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 doing well. Man, we've got a lot to talk about. The Cards are on virus pause, waiting to return. The Blues better snap out of it in the bubble, or they'll be coming home. We've got college football hanging by a thread. And then there's some new news on the Rams' relocation lawsuit. We have the names of those who will be deposed. Let's roll.
    Derrick didn't like this question yesterday, so I'll ask you: Shildt seems cranky, almost arrogantly so, this year. Is that his true personality, or are we simply seeing/hearing frustration over not playing?';
    I can't and won't speak for my pal and colleague DG, but I will say I could see how Shildt's demeanor in these bizarre Zoom settings could come across that way. I think it's probably more of a sign of the times than a read on the manager. This season is bizarre. The natural ecosystem of the ballpark interview is gone. In person, you can read body language, you can go on/off the record, you can crack jokes. That's not the same when everything is virtual and everything is recorded. Everyone, reporters included, has to be "on" and all the time. So, some things fall through the cracks. Whether it's Shildt, Matheny, or any other manager, there is always a different tone between the televised press conferences and the non-televised scrums. Now everything is basically televised. Every quote can go viral in an instant. So there's more defense being played, even when it's not necessary. Shildt is a good communicator but this is testing that. It's testing it for all of us. On top of that, I think his number one favorite thing to do is manage a baseball team. This season has included a lot of other stuff, and that can add up over time. It's just stress. And it's easy to see why.
    The Cards situation was almost comical at first, but now its just plain sad. I don't see how the Cards can be competitive at this point. Not only that, but hearing how other pitchers (as well as position players) are going down with serious injury from starting-stopping-starting again. The Cards haven't even practiced in awhile let alone game situations, I hate to say it, but it might be in everybody's interest just to call it a day. I would hate to see some of the these good young pitchers get seriously hurt as to jeopardize the team's chances for 2021 and beyond because there is no way this team is going to be relevant in 2020.
    I'd disagree that it was ever comical, but I agree there is certainly a body of evidence that suggests shutting down the Cardinals' season could be a sound decision. I laid out many of those points in a recent column, trying to explain why it could happen if that's the route MLB chooses. MLB is not interested in that route, at least not yet. Commissioner Rob Manfred made that quite clear to PD colleague Derrick Goold yesterday. He sees a route for a return -- if the positive tests can be stopped. Can't have one without the other, so things are still tentative for the time being. The non-virus side of the health discussion is real. Two-plus weeks off is not great when it's combined with a gauntlet of a return. I would not be surprised if we see some players opt-out citing safety concerns, but none have yet. That last part is important to remember. Players can step away if they feel it's against their best interest to continue. They don't get paid, but their contracts won't be affected in the future, per the agreement struck by owners and players.
    Ben, what's your take on the Cards resumption of play, it seems as if MLB is targeting Saturday night in Chicago against White Sox, IF the negative tests continue, that seems like a reasonable scenario. I think the Cards are somewhat spooked resuming on the road, and they have a long home stand starting August 20 thru the end of month, What have you heard from club officials?
    I think the Cardinals will play when and where the league tells them they're good to go, period. They're not exactly in the position to be dictating the terms of their return. They're waiting to find them out.
    If the Cards play again, why don't they just play the young guys and prospects. Since this year is a wash, let the youngsters play to see what they have for next year (or the year after that). If nothing else, see what they have as to get them experience for the future and showcase some of them for future trade pieces. I can't believe that after this long lay off, that Fowler, Carp of Bader are going to be better than they have been for the last two years.
    Sign me up for that line of thinking.
    I'd like to see Dylan Carlson in the outfield, Andrew Knizner behind the plate and Johan Oviedo on the mound in some role.
    Getting a good read on what you have moving forward, to me, is as important as anything.
    The Cardinals have room on the 40-man to make it happen.
    Getting these guys regular action would not mean completely removing more established players from the equation, especially considering Lane Thomas is now a question-mark with the virus, and the amount of double-headers that will have to be played in the hopefully near future.
    When in doubt, play the kids, and there's plenty of doubt.
  • Is it possible that the Cards just shut down Flaherty and Hudson so not to risk injury after the long lay-off ? Look what's happening around MLB with the likes of MadBum, Scherzer, Ohtani and others going down. These guys may not even be ready for next year (if there is even a next year in MLB)
  • Doubtful.
    They're not injured.
    They want to pitch.
    If they want to opt out, they can, and they might, considering both are examples of the players -- key players who have not yet reached arbitration -- who got especially slighted in the way the prorated salary structure works during this shortened season.
    But if they're in, they're gonna pitch.
    If pitchers planned their pitching around avoiding injuries more than wanting to pitch, they would never pitch.
    Caution will and should be expected.
    A lot of it.
    But there's a line that can be walked that doesn't equal shutting them down.
  • We've read that the STL region could reap $900 million if it wins the relocation lawsuit. What's a ballpark estimate for the payoff if the NFL presses hard for a settlement and local "leaders" cave to it?
  • I don't have a good answer for that. Wish I did. Some folks I've talked to have suggested $1 billion would be a home-run settlement. Another said $20 million would be. There has been no indication given from the lawyers working the case that there is any interest in settling. And none given from the Rams/NFL either, at least not yet.
  • From Manfred comments in the P-D, seems like if Cards gets in over 50 games, he is fine with it and to use winning pct.for playoff determination. How will other teams react to this in your opinion? Is it fair? I would think as long as Cards play all of their NL Central games, it would be. Thanks for the chats.
  • Is it fair?
    No.
    Not if the other teams all played 60 games.
    To me, adopting the winning percentage rule when one team is the outlier, it's the definition of not fair.
    But this season is less about what is fair by the day.
    It's about taping together some semblance of a season, and this move would fit that agenda.
    I think more than anything adopting that idea would be an acknowledgement that the league fully expects other teams to have setbacks that stop their season from reaching the 60-game mark.
  • At what point does Bill DeWitt Jr inform the commissioner that he is putting the health and well being of his team ahead of playing baseball under the ensuing absurdity of cramming a partial season into an already partial season?
  • If there are no more positive tests and the outbreak is finally contained, I don't see that happening. If there are more positive tests, and this shutdown stretches even longer, that could change.
    Say the Cards end up playing 50 games and are just ahead by a percentage point or two of a team that played 60. Are the Cards ahead in the seedings for the playoffs, or would MLB extrapolate winning percentage to 60 games or use some other formula to determine playoff seedings?
  • My understanding is the playoff berths would be assigned by winning percentage, and that's it. But remember, the postseason is expanded for 2020. The 30-team league will have more than half (16) of its teams in the postseason. So there would be less griping about winning percentage being the deciding factor because of that. At least there should be. If your team can't be in the top half of the league's winning percentage, does it deserve to make the playoffs? I say no, emphatically. I can see there being a good debate about how many games make a legitimate season, especially because a 60-game season is not really legitimate to begin with. 50 games, to me, is the lowest you could go. Anything below that, and you should not be eligible to make the postseason. But don't expect MLB to announce that now. The last thing it wants are teams playing that have no interest in making the postseason, now more than ever before, because teams that have nothing to play for are going to be far less likely to follow the COVID-19 protocols.
    With all of the names listed in the deposition list, I'm surprised that Jeff Fisher wasn't one of them. I guess even the STL team doesn't want to be associated with any of that 7-9 BS. Did his absence surprise you as well, or is there nothing else to be learned from him?
  • I assumed Jeff Fisher, Les Snead, John Shaw, Tomago Collins and some more familiar names might be on there.
    Maybe some appear later?
    It's clear from names that have been named that the laywers are almost trying to recreate the room that led to the relocation vote. They're trying to get as close to being inside that room as possible, and none of the names I mentioned above were in there when it went down.
    I have a similar question re crankiness, but about Mo. He seems more humbled these days than in normal times, where he can sometimes give smug, condescending answers to baseball questions. It is refreshing for him to say “I don’t know” to a question.
  • Again, this is a new dynamic. Mozeliak's interviews with the media are rarely broadcasted in their entirety like they are now. Often, his one-liners or put-downs get the most play on Twitter, and sometimes, sure, he can be defensive. I know from experience. But he can hit plenty of different notes, too, and you're seeing some of those in the Zooms. I know he's exhausted and frustrated. And if he did have all of the answers about how to keep this from happening, he would have stopped it. He doesn't. The team didn't. This whole thing has been humbling for all involved.
    Some fans have been clamoring for the Cards to tank for the high draft pick for years. If they get off to a slow start and there’s no gate receipts to lose, is this the year?
  • This season has presented a lot of things I never thought I would see, but I don't think the Cardinals intentionally trying to lose will be one of them. That's not a theory accepted by anyone in the organization, and it would not go over very well with key members. There's a difference between creating opportunities for young guys and intentionally punting. The Cardinals don't punt, and I'd be very surprised and disappointed if they did. When you start thinking like that, like the goal every time you take the field is not to win, that's not something you can just turn off.
    My family enjoys following the Cards and sports in general. We work real jobs where we interact with people all of the time. The world is unhinged on many levels. One reason we go to sports is to escape the "real world." Though some argue that sports and politics are intertwined we wish we could go to sports for the "escape from reality" and not find the battle of world issues being played out there. We would hate to forget the Cards and MLB but this year it has been very tempting - more so than at any time before. Can baseball be baseball and politics be politics?
    I understand the desire to have an escape. Especially now. But the argument that sports and the "real world" and/or "politics" is intertwined is not an argument. It's fact. In baseball, especially. Jackie Robinson is an example. Team owners aligning themselves with political causes are an example. Nights at the ballpark that celebrate Christian faith are an example. Same for nights that celebrate Jewish faith. Same for Pride Nights. Same for moments during the game that honor a military member. The definition of what is "political" has never been more different depending on who is doing the defining, but baseball has never been a silo that ignores real-world discussions and influences. I don't see that changing.
    How do other teams feel that the Cardinals are able to just sit out this many games? Wouldn't it also inconvenience them having to do double headers? Or having fewer games?

    Also be honest, if the Cardinals weren't a marquee franchise in a city where baseball seems to be the only sport that stuck (NBA and NFL left for a reason) do you think they'd be given this amount of leeway?
  • The Marlins got a good amount of leeway, and no one cares about them.
    Other teams won't gripe unless they are the ones who get booted from the postseason due to a switch to winning percentage being the deciding factor, and again, the expanded postseason would make that a pretty weak argument.
    I don't think any team is jealous of the Cardinals at the moment, if that's what you are implying. 
    They are the example of how not to play through the pandemic.
    They are gathering rust by the day.
    Baseball players want tot play baseball, and the Cardinals are benched.
    It's not an advantageous spot to be in,.
    Who made the decision for them to fly home from Milwaukee? MLB or the organization?
    The Cardinals would not and could not have left Milwaukee without Major league Baseball's approval. MLB approved the Cardinals to exit quarantine, fly home and resume practicing.
    At what point does the Cardinals leadership (President, GM, Manager) be held accountable for this ongoing virus situation. It could be just plain bad luck, and one can say it could have happened to any team, but it didn't. Who was responsible for having a plan to help avert this scenario? Who was the player that came into contact with the supposed "known associate"?
    It could be just very well be bad luck, but when anyone watching the Cardinals games on TV, could clearly see the blatant disregard for proper social distancing, it makes you wonder.
    You'll need to be more specific on what that accountability you desire looks like.
    Are you wanting someone to get fired, or what?
    I ask because I'm having a hard time understanding how this moment the team is in right now is not being viewed as a heaping pile of accountability.
    The Cardinals, whether it's fair or not, have been held up as the team that did it wrong. They have replaced the lowly Marlins on the list of teams that screwed up playing through the pandemic. They're benched until further notice, missing chances to put games (and the ads that come with them) on TV and make what they could have been making at Ballpark Village.
    They're taking plenty of lumps, and will continue to do so.
    As for what you saw on TV, yes, totally fair to point out all of the times the Cardinals did not adhere to the social distancing guidelines that have since been strengthened. But if you watched any other game across the league, you saw plenty of the exact same stuff. I mean, there was just a fight in the A's-Astros game the other day, and that came AFTER the new, updated guidelines.
    I've said before that I'm going to stick with not naming players as positive tests who have declined to share that information, and I'm not going to change that now.
    Your question about the associate is tied to one of those issues.
    Glad to see the news about the NFL lawsuit.

    Unlike you, however, I still would prefer an expansion franchise over a monetary settlement. Like it or not the NFL is the most popular sports league on Earth and frankly I don't see CTE stopping it anytime soon. Look at our neighbor to the west, Kansas City, and all the national and international attention they receive for having an NFL team. Way more than the MLB and NHL combined.
    Having the best QB in the game helps quite a bit, no?
    I understand your opinion.
    I do.
    I just don't share it, and I hope you can understand mine.
    I would rather see St. Louis invest its time, energy and money into sports leagues that did not go along with the plan to not only take away a team, but slander the city in the process, and mislead it into spending millions of dollars in a rigged attempt to change the league's mind.
    Derrick yesterday explained the 40 man roster rule yesterday in a way that I previously did not understand. If the Cards are short on players because say they have X players injured and X players out on COVID not yet eligible to return such that the players on the 40 man are not sufficient to field a 26 player roster, is it fair that they would either have to play short or put a player they don't want on the 40 man because it is too soon and risk losing that player if they had to remove them? Baseball does not seem to have thought this through very well. Is that something that could change depending upon how this situation and perhaps others play out?
    I'm not sure baseball really expected teams to touch the depths of their 60-man pool. But some teams could. I'll play the devil's advocate role here. Personally, I kind of like the idea of forcing teams to stick to the old rules, considering it would force a team like the Cardinals to expedite some of the decisions it tends to take a wait-and-see approach with. Baseball is getting younger every day. The minor leagues will return, but they are going to be scaled back when they do. Major league teams would not suffer nearly as much as they like to make is think if they were forced into more urgency in prioritizing which players they had to keep now -- and those freed up in the belt tightening could find a better path to more playing time elsewhere. Here's an example. No offense to Austin Dean, but I don't understand why he was added to this team, one that has Lane Thomas, Justin Williams and Dylan Carlson climbing toward their chances. Fewer roadblocks could be a good thing for the Cardinals, even if it made them uncomfortable.
    Wasn't the percentage rule was in the plan for this season from the start?
  • With less than 48 hours left, your prediction for the name of our soccer club will be..?
    I'm sticking with the first name I suggested a year ago. St. Louis City. Link below to that article from the time. No one from ownership group is giving up the name. I've tried.

    BenFred: MLS is coming, but what will the St. Louis team be called?

    STLtoday.comA team name is not expected to be part of Tuesday's announcement of an MLS expansion team. So, what should it be? Columnist Ben Frederickson debuts his working list.
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