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.

    Who do you think will be traded for the Blues,and who will they lose to expansion team?
    Any of the restricted free agents --  Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev and Vince Dunn could depart one way or the other. Vladimir Tarasenko will be interesting. Maybe the Blues won't risk it due to their hope he can be better with more distance from the shoulder injury, but if the Blues want the cap space they could shop him to see if other teams are interested in his upside, or leave him unprotected and tempt Seattle with a name brand.
    Do you think that Tyler O'Neill is on another hot streak or is finally coming into his own? He looks like a different player, but his history gives me some pause.
  • He's showing some serious signs of the latter, which is great news for the Cards and a testament to their patience in him.
    His durability seems to be his biggest knock at the moment.
    I'm not going to feel good about declaring him proven until he can play 145 games in a season.
    His career-high is 61 since 2018.
    Ben - I thought your story about the Cardinals front office being on the clock to shore up this team was spot on. It did not take a baseball savant to know that adding Arenado was a good idea (and a master stroke), but after that move the FO went dormant, with obvious needs flashing red. Why has the FO taken such a passive approach to roster building and is there any real indication they have a sense of urgency to do consequential in-season moves this summer (something more than dumpster dive DFAs and independent league signings)? Continually watching the Cardinals muddle through seasons without adding needed reinforcements has gotten really old, discouraging and frankly, not very becoming of this proud franchise. Thanks for your work.
    One reason this past season was they were reluctant to jack up the payroll with pandemic uncertainty still in the picture.
    That fear should have lifted some now that fans are coming back sooner than expected.
    A long postseason run would be very good for the Cardinals' bottom line.
    Five years without significant in-season upgrades is a long time, especially for a proud team that is closing in on 10 years since its last ring. Avoiding the trade-deadline madness is great if you can, because it often means teams pay a competitive tax, and by that I mean they have to make moves that make sense for the half-season that follows but might not be the wisest long-term plays, but if there was a Cardinals team that could benefit from a little win-now thinking, it's this one. And this is the year to do it with the unknown surrounding 2022, and the place Molina and Wainwright are in, and the decade of the last ring approaching, and the chance to burst out of the pandemic with a meaningful postseason, and, well, I could go on and on. Will they do it? Don't know. But they should.
    I don't think it makes much sense to beat up the Cardinals for not anticipating so many relentless catastrophic injuries, but it is a very confusing season which makes even a patient fan like myself pretty ambivalent.

    It has been genuinely exciting to see flashes of an actual, competitive offense that could scare other teams on that fine day when they are mostly healthy and most of the lineup is getting hot. I give the front office credit for getting that done. That is a big deal. The front office got us Arenado and he is delivering. They kept the faith in O'Neill and Bader and they both look like they are FINALLY coming around. Good grades for that.

    On the other hand, it is maddening to see so many hit batters and so many bases loaded walks. What gives? Is the short answer that Cardinals' pitchers aren't doctoring the ball like their competitors? Still, I've been following them since about 1968. I don't recall seeing anything like this ever in terms of walks and hit batters. It is mystifying. I don't think anyone could predict that Tyler Webb would be unable to throw strikes or get batters out, but it isn't just one guy. Not even close. What gives with the pitching?
    It's either a problem with the talent or the instruction, or a mix of both. I think it's both. It's great that the Cardinals have been one of the better teams at taking away the home run from opponents. They rank in MLB's bottom-five in HR allowed (48) in that department, which is no small thing considering how often balls are leaving the ballpark these days, but at what cost? A ball that is put in play that doesn't go over the fence has a very good chance of turning into an out with this defense on the field. Yet too many free passes via walk and hit-by-pitch keep happening. It has reached the point where the Cardinals sound like Billikens basketball coach Travis Ford when he used to talk about why his team couldn't make free throws. The Billikens did their best to make it an off-limits topic to the team and the media, hoping it would correct itself. That didn't work, just like the Cardinals downplaying their free-pass problem won't work. It's being talked about a lot because it's a problem the team can't seem to figure out how to fix.
    Do you think that the injuries piling up this year will influence the front office to be more proactive in making cheap depth free agent signings in 2022 vs planning on the organizational depth to cover them again? Or will they just say it's a freak year for injuries and go the same route?
    I think a lot of the injury blame is going to fall on the jump from the 60-game season and its chaos to the 162-game grind returning in full. However, assuming baseball will be in line for a normal 162- game season in 2022 is a reach at the moment. There could be a work stoppage of some kind due to the new collective bargaining agreement needing to be in place before then and the likely standoff that is coming between players and owners. I'm hoping for the best.
    Personally, I like this team overall and I am happy about the moves Mo & DeWitt have made. Goldschmidt & Arenado on the same team? That's amazing! Flaherty will only get better. Hudson is really good and will be back next year. They have lots of pitching talent, Edman is a really good player and O'Neill may finally be figuring it out. No one expected the pitching to struggle so much and injuries have really hurt the team. It's not a perfect team, obviously. It needs a starter for sure. My only hope is that Mo adds at the deadline, and in the offseason if necessary. This is a really good team (struggling right now) that could be very very good with a couple of tweaks, say a starting pitcher and another strong bat behind Arenado.
  • I tend to agree with you, Craig.
    The Cardinals were a good team when they were healthy.
    They can't just cross their fingers and hope they get healthy again, and they have some work to do if they are serious about maximizing their chances this postseason, but I don't think they are toast, at all.
  • Wake up Ben! Sleeping the day away is not very productive.
    Sometimes it takes longer to answer certain questions. I try to dig up some good numbers for some of the answers. Sorry for the lagging pace of play on some. I'll pick it up.
    My pick to have a break out season was lane Thomas. I just figured once he got COVID out of the way he’d be that guy in 2019 who punished mistakes and was a tough at bat for that short stretch he got to play. Even though there’s still time I have to admit I was wrong. He just looks timid at the plate and constantly overmatched. His defense isn’t even making it possible to put him in the lineup cuz he’s regressed there as well. Part of me thinks something physical has to be going on and he just won’t say anything but there seems to be a major mental element to this as well.
    I was right there with you. 
    I wrote a column this offseason about his struggles to get over COVID and how he felt he was on the cusp of a breakout.
    And I could see that.
    Then spring training stated, and every time the opportunity carousel stopped on him, he did something to let go of it.
    I think it's a matter of things kind of snowballing on him at this point.
    I do think what would be best for him is to play regularly in Memphis for a good, long stretch.
    Every day.
    He needs to flush and reset, if there is a chance for that to happen.
    Matt Carpenter has zoomed past .160 BA and .600 OPS.

    Has he silenced the haters?
    He's a capable bat off the bench. So, those who insisted he could be that, I guess, will need to turn down the volume a bit. Those who are not happy with the performance the team has gotten out of the extension, however, can continue to be outraged.
    Here's the weekly Matt Carpenter question. A bench of him, Rondon, Thomas is just too much of nothing for a professional team to win with. Period. At some point soon, they are going to have to cut him loose and find a steady .250-.260 hitter with a little power as a late inning option. Bat first, glove second player. The others can be sent down or bundled with a prospect for a reliever.
    Carpenter is actually doing pretty good for a NL pinch hitter. Check the OPS. Mentioned it, in context, earlier in the chat. You can improve the bench without cutting him. Not sure why you would you cut him when he's settled into a role that is working for him and the team? It's not like the Cardinals are going to get that money back?
    The front office doesn’t want to sign a free agent starter and wait a month for them to be game ready. But what if there are new injuries a month from now? Obviously it would’ve been helpful to sign a Rick Porcello or Cole Hammels in March rather than June, but it’d be nice to have some depth in July too.
  • Read between the lines. The Cardinals don't think these guys are very good. They're not going to say that, but if they did they would be interested. And they would have been interested before now.
    With COVID cases lower now than they were 12 months ago and more fans being able to come down and see the game live, when are we going to put the cabosh on these post game zoom calls and go back to a normal post game interview? At some point you just need to go back to normal.
    There are on-field interviews today, thankfully. I'm not sure if that will mean the end of Zooms, or not. Might be a mix of both for a while still. The earlier the Zoom calls end, the better. They are brutal for all involved.
    Crazy thought, Puig as a 4th outfielder😳😳😳??? This team needs serious depth on the bench. I guarantee he will hit better than the .100 Lane Thomas is hitting.
    The last Puig headline I read had him starting a benches-clearing incident in the Mexican League.
    Perhaps the biggest part of the reason he is not in MLB at the moment is a back-and-forth legal issue that revolves around a claim of sexual assault made against him, something he league has looked into but, unless I missed it, not ruled one way or the other.
    I don't think he's going to be joining the Cardinals.
    I think Lane Thomas will likely be sent to Memphis when Paul DeJong returns.
    I also think its time for Woodford to get a few starts. If he can give ya 6 innings of 4-4.50 ERA this team really needs that right now. Long relief is Ponce's job until further notice.
    It's a lot harder to go from reliever to starter than vice versa, and the Cards rarely make that kind of in-season transition against the grain with their young arms.
    Call me a baloney sammich, but I like the "International Rule" in regular season extra-inning games. It doesn't waste time or valuable resources on an either-way inevitable outcome. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it works against you, but either way, it usually rips the band-aid off quickly. Please tell me it will not be used in the playoffs though. Other condiments for my baloney sammich; I would LOVE an automated strike zone, even if it's not "perfect" yet. Neither are the discretion derived strike zones that each umpire brings with them, but they try. I like the eminent DH coming to the NL. I would like replay/challenges more if they would encompass all plays instead of only the ones that end in consonants. I LIKE the sizzle and flair that most of these young players are bringing to the game. They're exciting to watch. I LOVE the Tony La Russa/Dusty Baker/Terry Francona “Old School/OG's” though. I'm OS/OG too. There is plenty of room for both in today's game. #OrderUp #HoldTheLaunchAngleAndExitVelocityPlease
  • I'm confused, like you.
    I'm pro DH and ambivalent toward seven-inning double-headers, but no-hitters in them should count if they are played.
    I want extra innings to be played straight up.
    I love the passion in the game, as long as players are not hypocritical about it. I don't want to see the pitcher strutting one inning and whining about a bat flip the next.
    I'm anti automated strike zone. I think it will remove a really, really important element from the game in pitch framing. No one has done it better longer than Yadier Molina.
  • Ben, what are your top 5 must-dos for a family on a budget in STL this summer?
    Cards game.
    Zoo.
    Forest park exploration.
    City Museum.
    Ted Drewes.
    Four of the five are quite affordable.
    Ben, isn't where the Cardinals are where we thought they would be? A transition year, stay competitive, get the bad contracts off the books and point towards 2022. Sensational pick-up in terms of Arenado. He's not going to help the pitching, the bullpen, the bench, most of the rest of the line-up and so forth. He's a great player, but not going to change a ballclub so deficient in other areas. Looking forward to the transition beginning now and through the coming off-season. Change needs to be coming.
    Transition year? I didn't get that message. Don't think Yadier Molina or Adam Wainwright did either. Using their return season not to mention the age-33 season for Goldschmidt and the age-30 season for an Arenado as a transition season would be a mistake.
    Ben, Their has been some good. There does seem to be a OF or only one man away. The infield has at least 3 of 4 spots as good. Some of the pitchers who were overly counted on seem exposed for what they are. Carlos, Miles, Ponce, Kim, and Gant should not be all counted on at the same time, and they were. The bench bats have also. The FO should be able to see what it needs this season and beyond with some clarity. What possible excuse can there be in not at least guiding this roster to a more complete team for this season and next?
    No excuses here. I'm the one, maybe the only one here today, who isn't yet ready to turn the page to next season.
    I thought we might hear something about the Battlehawks return in the 1st or 2nd quarter this year. Anything on the horizon?
    Hey Ben, stop trying to make Lane Thomas happen. It's not going to happen.
  • I've eaten my crow. The chat (and Rick Hummel) make sure of it.
    Hi Ben, I was wondering if there was any scenario where the Pirates would trade within the division? I can't help but wonder what a young guy like Mitch Keller would be able to do with a change of scenery and better developmental environment.
    I'd guess highly unlikely. We rarely see it in the Central.
    Just what is available.... realistically, on the FA pitcher shelf. Read some names but are any "working" in any facility based structure or being actively scouted in a meaningful way?

    Rick Porcello, Cole Hamels, Aníbal Sánchez, Jeff Samardzija. The Cardinals have all but officially said they're not interested in that market. Could be a smoke screen. Didn't seem like it to me.

    I’m not at all surprised by the troubles the pitching staff is having. How many pitchers do the Cardinals have that are in their prime? They have young players with great potential (Reyes, Cabrera, Oviedo), but it’s very common for pitchers like that to have control issues early in their careers. They also have older pitchers with something left in the tank, but their stuff doesn’t play as high end anymore. That would be Wainwright, Miller, Kim, etc. These are pitchers who can still have success, but they don’t have the stuff to carry a team anymore. Do you believe the problem is process or personal driven?
    Jack Flaherty comes to mind, and now he's hurt.
    Same for Dakota Hudson, who is also hurt.
    Those were two big blows because both are in the prime range you mentioned.
    There's a reason my final column from spring training said the Cardinals looked like a team that could use at least one other proven starter.
    Ben
    You and the other staff writers keep referencing situational hitting, yet Shildt has often said they don't believe in coaching situational hitting. That's crazy on their part. You can tell Yadi does it, but he's more old school while others continue to swing from their heels. Shildt says they'd rather them swing for damage.
    In Sunday's game they had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs, which is where they stayed. A popup and two strikeouts. The only damage was to the Cards win loss record. This is only one example of many.
    I'm not buying what they're selling. Learn to bunt. Hit the other way. Use the preached about launch angle for a fly ball sacrifice. Learn the nuances of the game because they're showing they don't do the little things that can lead to wins
    Well said. The Cardinals compliment Molina for his hitting approach and versatility one day, then shrug off the idea that other hitters could benefit from a similar approach the next day. It doesn't add up and you are right to call baloney. I'm sorry, but as long as baseball is baseball, there should be a difference in approach depending on the situation. ESPECIALLY for hitters who are not big home-run threats. That's a big problem I see. It's one thing if the guy who can hit it to the moon is trying to. It's another when a guy who can't tries, in a situation that calls for something else. You should not be in the majors if you can't more times than not execute a bunt. And you should be in the hot seat if you pass up an opportunity to bunt for a base hit and don't do something better. Football reference time. My old high school football coach always told me that you better make the tackle if you cut underneath the block instead of attacking it with your outside shoulder free. Because if you cut underneath it and didn't make the tackle, you hurt the team. I've started to feel the same way about ignoring an obvious shift. If you do the selfish thing, you better have success doing it.
  • Ben, what do you think happened to John Nogowski? Was always a great contact hitter who rarely struckout in the minors, and we saw that a lot in Spring Training too, but now in the MLB and even in AAA hes been striking out more, hitting less, and overall lost. My personal theory is that the lack of any playing time aside from 3-4 pinch hitting appearances a week to start the season cooled off his bat, and now being on the Memphis Express has hurt his ability to regain that consistency. Was wondering your thoughts?
    Few things can cool off a hot bat like a hand injury. He hit the injured list with a bone bruise in his left hand and it kind of seemed to throw a wrench in things.
    I've gotta get down to Busch, folks. Thanks for joining in today. I'll get to some of the questions I did not have time for in the recap that posts later tonight. I'm sure there will be plenty, as many of you were disappointed with my plodding pace. First chat back from vacation. I'll pick up speed next week. Don't put me on the waiver wire just yet.
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