Join columnist Ben Frederickson for a live chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday

Join columnist Ben Frederickson for a live chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday

Ben Frederickson answers all of your Cardinals, Blues, St. Louis City, Mizzou and SLU questions in Tuesday's 11 a.m. live chat.

    Greetings, chatters. I'm in the saddle for the next few hours, ready to talk about whatever is on your mind. Let's roll.
    I saw someone mention that Molina already got his legacy contract, and I thought that was an interesting point. He was one of the highest paid catchers over that time. I’m not saying the team shouldn’t sign Molina again, but it definitely shouldn’t be an over pay. I just get the feeling that Molina wants to keep being paid like the top catcher and that doesn’t seem reasonable anymore. I could be very wrong but that’s the feeling I have right now.
    There's a difference between a legacy contract and a legacy player, right? Molina did already get his big deal. That was the one that just expired, the one that paid him a handsome $20 million per year. Remember, there was a time not that long ago where he was suggesting he would retire at the end of that contract. So the assumption, if there was one, that the Cardinals were going to keep paying him that kind of money moving forward, well, forget about it. And Molina knows he isn't going to get that kind of money here, or anywhere. He's realistic, to an extent. I would guess -- Molina has not said to my knowledge -- that he wants to make more per year than the new deal signed by James McCann, which paid that catcher a little over $10 million per season. Molina has said he wants two years over one with an option. Bengie Molina has suggested that his brother might be flexible on if there is a second contract year or an option. Negotiations will continue. But here's the thing. Molina's latest comments make it sound like he would consider retiring if he does not get what he's looking for. That would indicate none of the teams, not just the Cardinals, are seeing eye to eye with him on what his next deal looks like. That could change. Or Molina's opinion on what it will take to make him play could change. If the Cardinals wind up not getting Molina back and he retires because he feels undervalued, that's his call. If the Cardinals wind up losing Molina to another team because another team was willing to give him a little bit more, like $500,000 or less, well, that's a rough look for the Cardinals, if you ask me.
    Mark smith came to Mizzou with a lot of promise but just hasn’t lived up to that or developed the way anyone would’ve liked. Injuries have certainly played a factor but he’s been relatively healthy this season.
    He's played really well for spurts, including at the start of this season. But he tends to go in funks, and right now he's in a bad one. You're correct that usually it has been injury related, but that is not the case now. I asked around to see if Mark had been one of the Tigers who had COVID, because his strange play as of late kind of reminded me of the strange things we saw from Lane Thomas, who later explained he was in part messed up because of a tough recovery from the virus. Smith, I was told, is not one of the players who had the virus. So that's out as a potential reason. He is, I think, putting a ton of pressure on himself, and it's all compounding. Cuonzo has a tough thing to decide. Bench him and play either Pickett or Watson more, hoping to take some pressure of Mark, or stick with him and hope this is rock bottom and he will have more confidence -- and help the Tigers become the best version of themselves come March -- by playing through this. It's not an easy call. I'd have a hard time starting him after what happened last time out.
    Cards manager wont be happy when the FO can't bring back waino and yadi and provide some help to this weak lineup
    Hard to blame him if that's how it goes down.
    Shildt subtly campaigned for the Cardinals to keep Marcell Ozuna, and the Cardinals lost him to the Braves for a draft pick and something like $600,000.
    Ozuna led the NL in home runs.
    Maybe the front office should put a little more stock in what the manager thinks from time to time?
    LeMahieu and Grossman are the only FA's to sign for a AAV less than the amount projected by ESPN. Most are for more. Kluber has pitched 35 inning in the last 2 years and he gets 11M. Wow! Patience is a virtue.
  • Yes, but what about the something like 85 or more percent of free agents still unsigned right now, with a month or less until spring training starts? All of those guys are not going to get average deals. There are going to be a lot of bargain deals soon. If not, there will be a lot of free agents unsigned when spring training starts. I'm guessing we will see a mix of both.
    I have heard some very smart media people say that Bader's offensive shortcomings wouldn't be so glaring if the guys around him were hitting. I find that to be a very narrow observation. That's not like saying Binnington would be better if the defense was playing better, those two things are directly related. Why is it the rest of the offense's problem that Bader can't hit and people notice? Are we saying that he is such an elite defender that all should be forgiven at the plate? I think fans would still care, unless he was playing on the 2004 team. I look at Bader and see Billy Hamilton 2.0.
    Let's start from the back. Bader is not Billy Hamilton. Bader already has two of four seasons in the majors in which he was an above-average hitter. His adjusted OPS in 2018 was 106, six points above league average. His adjusted OPS in 2020 was 111, 11 points above league average. In seven full seasons in the majors Hamilton never had a single season in which he was an above average hitter. His career adjusted OPS is 67. Bader's is 93. That's a pretty big difference, especially when you remember Bader is 26 years old plenty of room to improve. I would argue that if the rest of the lineup was hitting better, we would not spend nearly as much time talking about Bader's offense. He would be a defense-first No. 8/9 hitter who could run into some home runs and use his speed to mix things up on the bases while robbing runs in center. If he was bringing that element to the tail end of a league average or better lineup, he would be celebrated. But because the offense has holes, and Bader's offense has struggled at times, he is often a topic -- especially because he was perhaps unfairly and to some degree on his own doing as well thrust forward as an emerging face of the team. The fact is, he was one of the few players on last season's team who took steps forward as a hitter. This is not me saying he has to be a guaranteed starter or that he must play every day. Not at all. He has not locked the door behind him when it comes to locking down center field, but part of that is because the offense has not hit well enough as a whole to completely prove a defense-first center fielder can be the right fit for this offense-challenged team.
    If the Cards bring Waino back to give him the chance for a true farewell season because his tenure with the team should afford him that, I am fine with that. But if this team is really concerned with turning the page and looking forward, it doesn't make sense. It is time to see what Gomber and Reyes have, they're not kids anymore. I know Waino's number from last year were great but he made 10 starts against NL Central and AL Central teams, the chances he slams into a physical wall this year are very strong.
    If the sendoff is the top benefit to bringing him back, they shouldn't bring him back. Simple as that. I don't think that's the top reason, or even close. Potential is great, but the rotation, while deep with potential, is short on been-there-done-that and Wainwright has a lot of it. If the Cardinals are going to thrust young arms into the spotlight, there isn't a better veteran to have around to help shepherd the flock than Wainwright. Bring him back because of his stuff and his intangibles, and because of his relatively affordable price all things considered. The emotional stuff is just extra. If the Cardinals feel like they are a better team without Wainwright, so be it. But I would disagree with that opinion, strongly.
    I have to say I like your chat and Jeff Gordon’s chat the best since they are more wide-ranging. I know one game doesn’t make a career but you have to be happy with Kyrou’s play last night, don’t you?
    Thanks. Happy to be on your top line with Gordo. And heck yeah, it would be impossible to not be pumped about Kyrou's play last night, and just his start to the season in general. The goals are great -- no duh -- but he's also doing the little thing, like full buy-in on backchecking, that Berube loves to see. By now we know enough about Chief to know he does not heap too much praise on any player, especially young ones. But he was practically doing backflips about Kyrou's play last night. Here's what he said.
    "His speed and his skill, he gets opportunities because of that. I was glad to see him get one. He had a lot of opportunities. He hit a post. Had a couple other good shots. You know, he did a good job. The one area, he has to manage the puck a little better at times, but that will come. Coming out of junior hockey, you are always used to making plays. In the NHL, you have to manage it a little bit. He did a good job. He made a lot of nice plays. He could have had more than one goal. Excellent backcheck. He could do that all the time, because of he's speed. He's really starting to get it and figure that out."
    Sounds like Berube is pretty happy with the young goal scorer, to me.
    Hello Ben thanks for the chats. There has been a lot of talk about losing Wong and thusly reducing the defense and who could argue that. However I would like to interject that Edman is 25 and was Wong that much better of a 2nd baseman than Edman when Wong was 25? I'm thinking probably not and I think most people could agree that Edman is the better athlete.
    We'll see, I guess. Perhaps there is a Gold Glove, or two, at second base in Edman's future. I'm not sure we have watched enough to know for sure one way or the other. He's only played about 250-ish innings there in the majors. I tend to doubt he will be as good defensively at the position as Wong, but he can certainly be a more powerful hitter there. There's certainly more pop in Edman's bat, and he's no slouch on defense, probably better than some realize. But it's tough to compare him to the best defensive second baseman in baseball, when solely talking about defense.
    I really like the idea of a Bader/Clint Frazier swap. How feasible does that sound (with a few other pieces involved)?
    I don't think the Cardinals are going to move on from any of their significant outfield options before the season starts, but if they did I don't think it would be Bader they are moving on from. Mozeliak has made it pretty clear, increasingly so during Winter Warm Up Virtual Edition, that this season is going to be about sorting out the internal outfield options once and for all. So, I would say not very likely based on what we have heard.
    Meaningless question of the chat: exactly how does Mizzou drop two spots in the rankings after stomping T A&M on the road after not playing for two weeks?
    Voters had two more weeks to think about the Mississippi State collapse.
    The Tigers are sitting at No. 19.
    That seems about right to me.
    Any chance the Cards could do something to get Brandon Nimmo from the Mets? Nimmo can't play center. Conforto is RF for sure. Dom Smith, Nimmo and others are vying for LF. Bader is a NY guy and former college teammate with Alonso. Bader and someone like Oviedo for Nimmo? Is that fair? Nimmo's ability to get on base would do wonder for the offense hitting in front of Goldschmidt.
    Brandon Nimmo, the pride of Cheyenne Wyoming.
    I was working in Laramie for the Casper Star Tribune when he was making his way through the minors.
    His home state is very proud of him, and he's a good player.
    Who knows what could happen down the line but right now, as I mentioned earlier, I think the focus for the Cardinals is on sorting through their current outfield options before the start of the 2022 season.
    That's why I think the Cardinals really hope to add a DH this year, if that rule comes on line again, because it will let them improve their lineup while buying time for the extended outfield tryouts.
    Don't overlook this recent quote from Mozeliak during his Winter Warm-Up sit down with Dan McLaughlin.

    "Go back a year, and think about (Randy) Arozarena," Mozeliak said. "Here's a player that we could not find at-bats for. We put him in a deal, and then of course he becomes legendary in October. That is sort of my greatest fear. Making sure we give these guys some true chance. I have a hard time accepting last year as a great sample size, because it was such an unusual year for our team. Not making excuses, but when you have that quarantine, then another 10-day dead period, then you are told to go play. I just don't think from a player standpoint, or even pitching standpoint, that we ever really caught our stride. Now, as we sit here today, how do we create that opportunity moving forward? ... You have these guys that really want a chance to play, that want at-bats. That is probably going to be the most important thing we get right, or we can't make another mistake on. That is going to be critical on trying to make sure we get these guys at-bats. And the most important part is, what do they do with them? Because we have to see an uptick in our offense, or it's going to be a long year."

    With Scherzer's contract up after this year, do you see the Cardinals making a run at him? I know some execs say he's the one big (local) free agent that got away.
    They should have signed him back then, and they have admitted that since then. But now? He will be 37 next year at this time. With the Cardinals' track record on developing pitchers, I don't think they would need him or any 37-year-old free-agent starter unless it's one of the low-cost, high-upside bets like KK or Mikolas was before his extension. If the bottom drops out on the guys the Cardinals think are going to take a step forward this year, maybe.
    Hey Ben: So, chaos reigns at your old stomping grounds. I was a grad student at UT during the Schiano hire/non-hire protest fiasco. I know schadenfreude is not an attractive quality, but having spent five years there and seeing first hand the fan entitlement and mass delusion, I can't help giggle a little (and it helps that UT's dysfunction helps Mizzou). Fulmer's power play has completely backfired. Would love to hear your thoughts about what is going on in Knox.
  • I have no unique insight other than it's a mess and I do hate it for the people who work at Tennessee and truly care about the place. Those people deserve better. The power Fulmer still has amazes me. He should have been fired, yet he was at the presser praising Pruitt's recruiting -- recruiting that earned the program an ongoing NCAA investigation that is about to drop a lightning bolt of penalties. And while Fulmer is being ushered out -- it's being phrased as retirement of course -- he's still acting as if he will influence the next hire? Crazy.
  • The front office is willing to cut Kolten Wong and not resign their two aging but iconic players all for the sake of financial hardship. Why would anyone expect any significant adds to the roster? Maybe the biggest news will be giving the batboy an outfield tryout. Seriously, how is this team going to be as good as last year’s team let alone better?
    If the Cardinals enter 2021 with the team as it is currently constructed, it will not be a better team.
    It will be a team that got weaker at its strength (defense) and did not improve its weakness (offense.)
    Don't let anybody tell you different.
    But also don't assume the Cardinals are ignoring the fact that the entire division is taking a step or steps back.
    A team does not need to be as good as it was last year to win the division.
    BenFred, why do you think the Cardinals' stolen base attempts per game decreased so much in 2020? They led the NL in SB's in 2019 and returned a similar roster in 2020. Baseball Reference shows these stats:
    7.2% attempted steals of second base per chance in 2019 vs. 4.6% in 2020.
    They went from a being above the league average 122 Rate+ in 2019 to below league average 76 Rate+ in 2020.

    Your thoughts? Thanks.
    A couple things come to mind right away.
    One is personnel. Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman had disappointing seasons, so they were not on base as often as they hoped, and therefore they were somewhat neutralized as base-stealing threats. Also Marcell Ozuna, a surprisingly adept base stealer, was not on the team.
    Two is pandemic. The Cardinals' season was weird. Stops and starts. Long layoff. Time the team could spend together keeping certain aspects of the game sharp were cut into by distancing rules and fear of getting too many guys together at once. As a result I think we saw some of the team's strengths get dented, and this is one good example of it.
    Re: Molina, I'm surprised that a deal hasn't gotten done yet, and it makes me wonder if the hold-up is not about money but about role. I realize that Molina has defied all expectation in terms of how many games a catcher at his age can catch, but he he will be 39 this year. His mobility behind the plate has become more limited (though his arm is still great), and while he can still get you big RBI, his power seems all but gone. No question his handling of the staff is still superior. I'm sure his pride has him believe he can still catch 130+ games effectively, but the FO surely can't count on that, right? I would think that they would like to see him catch around 100 games this year (assume 162), and maybe half of them next year. Do you think there's any chance that this is what is keeping them from getting a deal done?
    The Cardinals and Molina seem to have developed a pretty clear understanding over the years of what his role looks like. If he's healthy, he plays. Period. That's the setup that has been created, and there's been no talk of changing it to my knowledge. No, I think this is about money, and how Molina views annual salary as a statement about his status as a player and where he stands among his peers.
    Hi Ben. Last night Kyrou was the second best player on the ice. He was doing it at both ends. Then with 5 minutes left he never left the bench. Sundqvist took his place on that line. When is Berube going to give him a chance? Thanks
    Kyrou is averaging 12:13 minutes per game, up from 10:54 last season. His shifts per game is up, from 14.2 last season to 15.7 this season. Berube is giving him a chance, and more of a chance, and more as he continues to earn it. Kyrou's having a great start to the season. Berube is singing his praises. What am I missing? Seems like the "he never gets a chance" crowd is not acknowledging the chances he's getting?
  • What do you think of the NHL's current series format? Seems like it will be difficult to beat teams back to back very often. I think we will end up with a lot of .500ish records and close division races
    I think some space will open up over time. A lot of splits between the good teams in the division, but when the worm turns for some of the pretenders, there will be more two-game sweeps. Yes, the divisions will be close. Short season almost guarantees that.
    Do you think WAR leans a bit too heavily on the defensive side? I totally get the analytics behind it all it’s just interesting to see that if Bader has a career length the same as Omar Vizquel he would have roughly the same WAR. Love the dude, but that’s saying he would be on the cusp of HOF....
    I'm the wrong person to ask about debating the recipe of Wins Above Replacement. I use it as a reference point but not a bible, like some of my peers. I think there is more value on measuring defense analytically more now than there has been before, so it's good to have numbers that attempt to quantify what used to be just the eye test, or not mentioned at all. Ozzie Smith is in the Hall of Fame because of his defense. It can happen. Bader's defense is really, really good but it did slide in the wrong direction, and we still don't know if he's going to be able to hit well enough, consistently enough to secure an every-day starting spot as a defense-first center fielder. I like WAR as a tool, but I would advise against treating any metric or stat as something that cannot be questioned.
    TLR clearly pushed back against the FO and forced their hand, in a way, when it came to players he wanted. Do you think once Shildt has been around a little longer he might start being more like that with the FO or do you think he’s more of a guy who will just manage who he’s given and leave it at that?
    I think some of that comes with time, but I think managers have less say than ever before in situations like that, and Shildt is on the wrong side of the divide in terms of how the game has changed. Shildt has often said certain decisions are "above his paygrade", indicating there are front-office moves he is not a part of. Tony didn't say that much, if I recall. I do think we have seen Shildt become more willing -- when he lobbied for Ozuna, when he's made it clear he would like another bat -- to offer up his opinion as he's settled into the job and had success. That needs to continue, and speed up, because this front office needs a heavier hand on the win-now side of its discussions.
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