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 1 p.m. Tuesday.

    Greetings, chatters.
    Thank you for your patience with the late time change.
    Had some assignments shift on me this week and needed to be at an event this morning, so here's the deal.
    We're going to hit it hard here until 3 p.m.
    Fast and furious. 
    And I'll plan on going extra-long next week if we have the questions to keep things rolling.
    Deal?
    Let's roll.
    Should the Cardinals consider restricting Flaherty to only starting games at Busch Stadium? If he does not travel with the team that would greatly reduce his risk in contracting the virus and maximize his potential availability throughout the season.
    No, I don't think so.
    Play your season full throttle with the players you have available.
    I think doing something other than that invites a lot of second-guessing and hesitation.
    Those things don't usually factor in well with winning.
    The only changes I would make to the rotation would be to consider a six-man rotation because of the likelihood of a starter being removed due to virus and/or injury, because I think it would be easier to switch from 6 to 5 on the fly than to bring in a new starter on the fly.
    And I would really consider tweaking the schedule so Adam Wainwright, not Jack Flaherty, only pitches at home.
    Wainwright's home-road splits last season were hard to explain, but also pretty hard to ignore. I would embrace them, and let him start at home while keeping him out of starts on the road. Easier to manage that if you go with six starters.
    All of this, of course, is just hypothetical I imagine because Shildt has really made it clear he wants a five-man rotation and is not actively considering six.
    This is partly why I think Carlos Martinez is headed to the bullpen, especially after yesterday's news of the Jordan Hicks opt out.
    What is the status of the potential use of eminent domain for the #MLS4theLOU project to obtain all of the land in the stadium footprint?
    My guess is a deal gets worked out that does not require the use of eminent domain. I think the ownership group is willing to offer that land owner a better deal.
    How is the cards OF competition going? Seems O'Neill hasn't made.much contact
    Let's not kid ourselves too much here.
    The Cardinals have their initial plan for how they are going to handle left field to start the season.
    It will be O'Neill and Thomas.
    Now, that could change depending on what happens, but they're not going to shift from that thinking because of what they see during this summer camp.
    I know we are supposed to buy into the competition angle that Shildt is selling, and I understand why he's doing that, because there are some areas -- like fifth starter and closer -- where there could be some on-the-fly decisions being made.
    But left field isn't one of them.
    That will change based on performance during games that count, or the lack of it.
    Is Alex Reyes not working out with the team yet? If true, any information about that? Is he healthy?
  • Alex Reyes is one of the players in the so-called gray area. The only thing the team and the player are saying is that he's in St. Louis. We don't know if he's tested positive for coronavirus, and the team can only share if he has if he agrees with that information being shared. So, he's here in town, but for whatever reason has not been cleared to work out. I don't think there are any arm-related concerns, and the team has announced arm-related injuries, like John Brebbia's Tommy John. I know that's not a complete answer, but it's all I know at this time. Same gray area situation for Giovanny Gallegos, who at last check was still in Mexico.
    Have you received any feedback from Miles Mikolas regarding his return from injury?
    He says he's good to go and how the Cardinals are using him during camp seems to suggest they agree.
    Do the Blues and/or Cards players really think that their seasons will be finished as scheduled? Until there is a vaccine, I don't see fans in the stands until 2022.
    There don't have to be fans in the stands for seasons to finish.
    Those are separate conversations, really.
    I don't think fans will be in stands for any college or pro sporting events this year, but hope to be wrong about that.
    I do think pro sports will start.
    Not sure about college, in part because there's a rather important discussion to be had about the difference between pro athletes who negotiated the terms of their return and, you know, get paid versus unpaid student athletes who the NCAA insists are not employees.
    But will anything finish?
    I don't know.
    The players don't know.
    They're hopeful, but they're no different than the rest of us in knowing how this will go.
    They are different in that hey can help it actually work by making smart decisions and limiting potential exposure to the virus.
    First impressions of how that is going seem, well, mixed.
    Unless relievers are used significantly differently in 2020 (i.e., emphasis on multiple innings), Carlos Martinez should be in the rotation, right?
  • If I had to vote today, I would vote closer for Carlos. I felt that way last week, and that was before Jordan Hicks' decision to opt out was known. This isn't due to a lack of appreciation of Martinez's talents as a starter, when he is right. It's an acknowledgement that we have not seen him rock and roll in that role since 2017 due to physical setbacks, and during that time he has rocked and rolled as the closer, where he's one of less than five arms that have produced a 90+ save percentage in as many save opportunities as he's received. Closer is a pass/fail job, and while Martinez makes it interesting, he gets it done at a very impressive rate. Not everybody can do that. A locked-in closer from Game 1 is going to be very important this season, perhaps more now than ever before. The Cardinals' offense, unfortunately, is probably going to put the bullpen in position to win a lot of close, low-scoring games. John Brebbia is out. Jordan Hicks is out. Giovanny Gallegos, Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera are question marks who have not appeared in one summer camp workout. Ryan Helsley and Junior Hernandez are options for the back end of the bullpen, but neither has much experience there. Martinez has a track record of getting it done. I'd be leaning his way, and stressing to him the importance that during this shortened season, on a team that has a bunch of guys who can start, him slamming the door shut as many times as possible could be the most important job on the team. Just my two cents.
    Counting on Carp to be a serviceable DH this season is reasonable, but counting on him to be a major contributor at the top of the line-up is foolish. He may bounce back from last year but he isn’t bounce back to the first half of 2017.
  • Consider the lineup.
    Ideally your DH hits somewhere in the important part of it.
    Carpenter doesn't have to bounce back to his 2018 peak to be a candidate for a prime spot in this lineup.
    Somewhere close would be nice.
    I think he starts at No. 2, but could descend depending on how he hits or doesn't.
  • I know that the Cards have taken some bullpen hits these last couple weeks but this team touted Carlos as a top of the rotation pitcher this winter and stood pat. I am not sold on Mikolas, most pundits believe Hudson is due for a regression based on his volume of walks, and Waino is terrible on the road. So where is this really good starting pitching coming from if Martinez is closing?
    There are some fact errors in your question.
    The Cardinals didn't tout Carlos Martinez as a top of the rotation pitcher.
    They said he was going to try to prove he could be a starter again, and that they supported that desire and approach.
    The Cardinals did not stand pat on starting pitching. Martinez was very clearly going for the fifth spot in the rotation alongside Kim, the pitcher the Cardinals signed in December.
    Considering you are "not sold" on three fifths of the rotation that helped produce the fifth-best starter ERA (3.78) without Martinez in the rotation last season, there's probably nothing I'm going to tell you that convinces you the starting pitching should be good. 
    The team moved on from Ozuna to give young players a chance. Is it time to do the same with Waino? Guys like DeLeon, Gomber, Reyes, etc. need a real look just like O’Neil, Bader, and Thomas do. Especially, since there is no pitching version of Carlson coming and this team doesn’t seem to want to pay for established pitching.
    If the team felt it was that time with Wainwright, it would not have brought him back on a one-year deal.
    How does this abbreviated season impact player’s contracts who have incentives tied to performance? For instance, Carpenter needs 1100 plate appearances combined in ‘20 and ‘21 for his 2022 option to vest. There is no chance he achieves that now, are there prorations?
    The March 26 agreement included a section in which players and owners stated an agreement to sort through a compromise on how to prorate these types of things in the event of a shorter season, and there seems to have been a recent agreement finalized on that discussion. Per Ken Rosenthal, the thresholds for vesting options will be prorated, but the amount of money earned will not be. So, Andrew Miller needs 14 games pitched instead of 37 to secure the vesting option worth $12 million for 2021. Bonuses, on the other hand, will be prorated in pay.
    Going crazy here. Spring training results are notoriously misleading for fans, but at least we have live performances to judge. For example I have no idea if Dexter Fowler's lousy spring was significant or not, but he surely had a lousy spring. . Now we haven't a single at-bat to potentially mis-judge. it's maddening.
  • I think tonight's game is being live-streamed, so that's something to watch! 
    Why Fox Sports Midwest was not prepared to do live-streaming from the beginning, I don t know.
    Missed opportunity that Cardinals website is taking advantage of, big time.
    Fowler has missed a few recent practices. Back tightness. 
    Lots of injuries/illnesses in bullpen. Who is your closer outside of CMart?
  • Ryan Helsley or Junior Fernandez. I like those options better than Andrew Miller and Brett Cecil. Important to note that Cardinals should be getting Gallegos, Reyes, Cabrera eventually, too. When, though, is the hard part. And at this point it's probably unrealistic to expect them to be ready to roll for high-leverage on opening day, due to the time they have missed. And that's assuming all are healthy, something that can't be assumed as we don't know about their status other than they're not present at workouts.
  • With the AAA season canceled, there really isn't an argument to be made about ensuring prospects play every day when making a decision to put them on the MLB roster, no? The question would boil down to whether clubs want to start their prospects service clock. Yes, I am asking about Dylan Carlson.
    I hear you.
    It depends on how you view the benefit of the Springfield camp that will house players who are not playing for the Cardinals in St. Louis.
    They can have live at-bats and intrasquad games there, which might help development more than, say, sitting on the bench in St. Louis.
    But to assume Springfield camp is the same as Class-AAA ball for development?
    That's probably a reach.
    Carlson won't be on the opening-day roster. The Cardinals can point to the desire to create first chances for O'Neill and Thomas, and there's truth to that. There's also truth to them not wanting to give him a full year of service time when they can avoid it by delaying his promotion until August at least.
    The Redskins are dropping their name. What do you think about Indians and Braves? Where would you draw the line?
    Here's the thing.
    I'm a white male.
    I shouldn't be the one drawing the line.
    What should happen is what Washington refused to do, even during the process that led to the name change.
    Have conversations with the people who are affected by the name. Hear them out. Let that be part of the process.
    It's not up for white guys to decide what is offensive to non white guys.
    I think more white guys should start to see what's problematic with that.
    Did Yadi lose all that weight because he wants to start running out grounders?
    Zinger.
    No, I don't think Molina's slimmer frame has made him suddenly adopt fake hustle.
    This is what he tends to look like, physically, during the start of spring training.
    It's intentional.
    He does a lot of distance running during the offseason to get down to a desired weight, then tends to gain some weight as the season progresses.
    He's got the process figured out by now.
    He looks spry, almost like he's playing for a contract, here or maybe somewhere else.
    The thing that bothers me most about this year’s roster for the Cards is the lack of sure things. In a decade we have gone from Pujols/Holliday/Berkman to Goldschmidt and...? And Carpenter and Wainwright to Flaherty and... still Wainwright?
    A Good Man is Hard to Find is my favorite short story, a grim but unforgettable tale from Flannery O'Connor.
    A Sure Thing is Hard to Find is a totally fair complaint about the current state of the Cardinals' offense.
    It's heavy on the hope. It has many fingers crossed.
    If it doesn't get some good breaks, this season could be a short story, and I'm not talking about the 60 games.
    Beware The Misfit, and the missed hits.
  • Which Cardinal do you think will get an opportunity to play because of attrition among the players and make a name for himself this year?
    I hope the COVID factor doesn't influence the season this much, but it's not that outlandish to wonder if a team will wind up relying on all 60 players in its pool to see action before this 60-game season is said and done.
    Would the plug get pulled before that became the case? I don't know.
    Dylan Carlson is the obvious bet.
    Pitcher Johan Oviedo would be a good name to keep in mind. The entire organization seems really impressed with him.
    Justin Williams might be a good sleeper pick. He's got some power, but I'm not sure where he is exactly on this crowded outfield depth chart.
    Will the 1st and 3rd base coaches be required to stay 6 feet away from the players or even to wear masks? No more whispering in the runners ear? Even worse, no more shouting in the face of the umpires by the managers? Well that’s no fun....
    First and third base coaches have been wearing masks during intrasquad games so I imagine that will continue during the season. It's probably mentioned specifically in the rules. I don't have my copy of them on hand with me at the moment, but I do know that social distancing will be required between those coaches and players, so no more whispering. Non-players are going to be in masks in the dugout as well. No hands to mouth for signs. Gotta come up with something different there. And yes, no chest to chest arguing or fighting. Heavy punishments for that, as any suspensions related to fighting will be enforced under the old rules, not prorated for the 60-game season.
    Charlotte announces its club name and Colors next Wednesday. How soon after that do you think the MLS4thelou group announces theirs?
    Charlotte announcing will start the clock on STL, yes.
    I don't know how soon after the STL announcement will come.
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