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, plenty to discuss today. Baseball’s precarious situation. Carlos on the mound tonight. Blues are in the bubble. Let’s roll.
    Not looking good for baseball. Looks like the plug will pulled by the end of the week. Not enough time to make up for lost games. See ya next year (hopefully)
    This Marlins situation is not good, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s optimism during his MLB Network interview last night predictably looks shortsighted today. Players are going to be hesitant to play the Marlins moving forward or to travel to Miami. Baseball’s system revolves around not letting the virus in and getting it out ASAP once it breaks in. Miami had a breakdown, clearly. The idea that the Marlins were going to take two games off and be back out there goes against what experts say about the incubation period. This is a bigger setback than Manfred made it seem. Will it be enough to derail everything? I don’t know that we know for sure yet. Baseball will try to keep moving forward.
    Ben, given the rise in COVID cases among players, does Fauci have a chance at a 60 man spot?
    Only if the other option is 50 Cent. We have to be able to laugh, right? It’s the only thing keeping me sane.
    BenFred,

    What do you make of the so-so TV ratings this past weekend? I know it was the Pirates but I was chomping at the bit to see baseball, even if I am disappointed with the Teams offseason.
    I'm not quite sure yet. I would say it's a good measure of how invested fans are going to be in this shortened, strange season -- but there's another element in play here that should not be dismissed. Some people will tune out because the Cardinals wore Black Lives Matter shirts and participated in a display of unity before opening day. They did not, for the record, kneel during the national anthem. Most of them didn't kneel, period, because the moment of silence they had planned got screwed up. Anyway, I've heard from multiple people who say they will not watch because of these things. I don't agree with their opinion, but they are entitled to it. It's going to be hard to determine why people are not watching, is my point, no matter how much we are told it's one thing or the other.
    Since this year is like a long spring training season, I bet most Cards fans and some of the front office can't wait until next year when we might have a new right fielder and DH/ third baseman
  • Perhaps. But both Carpenter and Fowler are signed through the 2021 season, not the 2020 season. The Cardinals would be paying the pair $35 million to walk away if they were not back for 2021 -- unless a trade could be arranged. That's not what the Cardinals tend to do until it is abundantly clear to them that the player is a lost cause. See how long the Cardinals tried to make things work with Brett Cecil for a recent example. 
    After watching Carlson and Gorman this spring/summer do you believe that either has the talent to be a player that can carry a team? I think there is reason to believe Goldy still has some high level play in him, but those really elite days are probably behind him. This team is full of legit big league players, but terribly short of elite. I had no confidence in the organization to spend on it before the unfortunate circumstances we’re in now. If it’s doesn’t come internally it’s not coming. Please give me some hope.
  • That's a lot of pressure to put on two guys who have never played a major league inning, and I won't do it here. The expectations for Carlson have grown so high it's going to be hard for him to meet them, especially when he's first called up. The fans have never seen him fail at the MLB level, as John Mozeliak mentioned recently, so there is an assumption that he never will fail.  Yes, it's in Mozeliak's best interest to attempt to tamp down expectations for the top prospect, so let's acknowledge that, too. What the Cardinals are missing more than star power is an outfield that produces, collectively. No other Major League lineup is hitting its outfielders 7-8-9. These are supposed to be power producing positions, and the Cardinals are stacking them at the bottom, because they can't count on production from three spots. The outfield offense is the biggest anchor on the team. It doesn't need to be full of superstars. Just league-average production would go a long way. Could Carlson help that happen? You bet.
    Good Morning Ben....Your general thoughts on the weekend series. Mine: The offensive approach to games 1 and 2 (keep adding on) were good. Game 3 looked like last year. O'Neill made a very good first impression in left and at bat. Bader still can't begin to hit a low and away slider. You got your DH and the thing I liked was that the Skipper has so much speed at 7-8-9. That plays very good rolling back to the top of the lineup. Yadi looks like he is 28 instead of 38. A couple of base running snafus but I like the aggressiveness. Will someone ask Carp to quit taking the pitches near the edge of the plate. The old saying, "If it is good enough to call it is good enough to take a swing at." applies (in my humble opinion). Jack and Waino were very good. Felt really good for Whitley Sunday. I like DeJong in the 4 hole and JMart went very deep for the Rays last night.
    Good observations.
    I'll add a few of mine.
    The defense is sharp and locked in, and that was good to see because of the layoff and because of how critical that component is to this team's chances.
    DeJong has looked locked in since spring training. It carried over into summer camp. It carried over into the start of the regular season.
    Carpenter looked locked in during summer camp, but he has not through the first three games. He's one-for-10 with one double, two walks and four strikeouts. The DH is not in the lineup to walk. If he's going to take called third strikes, someone else should get a chance to be in the lineup. We've gotta see how he bounces back from bouncing that ball of his knee too. That looked painful and could limit his ability.
    More concerning, to me, than Bader not being able to hit breaking pitches is his refusal to pounce on the fastballs he sees in the strike zone. He should beg for those pitches. He takes too many fastball strikes for a hitter who struggles with offspeed stuff. The Cardinals making Bader the first outfielder to find the bench for a Lane Thomas start should say plenty about Bader not having a complete lock on center field.
    Does Dylan Carlson get brought up as soon as he earns his extra year.
    It's the question we all want to know, right? The Cardinals are not answering, because that would undermine the status of their current outfield group. It comes down to a few factors. One, and perhaps the biggest, is how the team is performing. A winning team does not see the need to change course. Another is how the outfield is performing. The Cardinals keep making Carlson's promotion into a left-field issue, but it's not. He can play center and or right field. The notion that Tyler O'Neill and Lane Thomas are being robbed of opportunities if Carlson is called up is true only if it implies that starts for Bader and or Fowler are automatic. They should not be automatic if those players struggle. Again, we are talking about the 7-8-9 hitters in Shildt's lineup. Nothing is automatic for 7-8-9. The problem for Carlson is that there is usually a third item to consider -- how a prospect like Carlson is performing at Class AAA. Unfortunately, with no minor league season, there's no real good way for Carlson to light a flame under the Cardinals with his play. How he plays during intrasquad games will be tracked, of course, but it's not quite the same.
    What did you think of KKs debut? Toto, we are not in Korea anymore.
  • It's almost as if the Cardinals brought a routine-oriented foreign player to a new country and drastically changed his role, asking him to excel in a spot he has hardly ever found himself in during his lengthy career. This could take some time, even if it works out. And yes, it could end poorly. We will see. KK' stuff fits the job description. There's no sample size that suggests his mentality will. That's the risk the Cardinals are taking.
    Appreciated your article on Covid and when enough is enough. What, in your opinion, is the breaking point? The owners will go as long as public opinion and the players union let them.
  • Bingo.
    I don't think the owners -- with Manfred operating as their spokesman -- will decide the breaking point before the players do.
    If we see a shutdown, I think it will be player-led.
    And remember, the players negotiated the terms of their return and signed up to play.
    Those who did not were allowed to opt-out.
    And it's the players following the protocols that gives this season the best chance of working.
    So, it's on them, in more ways than one.
    So is the end of the season going to be filled with double headers to make up for all these covid cancelled games? Or will some of these games be permanently cancelled?
  • The idea for now is that the games will be made up in some way.
    Postponed, not cancelled.
    However, considering there's a decent chance the season could be cancelled, some of this is semantics, right?
    Why aren't the Marlins using the players not on the 30 man roster to field a team? I thought that was the point of the two squads if this happened. It may not be competitive, but it keeps the season going. The roster rules related to non 40 man roster players in this situation is still quite confusing.
  • Because the team need to get a sense of what they are dealing with first. Four more positive tests today moved the number of positive cases among players to 15. That does not include two coaches, bringing the total to 17. Considering the incubation period of the virus can be up to two weeks, there's no guarantee anyone in the Marlins organization who was recently interacting at summer camp has not interacted with the virus. Before you start mixing players on the still-quarantined travel squad with players brought in from the 30-player pool, you better have certainty you're not spreading the virus to the reserves.
    Dylan Carlson eta now mid-August to avoid super two designation?
    That would not make much sense to me, considering the new collective bargaining agreement that will have to be hammered out after the 2021 season could drastically change young players' path to arbitration and free agency, specifically that rule.
    Did the Marlins know that some of their players had Covid and still played? That should result in a lost draft pick at the minimum.
  • There have been multiple reports that the team decided via player text thread to take the field Sunday, even after finding out more players had been pulled out of the clubhouse for quarantining for positive tests. I don't blame the players for making the decision they made. Players are always going to want to play. The long list of protocols baseball came up with does not have a great answer for a big problem this virus presents -- the gray area that is the incubation period. A player who has cleared his most recent test could be coronavirus-positive and shedding the virus to teammates before the next round of every-other-day-testing catches it and pulls that player out of the equation. You can see how the dominoes can fall pretty quickly when that is the case.
    Did MLB discuss mandatory masks for players? While outside, many players are less then 6 feet apart.
    A lot of things were discussed. I don't know if a mask mandate 100 percent of the time was one of them, but it would have been hard implement and impossible to enforce. Wearing one during athletic performance is challenging. There is debate about how necessary it is to wear one while while outside and in the sun, as those conditions are helpful in dispersing the droplets that can cause infection. Most importantly, baseball's setup -- if it's going to work -- really hinges on not letting the virus breach the ballpark, and removing it rapidly if it does. If that part of the plan cannot be managed, then the idea of keeping players from passing it to one another while sharing team planes, hotels, clubhouses, and the playing field seems hard to imagine to me.
    Would you agree that Bader is on track to be a 4th outfielder used for defensive and pinch running purposes, to be permanently replaced by a Mr. Carlson?
    An honest evaluation of what we saw suggests that is not a crazy idea, right? He found a place on the bench during the first series of the season to make room for the fourth outfielder to get a start. Anyone who finds himself in that spot could wind up being the fourth outfielder, yes.
    If baseball can’t make this work, the NHL, NBA, and NFL have no chance. And why is anyone talking about college football when schools aren’t even allowing students to return to campus. Ben, if baseball shuts down later this week which appears likely, can we all agree to say adios to all sports until next year?
    The NHL and NBA have been working out a lot better than MLB.
    The NFL should be paying attention to that.
    The bubble seems like the way to go.
    College football, to me, is another conversation. I'm not sure colleges are going to be able to ethically explain things if the biggest in-person meetings on their campus are not classes, but college football practices and games.
    College football in a bubble won't really be possible, either.
    I don't understand the rush to say everything will be canceled. We are watching it play out in real time, and we have seen positive results (NBA, NHL) and problems (MLB).
    Do they give Dylan a shot in CF this weekend vs the brewers?
    That would be beyond the five-game window that secures the extra year of contract control, but I'd have a hard time seeing the Cardinals bringing him up while the team is on this road trip. They're back in STL against the Tigers on August 5th. That would seem more right -- if the outfield shows a need.
    Ben I know the Cardinals are taking Max Schrock and Jake Woodford with them on this road trip. Who is the 3rd player they are taking? They do get to take 3 extras correct?
  • The Cardinals are sticking with a two-player taxi squad of the guys you mentioned. Just two because they are keeping three catchers on their roster. There's a third spot on the taxi squad if the spot is used for a catcher.
    Thank you for the chat. Do you have any bold, way-too-early predictions for the Cardinals this year based off of what you have seen in the first three games?
  • I don't know if it's a bold prediction, but I think Yadier Molina is going to ball out this year. Short season. He's in great shape. His swing looks really, really good. The understandable pandemic distraction has clouded the reminder that this is a contract year for him. He's going to do everything in his power to get in 2021, whether it's by the Cardinals or another team.
    Hey Ben: I know that there Covid is no laughing matter, but can we just take a moment to appreciate how completely predictable it is that it's a Florida team, specifically a south Florida team that has had an outbreak that potentially jeopardizes the baseball season? This is as surprising as watching Harrison Bader chase an off-the-plate 0-2 slider for strike three.
    I think it has a lot more to do with the team than the state. Again, we don't how this Marlins breach happened, or if more could have been done to stop it, but until this line of thinking is proven to be false, I'm having a hard time believing it's entirely a coincidence that a team known poor performance and a lack of clear direction is the first team to have a big problem.
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