is acting accordingly. My advice for all would be to hang up the social media magnifying glass. If he's going to go, you're going to know.
    Why is Albert Pujols being 5 RBI's away from Babe Ruth for 2nd all time not being talked about? There was a period of time early in Ruth's career where they did not record RBI's; or if they did it was not with the same rules we use today to measure RBI;s. However, with extensive research by the HOF, Major League baseball, Baseball Reference and extensive academic research all come to the conclusion that Ruth had hit either 2213 or 2214 RBI's. Pujols has 2208 yet no one that I can see is really talking about what would be a major achievement. Just curious if you know why?

    2214 RBI's - baseballhall.org
    2213 RBI's - www.mlb.com
    2214 RBI's - www.baseball-reference.com
    2201 RBI's - sabr.org
    He's six away from tying Ruth, per Elias, which provides the official MLB records, the list is as follows . . . 
    All-Time RBIs
    1. Hank Aaron: 2,297
    2. Babe Ruth: 2,214
    3. Albert Pujols: 2,208
    This is one of those ones that is going to sneak up on people, but it's being tracked. It's mentioned prominently in the Cardinals game notes. I think, understandably, 700 homers became the focus for many and will of course stand out compared to all others. But the total bases history (passing Musial for second all-time behind Aaron) and this one if he gets there are pretty massive as well. 
    Some people don't care much about RBIs these days. I am not one of those people! 
    Burden is gone after this year...regardless how much he pedals back. How Drink can't even come up with even simple screen passes to the guy....and let him run....is beyond me. If he hasn't figured it out by week 4 in year 3 then he never will. Drink is not a good offensive coach. 3 targets to Burden? Really? And Cook is cooked. He is just not that good. Why he doesn't just start Horn I don't know. He can't be worse than Cook. But yes it was the worst Mizzou loss in 35 years. 16 punts in a row? Don't go for TD with a minute to go and 2 time outs? Miss at 27 yard FG to win the game? Drop the ball at the 6 inch line, which would have won the game? Baffling!!!!
    No one knows what Burden is going to do. Probably not even Burden. So let's relax a bit on the bold claims without proof. Maybe he stays. Maybe he leaves. Maybe he has felt both ways within the past two weeks and yet, he's still here. As for getting him the ball, yeah, Drinkwitz is overthinking this. He needs touches. In lots of different ways. The wildcat looked promising week one and has gone dormant since. But we can also acknowledge that some of Mizzou's best looking drives came when he was not on the field against Auburn. That's something Burden has to own and improve. He's gotta catch balls that hit him in the hands. He's gotta block for his teammates. He's gotta do the little things along with get chances for big plays. Week one looked like a coach and a dynamic freshman sharing the same page about that this was going to look like. Unfortunately it hasn't looked right since.
    Clearly, Drinkwitz doesn't think Horn is physically ready for this level at this moment. If he did, have to think we would have observed some reps for him by now.
    The painful Mizzou losses all add up. I've given up trying to rank them in any order.
    The Cardinals have built a team designed to win the division as the third best division winner, get into the wild card round, probably win there, and then bow out to one of the better teams in the NL. I know, they could get lucky, but getting lucky is not a strategy. What they need to compete with the Dodgers, Mets, and Braves is a starter who strikes fear into the hearts of opposing batters. Is there any chance that team management realizes this and signs an ace this winter, or is status quo good enough for them?
    Hey, you sound like you've been talking to the manager. Oli Marmol has been beating the drum for more strikeouts all season. It has at times sounded very clearly like the start of the shopping list he would like to hand to the front office before GM and winter meetings.
    I personally miss Harrison Bader's swagger. I have mlb.tv and have even watched the condensed version of a couple Yankees games to check in on how "Bader Tots" is doing. Part of it is just that it's fun to watch such a unique defensive talent. He was even on a hot streak at the plate for the first few games!
    My question to you is, how much do you think the pitchers and the team more generally are starting to feel the loss of his defense? When he is healthy he hoovers up dying squibs into the outfield like nobody else. His loss has got to be affecting pitching ERAs, run differential, and game scores.

    He was hurt long enough we didn't experience his sudden absence in an eye-catching way. What is your read on what the loss of his defense means for this team as compared to last year's team when he was still running down anything hit anywhere near him?
    If you value FanGraphs' Defensive Runs Above Average, which takes into account fielding defense and how a defense is strengthened by its positioning, the Cardinals have been a top-three defense at center field so far this season, checking in at 11.4 runs above average. That's with more CF innings now played by outfielders not named Bader than by Bader, who was limited due to his injury. The eye test suggests there are plays where you wonder if Bader would have made that, and that's going to happen, but it would be a reach for me to link the team's recent issues with the absence of Bader. If anything, it's offense this outfield has been missing, and he was not always reliable in his production of that. Though he could be getting more chances if he were still here. Factoring in what Jordan Montgomery has meant for the Cardinals so far, though, it looks like a trade that did more good than harm, by a lot.
    The fact that Mizzou has not been able to be as consistent in the passing game is, in my opinion, one of the main factors as to why Burden has not been as effective. He is going to be a primary target, and until Mizzou proves that they can move the chains without relying on him, defenses will continue to keep him on lockdown. What do you think needs to be done to get the offense moving forward consistently?
    Dominic Lovett looks like the primary target to me. He has an SEC-best 94 receiving yards per game through four games. Improved blocking up front is going to be critical to deeper passing plays that take more time to develop. Establishing a respectable ground game that goes beyond Cook scrambling for his life keeps defenses honest. And Cook needs to be more accurate. His completion percentage was supposed to be a strength. It's at 63.3 percent. Also: Wildcat. With Burden. It can work in doses. Use it. Kentucky is a good example. They have used it really well a times under Mark Stoops.
    That Mizzou lost was sad. They should have pushed harder for the end zone at the end of regulation. Too many things can go wrong with a FG, which it did.
    Trusting an All-American to make a 26-yard field goal isn't coaching malpractice.
    I enjoy your chat because there's always a good give and take. As with so many, I assume, I enjoy chiming in when I disagree with you (not exclusively--I agree with you a lot and say so), so let me admit I disagreed with you regarding Brady Cook and what Drink's summer QB search meant. Man, was I wrong and were you right. It's clear from what we've seen that ED must have had some serious question as to Cook's viability as an SEC starter and that the Army game was not an indicator of much. It makes it all the more puzzling how Drink let his relationship with Bazelak sour. I think if he had a do-over there, he would have sat him to let him heal up and would have taken the hits with Cook and Macon for a couple of games. I think that was an inexperienced coach trying to coax wins in the short term and not seeing the big picture.

    Pretty soon, this Mizzou season will be officially lost. I have to think that they are prepping Sam Horn pretty hard to see game action. Do you think he'll be the starter the second half of the season once bowl eligibility is not a possibility?
    I'm glad you're here. I never wanted to come across as being anti-Cook. I respect the heck out of him for how he's handled this, and you can't help but pull for him and his story. At this point he seems like Mizzou's best option. That's if Drinkwitz is shooting straight about not considering playing Horn. And I don't have much reason to doubt him there, do you? If he thought Horn was close to ready and could offer an upgrade as the starter, I think Horn would have played. I don't think they're ready to put him in the fire just yet. I suppose that could change as the season progresses but you risk making a bad situation worse if you rush him in there and it does not go well. Especially behind a suspect offensive line. Drinkwitz can't let his QB miss this offseason lead him to undercutting what should be a bright future for Horn. And that's what this looks more and more like, that Drinkwitz allowed himself to be backed into a tight QB spot and missed on his chances of a quick-fix rescue by striking out on transfer after losing Bazelak to the portal.
    I get the point of, "You are better off finding the right coach and sticking it out, hoping the long-term goal is worth it in the end," and I agree with that IF the trend line suggests it. However, it's year three, that means Freshman, Sophmores, and Juniors are all his. This IS Eli's team. I suggest this year's trend line, small sample size, is not good. Does anybody believe that there has been some measure of improvement over these three years? That the program is in any way materially better than when he took it over? I think not, and that's why I'm a fan of moving on from Eli, sooner rather than later. AD's job is to find the right coach, and raise the money from boosters to make it happen.
    The trend line that is most encouraging is the recruiting. Drinkwitz has successfully recruited a higher level of talent than Mizzou has in the past, and that has been reflected in the rankings that people either care a lot about or ignore. Some of these highly thought of players have not yet been in a position to impact the games on the field. That should change as year three goes along and it should be happening, without any excuses, in year four. That's why I'd point to year four as the make-or-break one, not this one. I do think Mizzou needs to, for once, lean toward patience here.
    Did an amazing August run, Waino & Yadi's record setting starts, and Albert's 700 HR chase distract everyone in St. Louis from the fact that this team is really smoke and mirrors. The outfield was supposed to collectively be the 3rd pillar behind Arenado and Goldy but it crumbled. Some young guys stepped up but then the league caught up to them. This offense can't score against the bottom 3 teams in the NL, how will they score against Nola, Wheeler, Darvish, Snell, Urias, Anderson, Strider, Fried, Morton, Scherzer, or DeGrom?
    There's that cynicism that has been lacking from recent chats! I joke. I get it. Getting beat back-to-back by the Padres and the Dodgers was a reality check. The Cardinals knew they were going to run away with the division. They knew they were a longshot at best to have a real shot at the NL's second spot. They have been in that in-between for a while now, and they're going through some turbulence on the mound and in the lineup. If Paul Goldschmidt slumps through the postseason, for example, this team won't get far. If the trend of dominant starting pitching removing the battery out of Jeff Albert's offense continues, same thing.
    I'm all for giving Drink every chance he deserves to turn this program around. Having said that, you gotta worry that nobody of consequence will want to play for this coach after seeing Luther Burden's treatment here. When a school like Mizzou punches up as dramatically as it did when it signed Burden, you don't turn around and take the hard line with that player as soon as he walks on campus. You cater to the star so that other star recruits see Mizzou as a friendly place to play and thrive. If Burden isn't doing what it takes to be successful, you show the fans that on Saturday by feeding him the ball at every opportunity and letting him sink or swim. That way, its not the bone-headed coach's fault, its the prospect's fault in the eyes of the fans and future recruiting classes. Instead, Drink has fumbled the bag so hard I'd be surprised if any local top recruits ever play for Mizzou again.
    That approach could -- maybe -- work in basketball where one player is more likely to make a game-winning impact night in and night out but a successful football team and season can't be built around one guy, especially a non-quarterback. If you are a head coach catering your program to one player, or selling that model during recruitment, you are doing it wrong and it's not going to age well. Nick Saban tells kids who go to Alabama he will give them a chance to compete, and that's it. (NIL money helps, too.) Drinkwitz has to worry about using Burden in a way that give Mizzou its best offense possible. That's it. As for the idea of "exposing" a player who is not ready -- not saying that is the case with Burden because he's shown he is ready -- that kind of approach can lead to more backlash to a coach than some realize. The best way to appeal to recruits is winning and NIL money. They're more likely to prioritize those two things over what some other recruit did or did not do at Mizzou, or anywhere else. Burden didn't base his recruitment off of Tyler Macon, for example.
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