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.

    Greetings, chatters. Hope you are well. Also hope you enjoyed the boatload of Cards Winter Warm-Up coverage in the paper and at the site throughout the weekend. Thanks to all of those who made it to this year's writers' dinner. We had a blast at the downtown MAC, and hope you did, too. I'm in the saddle for a few hours. Fire away.
    BenFred,
    I have read and re-read John Mozeliak’s comments at the winter warmup. They read as a tour de force in excuse making. He sounds more like a Wall Street hedge fund manager than a baseball executive intent on embracing the new realities of the game and delivering a world championship team to St. Louis. While there are some reasons for optimism, do the Cardinals realize how stale and uninspiring the team’s messaging and accompanying inactions have become? It’s the same every year, and the playoff futility continues. Thank you for your thoughts.
    I don't think the Wall Street analogy is too far off, and that doesn't have to be a good or bad thing. The Cardinals entered the offseason feeling confident they had a good amount of money to invest into the roster, enough to justify Mozeliak's comments about a payroll climb coming. Now, he can play semantics -- and he did for a bit during Warm-Up -- but he knows and we know that he would not have boasted a rising payroll -- and it did indeed go up some -- if he was expecting the signing of a catcher and then only minor moves afterward. The Cardinals were taken aback by the prices this market revolved around, and decided to change plans after the Contreras signing. They vetted things but between liking their team and wanting to stay away from additions that would have been repetitive roster pieces, they decided to hold the money and bank on what they had instead of adjust to the cost of, say, a top-shelf quality starting pitcher in this market. Listening to Bill DeWitt, he was not shy about how he views things. He is aiming to make the playoffs every season, and he's not yet ready to admit that just-get-in aim needs to shift to becoming one of the top-two NL teams on paper in order to better secure avoiding a firs-round bye. The Cardinals insist they have money to spend, more than they have had in the past few years, and that it will be spent, but in a prudent and responsible fashion they feel doesn't result in deals they fear won't age well. These are all exactly the kind of conversations that take place with investments, and it's how the DeWitts view their team. They're not wrong, but if the opinion is that it would have been nice to hear from ownership and the front office a little more fire in the belly caused by the recent trend of here-and-gone postseasons, well, I totally agree. The Cardinals are once again doing the thing where they insist any suggestion they push the pedal down a little harder is advocacy for a scrap of the sustained success model. That's not the case and more have caught on. You can drive faster than the mph that gives your car its absolute best gas mileage without careening into a ditch. Especially if you have a nice, well-maintained vehicle. The Cardinals have one. They can afford to speed up some. They declined to this offseason, at least so far.
    Is there any practical way the Cardinals and Flaherty can figure out an extension this off season? For example, 3 years and $50 million with an opt out after 2024?
    There's always a chance, sure, but I'm not sure why either side would feel good about it. Flaherty wants to prove he can be the high-dollar pitcher he looked like he was shaping up to be in 2019, but has not had the chance to be because of injuries. The Cardinals would like to see him do just that as well, and have banked a considerable amount of their hopes to contend on the idea he will. But until he does it, nothing is certain. A better view of his value, for the player and whatever team he pitches for next season, will be determined after the season. If he's performing well at the All-Star break, maybe there's a discussion to have. I'm not as convinced as some that Jack is so determined to leave. If you saw how much he wants to help this team win during Warm-Up, when he broke down in tears talking about wanting to send Adam Wainwright out the right way and what the veteran means to him, you know that he cares a lot about this team. But if he wants to hit free agency and make the Cardinals or any other team pay top dollar, I don't blame him one bit. And I also don't blame the Cardinals or any other team for wanting to see what Flaherty does in 2022 before I consider handing him a sizable contract.
    It is amazing that an organization like the Cardinals that put one of the best products on the field in MLB year after year is criticized so much by some fans and press. A Cub friend of mine said that Cardinal fans are the most spoiled in baseball and I think he is right.
    The DeWitt era of Cardinals baseball has produced a .549 winning percentage since 1996. Seventeen postseason appearances. NL champs in 2004, 2006, 2011, 2013. World Series champions in 2006 and 2011. High highs. And even the lows, if you look around, have not been all that low. Since opening day 2011, the Cardinals have played 1,836 regular season games out of 1,839 in which they were not eliminated from postseason contention. These are incredible facts. Also true: The Cardinals have incredible fans. They pump the ballpark full with attendance and dollars spent. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. Don't forget that part. High expectations. High rewards. The floor is high, no doubt, but considering the recent postseason decline, I understand why even fans who are appreciative of the sustained success approach -- most are -- would like to stop the ceiling from dipping down as lot as it has.
    Spring training only a month away. Is Bally having trouble finding the replacement for Danny Mac? Winter Warm-Up would have been a good time to make an announcement.
    They are in the finalists stage, as I understand it. Interviews are on the books and could be in progress this week even. I think there will be something announced in the coming two-three weeks. It's reached the point where the Cardinals are being consulted on potential options, meaning it's getting close. It's a Bally hire but the Cardinals have input and appreciate the fact Ballys loops the team in. There's no replacing Danny Mac. I had coffee with the Missouri sports broadcaster of the year this morning and told him I was going to give The Chat an update. He's very thankful to those who have reached out with messages of support and care. He's continuing to get the assistance he needs and moving forward in a straight-line, no-excuses fashion. I'm proud of my friend and will continue to be in his corner as he figures out what comes next.
    I have been reading the Cards are going to make a play for Ohtani at the trade . Why not make that trade now before the season.
    Ohtani. Trout. Tatis Jr. There are some really fun what-if scenarios to think about in terms of blockbuster trades that could rock baseball in the coming season or seasons. As of now the Angels have said they're not trading Ohtani. The price of any kind of those deals, in terms of trade cost, would be massive. Something those teams could sell to their own fan bases for dealing a face of the team, even an embattled one (Tatis) or one with potential health concerns (Trout), or one who could wind up walking in free agency for nothing (Ohtani). The Cardinals have six top-100 prospects and spoke often at Warm-Up about having certain ones toward the tip-top that they're absolutely not interested in moving. The Cardinals did manage to pull off incredible steals for Goldschmidt and Arenado. Mo made magic with those ones. Maybe he's got another big trade left  to add to his Mount RushMOre of all-time trades. You never know. But I don't see it as anything more than speculation at this time. Keeping Ohtani long term will require a titanic deal that sets records because of his remarkable valuable. If Trout stays healthy, the contract he's on could wind up looking quite valuable considering how the market has changed. Like Arenado's.
    BenFred,
    Is it time for Cardinal fans to change their perceptions and expectations of the team? Maybe fans should ease up on the angst over the team’s “wait until next year” approach (or is it “wait until next decade”)? It’s extremely difficult for Mozeliak and DeWitt to give direct answers in plain language to direct questions, but their comments at the winter warmup spoke volumes. The cherished “model” is of utmost importance. Stretching or changing the model is heresy. Cardinal baseball is a fun diversion, and management consistently fields a team that makes money and provides interesting entertainment, so be happy. But, expecting more than that is not really part of the plan. Maybe fans should give Mo and DeWitt a break, thank them for the fun, and accept that while they are not “lovable losers” the Cardinals are now the modern version of the “wait till next year Cubs” – built to tease, but not really in it to win it. It might be healthier all around for fans to make such an attitude adjustment. What do you think? Thanks.
    The players and manager say anything short of a World Series is a disappointment, and getting out of the wild-card randomness is a key to deep runs.
    The owner says getting into the playoffs every season is the goal, and cites wild-card randomness as a reason early exits should not be presented as a trend of postseason decline.
    The opinions and the differences in them are quite clear.
    Adjust as you see fit.
    Good morning, Mr. Frederickson. Thanks for the chat and your time. I thought the P-D staff did a great job covering the WWU. I think Mr. Hochman's column, "DeWitts strive to get Cardinals in playoffs," illustrated perfectly the fans' exasperation with the team ownership. The Cardinals' FO seems to think a model of "just get in the playoffs and see what happens" is a good enough way to run a franchise. The club seems OK with having a razor-thin margin, and if freak plays end the season, "oh, well, we made the postseason." But, Cardinal fans want the FO to build a team with enough talent to overcome those freak plays (Like Helsley's finger injury) or slumps by your best hitters (Goldy and Arenado). Cardinal fans want the club to spend so the team has redundancies -- additional options to closer if Helsley is injured or ineffective, or middle-of-the-order-type hitters who can take up the slack if Goldy and/or Arenado slump-- that can give the team a better chance not just to make the postseason, but to win a World Series. Do you think that is unreasonable? Do you think there is a disconnect between the DeWitts and fans? Thanks.
    Benjamin did a good job with the column and leading the group interview of Bill DeWitt Jr. and Bill DeWitt III yesterday. We all came with questions. And credit to the DeWitts, they answered everyone. And then answered them from fans during an on-stage Q&A too. And let's pause and recognize that, because all you have to do is check Twitter for the tantrum the Orioles owner threw about a reporter asking a question about the financial health of the ownership group to see it's not everywhere where team leadership understands the importance of taking questions an answering them. The DeWitts know not everyone loves every answer. They understand there can be differences of opinions. They give their side of it, and don't hold grudges. I appreciate it and I know other media members and many fans do as well.
    I've been writing about this for years now and don't won't to sound like a broken record, but the thing that I see and I think more people are beginning to see is that this is not a binary conversation. The options are not simply a) accept the team viewpoint if you love the Cardinal or b) disregard and disrespect having a consistently relevant team and full advocation for a win-or-bust theory that shows no concern for the future if you think the model can be updated to better keep up with the current climate. A lot of people love that the Cardinals are relevant every year, but also know the team could push it a little harder without detonating the future. A lot of people were not clamoring for the Cardinals to add a catcher, a shortstop, a left-handed bat and a top-shelf starting pitcher all at once this offseason. Most were just asking for two of those, with differing opinions on what to do after catcher, and so far the Cardinals just got one. I thought it should be a high level starter. DeWitt says they have that if Flaherty stays health. Great. Why not have two? Something will, unfortunately yet inevitably, happen at spring training to test the starting pitching. The Cardinals have depth but could wind up short on quality. Finding a way to bolster that would not have made the Cardinals a terrible team in 2024 or after. Sorry, I'm just not buying that logic.
    I may have missed it but we’re Mo or DeWitt ever asked if they realize that the price for great starting pitching is only going up? Can they really expect to sign the middle to lower tier of starting pitchers and be successful?
    I hear you. During the DeWitt Q&A yesterday I asked him the following question. I understand why the Cardinals didn't go for an outfielder, with Walker looming. I liked Edman at shortstop and see Masyn Winn charging forward, so I get that, too. I don't understand the confidence in the starting rotation as it is currently set. DeWitt cited Flaherty as the guy who can be that guy. Perhaps. Hope so. I'm pulling for Jack, to be honest. I'd love to see him have the kind of season that's been robbed from him by injuries. But to be blunt, while no pitcher performance is guaranteed, Flaherty's is even a little more risky than that until proven otherwise. Verlander cost a ton but was short-term, and the Cardinals passed. Rodon cost a lot but provided security, and the Cardinals passed, in part because of the concerns about injury and his declining velocity. Trades are going to cost a lot for this kind of starter, and that's not going to change at the deadline, and the teams that got better this offseason will get better. I think the Cardinals were stunned by the prices, chased from the market, and hoping they can get positive breaks on the rotation that reward the hope and optimism talk. If not, they can try to make moves via trades, perhaps after seeing if Walker is ready to roll. Maybe there's still something to be done with Miami. The Marlins need hitters and are selling pitchers, or so they say. I still think Pablo Lopez would help the Cardinals but have heard differing things about how the Cardinals view his ability to help -- compared to their uncertainty about dealing an outfielder who could impact the picture in STL.
    OK, Mr. Optimist...538 has the Blues at 34% playoffs, down from 46% a week ago. You are still way out, right?
  • Can't win at home. Hard to see it. And could get harder if Army starts turning the page.
    BenFred, I must admit I am growing a little weary of Mo’s act, his doublespeak, his condescending tone. He should just admit that the Cards are going to be priced out of the top end of the free agent market and will need to depend on player development more. Both he and DeWitt sounded defensive.
    I didn't think the DeWitt's sounded defensive. Mo came out swinging initially, arguing that his "payroll is going up" talk was factually accurate. Eh, OK, but that dog doesn't hunt, and he knew it. He admitted it didn't go up as much as he thought it would when he made the comment. That was important, because this was not some media-driven thing like he first attempted to suggest. When you make comments like that, people get expectations. I think he misread the market a bit entering the offseason, and/or didn't get the full send from DeWitt on certain things he thought he might.
    Tired of whiny "fans" complaining about the Cards because we don't win the WS every year. I've been a fan since 1966. Overall, it's been fun. Just sick and tired of hearting the whining before the season even begins. San Diego got Soto that many wanted us to get. They lost. They signed the best catcher available, and still the whining continues.
    What is The Chat if not a place to vent? And both sides of the conversation are welcome. What I've observed is the in-person crowd, like at Warm-Up, is fired up for the upcoming season. They may have wanted another move or two, but they think this team is good and has a chance. The online crowd tends pretty negative. That's with anything, I suppose. One guy at Warm-Up thanked the front office for not blocking prospects with outside additions. No, he was not a plant from the front office :)
    Any thoughts on Jake Neighbours' improved play recently - a couple of goals and points in four of his last five games? I don't see him saving the season a la Binnington in 2019, but if he could be a credible 20G, 20A middle six option next year, that would go a long way for the Blues' "retool" as they are not going to have a ton of cap space to work with even if both Vladi and ROR are no longer here. I know that's a small sample, but the Blues were really high on him after an encouraging start last year. Do you think that production is a reasonable goal for him?
    And he's sticking up for his teammates. Love to see that. He's playing Berube-style hockey and playing it well at 20 years old. There's some Schenn-ness in him, and that's a compliment. Don't know what's fair to project for him -- even the team can't do that -- but a lot of this season could be about finding who the Blues can play with and without, and figuring out who's ready to secure a bigger role sooner rather than later. He's taking advantage of the opportunities.
    With Mizzou in a shooting slump, and the need for them to make 3's to win, is it finally time to use Mosely?
  • Seemingly every game there is a buzz that, "he's going to play," so I'll wait until he actually does.
     The Tigers can't hinge their hopes on him, as they have played great basketball without him. This team has multiple solid shooters, but every team except for a rare few are going to have nights where shots don't fall. Defending better. Rebounding better. Getting to the basket and the free-throw line are how you have to combat cold shooting from the field, not hoping on a guy who has played fewer than 150 minutes in 17 games. 
    I appreciated reading about discussion of RSNs as well as acknowledgement of deficiencies. I am in central Illinois and my only option to stream Cardinals games is DirecTV Stream. I would like other options. Might you have an idea when, or how, a solution may shake loose?
    No clue. Wish I could tell you. Good on the Cardinals for pointing out the obvious -- a setup that doesn't let Cardinals fans watch Cardinals baseball wherever they are willing to pay their hard-earned money to watch it is simply unacceptable these days.
    The WS MVP this year was a homegrown talent that replaced a high dollar shortstop *ducks*
    Yep. I wasn't banging the shortstop drum. Or the outfield. And I wrote at Winter Meetings that the Cards felt pretty OK about their left-handed hitting setup internally. Tried to send up a flare with that column. The Cards did come close on one. Not sure who. It wasn't Conforto or Gallo. Maybe Hosmer? I hollered about catcher (wanted Contreras) and a starting pitcher, a strong one.
    Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday I think that the Cardinals and Marlins have discussed names in a potential Pablo Lopez deal, are you hearing anything on it?
    Sure. We've talked about him plenty as a potential candidate here and in the P-D coverage. Marlins need hitters, and are selling starting pitchers. Skip knows the Cardinals players well and would have fresh views on who could help his team. That could be good or bad for the Cardinals, right? I think there is a difference of opinion within the Cardinals about if and how much Lopez would help them. Some thing quite a bit. Me too. Some think maybe not as much as the Marlins would ask for in return.
    What's holding the Cardinals back, in my opinion, is player development. They have never signed players at the top end of the FA market, and anyone who thought they were going to go get Verlander or deGrom or even Soto for that matter were fooling themselves. They've won without big FA signings before, but if you're not going to sign stars, then you have to develop them. The trades for Arenado and Goldy have worked out great, but I don't know if you can expect to pull one of those off every few years. Tommy Edman is a nice player, so is Brendan Donovan. I'm actually more optimistic than most about Gorman. We'll see on Jordan Walker. But where is our Fernando Tatis, Jr.? Or Ronald Acuna? Don't tell me the Cardinals win too much to get those players because the Dodgers seem to have a never ending parade of them.
    I think they are hoping this group of six top-100 prospects produces one or some. Jordan Walker could be special. Randy Flores has done an incredible job since he started running the drafts, and there is a lot of optimism internally about what could best be described as the Flores boom.
    Hey Ben,
    We've heard a lot of confidence from the Cardinals around Walker, but I haven't seen much on last year's top prospect, Nolan Gorman. Do the Cardinals not envision a big step forward this year? Do they just seem this as who he is? Big strikeouts for the occasional homer? Just feels like everyone has turned the page on him really fast. Thanks!
    He's spent the offseason preparing defensively for the shift changes that will ask more of him defensively and, more importantly, addressing the hole in his swing that was getting exploited last season. He was getting beat bad at the top of the zone. Swinging at balls up there. Not catching up to strikes up there. Plate discipline and reaching and doing damage against high velocity high in the zone has been his focus. If he can make strides there, his somewhat rocky rookie season will be forgotten pretty quickly. No MLB rookie hit more home runs (14) than Gorman in as few at-bats (283) last season. Let's see what he does in a sophomore season. He has a track record of getting to a new level, struggling a bit, and then taking off.
    What we heard this weekend from Cards execs is exactly why some segment of this fanbase are willing to ignore their moral compass and consider Bauer. How else are we ever going to get an ace from a team that is always “surprised” by the cost of talent?
    DeWitt was asked about Bauer, more or less. He said the team's actions will speak for it. That's a hard no, for those interested in an interpretation. Hopefully most fans respect that stance. 
    Shouldn’t the primes or Goldy and Arenado, coupled with the arrival timelines of the prospects, the 4 FA to-be pitchers, and the teams dislike for long term deals make the Cardinals one of the most aggressive short contract/high AAV teams in baseball, now and moving forward?
    Max Scherzer earlier. Justin Verlander this time around. Yep, yep, yep. Elite old guys do well here. Ask Albert.
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