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. Today's a good day. Baseball has finally decided to join forces between players and owners and try to take on coronavirus. That is if players accept the terms of the health and safety protocols, which we have reason to believe they will. And sure, there will be a grievance probably that will play out alongside the season and make things even more sour headed toward the negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement. But hey, baseball! 60-game season with some new rules implemented. It's gonna be a sprint, but it's certainly better than nothing -- if they can pull it off. Let's roll.
    say the players do sign off on health and protocol the cards still need to put together the best roster. Carlson would need to be on there . Gant and brebbia no. They didnt look good in first ST.
    Players are going to sign off on the health and safety part of the owners' proposal. At least that was the expectation late last night. Owners have asked them to make that approval known by 5 p.m. today. Some of the final details on what exactly this looks like are not going to be available until players give that approval, and Manfred sets the terms of the season. That said, expanded rosters are certainly expected. Likely 30-man rosters, perhaps for the entire season. Plus a taxi squad. No minor league action beyond that. So, there would be room for all three of those names. Carlson belongs, yes. Might be wise to see how all pitchers pitch and hold up after this weird time off before we start assigning those bullpen spots. Expect setbacks, dead arms and, unfortunately, injuries.
    60 games sounds like progress until you remember the major league camps that just emptied out due to a resurgence of COVID-19. Has all the squabbling between owners and players merely been arguing about the placement of the deck chairs after the Titanic struck the iceberg? I weep for the future of baseball.
    I remember. And it's a fair point. The best way to explain it is using a basketball reference. Think March Madness. Every other league -- NBA, NHL, MLS -- advanced off their player/owner bracket line and moved on to face the big, bad higher-seeded opponent: coronavirus. Baseball just now advanced. Now, it's not like ALL of the effort was on the money side of the negotiation. Owners came up with a massive document of precautions and protocols that players have had for a while now, but have not approved. Hopefully baseball didn't do itself a disservice by not having a unified front sooner, but one thing is certain -- now, with the upticks in camps across sports, is a hard time to be relaunching. We'll see how it goes. I expect multiple players, perhaps some rather important ones, to sit out this season.
    Could you give some info on the grievance process? When and with whom would the players file a grievance? And how much $ would they be looking for, their entire 2020 salaries? Don’t see how they win much, given the national health emergency as the owners defense.
    Players have 45 days to officially file a grievance that accuses owners of negotiating in bad faith. Essentially, what they would be trying to prove is that the owners delayed mandating a season in order to shorten the number of games that could be played. You can see the owners have done some things to help protect themselves, one of which was deciding a 60-game season would be imposed instead of a shorter one, like 45. Now they can say they did not punish the players for not taking the final owners' proposal. Owners will also say they offered more games, but players will argue that the per-game pay was smaller in those offers. And so on. There's chatter the players would be coming for something like a billion dollars with the grievance. It would be decided by MLB's independent arbitrator Mark Irvings would hear the case. This would not interrupt the season. It would play out alongside the season, and might take longer than a season to end.
    So, is there a DH this year? There is no expanded playoff either, right? Sorry BenFred if no DH, the purists live to see another day.
  • My understanding is that the DH will be used by both the American and National Leagues in 2020, as it was part of the health/safety discussions for the shortened season.
    But because there was no proposal accepted, there was nothing agreed to that guaranteed the DH in 2021.
    After that it will be determined by the next CBA.
    So, prepare, traditionalists :)
    Can't figure out from the news stories this morning what the process will be if a player says he doesn't want to participate due to fear for his health. Will the team make him inactive, and add a replacement -- but only a replacement from the 40-man roster?
    Understandable. It's confusing. MLB had given players sense that players who are high risk and have a higher likelihood of having very serious problems due to catching coronavirus, will be able to opt out and still get paid. Additionally, there was a sense that players who decide to opt out will not be punished, other than not getting paid. Players had asked in one of their proposals to include an opt-out with pay for players who have immediate family members who are high-risk, but what happens to that after there was no compromise is up in the air at the moment. Some of this will become more clear as the two sides finalize details and players officially agree on health protocols. As for the replacement, I think it will work like you said -- fill the spot from within, or go get a temporary replacement once the roster freeze lifts and trades and late signees become available.
    Any idea when we find out the MLS team name? Thanks
    Nothing concrete, but it's approaching. One thing to keep in mind in both Charlotte and STL -- and Charlotte is expected to announce before STL because it is expected to play before STL -- is the need for lots and lots of gear and merchandise. Some of the companies that produce that stuff have not been up and running, so there's some natural delay built in there. Once Charlotte announces, St. Louis won't be too far behind. Charlotte has said it planned to announce in June.
    Davis Bertans and Trevor Ariza from the NBA won't be participating in the bubble tournament. Do you think more NBA players will follow them? Will it just be guys, like them, from teams unlikely to make the playoffs or could we see Lakers, Bucks, Clippers, Nuggets, Cetlics or other teams with championship aspirations back out? What about the NHL tournament?
    I can't predict who will and won't play. It's up to each individual, and each individual has his own factors influencing his decision. Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole have pregnant wives at the moment. Sean Doolittle's wife has asthma. Jordan Hicks has diabetes. All of these things weigh on all of these baseball players differently. It's no different in any other sport. I do think it's more likely that players who don't feel like they have a real shot in the postseason NBA and NHL shortened tournaments might be more likely to opt out, but if they are on that bad of a team they aren't going to be around for very long anyway. One reason the bubble system to basketball and hockey might work is that it's going to be getting smaller as teams are eliminated, decreasing the risk instead of increasing it -- as long as everyone follows the rules, which I doubt everyone will.
    It's only a 60-game season, and there are no minor-league options for playing time, so Dylan Carlson HAS to be on the Cards' active roster and has to be used, right? I'll hang up and listen.
    How did the strike-shortened season of 1994 carry over into the following season in terms of fan engagement?
  • Yes, Dylan Carlson should be on the Cardinals' roster for 2020. There's no good excuse to keep him off. My stance on that has not changed.
    The damage done by the 1994 strike lasted a long time. Baseball faded. Many think it was the home run race that really brought it back to national prominence. I don't think these cantankerous negotiations to figure out a shortened 2020 season will have that effect, but a strike following it (after the current CBA expires after 2021 season) might. It's also important to remember baseball is not nearly as nationally prominent as it has been in the past. Another example arrived yesterday. I was watching ESPN when news broke about the players rejecting the owners' final proposal. SportsCenter did not stop talking about NFL, college football or NASCAR to cut to the news. 
    Hi Ben. Thank you for your time. is the NL DH part of the re-opening of MLB? Thank you.
    It appears so for 2020, but not for 2021, is how I read it.
    Have the Cards laid out their spring training plans? Everything at Busch?
    Everything at Busch, yes.
    Only exception could be stationing the taxi squad at Hammond Field in Springfield.
    P-D colleague DG reported that a while back.
    Hey BenFred, If a full season does get played what do you think will be the biggest difference in how the season as a whole is played/managed. The easy example I have heard is being able to use your best relievers more often. No need to save arms for game 162. Anything else come to mind or that you are interested in seeing how it will change or that you are confident will change?
    You named a good one.
    Specific to the Cardinals, I'm most interested in how manager Mike Shildt handles the old guard.
    Slow starts from veterans who have recently struggled -- Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler specifically -- can't be explained away under the "it's a long season" method.
    It's not a long season.
    Especially with the DH available, and especially with expanded rosters, there's really no excuse to prioritize politics over playing guys who are locked in and ready to roll for a 60-game sprint.
    Tommy Edman, Dylan Carlson, Lane Thomas should not be twiddling their thumbs if the guys ahead of them on the depth chart aren't producing.
    I'm also curious to see how NL teams adapt to the DH.
    Does a guy like Tyler O'Neill go from not having a place to having a regular spot in the lineup?
    Hey, Ben: I was on the players' side while owners tried to lowball players with less than prorated salaries. I thought it was right for the players to reject those offers. However, I have no idea what they think they accomplished by turning down the final offer that gave them a larger playoff pool just for they right to grieve the negotiations. They will lose that grievance in a heartbeat. There is no chance they will be able to prove bad faith negotiations on the owners' part, especially if the language in the March agreement allowed wiggle room for a no-fans scenario.

    I feel baseball has tight union but bad leadership, and somehow the whole goal was just to stand up to owners to show they won't be pushed around. It's as if somehow that would make up for the terrible deal the cut in the last collective bargaining agreement. In the end, I think all they did was cost themselves money for the sake of appearing tough.
    That's how it will look if they go for the grievance and flop.
    But there's no sense in trying to guess how the grievance will play out.
    That's as pointless as it was to try to guess when the season was start back on the day spring training was canceled.
    It has to play out. 
    I've read the March 26 agreement, and I can see why the players did not back down off their plan for prorated games, but that doesn't mean I know everything the players know about how the owners handled this. One thing that is going to come up, I imagine, is the constant leaking by the owners, along with the claim that they were going to lose money every game they played without fans in the stand -- a claim that was then followed up with a resistance to hand over information that proved that claim.
    That said, it's going to be pretty easy for owners to get away with a lot under the umbrella of the national pandemic. They had an advised stop date from health experts. They offered multiple proposals -- though none of them were very good -- and can say they tried.
    I think both sides have lost in this one.
    Owners had to pay players more per game than they hoped, and no one got as many games as they wished. Both sides were as worried about a grievance as they were about 2020. A lot of this was fishing for information for the CBA negotiations after the 2021 season, and that's a shame.
    I'm not praising players' union leadership. That tell us when and were thing was a disaster and it backfired. But the hostility players have developed for owners is real, and most of is earned.
    Do you see a connection between DeWitt’s profitability comment and the fact that this team has been dead silent at the trade deadline that past 6 seasons?
    It's all related.
    When most fans think about what their favorite team spends, they think about the money being paid to the players they know, and nothing else.
    I'm not saying that's wrong. It make sense.
    When DeWitt speaks about what his team spends, he sees a bunch of silos.
    Payroll is one of them. Player development is one of them. The international market is one of them. Ballpark development is one of them.
    We see these viewpoints clash sometimes, perhaps most often at the trade deadline.
    Fans tend to focus on moves that are not made in one silo.
    DeWitt and his front office are weighing a move made in that silo with how it can affect all of the other silos.
    The Cardinals are not a win-or-bust franchise. They're a sustained success franchise. They're not going to apologize for that approach. It has rewarded this ownership group.
    When DeWitt speaks about money coming in and out, he's thinking about a big picture, and he's not wrong in saying that it's a false assumption that there is this big vault at Busch full of cash.
    But if he's going to talk about this inside-baseball breakdown of team finances, especially during a pandemic, he should recognize that the value of the franchise has increased dramatically over the time he has owned the team.
    That's noteworthy.
    In this proposed 60-game sprint, what do you see as this team’s strengths and weaknesses in this limited format?
    Strength is pitching, pitching, pitching.
    A bunch of arms.
    A bunch of healthy arms.
    Mikolas should be good to go.
    I think the Cardinals should toy with -- gasp -- a six-man rotation in order to get the most out of all starters and bank (unfortunately) on the chance that someone is going to have a hiccup due to the strange season.
    A downside that comes to mind is the lack of an obvious DH. The Cardinals can use that to their advantage, perhaps, by cycling guys through and seeing if someone sticks, or using it to get young players on the field.
    But some teams have more proven thumpers who will slide into that spot and become a force.
    I was really hoping the DH trial in the NL would extend thru 2021, I think it benefits the Cards’ current roster construction by finding at-bats for players who are blocked by a contract or a veteran whose defense is limited.
    Maybe it will.
    I still think it's too early to assume the 2021 season will be "back to normal" and there could be some owner-player negotiations that have to happen that time around, too.
    If it goes well this year I would not be surprised to see it back in 2021.
    Who gets the most ABs at DH this year? Miller, Carp, O’Neill, or a player to be named later?
    My money is on O'Neill.
    I tend to overlook Brad Miller, but he did slug .610 over 66 games last season.
    That'll work.
    Do you think that MLB would explore an Amnesty Clause this winter, similar to what the NBA did in 2011 after the lockout, allowing teams to clear one player off their books?
    I can't imagine the players' union agreeing to a clause that would allow some of their biggest contracts to get wiped away without payment.
    The MLS team is named the St. Louis Chargers. Oh, but they're actually an NFL team.
  • Shoot. I'm the last to know.
    Every game will be magnified in a 60-game run to the playoffs. So wouldn't you be planning to play Edman every day at 3B, based on last years's batting and fielding performances, and have Carpenter be the one who comes off the bench to pinch-hit/fill-in?
    It depends which Carpenter I'm getting.
    If it's the one who can look like the hottest hitter in baseball for a 60-game stretch, I want him in the lineup every game.
    If it's the one who looks like one of the least competitive hitters in baseball for a 60-game stretch, I want him on the bench.
    He's going to get a shot to prove he's in the zone.
    I'd give him that, too.
    Carpenter at DH would make a lot of sense, with Edman at 3B.
    At this point, playing the baseball season seems silly. Having only 60 games will change how the game is managed. If you hated the how much bullpens were used before, well, just wait. I imagine a lot of four-inning starts, and then bullpens take over, especially with expanded rosters. And that means strikeouts will continue to soar, and the game will be even more one dimensional.

    I'm also trying to imagine the underwhelming drama of a no-fans World Series. Nothing like getting the final out to a chorus of absolute silence.
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