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 properly caffeinated after that Cards double-header and perhaps some Monday Night Football? I checked in our old friend Drew Lock, and wound up wishing his coach would have checked his time outs. Yikes. Let's roll.
    Is the box that TV shows as the strike zone accurate? If it is, the umpires miss a lot of calls.
    It's not perfect, but it's pretty close, yes, and yes, last night was bad. When Jim Edmonds is trying and failing to keep from laughing at some of the ball/strike calls, and pointing out how the ump is not properly positioned behind the plate, that's a bad look. Players understand each umpire's zone is a little different, and every game your job as a hitter is to get a feel for the zone. But the zone should be close to that box, and it should not change throughout the game. Last night was a bad example of both not being true.
  • How long will we have to live the Tyler O'Neill lie in the Cardinals lineup? He can mash Triple-A pitching. He can't hit major-league pitching. Seriously, what are they waiting for with him?
    They're waiting on the projections they were so hopeful about to pay off. It's not looking good, is it? I've been cooler on O'Neill than most. He's got power, but I don't think he has enough of it, regularly enough, to overlook the other weak spots. O'Neil is now above 100 at-bats this season, meaning he's had 100-plus at-bats in each of his last three seasons. That's not a huge sample size, but it's not small. His OPS has dropped every season: 2018 (.803 OPS), 2019 (.723), 2020 (.645). In the season he's been given the most opportunity, his performance has been the least impressive yet. These are not good signs. I don't know how long the Cardinals will keep hoping for a breakthrough, but I would not expect them to turn away from O'Neil this season. He's got five homers for a team desperate for runs, and there's no one else who is demanding reps over him really.
    We've tried everybody but Justin Williams... Give him a shot, he literally can't be worse than what the Cardinals are running out there. And maybe he's an improvement.
    That's gotta be coming soon. The Springfield site is closing up shop, and he's on the 40-man roster. I would have to think he's motivated, if he's been paying attention to how unimpressive the outfield as been, and how long it has still taken him to get a chance. For those keeping track, the Cardinals' outfield have combined to produce a .677 on-base plus slugging percentage, or OPS. That ranks 13th in the National League, ahead of only the Marlins and the Pirates. Now imagine if Dexter Fowler's .832 OPS was not baked into that before he hit the injured list.
    Greetings BenFred. Was wondering about the extra inning man on second base. Why don’t more teams, including the Cards, would not have the first batter try to bunt the man to third and then get him in with a sac fly or ground out? Do teams run the percentages as to whether relying on a hit vs a sacrifice is more probable to result in a run? It would seem that the sacrifice to third would be more likely to result in a run than waiting for a hit, especially with this team. Once you go up a run, the pressure shifts to the other team. Except for last night, the Cards record in extras this year is not good.
  • I'm not sure a new rule that started a runner on third base in extra innings would make the Cardinals' opponents sweat too much, based on the state of the Cardinals' lineup. In order to get that run home from third if you do get it moved over, you have to drive the ball, or lift it well enough to notch a sacrifice fly. Easier said than done for this group sometimes. The Cardinals are good at getting on base with runners in scoring position. Their RISP (runners in scoring position) on-base percentage (OBP) is .369, which is fifth-best in the National League. But they're RISP slugging percentage is a meager .351. That's 14th out of 15 NL teams. Only the Pirates, who are 14-32, have a lower OBP SLG (.348). The Cardinals do have 11 sacrifice flies this season. I think part of the extra-innings approach comes down to the fear of playing for one run, then finding out you needed two or more, especially on the road, where you don't get last say.
  • Is this the year that the Cards FO finally realize that they NEED A BIG BAT!!!!!!
    Realizing it and adding it are different things. Big bats cost big money, and I have a hard time believing the Cardinals are planning a historic (for them) purchase after a pandemic-challenged season.
    Look out, here come your Reds
    I called it all along! Kidding. Three in a row. Four of their last five. Let's see if they keep stacking. It's easy to look good against Pittsburgh.
    BenFred,

    Do you think the Cardinals offense will be prone to the same kind of performance during the postseason this year (if they make it) as they had against Washington last year?
    Yes. The offense is remarkably similar to the one that got wiped out last year by the Nats. This one walks more, but has less power. Other than that, pretty similar. The National League average for runs per game as of Tuesday morning was 4.64 runs per game. The Cardinals (21-21) are averaging 4.40 runs per game, checking in 11th in the National League. They are 17-1 when they score five or more runs in a game. But they have been held to four runs or fewer 24 times. They're 4-20 in those games. Twenty-one times, they have scored three or fewer runs. That's half of their games. Twelve times, they have scored two or fewer runs. That's nearly 30 percent of their games. Their pitching is strong and their defense is good, but they rely so much on those aspects that any wobble tends to mean a loss. The defense and pitching are why we have not watched a losing streak longer than four games. The offense is why we have not watched a winning streak longer than three. So, yes, this offense could go dark in a postseason series. Again.
    Strange to see edman in OF and thomas and o neil on bench while Carlson is in Springfield
  • Carlson has a better batting average and on-base percentage than Lane Thomas. He has a higher slugging percentage than Matt Wieters, who still gets starts over Andrew Knizner. I don't get it. I would like to see Carlson and Knizner learning on the fly during this strange season. Certainly more than some of the alternatives that have been getting more opportunities.
    This offense is extremely difficult to watch. It’s torture watching these guys continually get thrown out on the base paths and strand 15 runners a game...oh and add 17 strikeouts to the mix. But MO will say they’re the ‘27 Yankees...give it time. When is enough enough? Why won’t MO get a hitter?
    The team's stolen-base percentage (63.6) is down compared to last season, but I would actually be OK with the Cards pushing it more on the basepaths, and not just to tip their cap to Lou Brock. During stale times, steals can help get something cooking, and this team has decent speed. Why not? The strikeouts yesterday were a bit misleading. The Cardinals strikeout rate of 22.3 percent is among the lowest third of the league, and that number is down compared to last season's 23 percent. Strikeouts are for sure problems for certain Cardinals, but as a team that has not been the issue. They don't have enough power. They don't do enough damage.
    I get that injuries happen. Groins, shoulders, etc, but what about the others? Eg. Kim had this condition before signing. Fowler too. Hicks is a diabetic. Did/do they take these factors into consideration before signing a player or is this something protected by HIPPA?
    Hicks' diabetes has not held him back in any way, shape or form during his time with the Cardinals. He opted out because his condition makes him more vulnerable to health problems because a pandemic like we've never encountered happen to collide with the 2020 season. I'm not sure how or why the Cardinals should have shied away from him because of his diabetes. Fowler's situation has also been handled differently due to the ongoing pandemic as well. If you zoom out and look around other teams, you will see that non-injury health issues happen. That's life. Players are people. People encounter health issues sometimes. Should the Orioles have stayed away from Trey Mancini because he got colon cancer? Of course not. Yes, teams take into consideration all kinds of medical information --- scans, arm health, etc. -- before drafting or signing players. They also realize life is going to happen.
    Rumors are Armstrong and Petro aren't even in the same neighborhood. Granted rumors are just that, and DA tends to be pretty tight lipped. Wouldn't surprise me either if a deal was done this week. All that said, do you think AP's preference is money or term? I could see DA conceding on one to get the other, but if AP is after both it seems like an inevitable split.
    The word I've heard is that Pietrangelo is frustrated.
    It's probably dangerous to read too much into that.
    He saw players at his position get extensions before he did, extensions that cluttered the cap situation.
    His family just recently grew with the addition of a new baby.
    I'm sure he would love to have the deal he wants to stay where he wants, right here, but the deal he and his agents want might not be available here.
    I don't have details on the dollars/length part of the talks, or perhaps standoff, but I figured the move would be to give him a lower amount for a longer amount of time. Security. Make it his career team.
    That's my hope, but I know some think the horse is out of the barn because a deal is not done yet.
    Ben, Today is the last day that a player who optioned out can opt back in. Do you think Hick could come back?
    I would be shocked if that happened. He has diabetes, which makes him more at risk to the virus, and the Cardinals just recently have had another virus-related scare on their pitching staff with Oviedo coming into contact somehow and someway with someone who tested positive. It's not worth it.
    I keep reading on here "why isn't Mo going after a big bat?". The answer is Carp and Fowler's contract prohibit him from doing that. Mo has painted himself into a proverbial corner.
    Add to those contracts the financial curveball the pandemic threw all teams, and yes, those are hurdles.
    This offseason is going to be a fascinating one for the Cardinals.
    The internal options they banked on did not lift the offense as hoped.
    So, what now?
    A do-over that will not sit will with fans?
    A new hitting coach after year two of Jeff Albert didn't lead to expected results?
    A trade or signing of a power bat for the outfield?
    Some mix of the above?
    The games that happen between now and then, postseason included if the Cardinals can get there, could dictate the answer.
    I think we can all now agree that this offense doesn’t cut it. I want to give you credit for being honest about that before many others. There was no reason to believe the Cardinals would spend to fix it before the pandemic. Our only hope is to trade for a younger cost controlled player. I have a offseason trade question for you. Dakota Hudson for Clint Frazier straight up. Who says no?
    I would, for one. But I know I'm higher on Hudson than most. Frazier could be a good to great player, but we don't know enough about him now. Hudson's about to make his 40th start as a 26-year-old, with a 26-13 record as a starter and a starter's ERA that reads 3.28. I'm not trading Hudson. He's the perfect fit for this defense, and I think the best is still ahead of him.
    any XFLers make the 53 man rosters on NFL teams. Specifically Battlehawkers?
    I'm not sure. You would think someone could use that kicker they had. Maybe the Titans?
    Ben, I wouldn't be the least bit upset if Petro leaves for greener pastures. That is a lot of money we'll have to invest into the younger talent coming up. Think of what the Cardinals would look like now if they had signed Pujols to a long term contract? Heck, look at the mess Mo made with Carp & Fowler. I think we'll be just fine on the blue line with the players we have now and the kids coming up. I like Petro a lot but not at any cost.
    Well, he's going to have go get paid something. I don't think he will stick around for free pregame meals and nothing else. I wouldn't underestimate Pietrangelo's leadership on this team. He's a good middle man between Berube and the dressing room, and keeping that connection alive and well is key to any team maintaining momentum during a multiple-season run. I don't think the Blues will give Pietrangelo the highest overall offer, and I do think that he will feel pressure to get the max pay day from his agents, but if he's willing to take a little less to not move and compete for championships here, then that could be worked out, and I think the Blues are willing to make it work. A little less, not a LOT less. That's going to be the hard part here. Maybe it turns out to be impossible. No knock on Petro if he goes and gets paid, either. We all like to be wanted, and he's earned a robust free agency with his play this season and over the course of his career. The pandemic was poor timing for him, though.
    If you think the 60 games of 2020 have been rough, it’s the same team in 2021 (Wong has an option) 162 games of terrible offense.
    Can it be? I don't know. If fans are back in the stands by then, are they going to buy season tickets to watch another season of this offense? I'm not so sure. That said, we don't even know what next season will look like yet. A lot of unknown all around. But underlying theme here is that the Cards bet on internal production and Albert leadership to produce a better offense, and it has not been better, so the question looms: Now what?
    Prediction for who the fans clamor for all off-season only to be let down in the end? I'll go with George Springer. Thanks
    That would be pretty rich, considering many of those doing the clamoring would be the same ones who have criticized the Astros and even Albert for the electronic sign-stealing scandal in Houston. I would be hesitant to hand a bunch of money to any Houston hitter. You don't know what you don't know.
    Do MLB teams even make blockbuster trades anymore such that a young star like Fernando Tatis Jr. could come our way? It would take Flaherty and a perhaps a couple more prospects, but could it even be done?
    Sure. Giancarlo Stanton was traded. Mookie Betts was traded. The Padres are interested in winning, so I don't think the Padres will be moving him. And considering what the Cardinals value in pitching and home-grown stars, I don't think they will be trading Flaherty.
    Hi BenFred,
    Thank you for these chats. I believe you are in the bring back Dylan Carlson group. Now that the Springfield camp is shutting down, I have to agree that he can’t be much worse than Tyler O’Neill and certainly might benefit him for the future. Obviously, it is tough for rookies at their first crack at big league pitching. I was just reading about one of the tops prospects in baseball, the Dodger’s Gavin Lux, who is hitless with five strikeouts in his last 11 at-bats, lowering his slash line to .163/.250/.349 in 48 plate appearances. Sound familiar. If the argument is that Dylan is not ready, how do you get him ready?
    Ideally, if a prospect like Carlson or Lux is not ready, he can shift back to the minor leagues and refresh before returning. That's not an option this season. The notion of growing/developing at the alternate site seems a bit overhyped to me as well. They're not playing real games down there. It's simulated stuff. Big difference. And as you mentioned, those sites are shutting down now, due to the end of the regular season fast approaching and the expanded taxi squads arriving. So, yes, Carlson will be back. I don't think he should have ever left, personally.
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