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 everybody's new year is off to a solid start. I'm here in the chat saddle for the next few hours. If you did not check it off  your to-do list in 2022, please do me a solid by signing up for the Wednesday newsletter that started up recently. It's a recap of the best of the chat, with some added info/analysis baked in. It arrives Wednesday morning, into your inbox. I won't spam you more than that. Promise. Thanks for considering. Also, if you tried to sign up earlier and could not get through, there were some technical glitches that have since been worked out. Sorry about that. Should be good to go now. OK, let's roll. 

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    Should Mizzou fans be concerned by Drinkwitz’s slow start in the portal? It seems his recruiting is taking a bit of a hit as the team treads water.
    Probably best to wait a bit before forming any sort of a reaction, as there are still players entering the portal at a pretty good clip, including some more this morning. See where the dust settles. I do think Drinkwitz's Tigers have done a good job of showing transfer options that Mizzou is a place where you can transfer in and make a statement right away. That, on top of being in the SEC ,should help quite a bit. Mizzou should really go hard after guys at bigger, more established programs who are not playing much. If you never see the field at Georgia, and you think you can make the pros, why not go to Mizzou and play against Georgia instead of just run practice reps? That's what I'd be pitching if I were Drinkwitz and his staff. He's upgraded his portal takes seemingly every season, and I think there's a chance he does it again this year. Too soon to know for sure. (I don't think he's going to actively chase transfer QBs this season, though. He got left stranded there three times last year, and now there's less of a guarantee Brady Cook and Sam Horn will sit tight if he chases again.)
    Howdy Ben: Happy New Year: A few years ago a lot of MLB teams were moving from Fl. to Az. for spring training. That spigot has seemed to be turned off. Do you see any reversal where teams from Az. move to Fl. or the spigots reopens and teams move west again?
    Thanks
    The smart bet is that pro teams will continue to chase public funding and tax breaks for upgraded stadiums and facilities -- spring training or otherwise -- wherever they can get the best deal in the best location, whether it's in Florida, Arizona or on Mars.
    Thanks for your chat. I think it’s pretty clear Dewitt instructions to front office is be a competitive team. Have a couple superstar’s for sale merch
    Make sure the profits are in the tens of millions
    if we get lucky good if we don’t we made tens of millions
    I don't think the model is that sinister by design. I think DeWitt thinks the best chance to win it all is to be in the mix every year, and he has reasons to believe that. He doesn't like lost seasons, abhors tanking and doesn't worry too much about what others are doing around him. I do think he needs to adjust his model to the rising tide of spending taking place in the National League. I think he can do that without entirely abandoning the sustained success model. Other teams are proving it can be done. They are doing what the Cardinals to better than the Cardinals. That should bother DeWitt, and he should want to change it.
    As I've mentioned in this chat before, I gave up the NFL completely after the Rams left and am just now wading back into passive viewing. Last night's MNF was probably the first game in seven years that I planned ahead to watch.

    While I thought Buck, Aikman, and the studio crew handled things with appropriate tone, I was struck by all the mentions of never having seen something like this before. True, I may not have seen an ambulance on the field, but I'm pretty sure I've seen this exact scene unfold on TV before. Players praying, talking nervously and with stricken faces, and crying, were not a new scene to me.

    I don't have any larger point to make, but that stuck out as my main reaction, and I wonder if anyone else felt the same way.
    First off, hoping for a full recovery for Damar Hamlin. Thinking of his family, his teammates and his opponents who saw it firsthand and didn't have the relief of the broadcast breaking away. And Tee Higgins, the receiver who delivered the blow. Higgins was a high schooler in Oak Ridge when I worked in Knoxville. Great player. Surreal to see him involved. You all know my dislike of the NFL. And my love of football. It's a dangerous game. We like to celebrate that to a point -- and then there are moments like this one, that make us feel sick to our stomachs for loving it as much as we do. These guys know the risks. It doesn't mean anyone ever gets used to confronting them, and it does make you wonder if we should question our love affair with the violent sport. I thought all of the broadcasters did a good job in a really tough spot. The one thing you can't do is speculate, and most avoided it, fortunately. We now know it was a heart issue, one perhaps caused by the blow he sustained. That can happen in sports. It happened with Jay Bouwmeester just a while back with the Blues. There is one player who should have been mentioned in last night's coverage but largely was not. In 1971 Chuck Hughes passed away on the field after a cardiac event. It was that death that led to better heart-specific tech being on the sideline during NFL games . . . I warned folks of this last night but the NFL spin will start now. It's already started. The reporting about the league trying to restart the game after a brief pause is already being pushed back against by the league. But those comments by the broadcasters came from somewhere, and they said they came from the league. Fortunately the players intervened. Players, at the end of the day, have to take care of themselves, because we know by now the league and the owners rank that very low on their list of priorities.
    Happy New Year Ben. Are they really done ? I read your article. I sure hope not....
  • The Cards? Don't know. But they should not be. Trade time.
    Ben,

    Seems like Mizzou needs to do three things, not necessarily in order of importance:

    * find an OC that works to adapt and improve the offense and play calling
    *find a transfer QB
    *bolster the offensive line (so a transfer QB would want to play here)

    The defense will remain a strong suit, so will recruiting. What's your take?
    Yes to the first one. If the bowl game was a chance for Drinkwitz to show everybody the forward traction Bush Hamdan made while calling plays for the offense was no big deal, the test failed. Drinkwitz has suggested he's open to the idea. He's got the salary pool to play with. Seems critical that he nails the hire. You know, something better than Barry Odom panic-hiring Derek Dooley. Yes to the offensive line. Mizzou needs some bigger, stronger, nastier dudes up front even as the young guys who were thrown into the fire this season should continue to develop. A lot of the play-calling angst and quarterback fretting, I think, can be traced back to the struggles of the offensive line play. It's not sexy to fire off hot takes about the front five, but it's critical. That talk about the SEC being won and lost in the trenches is accurate. I'm not sure about QB. If Drinkwitz is chasing here, he's doing it carefully and quietly. For good reason. Cook graduated and can bounce. Horn is going to want to play this season, and the buzz out of the bowl practices were encouraging. If you go portal chasing at QB, and you don't get a QB who is clearly better than what Cook can do with another season under his belt and/or what Horn can do if given more of a chance, then you could lose Cook and/or Horn and be in a worse spot than you were entering the offseason. And that would be a disaster.
    Ben,
    Now that the arbiter has reinstated Trevor Bauer the Dodgers have to make a decision whether to keep him on the roster or let him go. Given the Cardinals need for a front of the rotation starter and Bauer's recent Cy Young award, do you see the Cardinals being interested in acquiring Bauer? Do you think they should?
    I'd be floored if Bill DeWitt Jr. signed off on something like that. Whether you think he should or not is irrelevant. I don't think it's something he would even consider. On top of Bauer's off-the-field baggage, he's not known to be the most easy to get along with player in the clubhouse. The Cardinals, especially Marmol, care about the vibe in there. I think it's a hard pass for the Cardinals.
    Hey Ben, happy NY! Any interest from the Cardinals on Jurickson Profar? Switch hitting, was having a good year prior to injury. Could give us some insurance with injury concerns and has played middle infield in his career. Brings good energy to the clubhouse and lineup. I know it may be a logjam for the emergence of Jordan Walker, but feel like it could be a low level signing that could serve as a good utility player.
  • I think he is among the still-available options out there who could have to adjust their contract expectations as spring training nears, and the Cardinals have been known to wait, wait, wait and then go from talking up internal options to adding some been there and done that late, perhaps even after spring training has started. They did it last season, with Pujols. So, yes, established lefties or switch hitters who are lingering on the free-agent market could be of interest as the clock ticks, and he is one of them. I don't think the Cardinals are quite as confident in their young LH-hitting depth as they suggested at winter meetings.
    What is your outlook for SLU's season? Is Travis Ford in the coaching hot seat?
    This was a season where SLU needed to go dancing. The only chance of that now hinges on the Billikens winning the A-10 Tournament. Likely? No. But then again, the A-10 is mostly a mess, too. So you let it play out, and hope this group can get back to being that team that beat Memphis in game three.
    If it can't, this has to go down as the most disappointing performance in Ford's seven seasons at SLU. This team has experience, depth, talent and one of the best point guards around, all staples of teams that should be poised to put together something special. It's hard to look anywhere else but the sideline, especially during the second-half letdowns that have too often troubled Ford's teams.
    If SLU is happy with the Ford Floor, it sticks it out. And the Ford Floor isn't bad. He's won 20-plus games in three of the last four full seasons. But the Ford Ceiling is lower than most like. He's been to one NCAA tournament, and it was a one-and-done. The Ford Ceiling eventually got him fired at Oklahoma State. SLU could find itself in a tough spot, wondering if it's better to wait on a breakthrough or make a hire that can do more -- knowing there is somewhat of a chance that hire could do less. If the Billikens want to make true on their goal of being a basketball destination, the current trajectory won't cut it. 
    I like the idea of signing Bauer. The Cardinals clubhouses in the past have gotten overly chummy and its been an issue before. Where else are they going to get a frontline pitcher at a price they are willing to pay?
    Whether you like it or despise it, I just don't think it's something the current owner would consider. For good reason.
    Is Lars Nootbar the next Christian Yelich? I like players who preform in the playoffs Noot. Of the outfielders Carlson and Noot are untouchable unless overwhelmed.
    Hopefully his back holds up better. The internal optimism about Nootbaar at Winter Meetings this year was noticeable. From the manager. From the front office. They love his charisma and sense of humor, sure, but what they really like is his blend of power, patience at the plate and defensive ability, including in center field. With Harrison Bader gone, the Cardinals know they could use an energy presence in the outfield. With the projected metrics Nootbaar is showing for 2023 and the blend of hard-hit and plate discipline he showed last season, perhaps he can check that box while also doing a lot more damage. He's going to get a full and encouraged chance. Both Marmol and Mozeliak hinted at him being an every-day starter, with Mozelaik mentioning center field. I think the preferred starting outfield to open the season will be O'Neill, Nootbaar and Carlson in that order from let to right. Jordan Walker could change things, but won't be playing in center, at least not to start and probably not much at all.
    The nickname for the Cards front office should be The Microwave because they are always trying to reheat last season's leftovers and serve them as a new meal. Mo, how many times can you reheat DeJong and expect fans to eat it? O'Neill and Carlson tasted good two nights ago but lost a lot of flavor last night. Hudson didn't even taste good last night and you're serving him as a side tonight? Thanks for the new entre in Contreras but how about a new dessert to go with it, or a starter... pun intended.
    Not sure about a player-eating metaphor, Tack. Feels kinda Silence of the Lambs-ish. O'Neill and Carlson fretting is fair and fine, as they are expected to be key pieces next season as things are currently constructed. I don't think anyone can say that the Cardinals are banking on that from Hudson or DeJong. Hudson has to prove he's not a reliever. DeJong, if he's around, is a bench/depth guy. Edman is the starting shortstop. The Chat just keeps ignoring it.
    Is it known how many years remain on Travis Ford’s contract at SLU? If I recall correctly, he’s towards the top of the A-10 in compensation, but haven’t seen how long the deal runs.
  • He signed what SLU described as a "multi-year" extension in 2020, and Stu Durando reported last year he's making around $2.5 million. SLU is a private school so they don't have to turn over contracts like public schools.
    Re: Bauer. I think it’s a great idea. He’s good. In order to win you need good players. That clubhouse stuff is newspaper fodder and over rated. Lackey was a malcontent “ but a winner gosh darn it “ per the press or ownership or teammates. Stop it. He was competitive. So is Bauer. ( And not charged with a crime by the way) I do find it interesting on the lane ownership decides is “ ok “. Lol. I bet if you polled the 26 man roster, more than half would say bring him on. You know why, they play to win a World Series. Not a men’s retreat or pitch club. Get better intel.
    You want Bauer. Got it. Noted. Some team will give him a chance I imagine. Just don't think it will be this one. If I'm wrong, you can say you told me so. Bauer's baggage and Lackey's questions are in different hemispheres. Bauer also has still-active lawsuits going from the incident that are going to follow him as a story wherever he goes. Instead, maybe start a campaign for the Cardinals to become the team the Padres dump Fernando Tatis Jr. to if things sour there. They have given chances to guys who had brushes with PED baggage in the past.
    I'm going to carp about Drinkwitz. To be clear, I didn't like the hire from the beginning - too inexperienced as a head coach to be a head coach in the tough, gritty, best conference in college football SEC. Pinkel was a "System CEO" ... he ran a "program" ... he was neither OC nor DC, but rather, learned, through many years of experience, how to develop and run a competitive college football program - he had done it before, and was taking a step up to Mizzou. Drink had no such experience ... and now, that's what's he's being tasked to do. He was hired as a "brilliant up and coming offensive mind." Well, he's clearly not that. Dave Matter said (paraphrasing) in a chat, "If Drinkwitz is going to give up playcalling / being the OC, then Mizzou hired the wrong Head coach." Seems that's where we're at now. In addition, threw a bunch more money at HCED, and the chatter is, "now he has all the resources ... there are no excuses" ... well, every job I've ever had, there were no excuses from the day I was hired ... wasn't that the expectation when they hired him? Did they hire him with built-in excuses for his losing record after 3 years? Sharing a perspective with my fellow chatters. Thanks for hosting us!
    I think it's important to define the "they" that you are referring to when discussing expectations and accountability. The curators handed Drinkwitz the raise and extension. I don't think the athletic department was pushing for either. The "they" at Mizzou is not always aligned as it should be, and this is an example of it. It's also a reason why Mizzou so often gets in its own way. I don't think Desiree Reed-Francois would have had any problem letting Drinkwitz entering a pivotal year four under his previous contract. It would have made a lot of sense. Season four was always going to be the telling one. There has now been plenty of time for the celebrated recruiting classes to develop and improve the product on the field. If it doesn't come through, then it's probably time for a change. Four years is plenty of time, and fewer and fewer SEC head coaches get that much. Now, to defend Drinkwitz a little bit, basically everything has changed since he took the job. Covid impacted season number one. The transfer portal insanity and NIL madness came next. The SEC has even changed beneath his feet, getting bigger and meaner soon through another round of realignment. Coaching turnover has been a constant. So, if hiring a play-calling offensive coordinator produces a better result as he leans more toward CEO style, do it. Whatever he does or does not do, year four has to be better than the previous three. Because those who have been hired at the same time as him or even after are proving they can move programs ahead even despite the modern challenges.
    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for chat at always and Happy New Year!
    Some follow up questions from chats past...
    1) now that Waino is officially back, how cemented is he? Meaning, if he looks more like the pitcher from the end of last year than the one we all love and cherish over the years, how long does he stay in the rotation. Wood a rough spring raise eyebrows? He's a sure fire red jacket guy but he couldn't get anyone out the last month or so...I know he attributes to being hit by ball.
    2)It seems Drink has the confidence of Mizzou admin, but what's his long term "string" look like? I know year 4 is the make or break year in theory, but if they win 7 next year then 5 the next, is that progress? Does there have to be continued upward trend?
    3) Speaking of progress... I saw the talk about the Ford ceiling... does he survive? This team isn't flirting with being ranked and looks to be another over hyped 1st round NIT exit. Also, is SLU ever considering leaving the A10 for more regional conference? The A10 doesn't have the clout it seems anymore over more regional conferences.
    4) is this new XFL group going to be more minor league for NFL? If seems more chummy than a direct competitor.

    Thanks
    SteveO
    Hey Steve,
    Some thoughts . . . 
    1) Wainwright was one of the team's top-two starters until September. He's going to get a chance to prove he can be that again. If this season somehow looks like a season's worth of September, I think he and the Cardinals would figure out an alternative that works for everybody. Pujols, remember, was about to retire prematurely before the All-Star surge changed everything. I don't think worst-case scenario will be how this goes down, but if it does take that turn, the Cardinals and Wainwright will have a way of handling things. The way the rotation is built, the Cardinals need him more than they probably should. Again.
    2) I don't know that there is a specific win total for year four but if it's more of the same down to another ho-hum bowl-game that ends in a lackluster loss, I think he will be in trouble.
    3) Ford's fate (good or bad) won't be decided during the season, but if Billikens don't make a conference tournament run and go dancing, I think his job security is going to become a significant question.
    4) That's what I see. It's billing itself as an NFL training ground. That could work elsewhere but it won't stir many warm and fuzzies here.
    Do you think that making a trade at the deadline would be any less costly for the Cards than making one during the offseason? With the asking prices that teams have presented the Cards front office for recent trade proposals, do you think they will be able to make any meaningful moves without taking a significant hit to their prospect capital?
    Trade deadline prices are usually higher.
    And expanded playoffs mean fewer teams selling and more buying. Fewer good options. More competition.
    I understand Edman is the starter but DeJong is basically Brendan Ryan at this point, all glove ZERO bat. Does our bench need that? Seems like they should do better. Raise the bar.
    I think people are just having a hard time accepting that Paul DeJong -- whether he is here or not here - -is not going to be the reason this team succeeds or fails. He's the popular name to rip, but he's not a key factor anymore. Either he gets traded, he's on the bench, or he's a minor player unless performance or injury changes the picture. His role, whatever it is, is not deserving of the angst. And yet it continues, as if he's (still) being relied upon to start at short and hit in the meat of the order. It's how it goes. I get it. He's not the first and won't be the last. I'm sure The Chat will have a meltdown when he hits cleanup during a Grapefruit League game.
    BenFred: big thanks to you and all your Post colleagues for these excellent chats and for your insights and your patience. Apologies in advance for a long windup. My family immigrated to St. Louis in 1958 when I was six. I’m a lifelong Cardinals fan (and Post subscriber) even though I left in the mid-1970sfor grad school and employment overseas and now back in the DC area. The DeWitts get plenty of clack but they have been good for the Cardinals and the city. As businessmen, they value a strong income stream, but unlike the Bidwells and Kroenke. Since 2000, the Cards have the third best regular season record; one two WS (as wild cards) and lost two (as division leaders). But Since 2013, they have scuttled in the playoffs. The draft and development strategy is a good one, but their best players other than Pujols and Yadi have come from outside (Goldschmidt, Arenado, Larry Walker, Edmonds, Rolen, Beltran, Berkmann, Friese, Wainwright, Mikolas as prime examples). Perhaps the current crop of youngsters (notably Walker) will change that trajectory. But as you and others have pointed out, the industry and player costs have sped away from the Cardinals. Spending big money is no WS guarantee, but not spending competitive money does guarantee a steeper hill to WS victory. Cards still need another bat (preferably left handed) and more proven starting pitching, as you and others have many time amplified. Money will come off the books after 2023. Cards will need to retool. Is the cold reality that 2024 is a more likely date for improvement both internally and externally?
    I wouldn't be so quick to give the Cardinals a year's pass. The Cardinals, specifically president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, made a lot of bold, declarative statements about expanding the payroll this season, not next, for a team that has only added one legitimate piece this offseason. That addition was a good one, but it was also the most obvious need. The Cardinals can point to whatever numbers they like, but chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is a smart man. He has to know an offseason message to fans from his president of baseball operations that spending will be on the rise is not going to be received well by loyal fans who spent a lot of coin at the ballpark last season if the offseason moves are Contreras and then some minor stuff. Especially not when the National League powers are getting better in multiple places. Advocacy of spending just to spend, this is not. Good players, whether acquired via trade or free agency, cost, and costs are going up, and teams that have pulled ahead of the Cardinals are paying the costs.
    Let's hope your prediction on Jordan Walker comes to fruition. Someone has to step up as the third bat, as we are not going out to get one.
    I realize that the guy who predicted Walker wins NL ROY pumping the brakes is a bit hypocritical (OK, a lot) but it would be really, really nice if the Cardinals didn't have to rush him to that spot upon or even shortly after arrival. Michael Harris just won NL ROY and hit down-ballot for the Braves all season. Shows how strong the Atlanta lineup is, sure, but also probably helped keep the pressure lower on the talented rookie. Your point is a valid one, though. If the Cardinals don't add for the lineup, more pressure will be spread out on everyone currently in it.
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