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.

    The Commish puts the current Cards outfield as the worst in his 50 years of reporting on the team. Count me as one concerned with Carlson who failed his tryout and can’t make this horrific lineup. On the other hand, why not let him play here to craft his skills at hitting off speed pitching which he won’t see in Springfield?
    I've been pretty clear on where I stand with this. I don't think they should have sent Carlson out in the first place. I would rather watch him figure it out on the fly than some of these other players. As for how the Cardinals outfield ranks, we can take a quick and surface-level look sorting by on-base plus slugging percentage. I can go back nearly 50 years pretty easily. This current Cardinals outfield OPS (.677) is the third-lowest since 1974. The outfield OPS was lower in 1978 (.665) and 1986 (.643). The 1978 team went 69-93. The 1986 team went 79-82. Sorted by slugging percentage (.381) this is the least powerful Cardinals outfield since 2014, when those outfielders slugged .374. That team won 90 games and lost the NLCS. Go figure.
    Hi, Ben. Thanks for taking the time for this chat. Love your columns. I have three questions, if I may, please.
    1.) If this feckless offense continues, do you see the Cardinals letting HC Jeff Albert go? I never thought I'd think of John Mabry's tenure as HC as the good 'ol days.
    2.) Do you think the Cardinals finally are getting tired of "waiting on Martinez" and are ready to trade him? I know he was an All-Star twice, but it seems his career has been more potential than production. IF Mikolas and Wainwright come back next season, the starting candidates would be Flaherty, Hudson, Kim, Wainwright, Mikolas, Oviedo, and others from a group of Gomber, Poncedeleon, Reyes, and maybe minor-leaguer Thompson. Seems like Carlos could be part of a pitching package for a much-needed bat.
    3.) Why did the Cardinals basically give away Tommy Pham? Yes, Genesis Cabrera may turn out to be OK, but Justin Williams apparently does not fit into the team's plans at all, and the third player (pitcher Roel Ramirez) probably would be seen in a Cardinal uniform again unless it's an extreme emergency, after his disastrous 4-homer debut. I know Pham has been hurt this season, but he'd be a big upgrade over the current group.
    Appreciate your thought on these. thank you.
  • 1) I asked Mozeliak recently about how he's evaluating Albert's influence on this offense. He said he's not in that kind of mode right now, with the COVID concerns. At some point, he will have to be. I would not be shocked if there is a change, but have not heard that things are moving in that direction or anything. At some point it's hard to ignore that Jim Edmonds is sounding like a candidate for hitting coach while broadcasting games.
    2) The Cardinals have been open to the idea of trading Carlos Martinez for some time now. The harder part would be getting the value they hope to secure in return. The Cardinals are never quite sure what to make about Carlos;  how's the team trading for him supposed to know how to evaluate what to give up in a trade?
    3) The Pham deal has not aged well to this point. No question there. The Cardinals did not seem to think Pham could hold up and continue to play at a high level over the years to come, and they felt they had emerging outfielders beneath him. Pham, when healthy, has continued to produce and the Cards haven't found an outfield answer.
    How long can Dewitt and MO get away with mediocre teams? I live just south of Bloomington Illinois and Cards fans seem to be losing interest and the Cub fans are actually showing mercy. It's roughly a 50/50 split in Central Illinois but some Cards fans are starting to tune into the Sox. It seems like MO and Dewitt have a bad business plan.
    Cardinals fans have high expectations, and the team encourages that and benefits from it. I'm never going to tell Cardinals fans to expect less. That said, mediocre needs a clearer definition here as it's used to define seasons, plural. The Cardinals finished first place in the division and made the NLCS just last season. They're in second place now, on pace for the expanded postseason, after a virus outbreak that robbed two weeks and injuries/illnesses that have kept out significant players for significant amounts of time, including: Paul DeJong, Yadier Molina, Carlos Martinez, KK, Dexter Fowler and multiple relievers. I get frustration about the offense. I really do. It's not mediocre. It's unimpressive. It's a drag. And the team is what it's record says it is: a .500 team. That's mediocre. The shoe fits, and the Cardinals have to wear it. Last season, though, the shoe did not fit. That lugged that frustrating offense to baseball's final four. I don't think this team can do that, but I didn't think last season's team could do that. A truly mediocre team would not play well enough defensively and on the mound to overcome such unreliable offense. But the offense is worse than mediocre. That's the difference, to me.
    So much for the pent up demand for football. NFL tv ratings were way down, as much as 32% in Chicago. Surprised?
  • I'm not sure what to make of the ratings. We are in sports overload right now. Everything is going at once. I've heard from some folks who are staying away due to the pregame demonstrations. I've heard from some folks who are tuning out because of the lack of energy provided from fans in the stands. Everyone will present the data with the angle that suits their angle.
    Are the Cards generally happy with the performance of Alex Reyes this year? With Hicks back next year, could he possibly be a starter?
    Heavens, yes. He has nearly twice as many strikeouts (21) as walks (11) and opponents are averaging .185 against him. His velocity is there. His confidence is there. His walks (11) need to decrease, but he looks strong and in charge when he's on the mound. He's been limited to at most 2 innings per appearance, and he's only done that three times I think, so there are unknowns about his durability as a starter that would have to be answered, but the hope has always been that he could be that kind of arm, and a special one at that. The Cardinals are in a good spot with Reyes. They can meet and figure out how to build him up as a starter in the future after this season, or maximize his potential as a high-leverage impact arm. Him and Hicks together at the back of games? That's nasty.
    Looks like the real Brad Miller has surfaced...the one that numerous teams have given up on. He’s getting on base with walks but is striking out a ton now.
    It was fun while it lasted. He's slashing .135/.256/.216 over his last 37 at-bats. He stepped up, but it was going to hard to believe he was going to be THAT guy over the course of even a shortened season.
    A bit worried about Goldys power numbers. Only 5 HR, projecting to a little over 20 for the year. OPS down as well. Are we beginning to see a decline in his power? He is paid to drive in runs. Bottom line, we need another legit bat moving forward.
    He's paid to drive in runs, yes, but he's also the one and only guy in the lineup teams can and should pitch around. I don't know why any pitcher would give Goldschmidt a pitch to hit. Make the rest of the lineup beat you. It's a good bet.
    How many outs on the base paths with Carpenter are the Cards good with? He forced Yadi into running home because of his big turn @ 2nd. He's not fast, he's not a good judge of OF's throwing abilities and he's not good at reading the situation. This not new. This has been going on for a couple years. Geez. It's embarrassing!
  • The biggest problem for the Cardinals on the bases this season has been running into outs while trying to take an extra base. They've had 16 outs in that scenario, twice as many as outs as they've had caught stealing (eight). This, perhaps more than anything, is a sign of a desperate offense.
    KK looks like an absolute beast so far. Don't you find it a little concerning they weren't even going to put him in the rotation at the beginning of the season? Who could look at him before the season and actually think C Mart should have a spot in the rotation over him? They're paying C Mart more and even though he looks horrible they're going to try to justify that big ridiculous contract they gave him and keep throwing him out there as a starter.
    I said since spring that Kim looked like he should start. I don't know why the Cardinals talked themselves out of that, even for a bit. He's been stellar. Martinez's contract is not all that big, when you consider what good closers get paid these days, and how good he was in that role after he fell out of the rotation. That's partly why I thought he should have stated this season as the closer. Carlos should get a start or two against lineups not named the Twins before we decide he's done as a starter, but it was clear to many that Kim needed to start back in spring, when he mowed through that same Twins lineup in an exhibition game.
    Thanks for doing these, BefFred!!! really enjoy your work!

    Speaking of Fowler, is there an estimated date of return (They said at least two weeks on 9/3)...I can't believe I've saying this, but we do miss him!!
    Fowler's status is uncertain for the rest of the season, and there has not been a concrete timeline given by the team.
    Seems like the Cardinals hitters have taken a lot of pitches right down the middle over the past couple of years, as if they were completely caught off guard by that. Do you think its analytics overkill? Plus, other teams have scouts/analytics too and if they tell their pitchers to go against the grain, the Cardinals hitters are set up to fail.
    The Cardinals see such a low percentage of fastballs, it's always a bit surprising to see them pass on them when they do come, and come into the strike zone. The Cards saw the lowest percentage of fastballs last season, and are once again seeing one of the lowest percentages this season, down around 47.6 percent per FanGraphs. Teams have a book on the Cardinals. Give them the offspeed stuff, the breaking stuff. It seems to work pretty well. Even more reason to punish fastballs when they do come in the zone, even if it's the first pitch. The Cardinals are swinging at first pitches only 25.8 percent of the time. Only four teams swing at first pitches less often. Seems to be the Cardinals could benefit from an uptick in ambushing.
    Hi Ben,

    Admittedly, I haven't kept up with MLB this season so I apologize if you've covered this topic several times. Would Shildt be in the running for manager of the year if the Cardinals make the playoffs? I can't imagine how difficult it would be as a manager to make up so many games in a short amount of time and keep his players healthy.
    That's an interesting topic. The COVID argument can cut two ways. Some might praise Shildt for how he's led his team back from the shutdown and kept its head above water during the gauntlet of games. Shildt could also be knocked, as his team was the one that had the biggest COVID-related setback in the league. See what I mean? Competition would be stiff regardless. First-year manager Jayce Tingler is going to get a lot of love because the Padres are hot and he's new. David Ross is in his first year in an unpredictable season, and the Cubs are exceeding expectations at least so far, and have been great at avoiding COVID mishaps.
    Ben,

    Has any movement been made on the MLS / Anthem lot?
    I've inquired about that but have not heard back yet. I'll drop the response in if I get it today.
    Did Kim say he couldn't go back out or the manger?
  • I'm not in Milwaukee with the team so not sure what exactly that conversation looked like or if there was one. Kim had thrown his season-high in innings (seven) and pitches (87) in his first start back from being hospitalized, so I would imagine there wasn't too much discussion about handing it over.
    Re Hicks and coming back, IIRC it wasn't solely covid and diabetes risk that shut him down. He was having a bit of a rehab hiccup that week as well
    Correct. But also, you know, having diabetes and COVID risk. That's not a small thing.
    It’s crazy seeing Yelich struggle like he is.
  • Indeed. Meanwhile Ozuna is man on fire. I might have to resume my old argument with DG.
    People say the cards won the division.last year, but compared to all division winners they were not that good.
    They looked good enough against Atlanta in the NLDS.
    I don't understand this argument of trying to explain away a team reaching the NLCS.
    The offense was not good.
    The rest of the team was really good.
    That was the story, and it got them all the way to a butt-kicking against the eventual World Series champion.
    Any word on why vaunted young pitchers Fernandez and Whitley are MIA? Are they well?
  • Whitley had a bad combination of COVID and then an elbow issue.
    Fernandez, I beleive, is on the taxi squad for this current road trip.
    If Carlson was never sent down and still playing most games at the level he was playing before, on one of the worst hitting outfields in the league, everyone would be clamoring for Shildt to "see what they have" in the other outfielders. It's just with the benefit of hindsight that we know that what we have in the other outfielders is not much better that Carlson. That being said, now that we know that....LET THE KID PLAY!
    I disagree.
    I never expected Carlson to take the lineup by storm, but there's a benefit to playing him regularly and preparing him for what should be a bright future.
    I thought the Cardinals would promote him and play him regularly, no matter what.
    I think that's what they should have done all along.
    Starting him regularly has two benefits: One he might take off and lift the offense with an upside that is higher than his peers; two he is getting valuable in-game experience for his future, which should be brighter than some of his peers.
    I hate looking forward in the middle of the season, but given the stagnant offense I have been looking toward the future. It is painfully obvious that the Cardinals need an OF bat, but there's really nobody that jumps off the page in the free agent mix. Who would be a trade candidate?

    With the availability of Edman and Carp at 3B for one year and the top two prospects being 3B, Would the Cardinals pick up Wong's option and package him in a trade, and slide Edman to 2B? I like Kolton, but the Cards lack the big league talent to pull off a big trade without giving up some serious pitching.
    The halfway point was a while back. There are 18 games left, and that's it if the Cardinals don't make the expanded postseason. Right now, they would be in. 
    If and how the Cardinals go about seeking outfield help this offseason will hinge on so many things, too many to sort through now. I guess that's a cop-out, but it's true. The Cardinals have resisted any and all invitations to analyze or address what this season has presented in terms of performance and results. We don't know if they are going to say, hey, weird year and lets do it all over again. We don't know if they are going to address the elephant (outfield) in the room. We don't know if they are going to point to the pandemic and say they can't spend, or need to shed payroll. I honestly don't know, and they're not talking about it. We also don't know what next season will look like, if players and owners will be forced to agree to another makeshift season or if things will be back to normal, if the Cardinals can make some sort of a postseason push that could change the current level of angst, etc. It's just an impossible time to start figuring out how they go about -- or if they will go about -- strengthening the outfield. It's a moving target in an unknown universe -- one that still has the possibility of players and owners not being able to agree on some sort of a plan for the 2021 season if they have to create one, and whatever awful found of negotiations comes after the 2021 season if there is a normal one or altered one, due to the CBA. My point: It has never been more impossible than it is right now to predict what a team is going to do -- in part because the team doesn't know what it's going to do.
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