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 from Cardinals spring training, chatters. Hope everyone is doing well. I hear it's warmer back in STL than it is down here. Glad the weather is treating us all well. Plenty to discuss. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is on a Zoom right now with updates, like the Cardinals' alternate site location and injury updates. Just recorded a Mizzou podcast with Matter this morning. Look for that online shortly as Tigers prepare for SEC Tournament. Let's roll.
    Any suggestions for us fans on how to better cope through the down side of Dylan Carlson developing daily on the job this season? Also anything yet more positive you hear on him positively speaking regarding this spring camp thus far?
    Carlson's good to go. I don't think he's going to have to sweat much about losing his spot or playing time unless he really goes into a funk of some kind. He might start down in the order more than some hope, but my guess is he will wind up in the top half of the order sooner rather than later if not from the start. Remember, he was hitting cleanup for this team in the playoffs last year. The lineup has only added one impact hitter since then in Arenado. Carlson needs to be a big part of the Cardinals scoring more runs.
    It is merely my imagination or is Alex Reyes the front runner to earn the 5th spot in the starting rotation thus far come opening day?
    Are we considering Miles Mikolas as good to go for his first regular-season start, or not? That could be a big factor here. Mikolas is supposed to pitch a bullpen session tomorrow. If there are more delays and hiccups with him, it's going to be hard to see him makin his first regular-season start. This is a big week for that discussion. Shildt was asked today (again) if Reyes is going to get stretched out more as a starter-type option, and he said he will have more to say about that in the near future, whatever that means. Reyes is pitching today. He's looked great so far. The Cardinals have said they have some concern about his workload based off his lack of innings in the past, but they have not said definitively they won't use him in that role. It could hinge on what happens with Mikolas.
    Whats the FO view of carpenter so far? No avg no hits ops going down
    Sorry for the pause. Needed to ask Mozeliak a question or two. Back now, and good to go chat-wise until about 1 p.m Central STL time, when I'll need to switch gears to the column for tomorrow. As I said in today's blog, the numbers are not good for Carpenter so far. He's the only player in spring training (both leagues) who has 11-plus at-bats without a hit. He's hit a couple of balls hard, but also has six Ks. Mozeliak said today he's asking for patience on Carpenter, but that the question is going to have to be answered differently a couple of weeks from now. He said now is not the day to draw a line in the sand, but that suggests that day is coming. Carpenter's a bench bat unless he proves otherwise. He's looked good at second base, defensively. He's back in the lineup today, after an off day yesterday. Should get plenty of at-bats against the Mets. He's leading off.
    For those interested: Mozeliak told us the team's internally discussed target in terms of innings for Alex Reyes is around 100. How he gets there is going to be really interesting. Too low for a traditional starter. Too high for a traditional high-leverage reliever. Does he make two-inning appearances? Does he shift roles as the season progresses? It's going to be an interesting experiment to watch, and it's another sign of how cautious the Cardinals are being as they move on from a 2020 season that scrambled all kinds of plans.

    Its good to see both Thomas and O'Neill having good starts to spring. Equally not as good to see Carpenter struggling offensively. What other observations do you have so far this ST?
    If there isn't good news on Miles Mikolas this week, the "everything is fine, no worries" vibes about the rotation are going to fade fast. No starter other than Adam Wainwright has pitched well, and Miles was expected to be a horse for the team this season. As of now the Cardinals say he could still make his first regular season start. We should know more tomorrow after he pitches a bullpen session. That's the big story at the moment.
    Delvin Perez continues to impress. He's clearly back on the right track after a time that made you wonder if the hotshot shortstop prospect was going to figure it out.
    The defense in camp has been stellar. It's an obvious strength. It's like the web gems have become contagious. Every time the Cardinals take the field, someone makes a "wow" play.
    Good morning, Ben, I have a couple of different questions this morning.
    1. I know the Blues win and lose as a team but don't you have to have a lot of last night's loss on Ryan O'Reilly? That was a bad giveaway in the corner against the Sharks.
    2. How good would the Mizzou Men's Basketball team be with Jontay Porter still on the team? I think they would make the Sweet Sixteen without any trouble.

    1. O'Reilly pretty much blamed himself, which is no surprise, so that's a fair take. Schenn missed a pretty easy one and deserves some of the heat too. But hey, the (black and) Blues overcame being battered with injuries and got 10 of 12 points on the trip.. That's dang impressive. This was a character-building trip.
    2. There is a long list of what-ifs that can be played with Mizzou hoops and injuries. Before this season, the Tigers just had absolutely rotten luck with injuries. What would have happened if MPJ had played a full season on a healthy back -- or rested instead of had surgery? Who knows. Didn't happen. Losing 5 of the last 7 games is not going to drum up deep-run expectations for the current team, but I'll point out their best games have come against the best competition. Look at their record against the SEC teams that are goin to get at-large bids for example. The Tigers have dropped some mind-numbing games. They can play down to their opponent. But they also tend to rise to the occasion against good teams more times than not. We should get a sense of if that bodes well for tournament play in the SEC tournament before NCAA play begins. So much of it depends on which version of Xavier Pinson shows up. Disinterested and dejected? Easy out. Motivated and aggressive? Tigers could make some magic.
    Should the cardinals consider trying to turn Carlson into a primary right handed hitter? It seems he stronger at that side.
    That would seem like a drastic decision to make now. Carlson has only had 110 MLB at-bats. Only 11 of those were from the right side. That's not enough to evaluate. And last season all three of his homers were from the left side. Way too early to do something like that.
    Is there any talk on when journalists access to the team will go back to normal? Is there a chance for that this year, or will access stay the same until next season?
    I don't think it will be completely "back to normal" at any point this season, but hopefully for 2022, unless there is a new look to what normal looks like by then. MLB is leaving it up to teams to decide, within reason, how to do things. Multiple teams are now allowing in-person, at a distance, interviews with players. The Cardinals are sticking with an all-Zoom approach for now.
    It’s early, but Thomas and O’Neil are looking good. I understand that the team values Bader’s defense a lot but there’s no way that Thomas’ defense is such a drop off that should keep him out of the lineup if he’s hitting like he is right now. If O’Neil doesn’t keep hitting then it makes the decision easier as you would just slot Thomas in left. But if O’Neil and Thomas are both hitting and bader is not, then bader has to become a 4th outfielder who starts against lefties.
  • The first thing Bader has to do is get back in the lineup. The Cardinals initially thought he would play today against the Mets, but now they say tomorrow. He's dealing with what the team is calling a small forearm issue. His absence has allowed the O'Neill/Thomas conversation to heat up. I've said all along that none of the outfield positions are as secure as the team sometimes makes it sound. But I don't think Bader will be losing his spot because of this small -- at least it's small for now -- setback. If he doesn't hit and the others do, then the conversation will change. He looked good in his first two Grapefruit League games, and the shorter, punchier swing he's shown off should help him.
  • What are the surprises and dissapointments so far in camp?
    Pleasant surprises: Nolan Gorman's defense and tendency to hit balls very hard, Delvin Perez's emergence, Nolan Arenado's shoulder looking strong at the plate, the defense in general, Alex Reyes has been stellar.
    Not so pleasant surprises: Mikolas' shoulder/elbow intrigue, every starter but Adam Wainwright off to a slow launch, Matt Carpenter, the player the Cardinals wanted to see struggle the least this spring, starting zero-for-11 entering today's game.
    Ben, Kim looked very shaky again yesterday. How many more starts will he have before the team breaks camp and heads north? If he continues to have issues is it possible Reyes could supplant him in the rotation and Kim could go to the pen to work on his mechanics?
    Every starter other than Wainwright has looked pretty to very shaky. The good news with Kim yesterday was that his velocity was trending back up toward his normal levels. Good sign. There's been no talk about moving Kim to the pen. The Cardinals are trying to figure out who to add to the rotation, not who to subtract from it. They need him to start. Even if Mikolas is healthy. As for Reyes, the 100-inning limit the Cardinals are eyeing for him likely keeps him away from a true starting role. John Gant, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Johan Oviedo or a mix of arms for the 5/6 spots sound more likely to fill out the rotation as of now. Again, can't stress this enough, the Cardinals NEED Kim and Mikolas to be healthy and strong.
    I know there is not much a a trade market for Carpenter and we would have to eat the majority of the contract and get an A ball (at best) prospect or international money in return. I just wonder if a change of scenery would be in Matt's best interest. A fresh start so to speak.
    I don't think there's a team that is interested in trading for him, to be frank.
    The Cardinals were able to send Fowler to the Angels in a trade they paid to make happen, but that trade involved a manager who had success with Fowler in the past and wanted him.
    There are not those obvious fits for Carpenter.
    If there was, the addition of Nolan Arenado would have caused an interest spike in Carpenter.
    There wasn't one.
    Anyone who might surprise and make the team?
    If Justin Williams winds up bein out of options, I could see the Cardinals finding a role for him instead of risking sending him through waivers. He doesn't have much to show for it, but he's been hitting the ball hard. Per StatCast data he's got as many hard-hit balls (95+ mph exit velocity) as just about anyone this spring.
  • There is lots of people wanting Reyes to take Micholas starts but what about Gant? I think he deserves a look too.
    He's getting one. He's squarely in the mix.
    You said that Mo said that Carp is right now a bench bat. If Carp continues to strike out, hit into shifts and just look overall terrible, would he still even be a bench bat? I know he makes 18 million but do they even want a bench gut who is a liability hitting .150 or so (even if he can be backup at 3rd, 2nd and 1st)?
    Mozeliak didn't say Carpenter is a bench bat.
    I said that.
    Because it's obvious.
    The Cardinals added Arenado at third. They're pointing to Edman as the starter at second. Goldschmidt is at first. They shut down the idea of Carpenter playing in the outfield. There does not appear to be a DH coming to the NL.
    So . . . that leaves the bench.
    Do you see the Cardinals giving Carpenter his contract to not attempt to play?
    I don't.
    A human interest type story on Jeff Albert is needed. Is that in the plans? He is being hammered unfairly and if fans got to know more about him it would probably make them look at him more favorably. Of course, better team hitting would help, too.
    Personal criticism is unfair. Professional criticism? I don't think it is, necessarily. If the hitting coach cannot be evaluated by how the team hits, then I'm not sure what else there is to go off of. I realize Albert has an expanded role that reaches across the organization and is not just limited to the major leaguers, and that he's not the one in the box tryin to hit. Totally get it. But the Cardinals did make a move to improve the lineup this offseason. Arenado is the kind of addition that, when paired with Goldschmidt, should help quite a bit. If the offense takes a significant step forward this year, Albert is going to get credit I'm sure. If it doesn't, I'm not sure this Albert as the hitting coach plan is working out. I'm mildly surprised Albert is still here as it is. We'll see if he can reward the front office's patience.
    You seem to be someone who is very in tune with college basketball. Do you think Gonzaga can go undefeated and win the tourney? Their schedule has been a cake walk I imagine due to their conference but they are loaded with NBA talent.
    I think the Zags are out in the third round.
    When was their last relatively challenging game?
    Against Iowa in mid-December?
    I've got a problem picking a team that has not been tested in SO LONG to win it all. A close game will eventually happen in the tournament, and I'm not sure how they will respond.
    Danny Mac and company doing the games while watching tv? I think they're doing an outstanding job so far. Is Shannon & Rooney also doing games like this,or ,are they down in camp doing them live? How will things go when the season starts?
  • TV folks are broadcasting their spring games from STL.
    Radio folks are on site, at the ballpark, for games that are being broadcasted.
    Alright Ben, looking at the brackets from Lunardi and Jerry Palm, SLU is currently just on the wrong side of the bubble. Another team that is done with games (unless SLU schedules another one as Ford has mentioned trying) is Drake but they are on the right side of the bubble in both of those brackets. Can you explain to me why?

    Looking at the numbers,
    NET: SLU = 45, Drake = 47;
    KenPom: SLU = 49, Drake = 56;
    BPI: SLU = 38, Drake = 64;
    Sagarin: SLU = 56, Drake = 71;
    Avg NET Win: SLU = 172, Drake = 197;
    Avg NET Loss: SLU = 84, Drake = 104;
    SOS: SLU = 93, Drake = 167;
    OOC SOS: SLU = 93, Drake = 286.

    I just don't get why they are above SLU on the bubble. The only thing is Ford mentioned yesterday on the radio he heard their lack of games due to covid is going to be held against them. The SLU players didn't even get to go home for Christmas to try and prevent getting shutdown but just games missed from it, not to mention poor play right when returning, is going to be the thing that keeps them out?
    Just playin devil's advocate, flip the situation on its head.
    Say you're a fan of Drake.
    Your team played 29 games to SLU's 20.
    Your team totaled 25 wins to SLU's 14.
    Your team lost its conference tournament championship to the conference champion at at-large Loyola, compared to SLU's semifinal loss there.
    I imagine you would feel differently?
    SLU needed to win one of those games it lost to Dayton and VCU, or get to the conference tournament championship.
    It did none of those things, so now it's goin to have to sweat it out.
    I don't like the Billikens' chances, unfortunately.
    Hope I'm wrong.
    Its early yet, but the lineup is piling up the strikeouts this spring. When should we start worrying about the regulars?
    Carpenter is worth worrying about.
    No one else is flashing warning lights.
    Just seven games in.
    Seventeen left.
    My fav play of the spring: Yadi inviting the youngster to steal and then throwing him out. The Cards need that attitude in the clubhouse.
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