STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

    Greetings, chatters. Hope everyone is staying safe in the snow. Plenty to discuss today. Jordan Kyrou defies physics. The Cardinals are back in the international waters. Drink is beginning to stir things his way at Mizzou. Braggin' Rights on Saturday. Let's roll.
    With the state "balking" at MLS construction fees, is this a major concern for the owners?
    A great question that has not yet been addressed by the owners, other than mentioning this was an unpleasant surprise to encounter after so much support was offered by the governor and other key decision-makers at the state level. I think there is a lot of tongue-biting going on at the moment, but if there isn't a reconsideration of yesterday's stance, there will (and should) be some hard feelings between the group and the state. This was not supposed to be a hang-up. It was presented as such.
    What's your take on the state canceling the tax-break vote yesterday? Do you think it was because of the weather ? a misunderstanding or what? Also do you think if SLU goes 11-2 in the Non-Conference and finishes in the Top 4 in the A-10 that they could make the Big Dance?
    Check out Kurt Erickson's piece for the Post-Dispatch. The comments -- and non-comments -- issued do not make it sound like a misunderstanding. This is the state pushing back on a situation that used to be viewed as no big deal. The timing of this stuff matters, considering the plan of having a game-ready stadium by the team's launch in 2022. Here's the link: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/state-balks-on-aid-to-help-kick-off-st-louis/article_35363290-aed8-5fda-8934-7b1e0d6500f0.html
    Is the lefthander Kim an impact player, or is this just a lottery ticket hoping for surplus value?
    Hard to say without seeing how his success translates, and how much he gets paid. During the many question-and-answer sessions with Cardinals decision-makers about their quest for pitching at Winter Meetings, one of the potential roles that could be sought out was described as a starting option (preferably left-handed) who could shift into the bullpen if Carlos Martinez secures his spot in the rotation. Kim seems like that kind of candidate. Between Oh and Mikolas, the Cardinals have enough experience and success to feel good about how Korean Baseball Organization results transfer to MLB.
    The Blues, I think wisely, avoided the Taylor Hall sweepstakes. The names I heard just wouldn't make sense to trade (Dunn, Allen, Thomas). That being said, this team, with Tarasenko out, is missing that guy with the sniper's touch. Perron has filled in admirably, but he's not Tarasenko. Do you think the Blues will try to find someone in the interim? I know you aren't going to get someone like #91, but another player who can fill in on the top 9? Personally, I don't see Sanford there longterm.
  • Blues GM Doug Armstrong saw the need to get in the mix on Hall, so I don't think that need disappears. I imagine he will continue to search and weigh options as the trade deadline nears. Army knows the championship window is open, and he's going to do anything within reason to capitalize on that.
    That said, there's no need to force anything. The trapdoor for the Blues was injuries, and they have overcome a significant stretch of them while maintaining a surge last season. So, the need might be down a bit more than before. Armstrong also isn't going to trade a needed player with a current role in Berube's system to take a risk on someone new. Chemistry and fit matters a lot, especially for this team.
    Remember the approach at the last trade deadline, where Army stood pat, let chemistry continue to build, and looked wise for it.
    I don't want to be too reactionary about last night, but if Kyrou can score more goals like that, the need for a scorer might not be as severe.
  • KROENKE SUCKS! Along with interleague play, pajama pants, DH and Mizzou's fb unis.
    My one wish for Christmas -- besides, you know, winning the lottery, -- is that this chat has opened some eyes to the benefit of adding the DH to the NL. I'll get you next year.
    Do you imagine the Cardinals will eventually get around to retiring #23 with Ted Simmons being enshrined into the HOF next July?
    That certainly helps his case, but it's not a guarantee. The number is open (for now) if Ozuna does not return, but the Cardinals do have some realistic concerns about keeping enough numbers open. Simmons is in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and will be in Cooperstown. Eight of his 21 seasons and two of his eight All-Star appearances came in non-Cardinals uniform. I think it would be a fine honor, and have no issues if it happens, but I don't know that it's a total slam dunk. If it was, it would have happened by now regardless of Hall of Fame status.
    Sometimes the Cards' FO comes across as smug. It seems like they'd rather win the "smartest guys in the room award" by lucking into a WS winner through value signings rather than spending on more certainty and star-caliber players. I understand the Dodgers, Yankees, and Astros are evidence that there is no certainty in the playoffs. But it would be a lot more fun to watch some of their players than the mid-level guys Mo and Girsch often seem to target. Baseball is supposed to be fun to watch, right? And stars are fun to watch, right?
    Baseball executives competing for the "smartest guys in the room" award is not limited to one team.
    It's become most teams.
    Examples include the obsession about "value" and the general acceptance (and celebration) of the tanking trend. Hedge fund management in sports.
    Perhaps in part due to fantasy sports, there are also more fans aligning their opinions with that way of thinking.
    I thought Bryce Harper would be a home-run signing for the Cardinals last season. I heard from a lot of fans who were fretting that he would not live up to the contract. That's something that seems to have changed over the years.
     
     
    I think kyrou should be moved on a line with bozak and thomas. for how good and fast thomas has played he might be the key to unleash the scoring beast that is kyrou.
  • TIB.
    Trust In Berube.
    If there's a better mix, he will find it.
    His line changes and the timing of them have been cash money since he got the interim gig.
    It's really something.
  • BenFred,

    Are you going to be at any Battle Hawks games? What do you think of the fan reception here in STL? Looks like there is a good chunk of support locally.
    I'll be checking them out, for sure.
    Just based on my day-to-day interactions, I've been impressed by the number of folks who say they are going to show up and give it a shot.
    I can't compare to the interest level in other cities, but I do think it's unique in STL because it's the only city without an NFL team, and because of the way the NFL wronged STL.
    There will be folks who support the XFL to spite the league, and while it won't dent the league much, it will help the XFL. I'm good with that.
    Ultimately, if the product is affordable, exciting and competitive, there will be a niche here.
    St. Louis sports fans will support a team that competes and cares about St. Louis. We know that.
     
    I think the Reds are being underestimated for their contention in 2020. It seems they are the only team in the Central to be improving.
    I'm not underestimating them. Don't think many others are either. They should be much more competitive and interesting next season. They also finished 16 games back and lost 10 more division games than they won last season, which is a lot of ground to make up. They will be the sexy, sleeper pick to win the division, especially if they make another significant addition, like Ozuna.
    Here's the latest update to the state backpedaling on the funds the ownership group thought it had locked up for the MLS stadium, from P-D colleague Kurt Erickson https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/missouri-officials-say-million-in-public-money-for-soccer-stadium/article_24a6dca4-f940-52f9-8453-e47291ac4116.html
    Do you think there is a good chance Carlson takes Fowler's spot next year or by the end of the year, and how will he take the demotion if it does indeed come to pass?
    Dylan Carlson could lock up currently unclaimed left field.
    He could take Harrison Bader's spot in center field.
    I would rank both of the possibilities ahead of him replacing Dexter Fowler, based off of the Cardinals' view of Fowler and their commitment to making the best out of his contract.
    The Cardinals are referring to Fowler as a returning starter for now.
    Spring training could  change that, but Carlson has to beat out guys like Lane Thomas and Randy Arozarena to secure a spot, and the Cardinals seem to have those spots ranked in terms of availability. The up-for-grabs ranking reads easier to harder, from left to right across the outfield.
    Fowler is going to have to perform poorly, or multiple outfielders are going to have to force the Cardinals' hand convincingly, for there to be a different right-field starter in 2020.
     
    Please tell me that these 2 Korean players linked to the Cardinals are just a April Fools joke?
    No joke. The Cardinals are international shoppers. With experience and interest in KBO waters. The pitcher you're referencing, Kwang-hyun Kim, will likely be viewed like the Miles Mikolas signing -- if it does indeed go down. The Mikolas addition was mocked at the start. It was celebrated as he had a good first season. It's now being questioned again after a regression in year two, following a big spring-training extension. Might be best to let the KBO guys get two seasons under their belt before an extension, but between Seung Hwan Oh and Mikolas, the Cardinals seem to feel good about how they can read and project KBO results. KBO being the Korean Baseball Organization.
    When Mo says that 2020 is a year that is needed to see how the minor league outfielders develop/play so we can know who to keep and who to trade, I'm confused. Isn't that what time in the minors is supposed to help the club figure out? Doesn't the team employ guys to make those evaluations and decisions so that the superfluous players can be used in trades to fill other needs? It seems like an inefficient use of assets--which seems to be the polar opposite of what the FO has as its goal.
    I share your confusion here, and will describe what I view as politics, to some degree.
    At the end-of-season press conference, the talking point was that the Cardinals needed to create playing time for this crop of young outfielders to help sort out who was part of the picture moving forward, and who needed to be moved on from or moved elsewhere. The explanation was that it would be hard to know who to move on from without this season's competition and the MLB level serving as some sort of litmus test.
    That line changed a bit at Winter Meetings, when the idea of using some of these same RH-hitting outfielders as trade chips was acknowledged. 
    A ranking of the internal options did not happen between now and then.
    It has always been there.
    Sure, the Cardinals have these guys prioritized and they know which ones they are sure they want to keep, and which ones they are OK with letting go.
    In this era, where analytical projections rule everything, I'm not sure words said about players from a front office matter that much in terms of other team's interest, but it's smart to make it sound like every player in the group is really, really good.
    It's also smart if there is a chance next season could turn into a parade of young outfielders trying out on the fly.
    Mo's talking up of the young outfielders has helped protect their trade value (to some degree) and braced the fans for what could become a reality if Ozuna departs and is not replaced with a proven player.
    The Cardinals sound OK with the young guys competing for the open spots.
    They are also vetting different options to see if they can find a better option.
    And they're not saying anything that makes either of those routes look like it was a secondary option if it comes to pass.
     
    Hi, Ben. Happy Holidays. As an out-of-state digital subscriber the Post-Dispatch is my lifeline to St. Louis sports. Thank you and the PD writers for the great coverage and chats. My question concerns Marcel Ozuna. I know he has shortcomings as a hitter and fielder, but the question for the Cardinals should be: What better options do we have for a clean-uo hitter. The answer is, they don't. So, why not offer him a three-year deal at, say, around $50 million, with an opt-out after two seasons, and incentives that could push that to say, $54 million and trigger a fourth year at $19 or $20 million? Your thoughts, please.
    Thanks for subscribing and joining us here, even though I'm jealous of your weather at the moment.
    The Cardinals, without a doubt, do not have a better PROVEN cleanup hitter than Marcell Ozuna.
    What they have are some guys who could be better.
    There's risk there, hoping that Carpenter, Goldschmidt, DeJong and one or a collection of young outfielders emerge to match or exceed what Ozuna provides.
    It's a risk the Cardinals seem willing to take, or are doing a good job of bluffing in an attempt to get Ozuna on a more team-friendly deal than he currently seeks. (He is still unsigned as of today, so that's a possibility I guess.)
    Ozuna on a multiple-year deal is a risk because of what we watched the past two seasons in St. Louis. He's a streaky hitter who can be the cornerstone of the lineup, or a mess at the plate. His defense is scary at times. His quirks -- showing up to spring training out of shape entering a contract season, oversleeping a game, resisting treatment for the shoulder at times and not adhering to the offseason requests of being more in touch with the team -- are the kind of things that make a team press pause about the idea of a long-term deal. Especially considering his production. During his time as a Cardinal, Ozuna's .772 OPS ranked 57th among hitters who had 150+ plate appearances at cleanup.
    It's easy to see why the Cardinals are OK with moving on.
    It's more than fair to question their confidence that hole can be filled from within.
     
     
  • Late season, so many cards fans were upset that Thomas and arozarena didn’t get more chances to play. And now that they may be relied upon this coming season, so many cards fans are upset that the front office isn’t very active. Can’t have it both ways.
    Fair point, but it's also then fair to ask this: If a combination of the young outfielders are the answer for 2020, then why weren't they a bigger picture of 2019? Dylan Carlson didn't crack the majors last season. Randy Arozarena and Lane Thomas played fewer outfield innings than utility men Yairo Munoz and Tommy Edman. Yes, Thomas got hurt, but he wasn't starting regularly when he did. And yes, another offseason of development is nothing to dismiss. Ideally, though, players who are going to be really counted on in an upcoming season have had more experience at the highest level than Arozarena, Thomas and Carlson's limited exposure.
    I guess the Cards way of thinking is that since the Cubs and Brewers seem to be taking steps backwards, there is no need to do anything this season as they will win the division by default. 85 wins will probably win the division in 2020.
    I want to see what the Brewers do with all of that open roster space, but I'll admit it's hard to see them being a better team considering what they have let walk. Cincinnati should be better but I would swap a more competitive Cincinnati team for a heavyweight Cubs team any day.
     
    As the division seemed to reach the high-water mark of competitiveness, the Cardinals mostly stuck to their guns. They were more aggressive in free agency, but some of those significant moves didn't work out as they hoped, in part because they were aggressive enough to get to the upper middle tier of free agency without splurging for the elite. That's where the ultimate risk seems to be these days, on high-priced non-elite free agents. It seems you are better off splurging or bargain-hunting, not getting caught in between. The Cardinals are not going to splurge on the Stasburgs, Rendons and Coles of the world -- not without a pretty drastic opinion change of the ownership. Especially not coming off of a first-place finish that ended in the NLCS. The Cardinals are sticking to their sustained success model, and the division seems to be trending back in the Cardinals' direction.
    Does this year's rather bullish free agency market favoring the players getting both at least fairly good AAV's and extended terms all but eliminate the Cardinals as willful participants for what useful pieces still remain available?
    It seems to have encouraged them to act instead of sit back and wait when it comes to their pursuit of starting pitching. The previous two offseasons would have been ideal for the Cardinals to slow-play the decision about if insurance is needed for Carlos Martinez and his quest to return to the rotation. This offseason, the brisk pace raised the concern of being in need without a good answer available. That surely has affected the Cardinals' interest and pursuit of the Korean pitcher Kim, who had others interested as well. Rick Hummel has an update here: https://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/updated-cardinals-try-to-finalize-deal-with-veteran-korean-lefthander/article_19257c31-a60e-5d53-b52a-2a4ce475acde.html
    Now that Odom landed a coordinator job and not a head coach is Ryan Walters more likely to stay on coach drink’s staff? Or do you think drink wants to go in a different direction with the defense?
    There was a Football Scoop report that Ryan Walters is going to be retained, but there has been no official confirmation of that, which is somewhat interesting.
    Walters has been out on the recruiting trail for Mizzou. That seems to suggest he will be back at least in some capacity. I doubt he would love a demotion, but if he has no better options, you take what you get.
    Drinkwitz is his own offensive coordinator, which eliminates one position he has to spend on, and he has a bigger salary pool available than Odom ever did, so you would think the offensive-minded head coach would want to nail his defensive coordinator hire, above all.
    With the Blues 3rd overall in the league only behind Boston and Washington, it doesn't appear the absence of Tarasenko is making much of an impact. Is this just a coincidence or is the team playing above it's head therefore expecting a letdown before the season ends?
    I guess I look at it a big differently.
    It's hard for me to shrug off the absence of one of the best goal scorers out there.
    Instead I wonder how dominant this team could be if Tarasenko was healthy.
    Perhaps Berube's biggest strength as a coach is the adoption of his belief that the system is bigger than every player, even the best players. 
    One injury -- or even a bunch of them -- can't derail the train if every guy does his job and does it well.
    This team believes it, plays like it, and the results support it.
    Still, it's a lot harder when you take away a skill set as rare as Tarasenko's when he's at his best.
    There's a reason the Blues are eyeing scoring options as the trade deadline nears.
    I don't think the bottom is going to drop out without Tarasenko.
    I think the ceiling is lower, though.
     
    What lesson did the Cardinals take from passing/missing on Scherzer? Your discussion near the end of the BPIB would argue that the big money deals for the cream of the crop FAs (Scherzer, Cole, etc.) would be worth it but the Cardinals, maybe rightfully, showed no interest in wading into the Cole waters. Are the Cardinals only willing to pursue top tier FAs with STL ties? Even then maybe not?
    Whatever lesson they learned with Scherzer is trumped by the lesson they learned with Pujols. The Cardinals are glad today that they did not stretch to beat the Angels' offer for Albert, even though they will never admit it publicly. In that example, the Cardinals drew a line at what they believed to be reasonable, and did not stretch beyond it. Time rewarded that decision. The Cardinals knew every inch of Pujols. They didn't have questions about who he was or what he was about. Their fans loved him. Despite those factors, they stood their ground against a contract they did not feel comfortable with. If that was the case with Pujols, and all of the good will he had created with the Cardinals, good will we know matters to the team and ownership as evidenced by extensions to guys like Carpenter and Molina, then why would we expect the Cardinals to step outside of that same thinking when competing to add an elite free agent who will only be secured by an uncomfortable contract, especially when that elite free agent has no relationship or ties to the Cardinals? The Cardinals' stance is that the biggest, longest contracts required to snag the game's brightest stars on the open free-agent market do not comply with their sustained-success model. I don't see  that changing. They will continue to try to draft, develop and keep their stars. They will continue to work trades and free agency. But I don't see them, under this model, ever landing an all-out bidding war for an elite free agent.
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