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.

    I know you are a Contreras guy, I am not if it is a stand alone move without a hefty bat elsewhere. Contreras’ 2022 production doesn’t even replace Albert’s 2022 production and they were still short a bat before he retired.
    I didn't suggest it should be the only move.
    After the MLB trade rumors arbitration projections, the payroll sits at $161.5M. Non-tendering Stratton and Reyes lowers it $155M. 16M is coming from the Rockies which takes the payroll to 139M. The Commish stated yesterday, the payroll will be 190-195M. So there is plenty of room to get the 3-4 A-level players the Cardinals need.
    There doesn't need to be much mystery here. The Cardinals are going to increase their spending. But they are not expecting to go above $200 million. They key for them is going to be identifying what they need and getting the right additions, not having the payroll to do it. Execution is the must this offseason, not availability of allowance. Another way to view it: Ownership is making it clear spending won't be the problem.
    I'm not for or against Jeff Albert, but it seems odd that you would quit after an organization fired coaches because of their confidence in your hitting philosophy/system. How much does his fingerprint on the hitting training within the organization limit the Cardinals options on a new hitting coach? They clearly aren't going to go against what he's put in place so are old school coaches like Budha already off the candidate list?
    The Cardinals have said they are going to continue down the path they were on, in a more modernized hitting coach. Someone who speaks that language. Every coach is going to bring his own accent to the language, though. I think Mozeliak was kind of trying to defend Albert in that press conference, but I'm not sure it worked. Any team considering hiring him is going to have to ask why he walked away from a place that wanted him and stood by him during turbulence.
    With two years left before reaching free agency is Shane Bieber a starting pitcher the St Louis front office will likely seriously inquire about this off season?
    The Cardinals need to look at top-level starters with swing-and-miss stuff, whether via trade or free agency. There are multiple names out there that could check that box. Marmol has advocated for more swing-and-miss in the rotation. Flaherty and Matz can help that if healthy, but I think especially with a new pitching coach coming on board who will probably more closely align with Marmol's vision, strikeouts are going to be an increased focus.
    It was reported that during last offseason the Cardinals were studying/looking into the dimensions of Busch and how BPV has affected the carry of the baseball. I know at some point, they put the study on hold. Has there been any further discussion into changing the dimensions?
    I sure hope that theory is done for good. The Cardinals had a higher home OPS (.750) at home than they did on the road (.741) last season, and they went 53-28 at home compared to 40-41 on the road. If you change the dimensions of the ballpark after those numbers, you are asking for unintended consequences of the negative variety.
    Chances of #'s 90 and 91 being with the Blues at the end of the season if things don't turn around? And, would that officially deem the "Cup window" closed?
    I'm still hopeful O'Reilly sticks around and that the incoming salary cap bump makes it easier.
    Tarasenko could be gone at any time, and that's been the case since he requested the trade way back when.
    The Blues were not a Stanley Cup pick for hardly any entering the season but a five-game losing streak in December doesn't tell us anything about a team's ceiling, just as a five-game winning streak would not either.
    If the Cards thought Walker was ready now, do you think they would clear out O'Neill and Carlson via trade and put a veteran stud (Trout) out there with Nootbaar and Walker?
    Trout is fun to think about.
    Eight more seasons at $37 million-plus combined with the unknown of his spine situation scares me.
    Christian Yelich has been an in-division example of how fast a back injury can really change things for a great player.
    BenFred, could you explain the situation with Arenado’s opt in/out a bit more? So, if Arenado had pushed for more $ and years, could the Cards have just given it to him without him opting out? If so, I am surprised he did not ask for some sort of extra financial incentive, given he could make more on the open market . Did the Cards not offer him anything extra to stay because it would have eliminated the money the Rockies are giving? I am trying to understand the dynamics. I would not have blamed Arenado for asking for an extra year or higher AAV and would not have blamed the Cards for giving it to him. I guess I am cynical these days, but I am skeptical of the narrative that a player “ wants to win” and “loves it here” and thus will leave millions on the table. And final question: could the Cards have added something to his contract that we don’t know about?
    The Cardinals presented it during the end-of-season presser as their view was either: drop the opt-out, or opt-out. How things would have developed from there, who knows. By then Mozeliak had been out to meet with Arenado in person and felt pretty good about it being wrapped up in favorable fashion, and it was. There was no restructuring of the deal. There was conversation between Arenado and Mozeliak about how the team is going to get better, and how the team is going to spend more entering 2023. Some of this is about what you mentioned, Arenado wanting to be here, seeing what it's all about, and wanting that, and wanting to win a championship and knowing he has a decent chance here of doing that. Another part that is getting lost on some is how much Arenado wanted out of Colorado and how the Cardinals worked with him to make that happen, tacking on an extra year to the deal at the time and embracing a second opt-out. They trusted he wanted to be here on the deal he had, and he came through for them on that. Now they need to come through and give him a better shot at rings. And yes, he needs to hit better in the postseason :)
    Jeff Albert had to feel a bit of uncomfortableness when both Carpenter and Bader left only to end up hitting quite well, no?
    Not really.
    Carpenter more than Bader for now.
    The Cardinals were frustrated by not being able to reach Carpenter, but Carpenter was not always open to being reached here too, and he's admitted that. Now, could the right hitting coach have broken through? Perhaps.
    Bader is too small of a sample size to make anything out of.
    Both are benefitting from being outside of Busch Stadium, too.
    Any chance Pujols could be in the mix for a coaching position? Maybe first base? He and Marmol are close, and we see what positive impact he has on the clubhouse. I know there is the Angel’s contract, but he can get out of that.
    I don't think Albert will be rushing back to get into the every-day grind of MLB immediately after retiring.
    Mike Schildt isn't so highly in demand as some thought!
    Hi Ben, hope all is well. A few random questions/ thoughts:
    1. You guys get the inside access, but is the Jeff Albert relationship with the organization one of the strangest ever for a coach? Every position coach in every sport gets scrutiny when their respective group under performs, but he seems above the law so to speak.
    2. What does sustainable success look like for Mizzou football program? Is it bowl game every year? Because in all honesty Odem got you that (they were eligible his last tutor gate season) and Drink has a chance again this year, yet we're all still up in the air. It seems there is no benchmark to hit, I don't think 10+ wins is annually sustainable either.
    3. Do the Blues need more offensive or defensive help? It seems scoring is down but they just dumped a bunch of money in the future offensive stars. Are they banking on overpaid veteran D? Seems opponents are buzzing the crease at will
    Thanks as always!
    1. I wouldn't compare the outside noise a Cardinals hitting coach receives to just any team and position coach. There are a lot of fans of other teams who could not name their team's hitting coach, I'd imagine. Coaching for the Cardinals is different. The Cardinals are different. Lots of attention, for better or worse. I think the Cardinals were quick to try to defend Albert from the jump, starting with the sign-stealing scandal that overshadowed his hiring. Maybe some of that was related to his struggle to block out that noise?
    2. Drinkwitz in year four -- this one is year three -- needs to show Mizzou can be a top-25 team and a factor -- not a favorite necessarily -- in the SEC East. I think that's a realistic expectation. If that can't be achieved by year four with consecutive encouraging recruiting classes, time to explore other options.
    3. I think more than anything they need Buchnevich and Saad back and healthy. If they get that and are still failing to score, big problem.
    What about Brandon Nimmo as a potential fit? Gives them a true leadoff hitter and some offensive certainty from the left side in the OF.
    There's a lot to like there. And he's Wyoming strong, which is always a plus. But the injuries are a concern. He's played more than 100 games just twice in seven seasons. The Cardinals saw last season how hard an injury-prone outfielder who needs to be relied upon can make things. Nimmo has a longer injury history than Tyler O'Neill.
    BenFred, I predicted that Jeff Albert would not be with the team in 2023. But I only get half credit. I thought it would be because of inconsistency from his hitters for multiple years. Having said that the main onus should be on the players themselves and not primarily on the coach. Either need better hitters or improvement from those they have which generally didn’t happen. I don’t think Mo did him any favors by saying he wanted out because his feelings were hurt from the social media criticism. He will likely find people like that wherever he goes. He could try my route and stay off SM altogether. Ignorance is bliss. Will he soon land with another major league team or more likely an organizational guy? Thanks and I look forward to your comment.
    Not sure what's next for Albert. Agree that what Mozeliak shared about his departure could make things more challenging for him elsewhere, but again, few hitting jobs face scrutiny like Cards hitting coach. I'll also add this: The Cardinals two highest paid players, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, don't have a social media presence at all. Probably smart.
    For the chatters that want Mike Trout are they going to buy 2 box seat season tickets to help pay his salary?
    I mentioned my concern about Trout's back, so would be wary to trade for him and take on that contract.
    But let's not question Cardinals fans willingness to support the product and show up to see a star.
    Did it for McGwire. Did it for Pujols. Did it for Wainwright and Molina. Do it for Arenado and Goldschmidt. Would have done it for Harper, and will do it for whoever comes next.
    I think you meant Anti-Social Media, BenFred. All of them are cesspools of personal insults and anonymous attacks.
  • Unlike The Chat, which is full of sunshine and rainbows :)
    it was talked about earlier about Cardinals pursuing a top shortstop, but they might be satisfied with Edman until Winn emerges. To me, this is why Trae Turner makes sense. Doesn't he also play (quite well) centerfield?
    The case for Trea Turner is easy. He's awesome. The cost will be massive. The Cardinals are upping payroll and have advertised it. They have not advertised they are suddenly going to beat out the rest of the league to award top free agents the biggest contract in the room, and that would be a surprising shift if they make it.
    BenFred -

    What do you surmise it might take to get Bryan Reynolds from the pirates? They seem to like young cheap talent, maybe a Zach Thompson, Alec Burleson, Moises Gomes package?
    The Pirates have to want to trade him, first. Upcoming GM and winter meetings could shed some light on that. Pittsburgh barely has any money on its books and the only guaranteed contracts are to Hayes and Reynolds. Reynolds is owed $6.75 million through 2023 with two cracks at arbitration left after that. Not exactly a deal most teams would be rushing to get rid off. Then again, it is the Pirates.
    What kind of dollars would you offer Contreras?
    That would depend on what the market for him became.
    Cop-out, sure, but that's how free agency works.
    It's not a name-your-price shopping adventure.
    It's competitive.
    I did want chatters who have been down on his defense to see this write-up from MLBTradeRumors. I think it does a very good job telling it like it is about Contreras' defense. And remember, pitch framing -- unfortunately -- is going to be diminished as a skill when the inevitable automated strike zone arrives, perhaps as soon as 2024.
    From Steve Adams . . . 

    In all likelihood, Contreras will hit the open market and sign with a new club — presumably one seeking more offense behind the plate. That’s not to disparage Contreras’ glove; he boasts plus arm strength and one of the fastest pop-times in MLB (1.93 seconds, per Statcast, good for 11th out of 83 catchers in 2022). Contreras, however, generally draws average to below-average marks for framing pitches, and Baseball Prospectus dinged him slightly in 2022 for his work blocking pitches in the dirt (although that was an anomaly and he’s typically graded better than average in that regard).

    Broadly speaking, Contreras is far from a liability behind the plate, particularly when it comes to controlling the running game. He doesn’t grade as well when it comes to stealing strikes for his pitchers (and for ensuring that borderline strikes are accurately called), but he’s still a quality option behind the dish — particularly when considering that few of his positional peers can match his work with the bat. Contreras hit .243/.349/.466 with 22 home runs, 23 doubles and a pair of triples in 2022.

    Contreras’ 132 wRC+, indicating that he was 32% better than the league-average hitter at the plate, ranked fifth among the 70 catchers who took at least 100 plate appearances in 2022, only narrowly trailing Adley Rutschman (133) and Tyler Stephenson (134) for third on the list behind Contreras’ own brother, William, and Toronto’s Danny Jansen. Given that the average catcher was 11% worse than the league-average hitter, Contreras was about about 43% better at the plate than the average backstop, by measure of wRC+. The only catchers to produce more round-trippers than Contreras were Cal RaleighWill Smith and Salvador Perez.

    Precisely where Contreras lands in free agency, at this point, is anyone’s guess. He won’t know how things will play out until he gauges interest around the league, but there’s no shortage of teams that could look to upgrade behind the plate. Only seven teams — Braves, Jays, Phillies, A’s, Cubs, Dodgers, Mariners — received offense that was better than that of a league-average hitter from the catcher position in their lineup this season, so even with draft compensation attached, Contreras should command a strong multi-year deal.

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