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, hope everyone is enjoying their snow day. I was going to shovel -- really, I was -- but two inspired,  entrepreneurial young men showed up at my door and asked if they could do it. How could I not support an up-and-coming business? Anyway, let's roll.
    Was signing Krug getting the Blues an expensive Vince Dunn...small LH defenseman, no PK, weak in defensive end, lots of turnovers that are leading to tons of offensive zone time and scoring chances for the opponents? Especially w Faulk now the #1 PP defenseman Army should have added a big, stay at home LH defenseman in the mold of Scandella and Mikkola to stabilize the defense and PK.
    I would pump the brakes a bit. Around this time last year, everyone was shredding the other guy you just mentioned: Justin Faulk. It takes some time for new players to settle in. Hoffman appears to be finding his groove. Krug will get there -- as long as he's not hurt too bad after that last game. Also:  It's worth mentioning he's plus-12 on the season, which is second-best on the team, right behind Faulk, who is plus-15.
    Hi Ben, thanks for doing this. Is there a timetable to get pro athletes vaccinated for Covid, or will they have to wait their turn? And, do you see baseball stadiums full towards the middle of the summer? It seems everyone would've have an opportunity to be vaccinated by then.
    Not a public one. Major League Baseball has said it won't participate in any line-jumping, but I never underestimate the political sway and power of professional sports leagues. Baseball is going to encourage its employees to receive vaccines but it has said it can't and won't force anyone to get them. That will be interesting -- if there are some who choose not to. How full stadiums can be this season is going to be linked directly to how vaccine rollout and virus case decline leads state and city politicians to ease restrictions on crowd sizes.
    Hey Ben! Firstly, thanks to you and all of the excellent PD baseball writers - I thoroughly enjoy all of your works! My question is around Edmundo Sosa. I know he was viewed as glove-first coming through the minors but has exhibited some power more recently. Does the club view his ceiling as a utility/backup SS or does he have any potential to land a starting job at some point in the future (2B, SS)? Thanks!
    Sosa's 24 now, and has been in the prospect pipeline for a while now. An opening at second base has been steered toward Tommy Edman instead of him. Sosa's going to be a depth guy until or unless he proves differently. First he has to prove he can be a depth guy. He's appeared in only 11 MLB games since 2018.
    What am I missing? I was wishing a southpaw of James Paxton's caliber would been more coveted here, especially since he was available relatively cheap. Also took note of the mention by Seattle of a 6 person starting rotation taking shape this season. Have you heard anything about that here too?
  • The Cardinals were indeed tracking the starter market, and could still be, but they seem pretty set on seeing what they have from the 13 or so potential starters they are bringing to spring training. That depth, combined with the uncertainty of the 2021 season and the shortened 2020 season and its effect on arms has encouraged the Cardinals to be more open when it comes to how they are planning their starting pitching plans. An expanded rotation and/or piggy-back setups for certain starters could be considered, depending on how spring plays out, and what curveballs await during another pandemic-challenged season.
    I'm a huge Ryan O'Reilly fan and still can't believe Buffalo gave up on him. He has all the tools to be a great leader and Captain. And let's be honest -- he even looks the part. But it's obvious the Blues are missing the veteran leadership of former players - Steen, JBow, AP and even Maroon to hold players accountable. I've seen too many games this year where too many players seem to be going through the motions and it's frustrating. Yet it makes sense that when there is turnover at the veteran leadership level, it can take time for players to adjust and new leaders emerge (you hear me Parayko?) What do you think Ben? i
    That could be a part of it I suppose.
    The bigger concern with O'Reilly, to me, is his penalties. He's gotta cut those back.
    I know people are down on the Blues after the Arizona marathon series but I'm just having a little trouble reading too much into that.
    It was a bizarre thing, playing seven in a row in the middle of a season -- against a team that tends to have your number.
    The Blues are 16-9-5.
    They're tied with Colorado in winning percentage (.625), trailing only the Knights in the division.
    I'm not giving the Blues a pass. I just don't think they are as in as bad of shape as Berube's post-game interviews suggest after losses.
    Listening to Chief, I don't think there are many accountability problems.
    Why don’t the Cardinals make a policy if you’ve had the vaccine you can attend the game. What’s the point of getting the vaccine if it doesn’t lead to normal activity?
    The Cardinals are not in control of how many people can gather. That's a city/state issue. The Cardinals can try to lean on and influence those decisions, just like they would any decisions that affect their business, but it's not a Cardinals issue. Teams like the Cardinals are going to be trying to do the best they can with the situations they are given. 
    For a team saying it has championship aspirations they seem awfully thin at outfield and in dominant starting pitching? A lot different than Carpenter, Wainwright and Suppan
    The outfield is a legitimate concern.
    No question about that.
    That group started last season hitting seven, eight and nine in the lineup.
    Only MLB team to have outfielders holding the three least important lineup spots on 2020 opening day.
    And from that group, no outside improvements have been made.
    And one of the contributors, Dexter Fowler, was dealt away.
    So, yes, the bet on the young outfielders needs to pay off -- or the Cardinals will be fighting an uphill battle.
    I'm less concerned about the starting pitching than most.
    I think Flaherty is going to be back on track this year, and I think this season specifically is going to be more about pitching depth -- which the Cards have a whole lot of -- than having two or three star starters.
    If the Cardinals can follow through on getting the most out of their abundance of talented arms, they should be fine pitching-wise.
    Over the course of an entire season, whose bullpen would you take? Cards or brewers?
    Close, but I 'd probably pick the Cardinals.
    Brewers have guys who have done more but that doesn't tell us all that much about relievers -- sometimes the guys who are most accomplished are due to struggle; the Cardinals learned that lesson the hard way with free agents of the past.
    The Cardinals bullpen, depending on how the rotation shakes out could include Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Hicks, Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, Ryan Helsley, John Gant, Tyler Webb, Jake Woodford, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Matthew Liberatore, Zack Thompson and probably some names off the top of my head I forgot about.
    Most of those guys are hoping to earn the fifth starting spot, but those who are not used in a five or six man rotation will be slotted for the bullpen in some ways, either now or later. I think Cards in good shape with pitching unless injuries strike.
  • Can you explain to me what it is that the team saw from Carpenter last season, aside from his amazing Summer Camp, that has him as a lead candidate for the DH and has various media outlets speculating on how to get him in the line-up? Sorry, but I thought the Arenado trade would have rendered him an afterthought who would have had to look awesome in Jupiter to get real any consideration for anything other than a left-handed bat off the bench.
    Do you really think the Cardinals are going to come out now, on February 16, and say Carpenter has no chance of being a meaningful contributor to this season other than a bench bat?
    I don't.
    Even if that turns out to be the truth -- and it might -- they're not going to say it now.
    Surely you have watched the team long enough to know how this works.
    Look at what is done, not what is said.
    Carpenter's decline led to him being used less and less. Carpenter's decline encouraged the decision to add Arenado. Now the Cardinals have the luxury of figuring out Carpenter's role based on his performance. If he hits, find ways to use him. If he doesn't, find ways to use other players instead of him. Of course the Cardinals are saying upbeat things about Carpenter entering spring training. They should. It costs nothing, and it perhaps helps the player. We will find out soon enough, but I wouldn't get caught up in Carpenter's name being mentioned as a lead candidate for a role that, as of now, is not something the NL can use. 
    The cardinals should trade flaherty right now... is the dumbest statement that I guarantee will be in this chat at some point.
    Haven't come across that take yet. Even if Flaherty's long-term future is not with the Cards -- and I'm not ready to predict that yet -- it would make sense in just the value outlook of things to get more out of him before that deal is done. If he pitches great in 2021, and he very well might, then next spring would be a good time to talk about how he sees his future -- determined to reach free agency as soon as possible or open to discussing an extension that could give him more money now, providing security at a volatile position. I know some folks are frustrated by Flaherty flexing over his arbitration win, but let's not forget the MLB side used to pass around a wrestling-themed championship belt to the team that did the best job of squashing salaries. So, the pettiness goes both ways when it comes to arbitration winners and losers.
    I've always found it annoying when knucklehead athletes suddenly "get it together" in their walk year, especially ones that have already been paid once like CMart. Is there anything more contrived than that? Let's just hope that the team gets the payoff from him this year for this contract and has a long enough memory not to pick up his option.
    As the late, great Terez Paylor always said: "The contract season is undefeated."
    It's not all that different than other professions, is it?
    Contract years exist in other lines of work.
    We just don't watch them play out on TV.
    Hey Ben, what caused John Gant to trend on Twitter?
    I was hoping someone would explain this to me!
    I'm officially old.
    I turn 31 in two weeks.
    Any outside names to keep an eye on as far as utility player possibilities for the Cardinals?
  • The one I liked best is gone.
    I thought Marwin Gonzalez would be a good fit for the Birds.
    Boston grabbed him on a single-season $3 million deal.
    Brad Miller, another option, is also off the table. That's OK with me.
    Edmundo Sosa would like to secure the job.
    Evan Mendoza and Kramer Robertson got non-roster invites to camp.
    Carpenter won't play shortstop, of course, but he could get time at third, second and first -- again, if he hits.
    Maybe the Cardinals see what they have and make a move during spring training.
    If Nolan Arenado were a stock, which stock would he be?
    He's Berkshire.
    Expensive, but one to bet on.
    Steady.
    #MadMoney
    I still wish the Cardinals would kind of go for the jugular and trade for Gallo. Is there ANY indication that this is something they’ve looked into?
    Before the trade deadline?
    Hard to see it, considering the indications the Cardinals have given have been quite the opposite -- that they want to give these in-house outfielders a chance before adding from the outside, or shipping some of them out.
    If they all flop, and the Rangers do too, maybe that potential fit starts to become too obvious to ignore around the trade deadline? 
    The Cardinals would then have a better read on how much money they're going to pull in from attendance, as well.
    I do think they're serious about getting a final read on their outfielders.
    At what point in a player’s career does a team determine what type of player they are? How many at bats are fair? Harrison Bader is the player I’m thinking about. I know a lot of people think he’s a really nice fourth outfielder or a platoon bat. They may be right, but he’s also only in his mid 20’s. I remember a young Cardinals catcher who couldn’t hit at all but his defense kept him playing. The offense ended up coming with time. What is it about one player that says let them develop, and another they are who they are?
    Great question.
    It's a combination of factors.
    Age, position, experience, performance, health, projected production are some of the important ingredients in the gumbo.
    Another one -- team performance -- also factors in, whether that's fair to the individual or not.
    You brought up Molina, and that's a great one to look at. He debuted at age 21 in 2004. If you go by adjusted on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS+) he did not have an above-average offensive season until his age-28 season in 2011 produced an OPS+ of 124. Molina was a three-time All-Star by that season's end. His dominant defense was his biggest strength, and everyone knew it. And he lineup he was a part of tended to support his shortcomings on offense until they were no longer shortcomings.
    Bader debuted at age 23 in 2017. Two of his four seasons, 2018 and 2020, have produced an above-average OPS+ of 106 (2018) and 111 (2020). His 2017 season was 32 games. His 2019 season was disappointing (OPS+ of 80), but he seemed to get little to no credit from some for building off of that to have a better 2020 season.
    I won't go as far as comparing the importance of Bader's defense to Molina's, but there's no question he has the potential to be a Gold Glove winning center fielder, a position where elite defense means more than any other outfield position. If you sacrifice some offense to achieve that, no huge problem -- IF you get the offense out of the corner outfield positions. That's been Bader's problem as much as his hitting ups and downs -- he's in an outfield that has not produced well enough to support an elite defensive center fielder who is figuring it out at the plate.
    I think his defense will probably always be better than his offense, but I am not ready to say we know everything about his offense yet. We also don't know if the Cardinals can come up with the kind of outfield that can produce a glove-first center fielder. It has not since Bader has been on the scene. He needs to be more consistent, but he would also benefit from playing in an outfield that incudes some more consistent threats offensively.
    Is it fair to say the Cardinals are pretty set on the starting OF being ONeil, Bader, Carlson. Then the 4th and 5th OF are Lane Thomas and Justin Williams? Is Austin Dean the only other real contender for a top 4-5 OF spot?
    I don't think they're set on anything completely other than needing to get Carlson regular playing time. It's very much a competition entering spring, and the Cardinals made the necessary move -- trading Fowler -- to follow through with that plan.
    Bader's splits suggest that he tears up left-handed pitching, which accounts for maybe 15% of all starters? So either he is going to be part of a very unbalanced platoon, be a great late inning match-up bench bat against lefties, or the team is "all in" on him no matter what and will suffer the shortcomings of his offense against righties. So which do you think will happen?
    Those are not the only options.
    Do you think pitchers such as Oviedo, Woodford, Elledge, Whitley, will get a serious look during Spring Training, or has the front office already penciled in the names..?
    The front office seems pretty open to seeing which arms make it clear they need to have a spot. For example, John Gant and Genesis Cabrera both asked to get a shot to stretch out as starters to start spring. The team's cool with that. How long will that list? Hard to say, considering both could be valuable bullpen pieces, but no harm done in inviting competition early in spring. Injuries happen. It's a wide pitching net.
    Hi Ben, Cardinals rotation seems to have a lot of potential but a lot of question marks. Right now it looks like Flaherty, Kim, Mikolas, Waino. Do we know which relievers are being stretched out or will be given a chance to start? Seem to be a lot of guys who have had at least some success starting either in the minors or majors: Martinez, G Cabrera, Reyes, Helsley, Ponce De Leon, Woodford, Oviedo.
    Yep. There are about 13 potential starters who could be considered, some more realistically than others, for the five rotation spots -- if the Cardinals decide to play it traditionally, which they might not. Wrote about the names here below.

    BenFred: Cardinals' starting pitching depth could be team's most underrated weapon

    STLtoday.comThe concerned tweets, emails and STLToday.com chat questions are piling up.
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