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 braced for the . . . snow? Gotta love our weather. The Cards feasted last night. The Blues have to get up off the mat again. Stan Kroenke is one of the greedy rich owners ruining soccer overseas. Plenty to discuss. Let's ride.
    How do you think it’s the next impact player from the minor leagues?. I mean the next possible star or superstar?
    Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore would be my bets at this time.
    Yadier Molina has implored us not to sleep on Ivan Herrera, so I will mention him as well.
    Yadi doesn't give out his endorsement to prospects without them earning it. He sees something in the rising catcher.
    Thank you for your article on Kroenke and European Football. What he and the others are doing is nothing but a money grab. And - as you pointed out - its basically crapping on a sport and fan bases that are deeply entrenched in the fabric of the people. As a Tottenham fan (and yes - our year has already been difficult enough) - this is equivalent to many steel-toed boot kicks to the nether regions. And I'm 'shocked' that Kroenke and the Glazers are driving this bus.
    I sensed your sarcasm there at the end. Nicely done. Just before the chat started I watched I clip of Late Late Show host James Corden breaking this down. He's a big soccer fan, and he nailed it, with passion. One of his big points about how disgraceful it is had to do with the fact the breakaway owners are blaming the pandemic, the very thing that makes the authentic version of soccer so therapeutic to so many. I was trying to think of a good analogy for American sports that would resonate with folks who don't follow soccer. And I don't pretend to be a soccer expert myself, or anything close to one. But it's kind of like if the Power 5 college teams decided they were going to break out of the NCAA to start their own tournament, where every Power 5 team was guaranteed to get it -- and five spots were left open for non Power 5 teams. It's apples and oranges with college sports and pros, but you can see how that would ruin the NCAA Tournament and the magic of Cinderella teams. I hope it gets stopped but I imagine it's headed for big lawsuits and many headaches.
    I think people just have Matt Carpenter fatigue. His stubborn hitting approach, combined with the rapidly declining production over the past few seasons, as well as the Manager/FO making excuses for him has just worn everyone out.

    The only other player with this level of fan fatigue that I can think of in my lifetime is Todd Zeile. That was different because was in the prime of his career and while a good player, never became the next great player everyone expected. And he appeared soft and disinterested at times.

    Thoughts?
    Every year, it seems, there is one Cardinals player fans decide is the worst player of all time and never let up about it.
    The role of the player or the performance of the team around the player doesn't seem to matter much.
    It can be a key player, like a Dexter Fowler or Adam Wainwright.
    Or it can be fading reliever, like Brett Cecil.
    This year it's Matt Carpenter, clearly.
    And maybe there are reasons for that beyond his struggles at the plate, which started adding up as soon as his hot streak cooled in September of 2018.
    He strikes out a lot. He hits into the shift a lot. His approach at the plate -- grinding at-bats -- is not exactly an aesthetically pleasing one. Plus he got the big contract extension and has not performed well after that -- something that tends to make people mad.
    I think it's a combination of all of those things, but the fact remains what we've talked about here many times before. He's going to get opportunities unless there is a clearly better option, and right now none have presented themselves.
    Ben,

    What would be your optimized lineup for the Cardinals. I think Goldy needs more RBI opps and the two hole just doesn't yield that. Your thoughts?
    I've always liked the idea of Carlson at No. 2 so Goldschmidt and Arenado could hit No. 3 and No. 4. Shildt likes getting the 1-2 punch of Goldschmidt and Arenado in the same inning. The good news is Carlson is finally climbing the order. That's overdue.
  • Which trend prevails tonight: Cardinals starving at the plate after feasting last night, or the Cardinals' crushing of LHP?
    Great question. My guess? The offense goes big against Corbin and then gets shut down by Scherzer in the series finale.
    I appreciated Shildt's candor in his explanation for why Carlson had been batting so low in the lineup (to lengthen the lineup and to take some of the pressure off him and not make him feel like he has to carry the lineup). I don't agree with it, but it's at least an honest explanation. To me (in my 0 career MLB at-bats) there'd be less pressure batting in front of Goldschmidt and Arenado knowing those guys can pick-up any of my slack. Not to mention the more concrete benefits of seeing more good pitches to hit and getting people on base for Goldy/Arenado to knock in.
    There's a natural fit for Carlson at No. 2.
    I would not be surprised if he winds up there before it's all said and done.
    Last August Carpenter hit a grand slam at Wrigley and that was a cool moment. He went on to go 4-for-35 for the rest of the month. In September he had a HR and 4 hits in two games vs Cincy, also some nice moments in a season of struggles. He went on to go 4-for-38 the rest of that month. He was 1-for-14 with 5 Ks before his HR vs Washington, his first 2021 moment, but has since gone 1-for-16 with 7 Ks. Yes, if given enough at-bats he will eventually get a hit but there is a clear pattern. Mo and Shildt are stuck somewhere between delusion and denial if they honestly believe that there is a bountiful harvest coming. This is year 3 of his struggles, not some 2021 slump.
    I suppose that depends on the exact definition of the harvest.
    An MVP-like surge again? Probably not.
    A contributing role on the team? Could happen, but it's not guaranteed.
    Carpenter has totaled exactly 700 plate appearances since the start of the 2019 season.
    He's one of 139 major leaguers with at least that many plate appearances during that span.
    Carpenter's on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .688 ranks 135th on that list. 
    Not good.
    He's one spot behind Rougned Odor (.692) who was recently released by the Rangers and picked up by the Yankees.
    He's barely ahead of Brandon Crawford (.684), who might actually be a decent comparison to Carpenter as a lifelong Giant who is 34 and not having much success at the plate.
    Odor is now a bench bat for the Yankees. Crawford hits eighth, usually, for the Giants. That's a role Carpenter could have for the Cardinals. The idea of him hitting in a prime lineup spot was silly from the start and never should have happened. I think it only made the fan angst worse.
    Hi, Ben. Thanks for the chat. I know it's still early in the season and a small sample size, but the Cardinals have to be at least mildly concerned about Lane Thomas' demotion. The guy just hasn't seemed to take advantage of his opportunities, and they can not attribute this one to the leftover fog of coronavirus. He just seems a half-step slow and a fraction of a second behind the speed of the major leagues, thus far. Getting sent down in favor of Scott Hurst cannot be a good career development. I hope Thomas gets it figured out. Am I being too harsh on him?
    Thomas should be concerned about it. The Cardinals seem pretty serious about dedicating this season to figuring out who can and can't factor into their outfield, and every time there has been an opportunity for Thomas to claim more, he has taken a step in the wrong direction. He started spring hot, then cooled when Tyler O'Neill started cooking. He did not grab the opportunity when Harrison Bader was hurt at spring, allowing Justin Williams to move forward. After O'Neill got hurt, he had a really rough arrival after his promotion from the taxi squad and now it's Hurst getting the opportunity that Thomas could have used. No, I don' think you are being too harsh. It's been a series of disappointing developments for Thomas.
  • BenFred is it possible through no fault of his own that John Nogowskis’ spot on the roster could be in jeopardy? Goldschmidt takes days off about as often as Yadi and the Cardinals are already carrying one outfielder (Dean) who is a defensive liability. How can Nogo stay sharp with one pinch hit per game? Obviously he would make an ideal DH but that is next year. I look forward to your comment. Thanks
    The Cardinals must not be convinced he can handle the outfield, or we would have watched him out there by now, considering the outfield's instability.
    I think they like him for that role you mentioned -- a pinch-hit per game.
    He's 28 and is not the kind of player who needs to be protecting his future by playing every day in the minors. This is his shot.
    The bench spot that really seems to be lacking decent use is Edmundo Sosa's. He has only five at-bats in 16 games, has started only once and has a total of 10.2 innings played. The Cardinals seem reluctant to let him hit. Makes me wonder if Jose Rondon might be a more-used bat who could also play shortstop if needed.
    All of the sudden Justin Williams is hitting .363 with 6 RBIs in the last 8 games. Is patience paying off?
    With a .462 on-base percentage and a .636 slugging percentage to boot. He's got some moments that remind you he is raw, especially on defense. But that swing makes loud contact. I told you all about it at spring training. Encouraging signs, for sure.
    BenFred,

    Justin Williams looks like he can play. Solid defense and his bat is heating up. So if there is a productive Williams and Carlson in the lineup, do you think the Cardinals still add an OF bat at the deadline? (long way off, I know)
    Predicting the Cardinals' trade deadline moves in April is a good way for me to look silly.
    Williams is showing some positive signs over the past week's worth of games or so, but let's see how he builds on it.
    Bader and O'Neill will return to the picture at some point, too.
    Part of the reason the outfield numbers are looking better is because Edman is spending a lot more time out there.
    As long as Carpenter is struggling to provide league-average offensive performance, that means a less impactful setup than Edman at second and a bopper in the corner outfield.
    whelp, the Ted Lasso show doesn't have the same appeal in the super league huh? Kroenke's greed strikes again.
    Ted Lasso taking down the Super League would make for a great season, though.
    Feast or famine. We all know what today should bring. Right?
  • Not so sure. Cardinals have been tough on lefties like Corbin often this season.
    Ben Fred, season is 10% in the books and the local nine is who I thought they were

    Very inconsistent offense and a rotation struggling for length, the WHIP and ERA numbers are hideous so they need to right that ship fast or the bully will implode from overuse

    Not sure Kim and Mikolas can save the day due to their injury concerns, any chance Liberatore or Thompson come up sooner than later

    It’s basically Jack and hold your breath the other 4 days right now

    Thanks for the lively chats!
    I wouldn't make any big-picture conclusions just yet, but we can certainly agree the starting pitching is going to have to improve either from within (Johan Oviedo, for example) or the outside for this season to go somewhere special. The Cardinals' rotation through 16 games ranks second-to-last in the majors in both ERA (5.97) and quality starts (two, both by Flaherty). The offense, while inconsistent, has had more big games than the Cardinals starters have had decent starts.
    Ben, it seems like we do this every year. But, is it crazy to see Mizzou football at 6-0 heading into the Oct. 18 home game vs. Texas A&M?
    I don't think I'm allowed to agree with you after suggesting they could start the 2019 season with a record of 8-0. I've banned myself from repeating that mistake!
    The ESPN projections think the Tigers are a top-30-ish team and the third-best team in the SEC East after Florida and Georgia.
    Nothing indicates Georgia won't be a force this year.
    I do think Florida could be weaker than some expect. The Gators lost a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, including star QB.
    Missouri's first half of the season is where the hay should be made, but the Tigers have to beat Kentucky in week two to start with a bang, and while Drinkwitz snapped the Big Blue losing streak last season, penciling in a win against Stoops is a bad idea for Mizzou.
    Should politicians throw out the first pitch, etc., at sporting events? They already get tons of free publicity.
    I read something brilliant on the hell site that is Twitter the other day. Someone pointed out that keeping politics out of sports is really code for keeping politics someone doesn't agree with out of sports. I think that's true, and I wish I would have worded it so succinctly myself.
    We have seen the Cardinals struggle this year offensively the day after putting up a bunch of runs. Two shutouts in a row after scoring 7+ runs. It's a trend that we have seen since last season. Do you think the Cardinals will struggle today offensively after scoring 12 last night? And do you think there is a reason for this trend?
    Could be but I'm hesitant to assume it happens again today because the Cards have been pretty good against lefties so far this season, and Corbin is one.
    I don't think the guys are kicking up their feet after a big game and thinking they've made it or anything, I think you are just going to get boom and bust sometimes when you have so many inconsistent parts of your offense that are searching all at once.
    DeJong is searching; maybe he broke out last night?
    Goldschmidt had been struggling, especially against righies.
    Carpenter, well, we've covered that.
    And the outfield is very hard to predict right now.
    Power potential is there. We've seen it. Sustainability is a different story, so we have observed the swings.
    Can I point out one good thing about the offense?
    We all wanted more power, right?
    There are some signs of it.
    Last season the Cardinals scored six or more runs 16 times in 58 games. That's 28 percent.
    So far this season they have scored six or more runs six times in 16 games. That's 38 percent.
  • Shildt is playing matchups and that’s understandable. But do you think it could be detrimental at times. The cards scored nine runs on Saturday and then he changed the lineup on Sunday and they got shut out. Obviously Nola was great but it’s just an example. When the lineup finds a groove one game wouldn’t it be a good idea to put those same guys back out there the next day
    Right now the lineup is constructed as guys who play every day, and guys who get opportunities based on a blend of matchups and performance. Keeping the key cogs in spots where they are comfortable makes sense, but I don't think you want him to start ignoring matchups when the next day's starter switches from right-handed to left-handed and hope for the same results in a different scenario. The defending champion Dodgers change their lineup significantly based on the matchups. It doesn't slow them down.
    Justin Williams seems to be getting more comfortable. Do you think he’ll keep getting starts when O’Neill/Bader get back & what’s his ceiling?
    A lot has changed in the chat. A couple weeks ago Williams was chopped liver. Let's see how things play out a bit more. I don't know about you all, but I don't want to see Williams start riding the pine when Bader and O'Neill come back. Williams has shown he can play either corner outfield spot. Carlson is flexible as well. Carlson isn't going anywhere. He's trending up in the order as he should be. If the bottom drops out on Williams, this conversation could change. But if he keeps this up he's looking like the guy who took advantage of the opportunity and changed the opportunity for Bader and O'Neill. Especially O'Neill. Bader in center against lefties especially still makes a lot of sense.
    Do you see teams walking Carlson more in the future like they did last night to take their chance with who bats behind him or do they play it by plate appearance.
    Paul DeJong following up that intentional walk with a grand slam should be enough to make teams think twice about it. DeJong isn't consistent, but half of hits 10 hits are home runs. A solo home run, you can live with. A home run after an intentional walk hurts bad.
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