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 on your Tuesday to stop by. If you're looking for something warm to savor on a cold, gloomy day, here's something. Today is truck day for the St. Louis Cardinals. They're loading up and shipping out to Roger Dean. The P-D will have coverage from Florida as soon as the Cardinals touch down. It's a perfect time to grab a digital subscription if you have not, because we are going to be rolling out a bunch of subscriber-exclusive content over the course of spring training. New subscribers can find a great deal here:
    OK, let's roll.
    Last week, I submitted a question asking why it was deemed ridiculous to “approach “ the luxury tax threshold. You gave a good expansive answer. Then, when this topic was published in the chat recap, my question was changed to read “exceed” the threshold and a random ‘gasp’ was added.

    Why change my question from a reasonable position to unreasonable? Very disappointed in the P-D for this action. Seems you prefer to present the fan base as out of touch with reality.
    I appreciated the question, and am glad you got the answer.
    Some inside baseball on the chat recaps: The questions that prompt the answers are almost always edited down to a single sentence, for the sake of brevity and faster reading.
    I send the chat recaps to an online editor right before I go to bed on Tuesday nights. That process includes making the questions snappier and shorter -- without in any way trying to change their intent -- and often tightening up my answers, and fixing the typos I can find, because the rapid-fire answers here in the chat usually needed to be cleaned up before they are repackaged as an article.
    The gasp I inserted was not meant to present your question as unreasonable. It was meant to poke fun at the notion that the Cardinals exceeding the luxury tax would be the end of the world. That was my intent. I was agreeing with you. I'm sorry if it didn't come across that way. Your question was far from unreasonable.
    Here's the question I sent along for the chat recap: Q: Why is it so outlandish for Cardinals fans to expect the front office to get closer to or even -- gasp -- exceed the luxury tax?
    I don't see how that presents the fans as unreasonable, but I'm sorry if I lost your intent, and I will talk to the editors about including the notes on the chat recaps that mention the questions are edited for brevity.
    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
    Mr Frederickson, I called the PD and asked this question and the person on the PD had no clue for a answer. Can you tell me? I am interested in a digital subscripption, but I am only interested in Cardinal news. Is there anything in the digi scrip that I can't see for free on the website.? Thank you, Dave
    We do not at this time separate our sports coverage into separate packages.
    A digital subscription gets you sports, and everything else.
    Hi Ben. How long can Army wait to add a veteran scorer even a rental like Kreider? Our 4th line is brutal also. Thanks
    Until 2 p.m. Central on February 24. That's the trade deadline cutoff this year.
    And the most important name connected to the move is not the much-discussed Kreider, Tyler Toffoli or Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
    It's Vladimir Tarasenko.
    He's been skating, and if he's back before the end of the regular season, the cap situation pretty much blocks the Blues from significant moves.
    If he isn't back before the postseason, but joins during it, then there's room to add.
    First it was the PGA championship, then it was NHL Allstar weekend. What will be the next big event the sports commission targets? I nominate NBA all star weekend.
    I don't think the NBA is going to put a marquee weekend like the All-Star game in a city that doesn't house a team, or in a city the league is not trying to cultivate as an expansion target.
    Vegas is Vegas. That's different. And the league will be there eventually now that all pro teams are suddenly cool with gambling.
    Smart money is on the NCAA men's Frozen Four coming to the Enterprise Center.
    It's been here before, and had great results, and the NCAA Would be crazy to not want to tap into the hockey energy St. Louis has going right now.
  • With the Cards, Cubs, and Brewers taking a year or two off to reset payroll, the Reds are trying to be relevant again with their aggression moves. At least on paper, the Reds appear more talented than the Cards, and maybe equal to the Cubs and Brewers. How do you see it?
    I wouldn't characterize the Cubs, Brewers or Cardinals as taking a year off.
    Not making splash moves during an offseason -- and none of these teams did -- doesn't mean the team you bring back is junk.
    The Cubs haven't traded Kris Bryant, at least not yet.
    The Reds should be much better. They also finished, what, 16 games back last season? They've got some ground to make up.
    I see it as a four-team blob, with the Reds now having a foothold in the fight.
    The Pirates are watching from the bottom of the tank.
    One more note on the Reds. Their starting pitching should be stout. An upgraded offense should score runs. My questions is the defense. How much can they make up with aggressive shifting to minimize bad defense at second base (Moustakas) and wherever Castellanos plays in the outfield?
    Spring training is nearing. It be good to catch a glimpse of minor leaguers like norman Gorman or luken Baker and see who goes where in the minor leagues
    Indeed. One of the interesting wrinkles to this year's camp is that there is no Spring Training Early Program, or STEP program, for the young guys due to less of an overlap between the major and minor league schedules. So, the result is a big group of prospects attending major league camp as non-roster invitees. That means we will see a lot more of the big prospect names mixing in with the big leaguers.
    What are your feelings on the battle hawks at the moment and what they mean for St. Louis? Will they be the final chance to show that pro football can work in this market?
    I think there is a somewhat surprising amount of buzz about the BattleHawks. Lots of folks I talk to are going to check it out. I do think they will sell out the first home game, and wonder if that splash will encourage the team to make more than the lower bowl available as the season progresses. We'll see. St. Louis doesn't need to show pro football can work in this market. It worked in this market -- until an owner's disinterest in winning took a backseat to moving the team. If your interest in the BattleHawks is only to send a message to the NFL that it should come back, I'm afraid you are going to be disappointed.
    Great column today.Chiefs and blues play to win.
    The Cardinals play to place and make a tidy profit
  • Thanks.
    I don't agree with your assessment, but I do think it's a really interesting conversation that is taking place about the Cardinals right now, especially with the Chiefs winning on Sunday.
    The most successful team in the state, and it's not close, is suddenly looking at its longest stretch without a championship of any team in the state.
    The Cardinals are synonymous with winning. Check the numbers I mentioned in the column. But the longer they go without a parade, the less their fans want to hear about the sustained success markers.
  • Ben, when you look at all of the 6 figure contracts out there with multi-years attached and how bad many of them have turned out the demand will dry up.

    Who wants a Stanton contract or Heyward or Price? The poor Padres not being able to buy a winning record. The Rockees realizing the same.
    Baseball is continuing to move toward a place that pays elite players elite money, followed by a cliff, followed by the contracts for everybody else. The best of the game will continue to make big bucks. There is value in certainty, or as close as you can get to it. The Scherzer contract worked out pretty well for the Nationals, for example. Teams don't give out Stanton-type deals and not expect some bumps in the road. Those bumps are factored in. If you win a championship or two with that player leading the way, it's a pretty good business deal. I don't think the Rockies have an issue with Arenado's contract as much as they have an issue with him criticizing the front office after he received it. There's a big difference.
    Hey Ben. I have two questions.

    1. When a writer on a forum like this writes, as you did recently, that Carp "couldn't have been any worse than he was last year", how does that go over the next time they see you?

    2. You also mentioned that "DeJong has figured something out." How do you know that since it's the off-season? Thanks!
    I think you might be confusing me with someone else?
    I don't think I've had a Paul DeJong specific question in the chats in a while.
    As for Carp, I don't recall writing that line, but I would agree with it.
    He would agree with it.
    This is a direct quote from Carpenter during Winter Warm-Up: “One of the reasons I’m optimistic, to be honest, is it couldn’t be worse."
    So, I don't think he would be too upset that someone is writing something he agrees with.
    Right now, the Carpenter contract looks really bad. He's out to prove it's not so bad. Some guys get mad about reality. Carpenter has not been one of them in my experience.
    DeJong's comments at Winter Warm-Up suggested he's spent a lot of time working on the mental part of his game, and that he was putting a lot of pressure on himself that he didn't feel like helped him as his second-half slump continued.
    It was not presented as an ah-ha moment that can simply be fixed for better results.
    Just something he's been working on and is more aware of moving forward.
    Whats ur thoughts on what mo said on kmox? He wont say yes or no on arenado. But said to be patient
    Nothing we haven't heard before.
    No shut doors. No lines drawn. Happy with the team he has, but not going to not investigate other avenues to improve.
    I'm not sure what people expect him to say here. He's not going to speak publicly about a specific trade target. He's going to avoid upsetting current players on the roster if he can, because what if the deal doesn't go down? He's not going to lock the door on anything prematurely, because, like everyone else, there is still some unresolved tension with Areando and the Rockies that is going to be a big story in Arizona this spring.
    Things rarely end well when a star player gets in a public feud with the general manager.
    Connecting those dots to the Cardinals trading for Areando, though, still requires much wishful thinking at this point.
    The Rockies could fire the GM Arenado has clashed with. That's what they probably should do.
    Areando and Bridich, the GM, could smooth things over or simply go about their business.
    Arenado could use spring training to throw more gas on the fire and try to force a trade -- that doesn't mean the Cardinals would be the recipient; the common consensus is that the Rockies are asking for a ton in Arenado trade talks, and the Cardinals have already said they are not willing to take on a 35-million dollar per year contract without that trade partner taking back some significant money in the deal.
    None of this is new.
    The next chapter of Arenado-gate comes during spring training.
    Hi, Ben. From the coverage I saw, the NHL All-Star Weekend was a huge success. As a former St. Louisan, I'm proud of the way the city has responded to the special events it's hosted. That being said, the All-Star Game itself was a joke. It was nothing more than target practice on the goalies. The defense was ridiculous; worse than in an NBA All-Star Game. It would have been just as effective if the NHL had stationed cardboard defensemen on the ice. How would you improve the game? Thanks for your time.
    Well said on all fronts. The league has tried to make the game better for years, but it comes down to this -- hockey is a hard game to half-ass. Guys are not going to go out there and play 100 percent in the All-Star game. It's a celebration, not a competition. Yeah, throwing some money to the winners is nice, and it's a motivating factor to some degree. But that's not going to lead to goalies going all out or  guys checking each other. I like the idea of bringing an international flavor to it that was suggested at this year's Gary Bettman press conference. USA vs. Canada All-Stars would make things a bit more interesting, and perhaps pepper in a little more motivation than just the cash prize. This might get me booed, but I would consider this -- eliminate the game. Not the weekend. Just the game. Make the skills competition the main event, because that was way more fun and even at times more competitive.
    Hi BenFred, yesterday I made a comment in Mr. Goolds chat (and poll) that the Cards goal each year should be winning the WS. Why should fans accept anything less as a goal?
    Anyway, he asked how I would measure that the organization had taken the steps necessary to win the WS, asking what my position would be if the 2020 team, as currently constructed, won it all.
    Well, I can only use the eye test. The team that made the NLCS last year, a fine achievement, was severely exposed by the Nats, particularly the offense. One would think that, to make the next step to the WS, the organization would have to improve the offense, not take away from it, as they have done this offseason. Now, they could still take that step by trading for Arenado, but that seems unlikely. So, from a fans perspective, they have stepped back from achieving a WS title, not stepped toward it, which I think is a betrayal of trust. IMO, an organization should always try to win a championship, not pay lip service to it.
    Now, if all the youngsters break out this year and the Cards go all the way, I would be more than happy to admit that to any or all at the championship parade, as I swill a beverage of the alcoholic type.
    I'm never going to tell Cardinals fans to not expect championships.
    Yadier Molina expects championships.
    Mike Shildt has said that's the number one goal.
    Fans shouldn't expect anything less.
    What I've tried to explain here often is how the team views this discussion -- because that's what people want to understand.
    So, I try to explain it.
    Then it's turned back as if it's my opinion, when it's not.
    And around and around we go.
    I've argued the Cardinals need to move their sustained success needle more toward win-now as their time without a championship grows. I thought Bryce Harper made a ton of sense because he would have helped that effort, and would have brought some energy to a team and fan base that needed it. Harper in the outfield would lead to a lot fewer questions about the offsense and the outfield this season, but I digress.
    The Cardinals' entire way of doing business prioritizes sustained winning. They take pride in the streak of non-losing seasons. They take pride in winning the division and getting into the postseason, because they believe teams that do that can go on to win it all. They've watched that play out for other teams. They've watched that play out for themselves.
    The Cardinals are hesitant to put too much emphasis on one season, because they feel that it could disrupt the balance of sustained success. They set budgets and work hard to stick to them. They keep the long-term in mind more than some teams.
    The results have rewarded their thinking.
    I mentioned this in today's column:
    During DeWitt’s 23 seasons, the Cardinals rank second in the National League in regular-season winning percentage (.548), first in the NL in postseason games (144) and first in postseason wins (74). No other team is even close on those last two. The second-place Braves have 96 postseason games. The second-place Giants have 48 postseason wins.
    What is really interesting is how no championship since 2011 affects that thinking over time.
    I don't think it's going to affect the thinking as much as fans hope.
    The Cardinals, for example, feel that they lost to a "team of destiny" in the NLCS last season, and that it was a good season.
    And it was! 
    But their comments and more importantly their actions do not give the impression of a team that is going to change its thinking because it did not win the World Series last season.
    Their comments and actions suggest last season's trip to the NLCS was proof their plan works.
    Don't shoot the messenger.
    Last year the Reds had a rejuvenated Matt Kemp and Puig in the lineup. They were improved then. They even traded off Bailey.
    Reds should be better.
    But let's see it before we go crazy, folks. 
  • Hey Ben, thanks as always for the chat. With the recent news of the Mariner signing Marco Gonzalez to an extension, how do you measure that trade for the Cardinals?
    Pretty easy to measure for me.
    Marco Gonzales was traded straight up for Tyler O'Neill.
    Gonzales, a lefty the Cardinals have lacked in their rotation and sought to add on the free-agent market this offseason in KK, has become a reliable member of the Mariners rotation.
    Last season he started 34 times, totaled 200-plus innings and posted a 3.99 ERA.
    The season before, he started 29 times, pitched 160-plus innings and posted a 4.00 ERA.
    He's given the Mariners 32 quality starts over the past two seasons.
    What has O'Neill done?
    Nothing like what Gonzales has done.
    Right now, he's a right-handed hitting outfielder in a crowd of them who has not been healthy enough or consistent enough to turn his plus power into a regular starting position on a competitive team.
    Now, that could change this season.
    The Cardinals traded Gonzales for O'Neill because they loved his power profile, because their projections think he's going to be a big bopper soon, perhaps this season.
    But if you had to grade the trade today, right now, the Cardinals traded a major league starter for at best a fourth outfielder.
    Let's see how it looks at the end of the season.
    This is a big season for O'Neill.
    Unfortunately, the only way the XFL is going to be successful is if they are able to be the D League for the NFL. Even with the League holding cities hostage for Billion dollar stadiums, then moving them when they do not get their way, the ratings are still high. I cannot see a start up league moving the needle much.
    It's already that.
    Any player who plays well enough to get NFL money is going to go -- unless the XFL finds a way to fordid that in the contract.
    If the league succeeds long-term, and that's still a big if, the challenge will be how to offer players salaries that keep them from jumping to the NFL if given the chance.
    Im hoping Carlson cracks the opening day lineup. O niel is too streaky and bader is inconsistent
    It wouldn't be the craziest thing to happen.
    He's going to have to prove he's the best option out of the guys stacked ahead of him on the depth chart.
    If he is, the Cardinals' history suggests they will have no problem taking him with them.
    One thing the Cardinals can't be accused of is service-time shenanigans. 
    Ben, The Blues seem to be a half step slow and without that razor sharp focus. Do you see the same? Just a swoon after a lot of hockey?
    A swoon after an All-Star break hosted in their hometown, more than anything, I imagine.
    That was a pretty tough start after a week-long party.
    The return home should be a reset of sorts.
    Nothing to worry about. Yet.
    In my fantasy world I have just been added to the NCAA basketball selection committee. I am planning to bring 7 teams from the Atlantic 10. What are the chances my fellow voters agree with me?
  • Seven?
    No chance.
    Two, probably.
    Three tops.
    Depends if a surprise claims the A-10 tournament spot.
    Regarding my earlier comment about a tidy profit from the Cardinals. Are not the teams that run their organization like a true business always going to have trouble competing with organizations that spend what it takes to win ; especially if The competing teams have a larger market and larger revenues.?
    "Spending what it takes to win" is a pretty vague term.
    Baseball shows that the team that spends the most doesn't always win the most.
    The Cardinals' last World Series win is two years newer than the big-spending Yankees, for example.
    Again: Criticism of the Cardinals for what they spend should take a backseat, especially recently, for how they have spent.
    They have made some commitments that don't look great at the moment.
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