STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

STL sports chat with 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. Monday.

    I thought Illinois would win and predicted that would be the case.
    Shows what I know.
    Cuonzo gets his guys up for Braggin' Rights.
    They need to bring that kind of energy to every conference game.
    I do think they have successfully rebounded from the rock bottom of the three-game losing streak that ended with Charleston Southern.
    Some were ready to throw the season away then, and I advised against it. 
    A terrible loss does not a terrible season make, especially this year in college hoops, which is one of the strangest we've seen in some time.
    The SEC is not as good as it has been in the past. Kentucky is hot and cold. Tennessee is without stud guard Lamonte Turner. Mizzou can do damage if the version that showed up in St. Louis shows up during league play.
    Gotta defend.
    Gotta hit some threes.
    Need the depth, a strength of the team, to be an advantage every night.
    And the Tigers have to overcome Jermiah Tilmon's ups and downs, not be anchored to them.
    Love to see all the people at the open practices. The excitement and buzz over the Blues is great. Popular owner, popular players. The opposite of the boring Cardinals
    Interesting twist on what I thought was going to be a Kroenke dig.
    Those boring Cardinals made the NLCS last season.
    I think?
     
    You've basically dodged the Arenado trade questions with the "they say they're not looking" schtick. So are you saying that even if the opportunity to get him presented itself, they'd balk? Adding him to our lineup would have an vast, cascading effect, especially to Goldy who, without a legit 4 hitter, they've effectively abandoned. And with our young pitching, getting Arenado would basically set us up as the team to beat in the division for at least a half a decade! They'd be stupid not to look into it, Matt C's feelings notwithstanding. We like Matt but he isn't more important than the team as a whole and certainly not a team that would unquestionably flourish for many, many years to come. Your turn.
    You don't need to sell me on why the Cardinals could use the best third baseman in baseball.
    I get it.
    I'm the guy who said they should sign Moustakas, a much more realistic potential addition this offseason.
    If you want to get fired up about the chance of the Cardinals making a series of moves that a) admit the Carpenter extension was a mistake, b) swaps years of cost-control from valued prospects and c) commits a bunch of money to a deal that includes a fast approaching opt out in an offseason where a payroll spike was publicly looked down upon by the owner, then go for it.
    But I'm not going to be the one telling you to get fired up about it.
    You can call me a naysayer if it happens.
    Don't get mad at me if it doesn't
    Ben, do you feel that passing on Corey Dickerson was a mistake? Can Williams be the left handed bat in the outfield we need? Thanks
  • Corey Dickerson was one of the few free-agent names available that kind of seemed to fit what the Cardinals have described at times. There never seemed to be much interest there, at least from the Cardinals' end of things.
    If your the Cardinals marketing dept, who do you base your campaign on this offseason? Last year we saw them push Bader and O'Neill to a lesser extent, but that didn't really work out so well. With so many of the vets having down years, and so many unknown young players, where do they go to instill excitement without having a campaign that' s obsolete by the all star break?
    Jack Flaherty 
    Jack Flaherty
    Jack Flaherty
    Paul Goldschmidt
    Wainwright and Molina
    Kolten Wong and Paul DeJong
    Mike Shildt
    There's a good start.
    Did I mention Jack Flaherty?
     
    Ben, I'm heading out to Vegas tonight and will be there through next weekend. I've got a two parter here for you. One - I've got tickets to Blues-Golden Knights on Saturday. Have you been to a game in Vegas yet? If so, what can I expect in terms of the atmosphere? Two - The plan (other than the hockey game) for the weekend is to head to the sports book for the NFL playoffs. I know the NFL isn't the most popular topic here on the chat, and I haven't watched a game from start to finish all year. Which is why I need to ask, if you had to pick a "lock" against the spread for this weekend, what would it be? (Buff at Hou (-3); Tenn at NE (-4.5); Minny at NO (-7.5); or Sea at Philly (+1.5))
    Have not been to a hockey game in Vegas but have been by the stadium during MLB winter meetings and have heard great things. Enjoy it. Sounds like you have watched more NFL games than I have this season. I'll be no help there. You'd be better off playing blackjack on Fremont Street. Get a slice at Evel Pie and pop into Don't Tell Mama to hear some bad ass karaoke by people who actually know how to sing.
    Thanks for the chat, Ben!
    For those worried about replacing Marcell Ozuna's production:
    Over his two years in StL, Ozuna had a .777 OPS. So that's the exact kind of bat you've gotta replace. A .777 OPS.

    Well, taking the only three publicly available MLB projections (Marcel, Steamer, and Clay Davenport) for Marcell Ozuna's possible replacements -- Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, Randy Arozarena, Lane Thomas, and Tommy Edman -- what do you suppose is the collective projected OPS for that quintet? A solid .773.

    So, based on all available information those guys look boringly fine, but not like anything truly special. And that's what Ozuna was for the Birds! The fact is, Ozuna just wasn't anything special in 2018/19 at the plate. He accumulated RBI's, yes. But that was because he batted with MORE men on base than ANY hitter in the National League over the past two years.

    Thanks for your time, Ben.
    This is how the Cardinals seem to be viewing it.
    They have their own projections, of course, but those projections tell them they don't need to cling to Ozuna's leg as he's navigating free agency.
    Even in the modern era, where projections rule everything, it's worth pointing out that the numbers are suggesting the young guys could come close to matching what Ozuna did in real life. There's still a difference. If there wasn't, there would be no need to play the games.
    I don't speak for anyone but myself, but I don't think people are as worried about losing Ozuna as they are about losing Ozuna from a troubled offense that is hoping to get better, and then adding the hope that unproven bats not only replace Ozuna's production, but that this combination of what-ifs produces a better offense than the 2019 version all around. 
    There's a good deal of hope baked in here, is my point.
    Blues have scored at least 4 goals in 7 out of 8 games during this current win streak. For a team many thought would need to win 2-1, 3-2 on most nights, are you surprised by the uptick in scoring for the Blues and do you think it sustainable?
  • The only thing that feels truly sustainable for the Blues is strong goaltending, great defense and all-around effort. The rest is going to come and go, and that's not a bad thing. The offensive ceiling without Tarasenko is clearly higher than many thought. Perron is a big part of that. Thomas, too. The offensive output from the defensemen helps a lot. A better power play. And now Jordan Kyrou is coming along. And I've missed some, too. I don't know that four-goal games are going to keep happening at this rate, but the scoring trends the Blues have shown since Tarasenko went down suggest they are not as one-dimensional as many believed.
  • Great game Clemson-OSU. Do you think LSU beats Clemson?
    It really was. A nice palate cleanser from the Oklahoma no-show. I do think LSU wins against Clemson. Should be a good game though.
    Never thought I'd say this, but the Marlins made a great deal in signing ****erson for what they did. If he continues to hit, he'll be a great trade chip--especially at his relatively low cost. They could get a lot of return on that investment.
    Cool. When will they try to win?
    "The Tigers have to overcome Jermiah Tilmon's ups and downs, not be anchored to them." That's a great way to put it, Ben. Well done. I think at this point, Cuonzo needs to re-think his priorities for the offense and make Tilmon a secondary figure. Put another way, I think they need to tailor the system to the guards and be grateful when Tilmon chips in rather than trying to use him as a key cog who will help the guards get good shots. He's just not in the games enough to make him a focal point, and it's clear that it's just not going to change. I think he gets officiated quite poorly, but he also doesn't adjust, so it's time for the team do so.
    I think that's already happening.
    Ben - You know from my earlier post that I said there's no way we should deal for NA unless his opt out is eliminated. That's achievable, and I mentioned how.

    I guess the larger point is this: a GM/Pres (FO) should always, 24/7/365, be exploring how to improve the team. What rakes a lot of us is Mo takes a part-time approach to the job. He thinks he's done enough and that's it, time to shop for bow ties until the 'going-out-of-business sales" start for scrap-heap fill-ins.

    It's not how I or a lot of fans think. In our jobs, we're always looking for how to do it better. One would think that someone making more money than most of us earn in a decade would take the same approach. That means at least asking Jeff Bridich what it would take. If it's too much, so be it. You can at least say you looked into it. But they won't even pick up the phone. THAT'S why we have a problem with Mo and this FO. If that hurts Carps feelings, too bad - this isn't Romper Room.
    Why would Nolan Arenado give up his no-trade clause? He negotiated for it. Got it. Why would he surrender it? Players covet those clauses. I don't see any reason he would surrender a chance at full-blown free agency if he wanted it, especially after seeing what Rendon just got on the open market. Because you want him to let go of it doesn't mean he will, or should. This isn't fantasy land stuff.
     
    As for the other part, you do realize the Cardinals have been connected to Arenado for a very long time, right? This trade chatter is not a new thing this season. To suggest that Mozeliak doesn't know what it would take is a silly assumption. Knowing what it takes, having what it takes, being willing to part with what it takes, and actually doing it are all very different things. 
     
    I'm trying to be reasonable. Look at what the Cardinals have said and done. They have committed to Carpenter. They have paid Carpenter. They have said they are not jacking up payroll. They have said that their pitching search is mostly finish but they could be interested in an outfielder, not a third baseman. Follow the dots. Connect them. They don't point toward Arenado.
     
    You keep saying it's about Carpenter's feelings. It's not. It's about the extension the Cardinals gave him.
     
    Did you think Drew Lock would be this good in the NFL? I didn't.
  • It's still pretty early.
    I thought he would be an NFL starter for a while.
    Eager to see what he can do with a full season next year.
  • Do you think it is possible for Hicks to come back stronger after TJ and throw harder? Because that would just be unfair
    It's not uncommon for guys to have a few extra ticks after the surgery.
    Look out.
    Some news: Jordan Binnington, Alex Pietrangelo and Ryan O'Reilly are your All-Stars for the St. Louis Blues.
     
    David Perron was robbed!
    Ben, I read over the weekend where Alex Ovechkin has decided to take a pass on this years All Star Game here in St. Louis. I think he is a disgrace to professional hockey. Gary Bettman should be making phone calls right now. What kind of message does that send to the league and to the fans who voted for him? It's an honor to be voted in and he basically just gave the finger to the league.
    It's not a St. Louis beef for him.
    It's the second year he's declined to participate.
    I have a hard time getting too worked up over it.
    A guy knows what is best for his body, and his first responsibility is to be prepared and at his best for his team.
    If it becomes a widespread issue, the league will have to deal with it.
    I would rather the spot be open for someone who wants to be there, personally.
    Kind of like the NBA dunk contest. The best dunkers don't usually participate anymore. But the guys who are eager to participate put on a better show than the disinterested stars.
    Ben: I agree that the Cardinals have been clear about their approach this off-season. If I may defend a comment by a previous chatter, I think the "mixed-messages" derive from the FO's annual claim that they are committed to putting a championship caliber team on the field, and the reality that they are really committed to trying to get a return on the (unwise) dollars that they have spent. This is not an accusation of cheapness. However, it is an accusation that getting value out of contracts clearly takes priority over putting the best-possible team on the field. They can't believe that they're better off, for instance, with MCarp at 3rd instead of Rendon, and, frankly, Rendon was gettable considering his year-commitment was reasonable, and his comments about LA show that he was looking for the best situation that suited him, not looking for the limelight. Similarly, the only reason Fowler is in the plans for next year is that they are paying him big money, but it's ridiculous to think he'll be any better at age 34 next year, and likely he'll be worse.

    I'm not suggesting the team try to get an all-star at each position. That's unreasonable. I am suggesting that riding with two aging, declining vets on an already sketchy offense does not sound like an organization truly trying to put a championship caliber team on the field. It sounds like an organization hoping to catch some breaks and hoping the championship caliber defense and pitching can overcome such shortcomings, despite the succession of recent WS champs that show you better be able to hit the ball when you face postseason caliber pitching.
    It sounds like an organization hoping to catch some breaks and hoping the championship caliber defense and pitching can overcome such shortcomings.
     
    That italicized portion of your own comment, included above, is exactly what the Cardinals are at this point. They know their strengths. They think their weaknesses will improve, mostly from within. They are not claiming they are built to win a World Series, but they think that is within their reach. There's a big difference. And recent postseasons have proven the line between the former and the latter isn't as thick as it always seems in January. 
    What must the Cards do to keep Flaherty a Cardinal for his career? (assuming he remains an ace.)
  • If he keeps this up?
    Pay him a ton of money, so much so that he agrees to an extension before reaching full blown free agency, because it's hard to imagine another team not outbidding them if he does. 
    Why do you think that aside from the top tier of free agents, there was so much more movement and money this MLB offseason? Less teams tanking? Better quality?
    Less polarizing stars.
    Bryce and Machado had hang-ups.
    Rendon and Cole? Not so much.
    Perhaps a more aggressive approach by Boras as well. He played his cards instead of holding them.
    Why has Castellanos and Ozuna not signed yet??
    I imagine because he has not yet heard the number that makes him want to end his search.
    Is it me or with every passing day does it feel more and more like Ozuna will be a Cardinal in ‘20? He toiled in Miami for his entire career and now he has tasted the playoffs, why would he go to a team that is a long shot to get back?
    I think he will go to the team that offers him the best contract, and if his search reaches a point where the best contract is comparable to the contract the Cardinals will be willing to offer, I think he would rank familiarity with the Cardinals over something knew for a little bit more money. The longer this goes on, the more you have to wonder if what the Cardinal are interested in offering is that far off from what other teams are willing to give, especially as teams that had been interested in Ozuna have moved on or are reportedly considering other options first. Like the White Sox and the Reds.
    Hi Ben,

    Wouldn't it be easier for you if you just copied and pasted the offseason chat each week? People asking the same questions about the Cardinals over and over and over, ad nauseum gets boring, especially when they already know the answers to the questions they are asking.

    Why not ask about something different, like have you heard anything more about Carpenter's offseason workout regimen to get his strength back? It's an interesting theory and it will be a major focus in the Spring to see if it works at all.
    Carpenter will be a hot topic at the fast-approaching Winter Warm Up. 
    How does he look? What does he say? He spoke to P-D colleague Derrick Goold about his quest to gain weight and the help he hopes it adds. Warm Up will be a good check-in for that progress.
  • I'm hoping that Matt Carpenter can bounce back, but I think the problem is deeper than a down year and he has history on his side.

    1. He seems to have lost sight of the strike zone
    2. He's not aggressive in his at-bats. At times he looks like a young kid going up with the pre determined thought I'm not swinging.
    3. Pull happy. Time and time again on an outer half of the plate pitch he would roll his wrists to pull the ball.
    4. His age and I'm worried about his back. A bad back can really compromise your swing.

    I know he is on a conditioning program, but that will not help the above problems. Your thoughts?
    I think the idea that Carpetner is going to revert back into a doubles machine is too optimistic.
    With a little more weight on his frame, and a little more strength in his swing, some of those long, high, fly outs that died at the warning track should find the first few rows of the fans.
    Carpenter hitting more home runs is how he rebounds from the lost 2019, I think. 
    A few thoughts/questions on SLU basketball heading into the conference schedule:

    -The loss of Gibson Jimerson is tough. Should we worry about a broken foot hampering his development long term?

    -This recruiting class is shaping up to be an under-the-radar coup. That Ford & his staff found these guys & snagged them is a huge credit; it'll be fun to watch Collins, Jimerson, Bell, and Hargrove develop alongside each other.

    -SLU had a couple good gets on the transfer wire. Tay Weaver brings a sneakily good game to this team, w/ clutch 3s & a surprising ability to reinvigorate the team's grit factor when he's on the floor. It's comforting to know that Javonte Perkins knows how to score, & I like that SLU has a prototypical scoring SF in the lineup.

    -I hope Fred Thatch is okay. When he and Goodwin are on the floor, SLU might have one of the best rebounding backcourts in the country, but more importantly, I hope the illness isn't serious.

    -Jimmy Bell is coming around, and I'd like to see what Madani Diarra can do. Having one capable 6'10" post player is very nice; having two is an embarrassment of riches.

    -Things have gotten _much_ better on the latter of these fronts, but it was amazing to see a team so unable to a) make free throws and b) score in the first 10 minutes. Is there any hope that this team can improve from the line? Goodwin and French are so talented, yet they struggle so much w/ free throws--and their games, in a sad irony, seem custom built to draw a lot of fouls and get to the line.

    -I thought the BC game showed that SLU can be more talented than a major-conference opponent and yet _less_ organized at times. Sort of odd for a mid-major.

    -It's fun to watch Goodwin & French play. Given that Goodwin's game centers on rebounding & defense, it's tempting to think of him as essentially a role player, despite his wealth of talent--but a couple games this year proved he can truly dominate, a la French at his best. I can't remember the last time I tuned into a game most interested to see how many rebounds & putbacks a SG will end up with.

    -I think this team is going to be deep and competitive for years to come, and I am stoked about it. Should I slow my roll?
    Regarding Jimereson, I wouldn't worry about his ability to come back unless a setback presents itself. Guys rebound from these things often. Treatment and rehab is as good now as it's ever been. Tough loss, because he had developed a role, but no reason to assume he won't be back and be a big part of the team down the line.
     
    SLU is in good shape, now and looking forward. One reason for caution is the strength of the A-10. It's deep. Dayton and VCU are very good. Rhode Island is good. SLU is good. Others will jump up and surprise. 
     
    No parades will be thrown for the win last night, but SLU shooting 70 percent from the free-throw line is noteworthy. If they were able to iron some things out during the break, that will help them a ton.
  • How big of a season is 2020 for Jeff Albert with the moves that the Cardinals have made in the organization to go all in on him essentially? There was a lot of talk about being patient to see the results of his labors and that it's an entirely different system, but would the tone change if we see a lot of down years again, especially with the clearing of several long time Cardinals coaches because of too many different voices for the players?
    21,000 at the Tennessee men's basketball game last Saturday, even with students on break. I bet Mizzou won't get 5,000 tonight. They always make excuses like 'weather', 'holiday break' etc....why can't they get a decent crowd?
    Careful, Mizzou fans don't like it when you point this out.
    If Mizzou fans were as passionate about defending their sad attendance as they were, you know, attending games, then there might be a little more of a buzz.
     
    It seems like everybody but actual Cardinal fans think that the Cards front office is one of the best in all sports...let alone, baseball.
    The same is true of the chat.
    Everyone in it thinks I'm terrible.
    Everyone outside of it thinks I'm a genius! Or so I tell myself.
    Gotta run folks. Thanks for a lively talk as usual. Back to Tuesday next week.
    Gotta shift gears to a column now.
    Happy New Year!
     
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