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. Hope everyone is healthy and doing well. Lots to discuss on the sports-coming-back front. Let's hope it works! Let's roll.
    How do you think a year with no competition will impact Dylan Carlson's career? None of us who pay attention are buying the argument that there will be meaningful and/or intense competition of some sort in Springfield for the taxi squad players.
    It would be harmful, but that's not going to be the case. I don't think Carlson is going to be on the opening-day roster due to service-time reasons and the Cardinals' wish to give Tyler O'Neill and Lane Thomas first cracks at it, but there are plenty of reasons to believe Carlson will be competing for and playing in meaningful games after the Cardinals get that extra year of control locked in. The Cardinals are selling the Carlson delay as reps for Thomas/O'Neill but let's acknowledge the obvious. If Dexter Fowler and Harrison Bader struggle and the outfield's offensive production lags again, one open spot could become three, and that means more chances for Carlson.
    Does mike Leake sitting out this year technically save the Cardinals any of the obligations on paying a portion of his salary? If the DBacks decline his option after this season, which they almost certainly will, do the Cards pay part of the $5 million buyout?
    I don't think the Cardinals would be on the hook for any of his buyout, and they are saving a little more than a million dollars this season due to his decision to opt out.
    BenFred - I enjoy the "BenFred 5" columns you write (and here it comes)..BUT Wieters as a DH option? Really? I like him just fine as our backup C...no issues there at all. But as a DH candidate and citing AB/HR as the argument? guy hasn't been above average offensive player since 2015 by measure of OPS+ (and in 2015 he had a 101 OPS+). His OBP last season was .268 and his OPS was a below league average .702 (and BTW league average OPS by catchers in 2019 was .717 so he wasn't even a league average bat among catchers). Again as a backup C? YES! As a legit candidate to get any DH AB's? Pass - If so we are in trouble...if our glut of OF and/or extra IF from Edman's success doesn't reveal better options we are going to be in trouble scoring runs. Sure his AB/HR ratio was 43rd in MLB last season (min 175 PA) but outside of that there is nothing in the profile to say this guy should be getting more AB's. Using the same criteria his SLG comes in at 198th in MLB so it's not like he is some sort of true power threat (he is behind guys like Freddy Galvis, Jordy Mercer & Adeiny Hechavarria).
    Thanks for the numbers.
    I know them.
    And I wasn't suggesting Wieters as THE designated hitter.
    But for a job that's going to bounce around a lot, he could be valuable there from time to time.
    Switch hitter. Home-run power.
    Here's an example.
    Ivan Nova is expected to be Detroit's fifth starter.
    Wieters has averaged .317 with a .429 on-base percentage and a .683 slugging percentage against Nova during his career.
    Might not be the worst matchup in the world.
    Again, the Cardinals would have to carry three catchers. 
    Maybe they don't.
    But Wieters isn't going to be doing much catching in a 60-game season, so it wouldn't be the worst idea to find some way to use his bat.
    Ben, how long after Charlotte announces their team name and colors do you think we will hear the announcement from MLS4TheLou's?
  • A report out of Charlotte says mid-July.
    I expect St. Louis name and team colors to come after Charlotte's announcement.
    How long after? Probably not too long.
    Timelines are all tentative right now. The timing involves practical considerations -- like how the virus has impacted the production of gear and things teams want to be able to sell as soon as the names are announced. Nothing is set in stone, but that's what I know to be true at the moment. Charlotte first. St. Louis on the clock after that.
    Buster Olney, a respected reporter, just said on the radio that there is a 5 percent chance baseball will begin its season and a zero percent chance it will go the distance. I found it very surprising--I thought it was a done deal. Is it because players are starting to opt out? If a big name player opts out, like Mike Trout, could that create momentum that would kill the season?
    I'm disappointed that comment is surprising, because I've tried to say here in the chat and in multiple columns that there's a great chance of the bottom dropping out on this plan.
    Baseball spent a lot of time sparring about who gets paid what in a shortened season, but it has just now moved on to the real fight, the one against the virus.
    Opt-outs won't be the reason the season is not finished.
    The virus could be.
    And yes, it's probably smart to bet on that being the case.
    Ideally, baseball does a good job of keeping the virus from becoming a bigger story than the baseball season.
    There are a lot of ways that could be derailed.
    Some of the ways?
    The plan to keep the virus out does not work.
    The plan to keep the virus out does work, but enough people vital to the game -- players, managers, coaches -- encounter the virus away from the ballpark and have to step away that the competition starts lacking its most important people.
    Someone within the game -- doesn't have to be a player -- gets severely ill and that changes the conversation about if this is worth it or not.
    Rob Manfred will have to decide how much is too much.
    Hopefully he doesn't have to.
    But considering the difficulty involved here, Olney's prediction is not outlandish, at all.
    Another thing: This is not about some misguided fear that the coronavirus is going to kill a bunch of young, healthy baseball players. The facts don't support that. But not everyone involved in the process of making baseball work is young and healthy, and there seems to be a lack of attention being paid to some significant unknowns about how the competition side of this could be watered down to the point of not making sense. Pro athletes need to be at their top shape and health to compete at the highest level. If one tests positive, he's removed from the situation until he's cleared to return. Even if he's asymptomatic, that time away is detrimental to performance. If he tests positive and gets physically sick, the road back to top performance gets a lot longer, as some COVID patients who have recovered report a long delay until they feel "fully healthy" once again, and these are people who are not required to run, jump, swing for their salary.
    It's mostly going to come down to how diligent baseball is away from the ballpark, and there are reasons to wonder if the large group will be as diligent as needed. And how well the plan works if they are.
    Have you heard any rumblings that a Cardinals player or players might opt out of the season?
    Nothing at this point.
    That could change of course.
    I think the number is going to continue to grow.
    Probably the least important question you'll answer today but is it fair to say the 2021 MLB All Star game will be at Dodger Stadium? Where the 2020 All Star game was supposed to be held?
    That would make sense but there's nothing official on any All-Star related changes yet. There was some chatter about maybe moving it to the end of this season. Whether it will be punted or salvaged in some way, shape or form likely factors into where it would go next year. Simply pushing it to next season in Los Angeles would make the most sense to me. I think it's foolish to have players from different teams gather in any setting that is not a game that counts during this time, and that includes the idea of exhibition games during this summer training. Intrasquad games will work just fine. Every game means some level or risk to spoiling the season due to a virus spread. Don't waste risks on games that don't count.
    How is Covid-19 affecting the NFL vs STL lawsuit, if at all?
  • If anything, it has helped more than it has hurt. More time to go through documents and acquired discovery in preparation for depositions. There's been no adjustment to the timeline that I know of at this time.
  • Have you heard any rumors on what the MLS name may be and do you think it will be announced soon after Charlotte's announcement?
    No credible rumor.
    Lots of guessing.
    And, yes.
    If the Blues end up signing Petro, how do you see Doug Armstrong managing the roster to get under the cap? It seems like plenty of teams would be interested in taking on Jake Allen in a trade, but I'm not sure about Steen or Bozak. How do you see it all shaking out?
    You mentioned one in Allen.
    Another is Justin Faulk. He had a disappointing first season in St. Louis but he's still a respected player and could be moved. He has a no-trade clause in the trade-and-extend that brought him to St. Louis, but no-trades in hockey are not iron-clad. (Guys tend to agree to move on if a team wants to move him to a non-terrible location.)
    Army will find a way to make it work if Petro wants to come back on a deal that makes sense for both sides.
    That's still my hope for what happens here.
    Do you think it'll be awkward for the NBA and NHL to be in a bubble while the MLB and (eventually) the NFL are playing games, at the same time, in their home stadiums probably with fans?
    I'd pump the brakes on fans being in the stands for any professional sporting event this season. It's a nice notion, but right now it's just that.
    I haven't heard anything new on Chester Graves in a while. Do you have any updates on his recruitment and would he be eligible to play in 2020? Mizzou could have a decent defense if they can get some pressure off the edge this year.
    Unless I have missed it, Graves never appeared on any Division I football roster. I don't think he successfully launched out of junior college. Pressure off the edge will be up to Tre Williams, Chris Turner, Jatorian Hansford. Someone is going to have to step up and show some development.
    Who would you say, outside the Cards, is a dark horse team to win the WS, given the shortened season?
  • I'll go with the White Sox.
    A fast start combined with their youthful energy could go a long way.
    I guess I was surprised that Olneys percentages were so low, not that a cancellation could happen. He is really saying that MLB should just realize it now and call the season, before the protocols are put in place and tested.
    I think what he's saying is they're going to give it a go but everyone who's being realistic realizes it's a real long shot to land. And I agree with that. Putting a percentage on it is pointless, though. Point is, a lot of stuff is going to have to go right.
    Where will taxi squad players physically go when they are optioned this season? Will they remain in St. Louis?
    The 60-player pool will be divided between St. Louis and Springfield.
    More players will go to Springfield as summer camp ends, and as the expanded roster in St. Louis gradually shrinks during takeoff.
    The Springfield guys have been referred to as the taxi squad -- I'm guilty of this at times -- but it's not accurate.
    The taxi squad is the three-player group that is from the 60-man pool that is allowed to travel as insurance in case of injury or COVID-related losses.
    When the taxi squad is not on the road, it will be in Springfield with the exception of the catcher that has to be on it. The catcher can stay in St. Louis as the bullpen catcher for home games.
    Do you think St. Louis will ever host the men's final four ever again? Or was 2005 the final time?
    Hope so, but it seems most of the Final Fours are now landing in bigger, newer arenas. The Enterprise Center upgrades helped, though, so that's good. The NHL All-Star game coming here was a good example of the kind of events that can now be in the conversation. Hopefully another Final Four is one of them.
    The calculation a player makes about playing this season depends on if his contract is guaranteed for 2021, correct? Not to dismiss valid health concerns, but except for Ryan Zimmerman, my guess is most players feel the need to play to ensure they can play in 2021 and beyond.
  • Opting out this season should not, in theory, affect anything in 2021. If you have a contract, you return to it. If you are opting out in what would have been the final year of your contract, you can return as a free agent. The market for a free agent's services could be impacted by whether or not he plays in 2020, I imagine. But that's also more about the status of the player. If Mookie Betts, hypothetically, decides to opt out in 2020, I don't think he would have a hard time finding a job in 2021.
    haven't we seen what o neil is over 60 games last year?
    Yes and no.
    He's had not one but two 60-game seasons at the MLB level.
    In 2018 he slashed .254/.303/.500 in 61 games.
    In 2019 he slashed .262/.311/.411 in 60 games.
    But he's only started 57 times, total, in those two seasons, and never more than 30 times in any one.
    If you knew how big of a Cards fan I am you would scratch your head about this statement, but I am happy this team is only playing 60 games because I don’t think they are going to be that good. Where is the offense going to come from? Veterans who have been declining for years and young players who have shown minimal consistency don’t just morph into All-Stars. The worst outcome could be the FO telling us this winter “well it was an abbreviated season, so we’ll give them more time in ‘21.”
    Yes, I am scratching my head.
    That's usually my reaction when a self-described fan of a team gets joy out of his or her team not playing well.
    Hey Benfred, appreciate your takes on the COVID situation but I am curious your take on whether sports can sell the "bubble" as being safer than outside it. All sports and its employees will have access to the best doctors and medical staff and you could argue it is safer for them than most people in their every day lives. I am not trying to suggest there is no risk but do you think that could be a selling point for sports to keep going is that sports have the better ability to protect its employees than most and anyone can catch this just going to the local grocery store. Thanks
    Totally.
    You make a great point.
    The argument that playing baseball should not happen assumes that playing baseball creates more risk of catching the virus than not playing baseball.
    Is that true?
    If every person involved in the playing of baseball stays at home and does not ever put themselves at risk of getting the virus, sure.
    But that's not reality.
    And yes, the truth is the biggest threat to stopping baseball probably isn't what happens at the ballparks, which are going to be home to an array of test and a three-tiered system designed to keep player safe, but what happens away from the ballpark.
    But if a large number of players are testing positive and missing time, or if someone gets severely ill, I don't expect this part of the conversation go get much attention. It will be presented by many as baseball being the reason the cases happened, whether it's true or not. Baseball will have a PR battle on its hands along with a battle against the virus.
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