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 your week is off to a strong start. I'm all yours until I need to head to the ballpark for tonight's action. Plenty to discuss. Let's roll.
    Ben, last week I posted in these chats that the injury riddled Cardinals with no quality replacement players would soon be chasing Cinn and Pitt in the standings than Chic and Mil. You paraphrased my comments as overly dramatic. Pardon me if I got a chuckle in your Monday article of messaging that the Cards are now chasing the Reds who are now keeping 4th place warm for them. Seriously, this team isn’t going to get better unless they get healthy soon. With Flaherty and Mikolas shelved for much of the summer and an inconsistent offense with too many class 4A players, how does this team keep up with the more talented Chic and Mil teams?
    I'm sorry to slow your chuckling, but I didn't write that column you are referencing. You got the wrong Ben, brother. The Cardinals are not chasing the Reds. At least not yet. They're a game and a half ahead of them despite losing a four-game series to them at home, which was indeed an embarrassment. I did write a column for today's paper saying it's time for the front office to prove it can still figure out a way to improve a team between offseasons, because we have not really watched it try to do that since 2015, and this would be a good year to change that approach. The Cardinals keep up my making moves to improve -- not sitting around waiting for their health to improve. Simple as that. If they keep hoping for health, it won't work. Baseball is flooded with injuries this season. It's not just the Cardinals. Check out the injured lists for other teams. The Cardinals were not adequately prepared for the injury problem affecting them and baseball at large, but that's not an excuse. There is plenty of time to improve the roster, and then more improvement should (hopefully) come as the team gets healthier.
    Has Dr. Robert Butler, the Cardinals Director of Performance, made any meaningful contribution to limit player injuries? He was hired in December of 2015, and I haven’t noticed improved health or anyone other than Tommy Edman capable of playing at least 145 games a season.
    I see your point, I do, but it's not a Cardinals-specific problem.
    Baseball is behind other sports at preventing preventable injuries, specifically soft-tissue injuries.
    No team has figured it out.
    It's a combination of the length of the season, the way baseball has trailed other sports at monitoring and securing rest for the players, etc.
    And it's all coming to a head this season.
    Stan Conte, a former head trainer with the Giants and Dodgers who now runs his own injury analytics firm, has told multiple outlets including the New York Times that soft-tissue ailments, like muscle strains, were up 117 percent through the start of 2021 spring training and the first two months of the season compared to the same stretch of time in 2019. Groin injuries were up 700 percent. Hamstrings up 194 percent. Obliques up 83 percent.
    Those numbers were in a fascinating article by James Wagner I read recently, but Conte has talked to plenty of others too.
    Why?
    Many think it is the year not mentioned: 2020
    The 60-game sprint, the stop-start of that season, and then the return to the full 162-game grind this season, which baseball is not even halfway through.
    Every team feared there could be an uptick in injury issues this season due to last season's strange schedule, but it's turned out to be worse than imagined.
    And no team is immune. Mike Trout. Fernando Tatis Jr. George Springer. Jack Flaerty. Trevor Story. The list goes on, and on, and on.
    It's in the best interest of every team to make sure they are preparing their players the best way possible, and it's fair and smart for the Cardinals to examine their approaches, but a suggestion they are doing it worse than other teams doesn't match up what we are seeing across the league. It's a baseball-wide problem.
    At what point do the dewitts take the sack off their heads and see that this team was constructed by Mo?He gave the contracts the extensions the bench in poor condition and devastated the minor league talent?People wanna blame Shildt Or fate but the
    Bowtie defect is obvious,
    I think DeWitt has a good sense of who built the team.
    There's no debate about who sits atop the baseball operations side, and that's Mozeliak.
    DeWitt also factors in the trades that landed Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado into those evaluations, along with Mozeliak's past success and the team's annual winning record, which is something very important to ownership.
    Plus there is the simple fact the two just have a good working relationship, often see things the same way, and have for a long time.
    Could that change?  Sure.  Nothing is forever, and 10 years without a championship for the Cardinals would be a long time for this ownership group.
    The number one thing that is vital to the Cardinals is making sure they are not continuing to foul up projections of their own players, because nothing is worse for a draft-and-develop model. Mozeliak has been candid about that. He's actually been pretty candid about a lot of things lately. Perhaps you have noticed that in some of his comments about needing to add outside help, or the recent disappointment he expressed in the season Zack Thompson is having. He's becoming more and more of a straight shooter, which is interesting to me. (I am buying that the Cardinals are not ready to throw Thompson into the major league fire just yet because of his inconsistency, but I'm not yet buying they won't do it with Matthew Liberatore, who could help the bullpen.)
    Anyway, the Cardinals' track record says change works in bottom-up fashion for this organization. Players, coaches, managers and front office executives not named Mozeliak are all more likely to be changed before there is a shift at the top. It's a lot more likely that DeWitt and Mozeliak go about making changes they think will improve things than DeWitt changes out Mozeliak.
    I'm sure this will be twisted as defending Mozeliak, but I just don't underestimate the bond those two have based on the time they have worked together, and I have encountered nothing that suggest that bond has weakened.
    If Jeff Albert were the Cards’ pitching coach the fans and media would be all over the results. Yet, silence is king regarding Maddox as pitching coach. Why? Surely he should be criticized for our pitchers’ walks and hit batters record.
  • I'm no certified pitching analyst, but my numbers show the Cardinals rank second-to-last in the majors in strikeouts (481) while leading the majors in walks (269) and hit batsmen (37). One of those three stats would be hard for a pitching coach to defend, let alone all three of them at once. But wait, there is more. And this one continues to be overlooked. The Cardinals are second-to-last in the majors and last in the National League in percentage of first-pitch strikes (56.5 percent). That's huge. Here's why. National League hitters this season have a batting line of .206/.254/.332 after falling behind 0-1. But after they get ahead 1-0, they have a batting line of .246/.370/.427. That's why we always hear about the importance of pitching ahead. I know it's not Mad Dog out there on the mound, but of the 14 pitchers who have made more than 10 appearances for the Cards this season, seven have an ERA above 5.00. If that's not enough evidence to wonder if the approach being taught by the pitching coach is not working for a lot of these pitchers, I don't know what is. 
  • FO needs to redo the bench. option thomas to triple A along with Williams. cut dean off roster. dont need Hurst too.
    Thomas likely gets sent out when DeJong returns, I imagine.
    Williams is on the injured list.
    Thanks for the chat. It has been brutal watching the birds lately, but do you have any idea where the team is mentally with this slide? Is there any pressure from the players for management to get reinforcements or do they think they can survive without?
    The Cardinals got and passed a mental wellness check in Sunday's loss.
    Brutal loss, no doubt.
    But digging out of a seven-run hole was no small task, and it showed the Cards are not rolling over or anything like that.
    They don't, and that's a credit to Shildt, though I realize his insistence on talking up that fact probably led to eye rolls, and deservingly so, when he was discussing the silver lining of a four-game sweep at home to the Reds.
    If the Cardinals players had much leverage with the management on when to add help from the outside, the Cardinals would not have gone five consecutive trade deadlines without a significant improvement at the deadline. The 2019 decision to stand down was especially telling, as the team had played like one that deserved an upgrade but did not get one.
    I think what we see between now and the end of July will be as much of a test of the front office as the team. The Cardinals have offered a series of mixed messages about 2021. Big splash of Arenado says team is serious about the present, but trusting an inexperienced outfield did not. The hope that was baked into the pitching conflicted with the urgency of one more ride for Molina and Wainwright, and the Cardinals' insistence on bringing them back. You see what I'm saying? The Cardinals are never, under DeWitt going to be a win-now-at-all-costs-and-tank-later team, but they have really been sitting on the fence so far this season, and the moves that are made (or not) before the deadline are going to tell us a lot more than anything they say. 
    Hey BenFred -- we all get that things are going to be ugly for the Cards with this many injuries. That said, are you hearing any rumors of Schildt, Maddux, or Albert's jobs coming into question by the All Star break? Though it's always on the players to execute, the coaches and staff are always the ones in the line of fire on keeping their jobs. Schildt has had some real head scratchers. Whatever Maddux is preaching about pounding the strike zone and not being cute seems to have fallen on deaf ears. And honestly, Albert's sell-by date expired a loooooong time ago.
    It's Shildt, not Schildt. We're going to all get on the same page with the proper spelling at some point! I'll make sure of it.
    Shildt would be getting raked over the coals less if he wasn't trying to plug the injury gaps with a depleted bench that has not been upgraded. Some of the moves he's been criticized most for are related to the jam the roster is in, or his attempts to hand out some rest here and there to hopefully prevent more injuries moving forward.
    As you all know, I've never really been on the Jeff Albert bandwagon, and it's clear to me some players have not always been either. The power surge that was helping the Cardinals earlier this season has cooled a bit. Injuries are sapping the lineup, sure, but the Cardinals' situational hitting leaves plenty to be desired and the struggles of Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong (when healthy) have put the team in a tough spot more than once. Goldschmidt's slow start has been problematic too, but June is traditionally his best month and I'd like to see how his numbers look after it ends before overreacting there.
    Maddux, we discussed earlier in the chat. If the Cardinals' hitting numbers were as bad as some of their pitching numbers, Albert would not be able to go out in STL without getting booed this season. Maddux is likeable and his track record is good, but this is a bad season for him, no question about it.
    I have not heard anything about any jobs being on the line. The Cardinals would probably be better off improving their roster instead of firing coaches midseason. 
    Ben, good article this morning. An organization that once prided itself on stockpiling talented players is left with finding retreads on the waiver circuit. As we approach the 10 year milestone since the last title, with the an aging roster at the major league level and minimal talent in the minors, can you honestly see the Cards chasing a title in the next 3-5 years? I realize I am the only one in these chats that believe the organization will have to go through a major re-haul before contending for a 12th title.
    Personally, I think you are painting a gloomier picture than the one that exists when it comes to how this team can be improved this season.
    I still think the Cardinals are still a compelling team to trade with and won't be limited to waiver-wire action.
    Heck, the recent success of Cardinals prospects elsewhere is an endorsement of that.
    The Cardinals have two on-the-cusp catchers, meaning there is depth there to deal from.
    They always have young pitching, even if there is some reluctance right now to thrust that forward to the majors; again, I'm still not sure the Cardinals are as hesitant to promote Liberatore as they are making it seem, but we will see.
    Or they could make major-league type moves. Some of those have already happened between other teams this season. Remember when Harrison Bader or Tyler O'Neill was the starting point for a package that could have landed Zack Wheeler as a rental? Is it that crazy to wonder if Lane Thomas or Justin Williams could be viewed similarly this time around? Remember, Tyler O'Neill was not what he is today back then. He was much more unproven.
    As for the retread comment, some of those are working out for other teams. Patrick Wisdom with the Cubs is an example. It's about finding talent others missed. The Cardinals used to be great at that. Time to find out if they can be again. If not, front office will need to explain how their talent evaluation keeps missing. Everyone knows Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are good. The Cardinals' list of misses on the non-sure-things is getting too long.
  • Ben, Do you think the Cardinals have underestimated the influence that Jose Oquendo had in both the clubhouse and the dugout? I don't think the Latin players have had a advocate to push for the proper playing time that some of them deserved. First Arozarena, then Garcia and until DeJong got hurt Sosa. We were told time and again the Carpenter HAD to play because there was nobody else. Clearly, that was not true. Sosa has shown he has ability and deserves playing time. I believe that Oquendo would have the cache to advocate for their playing time. I am not sure some of the coaches on the staff now have that juice.
    I think this is a reach, and dangerous and reckless one.
    It assumes Shildt is biased against certain players, and that Oquendo is the only advocate for certain players, and it points to a picture that is not complete as evidence.
    Of course Oquendo is missed, but you've suggested an insulting reason as to why.
    And it would not explain how Carlos Martinez has been trusted time and time again, or how Johan Oviedo has been given a chance to climb this season, or how Luke Voit and Zac Gallen a times have raised questions about how they didn't get more of a shot before they were traded away. Or, now that I'm thinking about it more, how Shildt sees Yadier Molina as something close to a coach.
    Questioning the Cardinals about who got real chances and who did not is totally fair game, but assuming there is a managerial bias goes against what I've witnessed but more importantly against the person Shildt is.
    As for Sosa, I'm not sure who is being referenced when you said you were told the Cardinals had nothing after Carpenter. I remember saying that it didn't make sense to have Sosa on the bench if they were never going to trust his bat, because he wasn't playing. That he turned an opening into the role he's earned now -- one the Cardinals hoped Carpenter might have because of his contract more than anything -- shows how Shildt has rewarded Sosa's performance with more opportunity, as he should.
    Ben,

    From Gordo's Tipsheet this AM

    "Had the Cardinals plugged a bat like that into their mix when the injuries hit, imagine how many more games they would have won.

    Instead, the same players have failed over and over and over and over while Cardinals management refused to make changes with the feckless supporting cast."

    The Cardinals FO did a amazing job bringing in Arenado, and then they stopped. The market at the time was bountiful with low risk deals that could have added valuable pieces to prevent the worst case scenario that is presenting itself now. At no point should they have counted on Mikolas this season, and an exponential increase in injuries was an easy prediction, given the short season last year. Unless there is a miraculous turnaround from the current pitching staff and moribund offense, they will have to overpay for help.

    Shouldn't we expect better roster management and planning from the FO? As each year passes they seem more behind other teams. (Cubs signed Wisdom for depth, now that looks like a masterstroke)
    All fair points. Cards made the big move with Arenado but overlooked smaller additions that could have helped. They always stress leaving spring training that the team that breaks camp might not be the one that pushes for postseason success after the trade deadline. Time to make the upgrades now they did not make then, because there is a growing amount of evidence that suggests they are needed.
    Ben,

    Looks like there is great progress on the STL SC stadium being made, which should be finished next year. That is well before the start of the inaugural season. What kind of events do you anticipate the ownership group bringing in to drive revenue, if any?
    Concerts and live events have been the buzz words, but not sure when the first would begin. The team is also interested in being a player in the e-Sports scene and could host tournaments and things like that at the site.
    What would it take to land Mad Max by the end of July considering other teams will be interested in him too? After landing Arenado, would the Cards be willing to trade Gorman for Max?
    The Cardinals should not trade Nolan Gorman for any rental.
    Scherzer is on an expiring contract. Free agent after the season ends. If Nationals continue to stink, and they are not interested in re-signing him beyond this season, they would be incentivized to move him to get what they can before he walks. 
    The contract expiring is the key. It's the reason no team should be giving up their Gorman.
    So, what it would take, more than anything, is the Nationals not finding a groove and that front office's lack of interest in an extension.
    Ben I guess I don't have a question, but I wanted to tell you how spot on you were today in your column. Well stated. Researched very well. And oh so accurate. Keep up the good work
  • Thanks! Not exactly breaking news, but figured I would try to drive the point home.
    Ben, thank for writing such a great article about the Cardinals front office. Each week I continue to see Mo bashing in the chats followed by a mild defense from the writers/hosts. Walt Jocketty, Bing Devine, Dal Maxvill, they all had defined roles as GM and you would see them front and center to discuss moves, needs, etc. Is Michael Girsch just incapable of dealing with the media? I’ve heard him talk before; he doesn’t stammer. You rarely hear his name even mentioned. Everything is Mo, Mo, Mo. It’s like Mozeliak ego is bigger than the team itself. His smugness is a real turn off as well. Mo’s role was to focus more on strategic goals (whatever that is) while Girsch took over the day to day operations as GM. I guess it begs the question, when a trade is made that adversely affects the Cardinals or one that ends up being positive, who gets the credit, who gets the blame? Mo, Girsch?
    Girsch was just quoted pretty extensively by DG in the Cards' trip to Los Angeles.
    Girsch talks and is a willing interview.
    Initially, I think the plan was for him to be more in front of the media in regular fashion pre-pandemic.
    And that was what was taking place for a while, with Girsch, not Mozeliak doing the usual media availability when the team returned from road trips.
    Then the pandemic hit and Mozeliak became the point person for all things COVID, so he wanted to be the one speaking on this issues. And everything was all Zoom all the time, so he was The Voice.
    When assigning credit and blame, the front office is a team. It goes through decisions together. Mo's the top boss on the baseball operations side, and he has been around the longest as a prominent face of the front office, so he is the face and voice most fans praise and blame depending on the day. 
    Names the Cardinals could be looking into to improve the roster?
    Scherzer, Max.
    Or how about another Mizzou Hall of Famer?
    Kyle Gibson.
    He's having a strong season with the Rangers and would not be a true rental. His contract runs through 2022. He was one of the few major leaguers -- none were Cardinals -- who showed up for the Players' Alliance charity even here this summer. He and his wife have a home in the area.
    In the off-season did the Cardinals have a date in mind that they would be at full capacity at Busch? If so is next week ahead or behind that schedule? (Secret motive is: do they maybe have some extra $$$ they weren’t projecting for this year)
    Initially they hoped they could be full by the All-Star break, so things worked out better than that, yes.
    You make a very good point in today's column regarding the need for Cardinals to make the move now for the two career stalwarts, Nolan's opt out, and awarding the fans (and frankly the city/region) for a long exodus away from the ballpark due to COVID. As Derrick mentioned in his chat yesterday, the Cards do not have a lot of leverage. In terms of a trade for starting pitching, do they start looking at players that have control beyond this year and, in exchange, trade some of their better prospects at the lower level. I am looking at Minnesota, Baltimore, and even Detroit as teams that have some pitching controlled beyond this year.
    I don't think the Cardinals have much interest in trading either Gorman or Liberatore.
    If they are not untouchable, they are probably very close.
    Beyond that, the Cardinals should be open for business.
    Rentals are the best way to bulk up without paying through the nose.
    More contract control means trickier and more painful trades, and it means the team making the deal isn't just selling on this season, but perhaps admitting an outlook on the next.
    You're looking in the right direction -- teams trending in the wrong direction that do not call the National League Central home.
  • What pitchers in the minors should we have our eyes on? Pitchers seem to move faster than position players? Prater? Ralston?
    The obvious one with the most potential to impact this season has to be Liberatore.
    I'm sorry, but I won't be weeping for the red, white and blue if the Cardinals keep the kid home from the Olympics.
    If we cared about fielding our best Olympic baseball team, we would send an All-Star team every four years instead of out-of-work veterans and up-and-comers.
    If the Cardinals do keep Liberatore home, they should give him his shot in the majors. He might help.
    Not sure if any of the unsigned free agents, Porcello, Hamels etc. have anything left. While I understand MO's comments they need more immediate help. Why not after the Mikolas injury try and sign one of those guys to a minor league deal. I assume it would take one of those guys 4-5 weeks to be ready. Mikolas was hurt 2.5 weeks ago and the signs of the need were blaring at that point.
    The Cards don't seem to think any of those guys are good enough to help, and the fact they are still available suggests other teams feel the same way. Now, if some team takes a shot on one and looks smart for it, Cards will be asked why they let pitching get to this point without trying it.
    Matt Carpenter's last 33 AB:

    .286/.394/.464, 142 wRC+, five doubles

    His eight hits over that span are more than the rest of the season combined (79 AB). You know, it's not uncommon for players to have a big slump to start a season. Carpenter himself had a season where he struggled mightily for awhile, then went on an MVP-like tear for four months. The Statcast data has always supported him being super unlucky.

    I guess I'm just saying that he deserves some more playing time, especially when the depth behind him is BAD. I know the Cards would love to keep Edman at second base, but when they are playing Rondon, a defense-first shortstop with no batting skills, in right field...yikes.
    The chat arguing for more Carpenter at-bats? Pigs must be flying! Carpenter's OPS as a pinch-hitter this season is up to .769. The NL average for pinch hitters is .638. His offense, for whatever reason, has ticked down when he's started in the field. I think bat off the bench is the best role for him now, and good bats off the bench, when hot, raise questions about more playing time. Doesn't mean it should happen. I'd leave him in the role he's in.
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