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.

    Good morning Ben,
    So far it's another year of too many K's from the offense. No blaming it on O'Neil and Bader this time. Last I checked the team was averaging double digits and last night registered 11. I don't see how this offense can improve as a whole until they make more consistent contact. They haven't and most likely won't slug enough to make up for empty at bats.

    During yesterday's chat with DG, situational hitting came up and the eyeball test says they're terrible. DG said Shildt emphasizes hard contact for situational hitting. There's no doubt they're swinging hard, it's the contact they can't accomplish. Will they ever take an old school approach like Yadi?
  • So far the Cardinals are right around the middle of the major league pack in strikeout rate (25.9 percent, 14th in the majors) and percentage of swings that miss (27.2 percent, 13th). Two players, Paul DeJong and Tyler O'Neill (14) have been the biggest contributors to those strikeout numbers. It's early, so I'm not makin any big judgements, but I still see a team that's bigger problem is a lack of damage, not an overload of strikeouts. Right now the Cards are bottom-10 in slugging percentage, checking in at .360, or 22nd. But, to your point, yes, if you can't slug you better not be striking out a league-average amount of the time. We can certainly agree on that.
    What's the timeline for KK to be back? The entire pitching staff is being taxed because the starters can't go deep. However, this is a typical situation for April as pitchers build up to longer starts.
    He responded well to an 86-pitch sim game Sunday, and could be activated as early as this weekend. Swapping him in for Ponce seems to make sense, no?
    "Gant can steadily give you five innings and a chance to win." Based on what? In his career, he has made it through five innings about half of his starts. He has been in as much trouble as CMart in games so far, but managed to escape the big blow in his first start that only lasted 4 innings. He's not a rotation guy, never has been consistently effective in that role, and expecting him to be something that he's not is what the Cardinals have been doing with their outfield for years. Let's not do it with the pitching staff.

    I'm not sure what to make of CMart right now--I'm convinced that he never fully recovered from his initially injury in 2018 when he came out of the gate as the best pitcher in baseball, tore the muscle in his shoulder, came back too fast and lacking confidence, yet finished out the year helping the club out of the pen. What I do know is that Gant is not the answer, and I'd be more inclined to look at the track records and note that Gant has always put a ton of guys on base as a starter, whereas Cmart, when healthy, has not. If I'm going to take a longer look at one, based on facts in evidence, it's Carlos, not Gant.
    Based on what we saw this spring and season so far.
    John Gant as a starter since 2018: 3.55 ERA, with 57 percent of his starts lasting five innings or longer.
    Carlos Martinez as a starter since 2018: 4.63 ERA with 64 percent of his starts lasting five innings or longer.
    I'm not trying to turn John Gant into a Cy Young award winner or anything.
    But it's getting hard (at least for me, not so much for others, apparently) to ignore what we have watched from Martinez as a starter for a while now.
    None of his last 10 starts have gone past five innings. He has a 7.86 ERA in those starts and the team is 2-8 in those games. Opponents averaging .316 and slugging .549 against him during it.
    This is why the Cardinals made him a rotation challenger, not a rotation lock, entering spring training -- but their tune changed after the injuries to Mikolas and Kim. Martinez wasn't all that impressive during spring.

    How do you balance a sense of urgency with giving players time to develop? I have lost faith that the Cardinals front office knows which players to keep.
    It's a great question, one the Cardinals are banking on being able to answer correctly with how they're handling this current outfield situation.
    As most everyone expected the outfield has been atrocious at the plate. We don't seem to have any internal options that would be ready to fill the void right now... who might be realistic trade targets? Would Cards consider Braun or Puig one a presumably fairly inexpensive deal at this point just to see what they have left? Couldn't be much worse than what we've seen...
  • There have been no signs they're ready to completely change gears on the outfield experiment 10 games in. They dedicated this season to sorting through things out there. The trade deadline would be a more realistic timeline to look for an upgrade -- if the lack of performance does not demand action sooner.
  • Was wondering if you have heard anything from the club regarding when information regarding tickets for May would be available? Thanks
    I have not. They announce that stuff on their own end, often during the games on TV before a press release is sent.
    5 days ago was the Cardinals home opener and the media and fans were optimistic about great times that lie ahead after the dramatic Arenados homerun. On the same day, Blues fans and the media were very pessimistic about the Blues chances and suggesting the team may need an overhaul. My suggestion is that the St. Louis sports fans need to calm down, it's a long season and these are 2 great sports teams.

    My question for you and all St. Louis Cardinal and Blues fans: Is there any other city on Earth that currently has had a more exciting baseball/hockey team combo to get behind than St. Louis?
    Good dose of perspective :)
    The Lightning/Rays, Capitals/Nationals and Wild/Twins are all in pretty good shape when it comes to current baseball-hockey mashups as well.
    Do you think, with the year Yadi is having, that the team would extend him for another year if he continues? And if Waino rights the ship, that they might bring them both back with a team friendly contract?
    Molina is now on the Wainwright plan. If he's healthy and performing, then sign him up for another year. I don't think it would be a decision either side would to or want to make before the offseason. See how he plays. See how he holds up. If he really wanted to leave, he would have done it this offseason.
    Do you feel like all the measures that clubs are taking to protect pitchers are really working? Pitch counts, high stress situations, innings limits, is any of that really limiting arm injuries anymore than how pitchers were previously handled?
    Pretty hard to say, because baseball can't know what it did not know before.
    Imagine how many arm injuries pitchers pitched through before upgrades to medical technology, diagnosis and treatment.
    Were they healthier back in the day, or just not examined as closely and more often pitching through pain or non-ideal circumstances.
    Throwing a baseball is not really a natural thing.
    Arms are going to break down doing it.
    Throwing it as hard as some due now, in this velocity-made phase, is going to lead to a lot more stress.
    Help me out with this Ben. We keep hearing about potentially going to a 6-man rotation or some version of it when the upcoming schedule has no off days. The bullpen is getting overused and running six starters out their who won't give you at least five decent innings is nuts. It looks to me like the starters are getting plenty of rest.

    Odorizzi would look real good in a Cards uniform right now.
  • One of the more interesting what-ifs of 2021 is what would have happened if the Cardinals found out Mikolas was messed up a day or too earlier? Odorizzi had agreed to his deal with the Astros right around the time it happened, and the Cardinals had at least checked in on him before Mikolas' shoulder started barking.
    I’m incredibly concerned about the high pitch counts that our starters accumulate in very little time. I would assume w Yadi behind the plate, he would get these guys to be more efficient. What seems to be the major reason we can’t get deeper into games with our starters?

    My second question is how long do you think the FO will allow the corner outfield spots to spin? Something I feel is missing from this team is a live-wire vet. Someone in the mold of Scott Spiezio, for example. Is that player out there somewhere?
    I can point to one number that is jumping out to me. OK, two numbers. Right now, Cardinals pitchers are last in the majors in percentage of first-pitch strikes. They are getting ahead 0-1 just 51.5 percent of the times. That's dead last in MLB's 30 teams. Mets pitchers have a league-best first-strike percentage of 65.6. The best way to get strikeouts and outs is to start ahead. The best way to have efficient outings is to start ahead. The Cardinals are not doing it often enough. It's a big factor in another important number: 18.2. That's the average number of pitches thrown by the Cardinals per inning. Also the worst average in the league at this time. The Dodgers are leading the league with 15.3 pitches per inning. You can see how those are adding up fast.
    Didn't mean to now answer your second one, sorry. I'd like to see a heel turn toward Ryan Braun, but I'm probably daydreaming. 
    Ben, do you thing Armstrong's decision to stand pat has anything to do with who he may end up losing to the Kracken? I mean if he trades Dunn we lose Sunny. Hoffman only stays because of Thomas being hurt.
    I'm sure that didn't hurt.
    I'm sure he wanted to flip Hoffman but had to reconsider after the Thomas injury.
    And he wants Schwartz to stay.
    He had to have known not tearing the team apart in anyway would be viewed as an endorsement to the dressing room that he sees a chance for a run, so now it's on the guys.
    I think he made the right call in the Post-Thomas-injury scenario.
    Cards had an absolutely amazing off-season, given the Arenado trade and bringing back Yadi and Waino. I would have liked to see another OF option and possibly Odorizzi brought in but I was really happy with their moves. That being said, I was super bummed that they let Wong go and it's crazy to think what a difference picking up his option would have been for our lineup and outfield production:

    1. Wong
    2. Edman
    3. Goldschmidt
    4. Arenado
    5. Carlson (or 6)
    6. Molina (or 5)
    7. DeJong
    8. RF (or Bader if healthy)
    9. Pitcher
    It doesn't look as great if Wong is on the injured list with an oblique, as he is currently.
    Staying healthy has been one of his problems, unfortunately.
    The Cardinals let him walk because they wanted the money.
    So far, that doesn't look like a terrible call because Wong is hurt.
    But yes, Wong gets the chance to prove they were shortsighted, and if he gets healthy and stays healthy, he might.
    Now that Mo has made a good move in trading virtually nothing for Arenado, everyone wants to worry about the opt out. Welcome to the twitter-fied world. However, it is incredibly rare for a player to exercise their opt out. Very few examples exist. A-Rod. Strasburg. Chapman leveraged his. They get so much air-time but are rarely used. Why? Contracts are given when a player was younger and producing more. It's rare they get better to justify a longer more lucrative contract. Stanton, Heyward, JD Martinez, Price, etc., etc., etc.
    Correct, and well-stated.
    It's very hard to believe Arenado would play to a level this season -- or next -- that would guarantee him more money than he will already be making on the deal the Cardinals took on from the Rockies.
    If there's a what-if fear, and there's been no indication it's worth fearing in reality, it's that Arenado sees a chance to join a team that will get him closer to a championship, even if means taking less money. Or if there is a team that will pay him big and is better positioned to win big, like the Dodgers. That's really the only potentially realistic team to fear, the Dodgers. And it might not be much of a fear at all. But Justin Turner ain't gonna play forever.
    When Shildt first took over the club it seemed like his first order of business was to insert the best players into the line-up and move away from the “our guy” managing. But it seems like over the last two years he has regressed into more of a veteran-friendly style similar to Matheny. Am I wrong about this?
  • Respectfully, yes.
    When he first took over he played the vets, and specifically worked to bring Fowler back on line.
    He's been pretty consistent in that approach. It's where he starts from. He will move away from it, faster than some give him credit for, but his nature is to go with track record until performance forces him to change that plan.
    Thanks for doing this chat! I'm switching it up here a bit from Baseball and Hockey, and bringing in College Basketball. Do you think that Goodwin or French would stay for their extra year? This year was a bit disappointing for SLU hoops considering the hype coming into the season, so would they stick around for another year for another run? I’m excited to see Ford keep going and building the team and roster, but would a move to a bigger conference, like the basketball centered Big East, be a possible move in a few years as the program continues to improve?
    I think both should stay.
    I don't think either is a first-round NBA prospect at the moment, and it's a lot easier to jump from college to the NBA than it is from overseas to the NBA.
    If they're done with the college scene and want to make some money overseas, go for it. That's a good life, too. But if the NBA is their goal, I think another year of college, in a normal season, could help them.
    I haven't been able to see all the games or the statcast type numbers, but are the Cardinals a team that is also hitting into some tough luck? Just seeing how many hard hit balls Goldy has, some of the exit velos of Carp say a few of the hitters should be getting better results than they've shown. I know there's also massive strikeout contributors (Williams, O'Neill, DeJong) to name a few. So I guess my overall question is outside of some outfield performers, are the Cardinals victims of bad luck?

    Thanks! Appreciate the writings!
    Goldschmidt, especially, has been drilling the ball without much to show for it.
    He's also fighting through that back tightness that kept him out of the home opener.
    I'm curious to see how that affects his swings moving forward, because he's not a guy who is going to sit much if at all, and its hard to imagine something that was severe enough to keep him out of the first home game of the season suddenly being better in one day.
    The team's overall batting average on balls in play is at .267 and that's usually up around .290 or .300 for the Cardinals, so a case of some bad luck can be argued, sure.
    If you told me in January that Yadi would be batting clean-up in April I would have been incensed. He had been terrific so far but if he is anything more than a stopgap at #4 than this offense is in big trouble.
    Shouldn't it be about production?
    Right now the Cardinals have a cleanup hitter who has an OPS of .998.
    The MLB average OPS for a cleanup hitter so far this season is .738.
    Is Molina going to keep up this tear?
    History would suggest no, he's not.
    But until he cools off or someone overpowers him, let him ride.
    Hell, even if some of the other parts of the lineup do fire, let him ride.
    I'm a big fan of don't fix what is not broken.
    With the GOP threating to take away the MLB's antitrust immunity I have to ask is that really a bas thing? I'm honestly asking, because I'm not sure if it really does anything for the fans of baseball. I highly doubt anything will come of this.
    If it led to baseball making less money, you can imagine that cost would be passed on to consumers of baseball somehow, someway.
    Minor leaguers should actually root for it, because it would probably result in them getting raises. Also might result in less minor league players, period.
    This is a reaction to the league moving the All-Star game, but some on the left, including Bernie Sanders, have called for this same thing due to different reasons in the past. I doubt it will get much steam because of the topic that has returned the discussion into the mainstream. We'll see.
  • I wasn’t in jeff Gordon’s chat on Friday but I have to imagine it was upbeat and cheerful following arenado’s go ahead home run. Chatters were probably singing Mo’s praises and looking forward to the next 7 years with arenado anchoring the lineup and the hot corner. Today? It’s inevitable that arenado will leave the second the season is over. He clearly has no faith in Mo to build a contender and will bolt for LA. What a difference a few days can make.
    Hey, three days is a LONG time! 
    In fairness to those who are fuming, the Cardinals are on a three-game skid with a 2-4 record against the division in which they have been outscored 46-29 in those six games. Milwaukee didn't even have to use its best relievers against the Redbirds. So, while some of the angst is a bit much, there are very real reasons to be fretting the starting pitching and outfield.
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