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 from Florida starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

    Greetings, chatters. Coming to you live from JetBlue Park here before the Red Sox host the Cardinals in today's Grapefruit League game. An interesting day as MLB launched its new coronavirus protocols. Seems to be having mixed results depending on the team. I'm sure we will get into that here, plus a lot of Cardinals stuff and more. Let's roll.
    Benfred,

    Did you see the Blues game last night? That second goal was made entirely possible by an egregious interference on Dunn into the back of the Blues net. Not an excuse, but those plays can't be allowed in the playoffs.
    I did not, unfortunately. Was cranking on a column about Kim's strong start against the Twins. Bad officiating exists, and it won't go away in the playoffs. Remember the hand pass?
    Ben,

    What are your thoughts on ST while down in Jupiter? I think it is reaffirming what we knew going into the 2020 season. Pitching and Defense will shine, and the offense will be the weak spot, with hopefully enough manufactured runs to win more than lose. Any veteran players to be worried about going into the start of games that count?
    I agree with most of that.
    Smart to remain in wait-and-see camp with the offense until we see runs in games that count, and the lineups used to try to create them.
    Pitching is really, really good.
    And deep.
    Yesterday was a reminder of that. Kim, Ponce and Reyes tore through a Twins lineup that looked a lot like the one that could start for Minnesota on opening day.
    To your last question, yes.
    Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter remain under a microscope.
    I think Carpenter's at-bats have looked a lot better than Fowler's.
    When Paul Goldschmidt, the best hitter on this team, says it's good to get some good results toward the tail end of spring, it's hard for me to ignore the fact that Fowler's at-bats have not looked very good, and I'm not just talking about the numbers.
    I just wanted to say that I really hope Kim can be used as a starter but I think Ponce may beat him out, do you see the same thing happening? Likewise O'Nell beating out Carlson, for now at least.
    Maybe I'm misreading it, but I think Kim is in line to be a starter, especially after his performance yesterday.
    He could get two more Grapefruit League starts before the Cards head North, which is enough time to overcome the slight delay he had because of the groin situation.
    That would leave the Cards with a tough call on Ponce -- start him in Memphis for depth or find a role for him in the bullpen.
    The latter would be my preference.
    Depth is great, but Ponce as a multiple-inning reliever would not be impossible to transition to a starter if that need came up, and that's a pretty good arm to have sitting in Memphis for games that don't help the Cards' plan of defending their division title.
    Pretty much everything about Dylan Carlson's spring screams that he's ready to be a major leaguer, but I said before camp started that I think he starts in Memphis, and I have not heard anything from the Cardinals that makes me change that opinion.
    There's still time for Carlson to continue to force the issue, but my opening-day starter prediction for the outfield remains: O'Neill, Bader and Fowler.
    Whether John Burroughs acknowledged it or not, everyone knows they (and Priory) stopped scheduling Lutheran North because of their rampant recruiting efforts. Is it a coincidence that Jim Crane, owner of the Astros, is a Lutheran North grad???
    Ah, the old "everyone knows" argument. Spare me.
    If the coronavirus continues to get worse, do you think MLB is more likely to delay the start of the regular season or have the first week(s) played with zero fans in attendance?
    It sounds like everything is on the table, and things are fluid and moving fast, but one stance shown by all major sports leagues to this point so far has been a resistance -- not shocking -- to stop anything that makes money. Fans in seats make money. Games make money. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had a call with teams yesterday, and out of that call was the news that, for now, there will be no schedule delays or changes. That could change, as the MLB's opinion that closing the clubhouse to media access changed almost overnight. This is a particularly interesting conversation for the Cardinals, because they are set to go to London this season to play the Cubs. So far, nothing has been tabled, postponed or canceled for the London series. That could obviously change. We are keeping close track of it and checking in with the Cardinals and MLB regularly on the topic.
    Did KK throw any extra pitches on the back fields or in the bullpen after his start yesterday? It seems like he may be running out of time to get stretched out enough to start. Of course I’m saying this as a fan who has nowhere near the knowledge base that shildt and maddux have.
    It's a good question due to the time he missed with the groin scare. I asked this question to Shildt yesterday, and he said there are no concerns about KK being ready to roll in the rotation when the regular season starts, if that's the direction the Cardinals decide to go, and it seems that's the direction this is headed. He could get two more starts before then.
  • I hope cards put Carlson on roster. Fowler is batting .87 we need offense. This investment in fowler cant be salvaged. Stsrt his clock
    I think Carlson has a better chance of making the opening-day roster than the chance of Fowler not starting on opening day.
    If Carlson convinces the Cardinals that they absolutely must take him to St. Louis out of camp -- and I don't think it's going to happen -- then the guy Carlson leaps would be O'Neill or Thomas, not Fowler, at least not at first. Emphasis on that last part. At least not at first.
    Mike Shildt's Grapefruit League lineups tell us he doesn't seem to be planning on batting Fowler near the top of the order, which is a change, considering Fowler hit leadoff on the NLCS.
    There's an example of Fowler's role being scaled back by performance.
    A move down in the order could become a removal from the order, but don't expect spring training to be the catalyst that causes it.
    Fowler's time to stop it from happening once the regular-season starts could absolutely be shortened by the struggles he's had this spring.
    The short version: The Cardinals are going to give Fowler and his contract more chances and more time to play well than those who think Fowler is past the point of playing well will want to see.
    But the process is in motion unless Fowler stops it or reverses it.
    The other thing: How the Cardinals play, how many runs they score, how many games they win, factor into the conversation a lot.
    It's easy to give Fowler more time if he's struggling and the team is winning, scoring runs.
    Not so much if one-run games are turning into losses and the right fielder is filing three-strikeout days.
    What are your thoughts on the XFL at the midway point? It seems like the newness factor has worn off for all franchises and the only fans left are the die hard football fans. It wouldn't shock me if the LA at St. Louis game is the highest attended game the XFL ever has.
    We saw this coming, right? The new-car smell can only last so long. How it holds up was always going to be the big question about this venture. How many people keep going. How many people tune in. And yes, I would not be surprised if the BattleHawks hosting LA was the biggest XFL attendance ever, no matter what happens from here.
    BenFred,
    I know much has been written about the outfield situation and how Fowler is getting paid so he will get first rights to a spot? This is just really hard for me to understand. Its really hard to understand how the outfield coming out of spring would not be O'Neill LF, Bader CF, and Carlson RF. I understand that Fowler is getting paid but every game counts on March 26. Cardinals won the division by 2 games last year. Why wouldn't Fowler start on the bench and if his performance dictates work himself back into a starting spot. He is 2-25 this spring we are getting past the point of a small sample size and this just being a slow start. Its hard to believe that the Cardinals would send Carlson down at this point and just give Fowler the spot.
    Baseball is business.
    Follow the money.
    Almost always.
    Fowler has the contract that says he's the starter. He has the contract that says he has been given the job, not one that says he must take it or earn it. He has to lose it. Someone has to take it from him. Or some combination of both.
    Someone has to convince the Cardinals that they are better off admitting a better plan exists, so much so that they move a starter's contract to the bench.
    Could that guy be Carlson? Yeah. Totally. But the outfield makeup of this team also sees no proven starter in left field, and a starter in center who is not so proven he could not find himself on the bench.
    Contracts are not just contracts. They are commitments. The Cardinals gave that money to Fowler because they believed in him. They have reasons, financial and beyond, to want to see their commitment work out, and to feel like they should honor that commitment.
    Some teams are faster than others to make moves that confess a contract was a mistake, or that a better option has arrived.
    The Cardinals are on the slow-moving side of that spectrum.
    Fowler's spot in the lineup was going to be determined this spring, but we have not seen many reasons to believe his starting job was. Again, an entirely unproductive spring could expedite a shift to the bench after games count, I think. Especially if the left field competition continues to suggest there are multiple outfielders in that discussion who could play better in right field.
    I called this before spring started. The left field competition had a chance to boil over. It's happening while Fowler has had a very quiet spring so far.
    Hi,
    What is your take on the starting 5? Jack, Carlos, Dakota, ... Waino, Kim, Ponce ? Thanks
    Flaherty
    Hudson
    Martinez
    Kim
    Wainwright
    Two questions:

    1) How do you see the second half of the Battlehawks season playing out in terms of attendance/fan interest? It seems like we've reached the point where there is A LOT of competing interests for fan attention. But maybe St. Louis will be different?

    2) Any chatter about fan attendance at future XFL games in regards to the coronavirus?
    I expect the Los Angeles game will be the high-water mark, with the second level opening up and the natural Los Angeles rivalry of sorts.
    Beyond that, not sure.
    Is there any timeline for making a decision on the London series in regards to the coronavirus? Asking for a guy who’s already spent a buttload of money on airfare, tickets, and hotel accomodations.
    Nothing yet. We will continue to check in on it. You would think if there is going to be a change, it would need to be decided soon, for the reasons you mentioned. Any unnecessary delay is going to cost fans, like you, more money. I need to be clear here. The only response we have received is that things are still on, and that's it? Personally, I'm not optimistic. Lots and lots of things are being postponed or canceled outright. If this continues to grow, I think players will start speaking out about their concerns. None have yet, to my knowledge, and we have asked.
    The battle hawks need to open up the offensive playbook more. Straight up the gut runs were getting shut down and there wasn’t much of an adjustment. Ta’amu has proven he can throw the ball down the field so let him do it.
    I've been saying that since game one. Dude can spin it. Let him.
    What do you think the starting outfield will be on opening day and what do you think it will be after the all star break?
    Answered the first one earlier, but the second one depends on how the first answer and the team fares.
    One thing I feel good about?
    Bet on Carlson.
    He cannot be slowed so far this spring, and that upward trajectory is going to continue. When he's free from service-time ramifications and if the guys ahead of him don't play well, he's going to be in the majors, and I don't imagine he's going back once he arrives.
    Hi Ben, what's your thoughts on media being barred from the locker rooms? I would think it makes your job harder
    I'm all for doing what is best to help stop and slow the spread of coronavirus. It's serious stuff. My dad is a family medicine doctor. My wife works at a hospital. People smarter than I am about this stuff have made me realize it's no joke, and that spreading it to someone who is not as likely to fight it off is something we should all worry about.
    So, if not being in the clubhouse for a period of time helps that effort, OK.
    That said I'm really not sure what that helps.
    Today I watched three rounds of 25-plus fans take a guided tour through the Red Sox dugout before the game, while Red Sox media members waited nearly two hours for players to show up to an interview room. The crowds in the dugout were touching the rails, sitting on the seats, etc. The journalists covering the Red Sox were waiting in a room for players that never appeared, because they didn't have to, and because they could not be approached in the clubhouse during the portion of the day that the clubhouse is open for interviews.
    The clubhouse is not players only. Team staff, the same ones who are in the press box with the media during the games, is in there. There are cooks and player reps and random visitors who are ushered in. And the players are not locked in the clubhouse. They go out to eat, go to the grocery store, etc. 
    I hope you see my point here.
    I want to help. I also am wary, as a journalist, of skewed reasons for decreasing access. I was pleased to see MLB stress that this is temporary, and I applaud the Cardinals for their handling of the new protocol today before the game. I felt the team staff here went out of its way to help us do our jobs with the new restrictions.
    This should be a time of cooperation, not conflict.
    So far, so good. But let's make sure things get back to normal once the threat ends.
    I've learned that many people have a very warped idea of what happens in terms of media in the clubhouse. It's not open all the time to reporters. Reporters are not in the showers as some think to obsessively think. In-depth conversations and interviews can happen in that setting that cannot happen in a press-conference or mixing zone. They certainly can't happen if teams, like the Yankees, try to rope reporters in and have players walk by and stop. The Cardinals are using a much better system in the dugout and on the field before batting practice, and I really appreciate that.
    I understand both the team and fan's perspective on Carlson. But don't you think this all could have been tempered if the team had done anything to upgrade the offense this off-season? The pressure is the result of their complacency.
    I think the Cardinals have put themselves in a pinch, and I saw it coming and mentioned it here repeatedly.
    I've written about it a lot.
    You can't say you declined making significant moves to help the offense because you are opening things up for the youth, and then not put Dylan Carlson on the opening-day roster when he spent spring training crushing it.
    I mean, you can, but you're going to hear about it.
    Relying on the youth -- but only as much as it's convenient -- is not going to be a popular message to fans, and it should not be.
    To be clear not questioning the new protocol as a common sense approach by MLB. That being said, can you please describe where there might this measure might prove most effective to mitigate the spread of the virus to those participating in post game interviews inside the clubhouse's? For example, are there typically any hand shaking that goes on?
    I'm not convinced it's going to help anything coronavirus related.
    I don't have proof that it won't.
    I don't have proof that it will.
    When P-D colleague Derrick Goold talked to the MLB a few days ago, an official said the CDC HAD NOT recommended shutting clubhouses.
    That was when the NHL said it was, and told national NHL reporters all other pro teams would be following suit.
    Something changed, clearly.
    As for clubhouse protocol in normal times, it just depends. It's not rare to shake hands with someone, just like in real life. The idea that hugs and a bunch of physical contact occur? No.
    5 of the first 6 series of the season are against legit NL contenders, 7 vs LA. If Carlson starts in Memphis, Fowler flails in RF, Carp flails at 3rd, and this team leaves heads to Colorado multiple games under .500, it won't be a good luck for Mo or the team. It certainly won't create trust with fans.
  • Fowler's under pressure.
    Games that count are going to be a lot more pressurized than games that don't.
    Is there a closer named yet or at least someone the club is telegraphing being the front runner to get 1st shot at the role to start the regular season?
    No one named.
    Not sure one will be named outright.
    I think you will see it go a few different routes until or unless someone grabs it.
    Alex Reyes is in the mix. Junior Fernandez. Ryan Helsley. John Brebbia.
    I think it's safe to remove Kim from the potential closer conversation.
    He looks rotation bound.
    Ben, I love Rick Hummel, but every time someone asked whether or not Tommy Edman can win a regular position he mentions, "That he does not walk enough." Which is only one facet of his game. On the other hand, when someone talks about the problems with Dexter Fowler he bends over backwards to give reasons why he should be in the lineup regardless of how poorly he plays. What is your view?
    The beauty of these chats is that you get to hear opinions from each writer.
    I'd rather answer your questions with my opinions than share my opinions on a colleague's opinion, if that makes sense.
    My conversations with Commish are some of my most treasured moments covering this team. He's taught me a ton about the game. We don't always agree, and that's awesome. The debate is fun.
    So, shoot me your questions about Edman and Fowler, and I'll tell you what I think, but I'd rather answer your questions than your summary of someone else's answer.
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