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. Tuesday.

    Greetings chatters, thanks for making some time to join the scrum today. Tons of stuff to talk about fresh off of another Winter Warm-Up. No break as the NHL All-Star game approaches. Good times. Let's roll.
    Is Arenado back on the table for the Cards? Or would the Rockies have to eat a lot of the money for the Cards to consider?
    A few important things have happened since the last time we got together here.
    Let's review.
    1. Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt said at Winter Warm-Up that the team is not aggressively pursuing an impact addition via trade or free agency before spring training. He also said he would not feel comfortable taking on, say a $30+ million per season player with the current payroll -- unless there is some significant cash offloading that comes in that deal to help balance it out. Reading between the lines, it did not sound like the Cardinals were thinking their interest in Arenado was going to become a deal, in part because of the Rockies' asking price -- something that seems to be a common trend among teams that had discussions with Colorado about Arenado. At one point during Winter Warm-Up, Mozeliak specifically mentioned that one team tried to poach the Cardinals' pitching prospects, something he wasn't fond of.
    2. The Rockies front office told the Denver Post that Nolan Arenado trade talks were being tabled, and that he was going to head to spring training as the third baseman. That meshes with what we heard on our end -- that the Rockies were shopping Arenado but did not seem all that motivated to make a deal, considering their asking prices.
    3. Arenado fired back, telling multiple media outlets that he feels disrespected by the front office, not specifically for the trade discussions but also just in general. This part is important, because players with public riffs with the front office tend to get moved along if those issues can't be smoothed over. Example: Giancarlo Stanton.
    Stay tuned.
     
    Hi, Ben. At his press conference, Mr. DeWitt Jr didn't by chance mention that many of the obstacles to the Cardinals increasing payroll are self inflicted (terrible trades, bad free-agent signings, questionable extensions), did he? And, did he by chance say that if the team intends to hold the line on spending, that the fans likewise should hold the line on their own spending? Finally, why would a team with obvious resources and financial flexibility not be more willing to acquire a "generational" type player (Arenado)? So, you give up prospects; just go find more prospects.
    The Cardinals are not in the habit of pointing out contracts they regret while players on their team are still under those contracts.
    What good does that do?
    That doesn't mean we can't use our eyes and brains.
    There are some contracts on the books that have handcuffed the Cardinals to some degree. They know this. We know this.
    Fans should spend their money as they see fit.
    Every year, I hear in these chats about how fans should start boycotting games to send a message.
    And those calls are right in the sense that the bottom line is the best way to send a message.
    But I can tell you that at Winter Warm-Up, I saw a lot of fans who were happy to be back in the postseason last year and excited about some of the young players the Cardinals seem poised to turn to instead of bringing in more free agents. I know this because I heard them say it into microphones during the event's Q&A.
    The Cardinals don't view prospects as simply trade chips. They value them and see them as THE most crucial part of their sustained success model. And they've flipped quite a few as of late. For Ozuna. For Goldschmidt. And perhaps for Arenado still -- if the asking price in Colorado goes down AND the Rockies will perhaps take one of those regrettable contracts off the Cardinals' books. Still seems like a big if where things stand today, but Arenado's growing and now showing resentment of his general manager makes it more likely he doesn't last there that long.
     
     
    I know you don't care much but who do you predict wins the Super Bowl?
    Chiefs, baby.
    It's the year of Missouri.
     
    I have big concerns for Yadi and Waino. I love them both but think age is catching them. Yadi is fading. Waino was OK last season (and really good in Sept) but, is 38 and was bad for 3 or so years before that. Will they be willing to bench them, if needed? I'm not thrilled at resigning Yadi before the end of this year.
  • I've written this before, but if I'm the Cardinals I tell Molina I would roll him into a year-by-year deal once this season ends, and that we could figure out the details after the 2020 season. He made it clear Monday that he's not going to play for any other team. He's not going to go into free agency. There's no reason to get a contract on the books when you can't be sure how an aging catcher is going to hold up and perform. If Molina is healthy and can perform, the Cardinals want him catching. There's an unwritten agreement that is as strong as any contract. Both sides should just cross that bridge when they get to it -- in part because Molina's opinion on when and how thing will end seems to change often. The strategy has worked fine with Wainwright, though Molina would be getting paid more in his setup. 
     
    You should have big concerns. They're 37 and 38. The smartest bet in baseball is betting on old players to break down and not play well. Because eventually, you're going to be right. No one thought Wainwright would hold his spot last season. He did more than that. He is aiming to pitch better on the road. Molina wants to prove it was his hand, not his age, that weakened his bat last year. The doubts about their age is, in part, what drives them.
     
    Neither guy is getting benched unless he's hurt or very obviously outperformed by someone beneath him on the depth chart. Both could happen, sure. But if it's a relatively close call, legacy is a tiebreaker, and then some.
     
    What was your opinion on the Blues social media pages promoting the Chiefs, a Franchise that voted for the Rams to leave St. Louis (no doubt so the Chiefs could have access to St. Louis)? I did not like it. Kinda makes me feel like the Blues are happy the Rams left so they have less competition.
    Nice to know some out there remember how the Chiefs leadership voted.
    Good recall.
    I don't speak for the Blues and have learned to step out of the social-media ombudsman role, but I'll offer this -- I think it was more related to the Chiefs players who came over to support the Blues during the Cup run.
    Mahomes and Kelce showed up and drank beers on the big screen.
    Yipee.
    Personally, I would rather see the Blues and Cardinals give some more love to the BattleHawks.
    The BattleHawks had a table at Winter Warm-Up this weekend, trying to build support and meet folks.
    Didn't see one for the Chiefs.
    And another thing about the Chiefs trying to increase their footprint in St. Louis.
    They haven't really tried.
    They're certainly getting a bigger fan base because of the Rams departure and because of theirs success, but it's not like they are working for more fans in St. Louis.
    I'm not a Chiefs basher. My childhood team growing up. I've got family in KC. Thrilled for Coach Reid and for my dear friends at the Star who get to cover this thing. But let's not reverse engineer a narrative that the Chiefs did a thing to help St. Louis keep its team or have attempted to recruit former Rams fans since. Because neither are true.
    Have the Rockies backed themselves into a corner with Arenado? Is that 100% dead on the Cardinals' side, or is it a situation where the door is closed until it isn't?
    Mozeliak spent most of Winter Warm-Up saying things like "no doors are closed" and "no lines are drawn" so I'd say no doors are closed is a fair statement.
    DeWitt sounded a little less optimistic when speaking in general about the kind of trade that would land Arenado.
    Doesn't mean it couldn't happen.
    And things did change after DeWitt made those comments -- specifically Rockies saying trade talks were off, and Arenado flaming the front office for its "disrespect."
    What we don't know if those trade talks could resume now that Arenado has gone public with his beef.
    There are chapters. The book has taken a turn. Still hard for me to see it ending with Arenado in St. Louis, because of the hurdle the Cardinals have put in front of themselves. But if Colorado will take one or two of those hurdles? Maybe. 
    DG and I discussed on the latest Best Podcast in Baseball how things could shift, and we discussed -- predicted? -- this one. It's one thing to trade the face of the franchise and best third baseman in baseball. It's another to trade the disgruntled superstar who wants out. Arenado took a step yesterday from former, toward the latter.
    Honestly? 
    The Rockies should just fire their GM.
    I have a hard time believing that the Astros won the WS in 2017 while cheating but then miraculously decided to stop entirely after that season. There had to be more layers to this cheating....
    They didn't just stop after that season.
    Check out Manfred's full report.
    It's available.
    The trash-can-banging stopped after the 2017 season, per the report, but the team continued to use the center field camera and replay room to decode signs and get that information to the dugout for at least parts of 2018.
    And while the report makes no mention of the wearable technology -- like buzzing bandages -- baseball has said it did not find sufficient evidence of that.
    That could mean a lot of things, right?
    This is a big reason this is so bad for the game -- minds race with possibilities of what else could have been going on.
    I know the cardinals front office has said they can take on salary for the right player, but Dewitt really seemed firm on not adding salary unless another team takes some of theirs. Does Arenado’s recent comments make the Cardinals more likely to go after him?
    Specifically, DeWitt said the Cardinal will not be taking on a $30 million per year player without a trade that took some money from the payroll away in the process.
    As in, any Cardinals trade for Arenado would have to include a hefty contract or two going back the other way.
    Fowler? Carpenter?
    Both have no trade clauses, but Fowler has played in Colorado before and Carpenter has made it known that while he wants to remain a Cardinal he would do what the team asks.
    We have a clearer picture now of what it could look like if it happens, though I'm still doubtful it will happen. Especially before the season starts. If the season starts, and Arenado has gone through a sour spring training, and Carpenter's bounce-back isn't working like the Cardinals hoped, there could be more incentive on the Cardinals' side before the trade deadline.
    I think the Cardinals are serious when they say they think and hope Matt Carpenter can return to form.
    While he's open to playing other positions again -- left field in this case -- the Cardinals don't seem thrilled about the notion of that.
     
     
  • What is your take on Matt Carpenter's "do whatever is best for the team" comment? Was he saying he would switch positions or something more drastic like waive his no trade clause?
    He has said both.
    Derrick Goold reported days ago that Carpenter's desire is to remain a Cardinal, but that he would not flex his no-trade protection to block a deal if the Cardinals felt they were better off without him.
    Carpenter said Monday that he has always been open to play any position that is asked of him, and that has not changed. There have not been talks of him moving from third at this point.
    Looks like the Tigers are going to end up missing the tournament again. Is Cuonzo Martin's seat getting hot?
    It does look like the Tigers will miss the NCAA Tournament.
    It doesn't look like Martin is on the hot seat -- at least not to those who have taken the time to read his contract.
    Here's the breakdown from Dave Matter, who by now has this copy and pasted to his chats.
    From Dave:Missouri cannot legally fire Martin without cause until after the 2020-21 season. He's protected through the first four seasons of his deal by virtue of winning 20 games and making the NCAA Tournament his first year at MU. That's how atrocious this job and program were viewed when there was an opening the last time. Martin was able to negotiate a protection clause that guaranteed he couldn't be fired until after year four as long as one of his first four teams hits one of two milestones: 20 wins or makes the NCAAs. 
    (He could be fired "for cause" at any point during his contract, but that would require NCAA violations, illegal activity, etc.)
    Now, could Mizzou and Martin negotiate their way out of the deal before the end of year four? That’s possible with every contract, but Martin would have all the financial leverage in that situation — and Mizzou isn’t exactly rolling in the kind of dough it takes to squirm out of his deal.
    After next season (2020-21), Missouri would owe Martin a buyout of $6 million if it wanted to fire him. Again, that’s a lot of money. 
    In other words, he's not getting fired after this season. Even without the protection clause, I don't think he would get fired anyway. He's going to get more time than Kim Anderson to revive this program. 
     
    I'll add a few things you can take or leave. Few coaches have had one of the team's most important players go down with injury in each of his first three seasons. Few coaches have had this happen while trying to push what had become the least competitive Power 5 program in the nation out of a deep and dark hole. Few coaches are committed to doing things the way Martin does, on the up-and-up, all the time, no shortcuts allowed in recruiting or practice or treatment of players. Few people seem to remember this team played in an NCAA Tournament in his first season, something that was amazing considering the loss of MPJ and the state of the program he took over. Martin needs to land some of the biggest fish from St. Louis. He's gotten good players from his home area but not the best yet. When he gets the Porter Sr. contract off the book, he needs to find a way to improve his staff. He's earned criticism, no doubt. But he's not getting fired soon.
    I hear where DeWitt is coming from regarding payroll, it is significant. But it is top heavy with bad contracts, or at least under-performing ones. I'm not necessarily suggesting that the answer is to add more payroll, but at the same time fans don't want to watch the team try and justify these contracts night in and night out, by playing diminished players who are not performing. As it stands today, the team doesn't appear to have its sights set on a World Series in '20, so when that reality hits a couple months into the season, why not start playing the kids full-time?
    It sounds like the kids are going to be playing full time at least in one area.
    See left field, for example.
    O'Neill, Thomas, Carlson.
    24. 24. 21.
    As for where the Cardinals are setting their sights, nothing has changed.
    Build a team that it feels is capable of winning the division. Hope to catch fire once that team gets in the postseason.
    We don't need to keep doing this every offseason.
    The model is the model.
    The public beef with this offseason seems to be as much about trusting the kids instead of replacing them with more-proven producers, not an unwillingness to toward turn youth.
    Does arenado asking out effect the asking price? It seems that Colorado’s GM is stubborn enough to not trade arenado even if he’s unhappy unless he gets an over the moon deal. Colorado would have to take back some salary in order for this deal to work for the cards.
    I'm sure teams trying to trade for him will argue that it should.
    Depends on just how hostile things get at spring training, probably.
    If a car has one good tire and 3 bald tires, moving the bald tires around to different wheels doesn't make them any less bald or help the car perform on that one good tire. Just like moving DeJong from the 8th spot or Carpenter from the bench to the middle of the order, isn't going to make Goldschmidt and the offense better. Cards fans are loyal but not dumb.
  • Nice analogy.
    I'll play.
    The Cardinals are selling a plan that says those tires were not bald, but had leaks, and that those leaks can and will be patched, because the tires have a lot of good tread left on them, and they can't be certain the new, expensive tires will hold up any better than the hopefully-repaired tires they already have on a payment plan.
    It's not a sexy sell, I get that.
    It's easier to believe some tires will bounce back -- get it? -- than others.
    I think Goldschmidt will be better.
    I think Fowler will be about the same.
    I don't know what to think about Carpenter.
    And who knows what to expect in left field.
    In this scenario, the air is hope. It's being pumped in with a pressure hose.
    Enjoyed all the stories from the winter warm up with the comments From Mr. DeWitt if if being the word is there any chance Arenado gets traded here. I also think Carpenter will come back maybe not 100 percent but 85 to 90 would be nice. Thanks
    Sure, there's still a chance.
    I'm just advising folks to pitch a tent in the believe-it-when-you-see-it camp.
    It's safer there.
    I don't understand all the St. Louis fans jumping on the Chiefs bandwagon ever since the Rams left. St. Louis and Kansas City are supposed to be rivals. Also, we have a football team in the BattleHawks.
    What's the odds you put on either Ozuna or Arenado being a cardinal next year? about 20% sounds right to me
    That's a better question for Vegas. I can't even beat my wife in March Madness brackets.
    I’m all for Carlson getting a starting spot out of spring training. He’s the best offensive bat in the organization, short of Goldy. How short a leash will O’Neill, Bader, Fowler, Carpenter, Thomas, etc. have if they repeat the anemic performances from ‘19? You just can’t have four weak bats in a National League lineup.
    A few things to keep in mind . . .
     
    Shildt said he hasn't seen enough of Carlson in center field to say today that he could play significant innings there at the major league level. That could change, of course, but he's not yet proven that to the manager. Could get a chance at spring training, but it sounds like corner is more realistic right now, especially if he arrives early.
     
    It's impossible to answer the timetable for each of the veterans you mentioned. Spring performance will set the table for that. Team performance will set the table for that. If the Cardinals start out winning, and Carpenter doesn't hit, there's less incentive to change. If the Cardinals start out struggling, and they are not getting production from one of those players, the incentive to make a chance increases. These things matter and cannot be predicted today.
     
    I thought it was interesting that Carpenter described his situation as going to spring to compete for a job, not going to spring to keep his job. He knows the team played some of its best ball last season while he sat. He knows that could be the case again if he doesn't hit.
  • What do the Cardinals plan to do with Knizner? He turns 25 in a couple weeks and with Yadi saying he desires to play beyond 2020, how does he get any significant time?
    He plays every day at Memphis until there's a consistent need in St. Louis.
    Or the Cardinals make him a Carson-Kelly-like trade chip and find another Andrew Knizner.
    Those are really the only two options.
    If Molina does return in 2021 on an extension, there is the chance he returns with a timeshare plan on the table, but he's made no mention of that and I'm not sure Molina sees himself as being a part-time anything. He might rather retire than rotate. That will be a discussion that I would imagine pops up during the extension talks this spring.
    How does someone feel disrespected after getting $250M?
    Same way someone can feel disrespected getting minimum wage.
    Good management and communication matter, whether it's at the local market or the big leagues.
    And I'm not just defending Arenado here, either.
    You know he must have really miffed the organization's leaders when he said last season felt like a rebuild after he got that big deal.
    A contract like that comes with the hope that the face of the team will do more to support the team than say things that could be used against the team.
    The thing about money is that it becomes normalized. Actors don't think about how much they make when the director cuts their line. Business tycoons don't think about how much they make when a lower-level employee screws up a job. People are people. Some are just really rich.
    Hey Ben, I am curious why the cardinals have continued to commit to Bader instead of an open competition. I understand there will be one but often times the wording coming out of the front office holds a lot of weight and they seem to have backed him again this off season. He has exciting potential but so does Thomas and O'Neill in there own ways. No big contract, not a lot of previous success other than his glove and a down year after giving him the vote of confidence last year. Just curious to me, why do you think that is?
    Because they love his defense, his speed, his marketability, his fan-favorite status.
    Because the owner LOVES the way he plays the game and thinks he can break through at the plate.
    Because St. Louis loves him.
    I mean, look around.
    I saw Bader on more shirts than Goldschmidt during Winter Warm-Up.
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