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, we're coming to you live from the Roger Dean Stadium press box here in Jupiter as the Cardinals prepare to host the Astros here for the first time this spring.
    Could be a colorful day at the park, considering some of the heckling Cardinals fans have given Astros players at Astros home games in West Palm Beach.
    We shall see.
    Dakota Hudson on the mound today, with some interesting names following him.
    A high level of concern right now about Andrew Miller, who is undergoing more tests today about a sudden loss of feeling in his pitching hand.
    And plenty more to talk about on the Cardinals front, or anywhere else we want to go.
    BattleHawks. Billikens. NCAA Tournament. Your call.
    But first, to anyone who has family and friends in Nashville, thinking of you all today.
    It's a special place for me, with many close friends there. Reading the news this morning was stunning. Certainly a dose of much needed perspective as well. We have it pretty good most days.
    OK, let's roll.
    Did Cecil save his spot on this team, and perhaps his career, with his performance yesterday?
    Not quite sure I'm ready to go there just yet.
    He was better than he had been, which is good, but good is not great.
    He can't throw very hard anymore, and it does not seem that speed is going to be back.
    He will have to pitch splendidly to dance around bats with this decreased velocity.
    If I had to guess yesterday, I would have guessed that Cecil starts the season on some sort of rehab tour, and that he gets the DFA if he did not successfully cruise through that stretch to earn another shot in St. Louis.
    However, Andrew Miller's status could play a part in this. That's a key lefty whose immediate future is undetermined a bit until the Cardinals get word on the tests Miller is undergoing today to determine the cause of this lost feeling in his fingertips. The vibe, from both Miller and Shildt yesterday, was not great.
    That could create an improved chance for Cecil -- if he continues to pitch like he did yesterday.
    Let's see if he does.
    Unless the schedule in the clubhouse was off, he could pitch again today against the Astros.
    I have tried to come up with an analogy to articulate my frustration as a fan, so here’s my best shot: you know when your significant other develops a habit you find annoying (missing the playoffs for 3 years w/o enough pop in the middle of the line-up) and so you ask them to modify that habit. And because they love you (3 million+ through the gates every year), they do (acquire Goldschmidt). But then after a very short time (one season, one playoff appearance), they go right back to the old habit (let Ozuna walk and don’t replace him) because they feel like they have done enough. And you remember back to when they really tried hard to impress you (2004-6 and 2009-11) but lately they seem content to maintain the status quo (just compete, not dominate). So you start to wonder if they even care about you (fans) anymore or are just telling you what you want to hear so you do what they want (fill the stadium, buy merch, watch on FSM)?
    Are you trying to get me into trouble?
    My wife sometimes cruises through these chats -- usually to tell me to scale back the snark -- so I'll say this, on the record: No, I don't know what it's like to have a significant other with annoying habits.
    Next question!
    Kidding, kidding.
    The thing is, the Cardinals' philosophy has not really changed.
    Sometimes it works out better than others, though.
    Build a team capable of winning the division.
    Sustained success.
    Get in without going all-in to the point it jeopardizes chances to get in in the upcoming seasons. 
    It sells well when the latest championship is fresh, but not as well when every other pro team in the state has a more recent ring.
    Many players are doing good except fowler. He looks aweful so far at plate. Could the cards use him off bench instead of Starting RF? Young guys are doing a lot better
    Yes, I think Fowler is in jeopardy of becoming a bench player at some point this season.
    The question would be when, and how much spring training impacts the timeline.
    It won't happen as soon as fans who want it to happen hope, and knowing a few of the factors -- how much the Cardinals are paying Fowler being the big one -- it's hard for me to imagine spring training being the event that moves him to the bench, as long as he's healthy.
    A bad spring, and so far it's been a bad spring through six games, could shorten the timeline Fowler has before finding the bench once the season starts.
    In short, Fowler is not getting benched because of 15 spring training at-bats.
    But an entire spring like this one could put him on the bench sooner.
    Some of this also tied to what happens behind him on the depth chart.
    Dylan Carlson and Tyler O'Neill are flashing in the left field competition.
    Lane Thomas has not.
    The more young outfielders who force the issue, the harder it becomes for the Cardinals to side with a veteran, and his big contract.
    I am sure you will get a lot of Carlson questions, but he has yet to hit a HR this spring. Is there a good comp player for him? Will he be a 20-25 HR a year hitter or 30 plus?
  • He has not hit more than 26 homers in a minor league season, and that was 26 last season, most of which came at Class AA.
    He's a career .431 slugger in the minors.
    Seems to be growing into his power as he ages -- remember, he's just 21 -- and I don't want to shortchange him, but 20-25 homers seems more realistic than 30-plus per season when it comes to his MLB expectations.
    A question: Is Dylan Carlson a natural left-handed hitter? A comment: You never have too much pitching.
    An answer: No, he was a right-handed hitter first, and learned to hit left after mimicking his dad's players. His dad, Jeff, is a coach.
    Not feeling the ball does not sound good. Are the Cards worried Miller has carpel tunnel or some other season ending injury?
    "Not good" was the vibe yesterday, exactly.
    Could be some type of nerve problem. Carpal tunnel. Thoracic outlet. All those things come to mind when this type of thing comes up.
    So far, no news to share.
    Shildt said this morning that Miller is heading for testing today.
    Might know something else after the game today, but not sure.
    Do you think it's obvious to Shildt and the FO that Fowler's probably our 5th best outfielder at this point? How many games do you think Carlson, Bader, and O'Neill will start together in this season?
  • That would mean Bader, Carlson, O'Neill, Thomas and ... Justin Williams? ... are all better major league outfielders right now than Fowler?
    I get being down on Dex, but that seems like a bit of a reach.
    Thomas and Williams have not been exactly crushing it this spring.
    In order for Fowler to sit, other players are going to have to make it crystal clear that the team has a better chance of winning with them in Dexter's place, so much so that he Cardinals decide to sit a guy making $16.5 million.
    Veterans with contracts tend to get the benefit of the doubt. Sitting Fowler would be an uncomfortable decision for the Cardinals, one they will have to be forced into by proof that doing so means more wins. If it's a close call or somewhat fuzzy, expect the veteran and his contract to break the tie. And don't expect 15 spring training at-bats to drastically change the plan one way or another. Influence it? Sure.
    SLU is currently 57 in the NET. Lets say they finish 4th and beat Dayton to make it to the finals of the A10 championship, do they get in? Also, quietly Goodwin is 9 for 10 the last two games from the line. May he have finally figured something out? Now he just needs to tell it to French.
    I've wondered about that.
    That might be enough to get them bubble-in, but boy, they would be sweating it during the bracket reveal.
    The bracket experts have dropped the A-10 down to a one-bid league in recent days, in part because SLU took down VCU and Rhode Island.
    It seems like those wins did more to ding the league than help SLU's case.
    They're moving in the right direction with this late push, but the tournament championship is the only thing they should be banking on.
    I do think they beat Dayton if they meet again. It's so hard to beat the same team three times.
    Fowler struck out three times yesterday. Can you spell 4th outfielder?
    I never know where to put the Z
    Accidentally deleted this question, so copy and pasting it here with answer below:
    Q: So sounds like the MLS team name and colors could be announced in a week or two according to Kindle-Betz's interview yesterday. Also do you think SLU can make the Big Dance by winning out and making the A10 title game?
    A: Latest I heard on MLS name and color announcement was first week of April, but that was after I heard it would be the last week of March, so it seems to be somewhat of a fluid situation. It's coming in the near future, whenever it arrives ... As for Billikens, I think they need to win the conference tournament to feel good about making the NCAA. You do not want to be an A-10 team with your fate in the hands of the committee. You might wind up losing out to the 20th tournament team selected from the Big Ten (Sarcasm, somewhat.)
    Tyler O'Neill doesn't seem to be getting as many at-bats early in Spring as the other outfielders. Anything to read into there? Or is it just the way the schedule is shaking out?
    Something worth monitoring, and asking about if the trend continues and widens, but the numbers are not too far off at the moment.
    Here's the breakdown via plate appearances entering today's game, which will feature Fowler, Thomas and Carlson in the outfield.
    O'Neill is healthy, so that's not a concern.
    Bader: 22 plate appearances
    Carlson: 22
    Thomas: 19
    Williams: 19
    O'Neill: 17
    Fowler 16
    Does Carlson making the squad when it heads north depend more on O'neil/Thomas/Bader not performing then on Carlson tearing it up during ST? What I mean by that is, the Cardinals don't want to bring him up unless he's the everyday starter. As long as 2 of the other 3 mentioned above are hitting enough to warrant regular playing time Carlson will start in AAA to play everyday (not platoon in the big leagues), for now. Is that a fair assessment?
    Carlson has to play so well he jumps ahead of O'Neill and Carlson, who entered camp ahead of him on the depth chart due to their experience.
    That's it.
    If he's even, the older guys will get the nod, especially out of the gate.
    If he's a little bit better . . . we'll see.
    He has to be the clear and present best option.
    Similar to the answer about how someone could force Fowler from a starting spot.
    Play so well the Cardinals are forced to make the uncomfortable decision.
    Carlson is off to a great start so far.
  • Hey Ben, I like Shildt a ton but I do think one area of improvement could be in how he handles playing time for veterans vs their production and allowing younger guys to grow and advance. I think he and most coaches in pro sports could learn from Craig Berube and how he handles these situations, healthy scratches for veteran players like Perron when they aren't producing to his standard, calling out Vladi in a direct but still professional way to get more out of him and molding guys like Sanford and Kyrou to grow and improve their young careers. He deserves massive credit and Shildty could take a lesson from the Chief.
    Berube has received plenty of credit for how he's handled the Blues since his promotion, and it is well deserved. No debate there. Just a strong agreement.
    I'd point out that some get frustrated with him at times for backing an older player (Bouwmeester last season) or keeping high standards for a young player (Kyrou), both moves that looked better in the long run than they did in certain snapshots.
    Shildt has shown no problems encouraging young players. This is not an old-vs-young thing. He was in favor of adding Jordan Hicks last season, for example, and showed zero hesitancy about handing him a key role as he earned it.
    As for the young outfielders, it's also worth remembering that while the manager makes the lineup, he does not decide who is on the team.
    Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter were given multi-million contracts by the front office, with expectations to make good on them.
    Those facts are going to be factors in the discussion about who makes the team, and who is expected to get every shot to play well on that team.
    Shildt very well could have some tough calls to make this season regarding when to switch between struggling veterans and unproven youth. We're going to learn more about how he handles it. But we saw him bench Matt Carpenter last season, so I think he is going to go with the direction he feels leads to wins. That's what he should do, even if it proves the existence of regrettable contracts.
    If the Cards extend Yadi's contract and remains the Cards primary catcher I certainly hope they will free Kizner. Perhaps he could be included in an Arenado trade with the Rockies. It seems a bit unfair to Kizner's career to hold him back much longer. Will they likely free him at some point?
    Free him?
    He's the top catching prospect in an organization that has employed some of the game's best catchers.
    He's learning from a Hall of Famer, and in line to benefit from that legacy if he finds himself as the Cardinals starter at some point down the line.
    Let's relax on the notion of Knizner perishing on the vine.
    If the Cardinals extend their commitment to Molina, and feel good about the future of Ivan Herrera or another potential replacement, then sure, they could move Knizner in a deal similar to what happened with Carson Kelly.
    But the Cardinals are not in the business of moving talented players just to move them. It would require a deal they feel helps their team.
    Every other pro team in the state doesn't have their ring, yet. The Battlehawks' ring is a mere couple months away, however.
    Of course.
    My apologies.
    Hope I didn't jinx it.
    Ka. 
    Kaw.
    As the regular season nears, does the spring lineup construction give an indication of who might be making the opening day roster? Put more bluntly: if Carlson or Sosa keeps getting starts, can we infer that their chances are increasing?
    Right now it means the Cardinals want to see more of them.
    Want to increase the chances to see them face more pitching, field more positions, etc.
    The last week of spring is usually a decent time to start mining lineups for meaning on how things could look once the season starts.
    Carlson and Sosa are both in the mix.
    Infielders are also a bit thin due to injuries at the moment, with Yairo Munoz's hamstring and Brad Miller's lower back.
    That's the reason Kramer Robertson has been called in.
    Means more chances for Sosa, on top of the reason discussed above.
    Looks like Miller is going down the Mo Road of for signings
    We make fun of Mulder but mo has outdone that
    Probably best to see what the tests say, no?
    Hey Ben, Thanks for the chat.

    I actually believe this offense has a chance to be pretty good if the young kids actually get a chance! I don't believe they are getting that opportunity we keep hearing about if only LF is open. Carlson, Tyler O, and Thomas are the best 3 outfielders on the roster but only LF is open as of now? Dexter Fowler has been really bad for 2 straight aging seasons and not performed this spring, yet he has RF wrapped up for opening day? That is very frustrating to me and I don't care what money he makes! Fans want to see the best players take the field and he isn't one of them!
  • Fowler wasn't really bad last season.
    He was really bad in 2018.
    He wasn't too far off his career averages last season.
    Please don't twist this on me. Just trying to make sure we are not generalizing things too much.
    I get the frustration.
    The Cardinals said all offseason that they needed to clear space for youth, and that the up-and-coming young hitters, specifically the ones in the outfield, could raise the bar for an offense that under-performed last season. It was a hard sell. Many are not buying it. What would make it even worse is if those young outfielders do come through, and they are limited from opportunities by a reliance on a veteran player who is not performing as well as the young guys could. So, I hear you.
    As for the best three outfielders, the setup you mentioned could present problems in center field. Carlson is not a natural center fielder. There's a drop-off defensively between Bader and Thomas there. Same for O'Neill.
    Carlson got some reps in center on Monday and reminded why he's not a natural center fielder.
    Fowler is a popular topic today, and we've talked about this some below, but I'm not convinced a bad spring bounces him from a starting spot. I do think it could decrease his amount of time as the starter once games count. Carlson and O'Neill are forcing the issue. Thomas has not as much this spring. Justin Williams has not at all.
    if Carpenter bats third then he’ll probably keep pulling the ball rather than beat the shift by hitting to the left side?
    Carpenter's emphasis on getting back to using all fields has been pretty clear this spring.
    We'll see how successful he is at it, but I don't think it's going to change much because of his place in the lineup.
    Ben, love your work...thanks.
    Searching for the correct emotions, here's my attempt: I feel deceived/jilted/conned/saddened/angry/furious/unrepresented by The Cardinals Ballclub personal $$$ windfall from the FSM contract that presumably has left fans left out in the cold without T.V. viewing due to their alleged demands from broadcast carriers.

    The faithful fanbase is apparently a pawnbase assume the role of "Well, just fortunate to have a professional team attached to my city and happy the organization is profiting highly at apassionately fell in love with
    Networks blame carriers.
    Carries blame networks.
    And who suffers?
    The fans, and the game.
    And yes, it is a bummer the teams use the leverage they have to help fix this problem, which is not limited to Cardinals fans.
    People in Los Angeles can't watch Dodger games, for example.
    Paying significantly for MLB TV is an option, until you realize local games are blacked out.
    A generation of potential fans is going to grow up without the option of turning on TV and watching their local team play.
    It's bogus.
    Rob Manfred wants to talk about ways to grow the game, and frets publicly about declining interest, but where are his public comments that bemoan fans not being able to watch their teams?
    Crickets.
    The Blues look mighty good...even when they’re playing poorly, they’re an elite team. With Tarasenko’s pending return to action, what are their chances of a repeat?
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