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 hanging in there. Plenty to discuss today, whether it' the status of various sports' comeback attempts or more sports-specific stuff. Wrote about the Cardinals' DH carousel today, and would like to hear your thoughts on how you would like to see that play out. Let's roll.
    Why can't Shildt just stick Edman at third base and let Carp vs. Miller play out in the DH hole? Why all the talk about moving Edman here, there and everywhere? Is no one a fan of stability?
    It could wind up playing out like that. That's a possibility. But I don't think Shildt or Mozeliak want to commit to something now that might not be an option when time comes. What if Edman encounters the dreaded sophomore slump? What if Carpenter bounces back and has the kind of season where you want him in the lineup every day, not just mixing and matching with Brad Miller? The team also wants to sound encouraging to guys like Miller, Ravelo, and others who are competing for opportunities. We will know more about their true plan when, and if, games start. But simply playing Edman at third base, to me, decreases his value to some degree. He definitely needs a solid amount of at-bats. He earned a shot at that with his performance last season. Why does it matter where he plays in the field to get those at-bats? Paul DeJong played himself ragged with no help at shortstop last season. Edman can help there. Edman can play every single outfield spot, and did a fine job of it last season. Edman had a .964 OPS against left-handed pitching last season, compared to a .739 from Wong against lefties. If Wong needs a day off, and a southpaw starter is on the schedule, there's a perfect fit there. The key for Edman will be at-bats, not where he starts defensively. He's good bouncing around, and it didn't show any signs of affecting his offense last season. It's a strength that he can do it.
    What the heck is going on with Alex Reyes? Why isn't he out there throwing?
    He is in that group of Cardinals in the gray area. He has NOT been announced as one of the players who have tested positive for COVID-19, but he has not cleared the proper testing protocols to reach the field. Some of this could be compounded by the delays of testing results that led to the team's cancellation of Monday's practice and postponement of Tuesday's practice. The Cardinals have said Reyes is in St. Louis.
    What's the deal with the infected Blues and the mysterious visit to a "bar in Clayton"? Got any intel on that?
    Nothing concrete enough to share here. If you're familiar with the Clayton scene, you can probably make three guesses on which bar I heard it was, and one of them will be right. I have to think those trips will be over now. Between the Blues getting busted for bar nights and Harrison Bader getting busted for popping up, sans mask, in social media posts from Jim Edmonds' birthday party, these guys are going to have to shut it down socially for some time, or risk the wrath of frustrated teammates and team officials.
    We should forget about heading back to CoMo this fall for football, right?
  • Nothing has to be 100 percent decided right now. Don't doubt big-time college football's persistence in pushing through to have some sort of a season. There's also a chance the season could be pushed to the spring. Nothing is off the table at this point. A cancellation or postponement could happen, sure. We've said that from the beginning.
    BenFred, have you seen Mike McCarthys letter to Green Bay Packer fans? Looks like he was preparing them to hear that most or all of them will only see the Packers on TV. Do you think that the NFL will have games with no fans in the stands, or even games at all this season?
    I said this last week, and my guess has not changed. I'm betting the under on fans in stands for any pro and college sports event that happens in 2020. I hope I'm wrong about that, but seeing how hard it has become for teams to protect their so-called bubbles, whether that's The Basketball Tournament (the five-on-five basketball bracket for a million bucks that's been popping up on ESPN), the MLS tournament or MLB summer camp, I think teams will be worried about welcoming crowds, especially in any indoor setting. On top of that, there is the threat of legal issues that would have to be sorted through if a game with a crowd was determined to be the flash point of virus spread. Is every fan going to sign a waiver that holds up? Seems like not a lot of time to figure out some of those rather important things.
    Any word on a Cardinals mask promotion?
    They're ignoring my fantastic idea.
    What a shame! 
    It's been said that the nature of this 60-game season doesn't lend itself to waiting on players to perform, fast starts and consistency will win out. But Shildt is a veteran's manager, regardless of what he did last fall with Carp and Fowler in the playoffs. Can he adjust his timeline if some of these veterans stumble early, without feeling he is betraying some big voices in the clubhouse?
    It's a great question, and one I'd rank in the top-three of most interesting baseball-specific topics for this season.
    Maybe number one.
    Shildt, to his credit, has spent some time during summer camp explaining how he's going to sort through this.
    He's made it clear he's going to be more interested in process than results.
    That means he's not going to rush to bench a regular who is on time at the plate and putting good swings on pitches, working good at-bats, even if the hits are turning out to be well struck balls that find gloves. 
    But if that regular is off, if he's mistiming fastballs and swinging at balls, etc., then Shildt has said there is not necessarily time to let someone who is in a bad spot work his way into a good one.
    That makes a lot of sense.
    The hard part, as always, will be determining the line between bad luck and bad spot, and factoring in the urgency a 60-game season demands.
    I keep coming back to what the Cardinals told us. They said the answers for a better offense were on this team. So, there should not be too much patience baked in before the answers that weren't answers last season are giving up time to guys who didn't get a chance to be the answer last season. Right?
    What is going on with the MLB testing results? Does not give confidence that a season will happen with such big issues at the start.
    PD colleague Derrick Goold explained it in great detail in today's story, and I'll link below.
    Basically, the combination of a bunch of tests, the 4th of July holiday, and the newness of all of this led to a delay in teams getting back test results.
    It doesn't make a lot of sense to test players every other day if they don't have their test results back in between those tests.
    It was a bad hiccup at a bad time, right at the start.
    And yes, it raises questions of the likelihood of this working out.
    It also raises questions about how many tests MLB seems poised to use at a time when certain hospitals are starting to get concerned about their amounts of available tests.
    Sean Doolittle, I thought, said it best when it seems like both sides -- players and owners -- spent so much time fighting about money that the chance for a better testing setup fell through the cracks.
  • Hey BenFred, just read where the feds may ban Tik Tok, just thought you should know.
  • Fine by me.
    I retired from the Tik Tok game after spring training :) 
    What’s the threshold for MLB to cancel the season? Is there a number on players opting out that will have them decide that the season isn’t worth it? Just wondering if you’ve heard anything regarding what it would take to dismantle 2020 and start over in 2021. Thanks.
    If there's a preset number -- cases, opt-outs, etc. -- that will make Manfred press the eject button, I have not heard anything about it.
    I've asked about it.
    Mozeliak has mentioned the is-it-worth-it conversation that would take place if a large group of players were not available for games.
    Everyone knew there was going to be some turbulence getting summer camps up and running. 
    If this turbulence continues -- frustrated players raising fair questions, testing delays, notable names opting out -- then it would not be a surprise to see Manfred pulling the plug.
    That said, there's money to be made.
    Summer camp is sponsored.
    The schedule reveal was sponsored.
    Never underestimate money as a motivator.
    They should make the playoffs if they keep their primary players healthy and available, and if a season happens. They have 10 games against Royals and Tigers teams that each lost 100-plus games last season. They won 60 percent of their games against NL Central teams last season, and get the benefit of playing the Pirates 10 times. The Pirates might be as bad as the Tigers and the Royals. I'm not putting too much stock in the home/road stuff. Home-field advantage during regular season play in baseball is pretty hard to prove, statistically, and now there will be no fans. 
    I think Carp will get the bulk of the AB‘a at DH. I think B. Miller and O’Neill will get a good amount too.
    It was interesting to hear Carpenter talk about the possibility of that this week. He seems, well, quite open to the notion.
    How confident are you that the baseball season actually gets started? Clubs are canceling workouts with the MLB struggling to get test results. If that happens often enough I can’t imagine too many clubs will be happy and players may not want to go out there and play if they haven’t had enough workouts to get ready.
    Man, I'm not confident about anything. Not trying to go full nihilist or anything, but any "predictions" about what's going to happen with sports are mostly worthless. They're trying to get it going. There is significant turbulence, predictable turbulence, slowing things down. If things continue like this, it's easy to imagine the plug getting pulled on the American sports restart. Other countries are doing a better job of bringing back sports. Other countries also did a better job of reacting to the virus. Other countries are also not as big as America, which seems to be getting left out of the conversation quite a bit. But, to stay on track, nothing would surprise me at this point.
  • Do MLB officials really believe that they are going to actual play 60 games this year? It seems with all the new positive tests on a daily basis, there won't even be enough players to field a competitive team
    Well, each team as a 60-player pool it can pull from for a 60-game season.
    I doubt the commissioner, the teams or the players would be willing to see this thing through if it got to that point, though.
    Not every positive test will be removed from the equation entirely.
    Guys who are asymptomatic, and it seems most have been, could return rather quickly.
    Guys who have symptoms, though, could be delayed to the point of not being a real option.
    The real test for baseball will be how effectively guys are protected from the virus once everyone is through the on-boarding process. We knew there would be some who were delayed getting on the field as teams reconvened from all across the country, and from other countries. The real question is how well can a team be held together after it is reconvened.
    Chances of a Blues repeat?
    If the team is healthy, and the tournament is a go, I'm not sure why you would bet on any other team.
    Chances are high.
    Chances of the tournament being derailed? Unfortunately, probably high as well.
    So Mike Rizzo speaks the truth about how the delays in testing could threaten the season and Manfred jumps on him. Trout is unsure whether he will play. More players than expected are positive. Time to pull the plug?
    You don't cancel the season because Manfred made himself look bad. If that was the case there would never be another season.
    And while Trout opting out would be a big blow, he hasn't done it yet, and his involvement is not a must for games.
    I would wonder about the ripple effect of Trout opting out.
    If he does, others might follow.
    We've observed some of that with Freddie Freeman.
    Let's be honest.
    Manfred is the one who pulls the plug, and he's not going to do it unless the owners tell him to pull it.
    Again, it was unrealistic to think teams were not going to get back together and not have positive tests. This is going to come down to ironing out the testing issues, and finding out how well teams can be protected from breakouts once the on-boarding process is finished. Players being kept from the field before they touch it for the first time is a good thing, in a way, because it shows the process has worked. I'm not convinced this is going to work, but I don't think we have seen enough to determine, for sure, that it won't.  
    Sometimes I feel like a crazy person when I listen to local and national media talk about the Cards because I feel like I am the only one who remembers last season. I have heard multiple people talk about how Carpenter could be the "X factor" for this offense while hitting 3rd. Wait, the guy who has never been able to mentally hit 3rd and who couldn't hit anywhere in the line-up last year, is now the x-factor for 2020? There is optimism (this is O'Neil's year) and then there is just denial.
    Most of the potential Cardinals lineups I've encountered have Carpenter at second, not third.
    No one who paid attention last season is going to try to sugarcoat Carpenter's 2019 season.
    It was bad. His career worst.
    What he did the season before it, though, suggests he can be better than that.
    People should remember that, too. No, Carpenter doesn't get a free pass to hit in the best part of the lineup all season. We saw that erode last season. But he's got the contract, and he's going to get some sort of shot at redemption.
    The guys from mlb network stated if you have a prospect that can help you win now, say like a Dylan Carlson you play him and don’t worry about service time or feelings being hurt. Do you agree?
  • It's a popular opinion to have, and an easy one.
    I'm for it.
    But that doesn't mean it's going to happen.
    The Cardinals are not going to potentially hand away a year of service time for a handful of starts, not when they have two young players who have not received many regular starts ahead of Carlson on the depth chart.
    Carlson will be up quickly after the service-time snag passes, and when that happens, there will be no reason to hold him back.
    Hey Ben.. Good morning and hope all is well... I had a quick question.. Any thoughts on a Blues player who could possibly shine in the playoffs, outside the usual suspects? I'm wondering if it's a track meet out there, a player like Kyrou could become an x-factor with his speed and skill set. Or possibly Sammy Blais, who was poised for a breakout season until he got hurt. Even Perunivich, who is a high speed, high skill guy...
    Your thoughts?
    Number one would be Vladimir Tarasenko, of course.
    He's been a 30-plus goal scorer for each of the past five seasons. He's healthy. Rested. Should be ready to play with his hair on fire.
    We can't be sure what the layoff will due to the style of play, but I would imagine it's going to be more heavy and physical than speedy and skilled, at least compared to normal times.
    These guys have been off the ice for a while, and they're ramping things up quickly after a long layoff. Their legs are going to be heavy for a while. They're going to be sore and maybe a bit slow.
    I think teams that can grind it out are going to be at an advantage, and that's the way playoff hockey trends the deeper it goes anyway.
    The Blues have no problems in that department.
    Wainright was not good on the road last year but was very effective at Busch. This team has very good starting pitching depth (their words). Why not set the rotation so Waino only throws at home this year? It is an impossible feat over 162, but given this year's circumstances and schedule, why not? I know he could go long stretches without pitching but maybe it helps give guys like KK or Gomber a look too.
    This conversation took place in the Busch Stadium press box just a couple days ago. I said what you said. I'd figure the schedule out so Wainwright only starts at home. And I would have six starters for my rotation, though Carlos Martinez's status could be impacted by his delay in joining the team. He's one of the Cardinals who have not yet been cleared to hit the field.
    Starting Fowler in RF just because he is making a lot of money is like starting a long road trip with a bald tire that has a patch on it. You know it will fail eventually, why do you need to see it happen in order to justify removing it?
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