STL sports chat Ben Frederickson

STL sports chat Ben Frederickson

Bring your Cardinals, Blues and St. Louis sports questions, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

    Greetings, chatters. I'm posted up at a cool DC coffee and bakery started by two brothers who spent a chunk of their lives in STL. It's called The Wyndown. Check it out of you're ever in town. Great vibes. Great coffee, too. And treats. Sweet. Sweeter than the Cardinals' play in the NLCS. I'll be here for a few hours to talk all things Cardinals, Blues, Mizzou, whatever is on your mind. Let's roll.
    What amount of optimism can a Cards fan have this morning?
    Depends on the kind of optimism you're looking for. Optimism that the Cardinals can win this series now that they're down 0-3? Little to none. Never say never, but it's hard to imagine these guys becoming the 2004 Red Sox. The Nationals have a team-of-destiny vibe going, and the Cardinals on Monday night had the vibe of a team that knows it's done. We'll see if they shook that sense overnight, but sometimes you just know, and they looked like they knew this was coming to an end.
    Great article today, spot on. While winning the division and making it to the NLCS is certainly a success, do you think the FO also views this as a missed opportunity given the way the offense has under performed all season, and especially now?
    I can't imagine anyone, especially president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, who has committed to and doubled down on hitting coach Jeff Albert, is thrilled with how the lineup has dried up and turned into dust against really good Nationals pitching. The Cardinals' game plan seemed to be to wait for the Nationals to start throwing fastballs over the fat part of the plate. Well, good pitchers don't do that. Sanchez killed them with the slow stuff. Scherzer gassed it up but painted corners. Strasburg cut through them with the changeup. Good pitchers don't give good pitches to hit. They get you out on strikes that are hard to hit. The Cardinals are getting drowned by strikes -- good ones. The walks are not there. The hits are not there, either.
     
    But, big picture. The Cardinals front office will consider this season a success. They said they wanted to win the division and end the postseason drought. They did more than that. They are one of baseball's Final Four teams. The way in which they are getting ran out of the tournament will be a bitter taste, but it won't overshadow all of the good.
     
    What is perhaps most interesting to me is the disconnect between the fans and this team. There was an excitement and intensity at Nationals Park last night that has not been witnessed at Busch Stadium once this postseason, regardless of the start time.
     
    Those who questioned this team's postseason credentials can now cite this NLCS flameout as proof. However, the Cards did get this far. But the relationship between a significant section of the fan base and the team is an interesting one to me. I see good points on both sides, to be honest. 
    Hi, Ben. thanks for the chat. I have advocated for signing Ozuna to a Muti-year contract -- until last night. While his gaffes and his inconsistent play are unsettling, his unwillingness last night to own up to his mistakes, and brushing off the media is the last straw. That's unacceptable, especially for a veteran. I remember when Kolten Wong got picked off first base to end a World Series game, he stayed and answered all the media's questions -- and he was just a young player then. If you talk with the media after your good moments, you should do the same after your mistakes. To do otherwise, I believe, shows a lack of character. The Cardinals don't need to waste tens of millions of dollars on that type of player and person. Your thoughts, please. Also, how would you fix the Cardinals offense this off-season? Thanks.
    Marcell has been riding a teeter-totter between "Extend him!" and "Let him walk!" for some time now. 
    But remember that it's been a fan-driven discussion, not one the front office has engaged in.
    I've said all long it's best to imagine the Cardinals turning the Ozuna page until we see signs from Mo and Co. there is reason to believe otherwise.
    Still no signs.
    As far as his handling of last night's post-game interview request, I didn't see how it went down, as I was manning the Mike Shildt media availability while my colleagues went into the clubhouse, but I know that Benjamin Hochman asked to speak to Marcell and that interview was not granted by the player.
    When you write about a player after a game like Monday's, it's right to make an attempt to speak to the player.
    That attempt was made.
    Ozuna didn't want to talk.
    So, it's right  to let readers who might wonder -- well, what did the guy have to say? -- know that an attempt was made.
    My opinion: It's not a good look for Ozuna. I also don't think he really cares. He's declined interview requests before and likely will again. Not always. Just depends. When he's not playing or hitting well, he's less likely to talk.
    I know most fans don't much care about the sausage-making of interviews, but you asked, so that's my experience with him.
     
    Sorry, I realized I only answered half of that question.
    And skipped the hard part.
    Crazy thing is, it's not crazy to think the Cardinals could (and should) have a whole new outfield next season.
    Fowler had a better season than last season, but he's really wilted down the stretch. He's a big part of the reason this lineup has gone nowhere in this series. The he-goes, we-go leadoff man is going back to the dugout too many times, on too few pitches.
    Ozuna, we discussed earlier.
    Bader? The offense he needed to show this season hasn't come through. The Cardinals love his defense and love that he's a fan favorite, but it's the big leagues, and you've gotta hit at some point.
    Here's a guy who should be around: Jose Martinez.
    He was about the only hitter last night who didn't give an inch as the game went sideways.
    Based on this series and the season, would love to see Fowler and Osuna gone. Next year go with Carlson, Thomas, Bader, and Arozarena battling for positions in the outfield. I would much rather see young hungry players improving than tired, old, has been's playing! I thnk they would be much more exciting to watch! I also would love to see Carpenter gone as well. Get rid of this dead weight, contracts be damned! Frankly I would like to see Wainwright and Yadi retire together as well! Time to turn the Page!
    Why does Bader escape the scrutiny?
    He's hit so poorly the Cardinals turned back to Carpenter, played Edman in the outfield more and even turned back to Jose Martinez?
    The young center fielder should not get a pass.
    His offensive struggles failed to stop the center-field carousel the team has tried to stop since Jon Jay departed.
    If we are going to hand out accountability all day, let's make sure it's handed out fairly.
    You're right about the Fowler and Carpenter contracts. They look bad right now. Carpenter's worse than Fowler's. I think Fowler would be easier to move, but he has a full no-trade clause. Carpenter would likely need to go to an AL team that had a need at third base and could toggle him between third and DH -- if they could revive his swing. That's a lot of if, and I doubt any team would be interested if there was not a significant cost reduction on behalf of the Cardinals.
    I'm really interested in what the Cardinals do at third base moving forward.
    Everyone will scream for Anthony Rendon but I'm taking a believe-it-when-you-see-it stance on the Cardinals and top free agents.
    Moustakas, Turner, Donaldson could be on the market depending on extensions and options. It's not a bad year for a temporary, productive third baseman -- depending on  what shakes out with some of those names.
     
    Ben, It was told to me a couple months ago that "there is no such thing as a bad 1 year deal". After Ozuna changed his agent group to the same as Yadi I had concern that if the Cards gave him a QO he may take it. The possible bad is IMO that the team ties up 18 mil that could find a better fit. This is a season long OP not from last nights drop. Am I wrong?
    Don't get caught in the moment of last night.
    And remember what Ozuna did in this last series against the Braves.
    Ozuna leads this team in postseason hits and RBIs.
    He had a lousy September, but was still one of the best hitters on the team.
    If Ozuna is willing to take a QO -- and I don't think he would be based off his age and the current state of free agency that says you better take your best shot at it when you are at the youngest age -- then that's a good deal for the Cardinals.
     
    There is something wrong with a team that is this maddeningly inconsistent offensively. I dont know if it's the hitting coach, or the team culture, or ... what?
    Yeah, that's a part of the fan frustration, for sure.
    The other thing is the offense's inability to adjust in games.
    The Cardinals have more shutouts and one-run and shutout games than any other Final Four team.
    If the lights are off early for the lineup, it's game over -- compared to other postseason-caliber teams.
    Also the nature of some of the key players' struggles are not pleasant to watch.
    Matt Carpenter's at-bats have become especially brutal, for example.
    I can't wait for the Jeff Albert hitting philosophy takes full effect next season and we can finally embrace the "If I never make contact then I can never be robbed of a hit" mindset. Maybe they can even eliminate those pesky foul balls that tend to make games last longer.
    Albert is going to be one of the biggest stories off the offseason, whether it starts tonight, tomorrow, or later.
    Even if the Cardinals did fire up and make history, it's a big story.
    The Cardinals have picked his approach, fired those who got in the way, and made it clear this is a long-term commitment..
    The postseason debut has been . . . largely unimpressive except for one big NLDS Game 5.
    Ben, The teams offense has had some low spots during the season. I do not think that they are as bad as the last 3 games and playoff baseball does employ better pitching. What do you think needs to be adjusted or tried for tonight's game?
    Playoff games employ better pitching and also better scouting and game planning.
    There are no easy pitches, no weaknesses ignored.
    Those pitchers that used to groove fastballs are not on postseason rosters, and the inning-eaters that helped numbers get padded in the past are not pitching.
    This is big-boy hitting, and the Cardinals are not well equipped for it it seems.
    Now, the Nationals are good. That's a big part of this. This rotation is a fire-breathing group that has everything working. The Nats starters are feeding off each other. But yeah, the Cardinals are going down way too easy.
    As for the adjustments, I don't know, man.
    Starting Randy Arozarena or Yairo Munoz is not going to change the fact that the top of the order is melting.
    Sit Fowler for Bader if you want. Fowler looks gassed. His three-pitch K to start the game Monday felt like a big, bad moment.
    I'm not sure there's anything that can be done at this point.
    Hope Corbin is off.
    But that seems hard to expect, considering this entire city is ready to celebrate its first World Series appearance.
     
    After watching the Cardinals through 2 rounds of the MLB playoffs, what do you think is the most glaring need for them this off-season? Is it starting pitching, or is it another hitter or two? I'm thinking Cole and Rendon should be the Cardinals top priorities.
    I don't know why we should expect the Cardinals to finish first in a race for the top free agents who will be pursued by many. That doesn't happen. The question marks, and they are big ones, are third base, outfield and rotation. In that order, probably. What the Cardinals do with Carpenter, and to some degree Fowler, will shape a lot of the discussion. There are appealing free-agent starters out there in this upcoming class.
    I'm sure a lot of people today are going to be bashing Ozuna.... So lets get it started.
    Started? It started last night. I'll just point out that he's leading or tied for the team lead in postseason hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs.
    He should have caught that Rendon "double"
    His baserunning blunder was really bad.
    He's not the only reason the Cardinals are going quietly into the night.
    Trying to look at this through a positive lens, the starting pitching has been great, which includes Mikolas. Things looking up for '20 rotation. On the flip-side, the offensive collapse just reinforces that there are not enough reliable bats in this line-up. And while adding Carlson is exciting, recycling the Fowler/Carpenter/Bader narrative won't play with fans, especially if Ozuna departs. Pay Ozuna or pay someone else, your call, Mo.
    Why not go after whichever outfielder the Red Sox decide does not align with their decreasing payroll?
    It's not Ozuna for Carlson, and nothing else.
    At least it doesn't have to be.
    I do agree that letting Ozuna go and swapping in Carlson leaves a lot of proven production to be desired.
    Long is the list of upcoming Cardinals outfielders who have under-performed.
    Tyler O'Neill is the latest on it.
    It's a lot of pressure on Carlson, who has never played in the majors, to force him forward as The Answer.
    What do you expect the lineup to be tonight? Can the Fowler era be over after this year? Please? I like the guy, he seems like a good teammate I just think he's at best a below average player. I can't take 2 more years of him starting, let alone leading off acting like he's an integral part of the lineup. I had a nats fan in DC texting me last night asking why Fowler just jogs after everything.
    Sorry, had to take a phone call here.
    Back at it.
     
    I don't have a clue about the lineup.
    Had a good sense of the Martinez reintroduction before Game 3, but not sure what to expect tonight.
    Shildt got crushed when he went with the Bench Mafia game in Arizona -- even though it scored a bunch of runs in a loss that hinged on disappointing pitching.
    If I had to guess, and it's just a guess, he sticks with Jose Martinez and maybe starts Harrison Bader or Randy Arozarena for Fowler?
    But I would not be surprised if he goes with Fowler again, and wins or goes down with the same lineup from last night.
    Does it really matter at this point?
    It's not one guy not hitting that has led the Cardinals here.
    One guy isn't going to fix it.
     
     
     
    Derrick Goold mentioned in his chat yesterday that if Ozuna leaves that Matt Carpenter could be an option to play left field next year and I guess try to redeem himself which I think is ludicrous. Also, I was watching a game in July with the D’Backs in town on the Arizona tv feed and Bob Brenley made the comment during a Carpenter at bat that Carpenter looks like he left the on deck circle and stepped in the batters box with the lead doughnut still on his bat which is another way of saying slow bat.
    What is more unrealistic -- the idea of the Cardinals giving Carpenter a bounce-back attempt like they did with Dexter Fowler, or the idea of the Cardinals eating all of or a significant amount of the (at minimum) $70 million dollars owed to both Carpenter and Fowler? The Cardinals' history tells us they hate eating money like that, and look hard and long for ways to get some of the investment back.
    When there are 2 strikes, the Nats are employing a completed voided left side shift to virtually every left handed hitter in our lineup. I understand not wanting to bunt it foul...but even if we did bunt it foul a couple of times, I think we'd get a hit a huge percentage of the time...and then they'd think twice about shifting again so it'd open the right side back up. Why won't we even try it? Even if they make an out, it's no different than what they are doing anyway? A strikeout is a strikeout whether it's called, swung at, or bunted foul.
    Hard to disagree here.
    I think one important sign of the Cardinals falling apart was last night, when Kolten Wong, a great bunter, hit into one of these shifts, the type he beat this season by showing an ability to be an all-fields hitter and bunter.
     
    Do you expect Cardinals to make a run at Rendon or Cole? What do you think the Cardinals see as their most pressing need? Is it still a starter like they tried to acquire at the deadline or are they finally seeing that this offense is in desperate need of help -- and in need of more who can hit a pitch other than a fastball?
    A run, maybe. A first-place finish? I don't know why we should expect that. We will get a clearer sense of how the Cardinals view their roster moving forward when they do their end-of-season sitdown with John Mozeliak. Those questions are not going to be answered until the season is over.
    What do you think of Jordan Ta'amu, the new QB1 of the St. Louis Battlehawks?
    He was pretty good at Ole Miss. 30 TDs to 12 interceptions in two seasons there (17 and 18). 64.5 percent completion percentage. He also ran for 10 TDs and broke some big ones. And I love that they drafted Mizzou football alums L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas. That's some of the local flavor this team needs to draw attention.
    This team getting to the NLCS shows how weak the NL was this year. They won a bad division and beat an overrated Braves team thanks to a fluke 1st inning.
    Rip them for how they have disappeared in this series, but claiming reaching the NLCS is a "fluke" seems pretty outlandish to me.
    The team that made the necessary moves at the Trade Deadline to improve their club is going to win this series. Weird.
    Sure. And the team that made a great trade deadline addition at the deadline (Cubs adding Castellanos) did not make the postseason. It can go both ways. I do think the Cardinals' reversal at the trade deadline did affect the fans' distrust and to some degree disinterest (compared to postseason teams of the past) in the team.
    My opinion is that a can of corn fly ball that a fielder gets a glove on,has to be caught or given an error,not a double.And that wild pitch charged to Flaherty should have been a passed ball.Agree or disagree?
  • It wasn't a can of corn. But it did have a 75 percent catch rate per Statcast and an expected batting average of 100-something. Ozuna should have caught that ball, and I think it should have been an error, considering it hit him square in the webbing of his glove. And yes, I thought it was a passed ball on Molina. I wondered if he was shaken up by the Rendon foul tip that hit off his mask not long before it. We've seen him make that jab instead of a block before, but rarely with runners on base, and never in big moments like that. It really stood out, as I mentioned in today's column.
    Do you feel that the negativity surrounding the Cardinals the last few years is deserved, or is it a sign of a fickle, spoiled fan base? I mean, this year, you would have thought they were the worst team in history listening to the fans, and yet they are in the NLCS, at least for one more game.
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