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 from San Diego, chatters. Here's the plan for today. The Cardinals have a workout later this afternoon that I'll need to get to, so let's hit the chat hard for a couple hours before that. Sound good? We'll pick up the tempo and get to as many questions and topics as possible. Let's roll.
    Hold the Kudos for Shildt's management during the season with the Covid hamstring. Remember 30 other teams managed to make it thru the season without imposing a similar penalty on themselves. Cardinal management shares the responsibility of their crazy season.
    It's an interesting topic. Should a manager like Mike Shildt -- or Don Mattingly, for another example -- get points for managing a team to the postseason through a significant COVID setback? Or, should that manager get dinged because the team did not cruise through the season without much COVID-related turbulence to the roster? I can argue it both ways, honestly. I've got a lot of respect for what Shildt and Mattingly did. But I also have a lot of respect for what David Ross did in Chicago, where he steered a team that never had one player lose time due to the virus. I think the managers at the end of the spectrum get the most applause, and Shildt and Mattingly are on one of those ends. The Cardinals could have let go of the rope after two weeks off. They didn't, and now they have a new life.
    Flaherty "demotion" to third choice is actually a fresh air of the performance vs perception rules of playing time. He has not looked good in any game compared to his performance last year. Hope he has a chance to make a statement on Friday.
    I've got no problems with the order of starters for this series. Kim has a real chance to unplug the Padres, being a lefty and an unfamiliar one of that. San Diego's power blips against southpaws. Wainwright has earned his start, and the Cardinals should guarantee that he gets a start this series, considering he's come up huge pretty much every time the team needs him this season. Flaherty's mechanics have been off. This gives him more time to try to solve them, and if it adds a little motivation, then that's just fine.

    I want to see what you think of this reasoning. I understand that it is easy to post negative things on social media, and not all Cardinals fans are discontent, but I do think the Cardinals are one of the most important and iconic things that the city of Saint Louis has. I believe that the relevance of the Cardinals is extremely important to our region, especially with a lot of the negative things that have happened over the years. I live in MN now and STL doesn't exactly have the greatest reputation. Certainly, the Twins fans here baulk at anything negative said about the Cardinals, because they wish they had our sustained success, and I can agree to that, but evidenced by the total lack of confidence the national media has in the Cardinals getting past San Diego, I believe the Cardinals have hurt their brand and lost some relevance. I get that they make the post season on a very consistent basis, but the team does not have a championship vibe and the offense is a chore to watch.. What do you think about this theory?
    I would not hold up the national media's predictions, largely in favor of the Padres, as a ruling on how the Cardinals are viewed. That says more about the Padres. They're young. They're new to the contender scene, compared to previous seasons. They have some real star power, yet can be a trendy pick. It's like picking the Reds to win the division this season, something I fell for. Looks good. Doesn't always work.
    That said, I do think the Padres win this series, though nothing would surprise me ever when it comes to the Cardinals in the postseason. They have a unique DNA. We all know the history of how a Cardinals team few think can make a deep run go on to make a deep run. So, we'll see.
    I will say this, though. At some point, no ring since 2011 becomes a long time. The Cardinals need to be aware of a downward trajectory: a team that can compete for a championship, a team that can compete for the division, a team that can make the postseason, a team that can have a winning season, and so on. The bar has been lowered a bit lately it seems, and that's why some who chose not to factor the COVID implications into this season winced at the team's celebration of making this expanded postseason. I get it
    Regardless of what happens these next couple weeks, no matter whose bat might get hot in the playoffs, this team has a clear and glaring need for one more superstar bat. Carpenter is not bouncing back, he’s a sunk cost at this point. DeJong is not a superstar, but he is a good player. Edman is important to this team, but he is not an offensive catalyst. This team has pieces but they need another pillar. Not a Corey Dickerson or Yasiel Puig patch, a permanent support column to allow Carlson and hopefully one of the trio of outfielders to realize their offensive potential in a lower pressure environment. They have taken a penny stock approach in building the offense the past 6 years (minus ’19) and none of their young hitters have ever developed into stars. It is time to bite the bullet again like they did with Holliday in ’09.
    I'd use the more recent example of Paul Goldschmidt instead of going back all the way to Matt Holliday, but I hear your argument and agree with it.
    Do I think it will happen?
    Maybe, if there's a trade Mozeliak and Co. can execute that doesn't add a ton to the payroll.
    Listening to the Cardinals' recent comments, I would not expect a massive spending spree this offseason, and those kind of players you're describing cost free-agent dollars or trades that swap affordable young talent for big contracts.
    The Cardinals, I think, are going to be talking a lot about the pandemic's financial pinch after this season.
    I'm not telling anyone they have to agree with it or like it.
    Just sending up a flare.
    Hey BenFred, it’s ok if you have a crush on the Padres, just so you come home to the Cards before curfew (when the games start).

    So, I am ok with KK starting the opener, being that the Padres have not seen him and they have a harder time with lefties. Not so sure about Waino starting Game 2 over Flaherty. Waino was showing some sign of strain in the last two games and I think Flaherty has the stuff to shut down the Padres for 6-7 innings, despite his recent struggles. If we lose Game 1, I would go with Flaherty in Game 2.
    Flaherty has the stuff. Question is, is the stuff right? He's recently talked about how his mechanics are out of whack, and you can see it in his delivery. Flaherty has hit six innings just once in his last three starts. One of those was the nine-run, three-inning disaster against the Brewers. Sure, there's a chance Flaherty could go out there and strike out 10-plus. There's also a chance he could chased like he did against the Brewers. There's just too much uncertainty with him right now, when this reliable of a version of Wainwright is an option. Wainwright has been the Cardinals' stopper all season. He's won big games that rest the bullpen and kept the team afloat. Over his last three starts he has a 3.72 ERA, only one failed to reach the sixth, by a one-third of an inning. I like the move. Go with the horse that carried you this far. The Cardinals have made some emotional decisions regarding Wainwright in the past that have not meshed with his performance. I don't think this is one.
    I saw recently that the depositions for the STL lawsuit against the NFL have been approved. Does that mean the extra time with Kroenke and Goodell is a go? Do you think anything in discovery will become public, or if the national media will ever start reporting on this case?
    KSDK reported the requests for depositions have been approved, but there's nothing official on that in the court records last time I checked. I imagine there will be, and have no reason to doubt that report. I don't think there is any reason the judge would not allow the Team STL lawyers to talk to the names they requested. The lawyers for the NFL and the Rams is fighting back against the idea of having to come to St. Louis in person to do the depositions. It wants online only, citing the pandemic. That's kind of understandable but also kind of funny, considering many of these NFL owners are traveling to their team's games every weekend. I'm going to write another column on the latest round of squabbles after I'm back from this postseason trip, however long it lasts. And no, I don't expect the national NFL media to get in on the coverage of the trial. There's no reward in it for them, and it will tick off the sources that feed them info if they "make a big deal" out of it. The P-D is going to keep covering the heck out of it. It's a big story.
    Here’s my lineup for Game 1:

    Carlson LF
    Miller DH
    Fowler RF
    Bader CF
    I'd like to know who's starting for the Padres before locking mine in.
    Clevinger and Lamet are both still candidates after they tested their sore arms here in San Diego yesterday.
    We should know more about their status, and have a Padres announcement of Game 1 starter, later today.
    Yesterday I read the rotation for the Wild Card series was going to be KK, Flaherty and Waino. Today it was announced as KK. Waino and a Flaherty. Has Shildt given any insight into that decision?
  • There seemed to be some confusion based off an interview Shildt gave on an MLB Network show, and the Twitter conclusions drawn from it suggested the plan was: Kim, Flaherty and Wainwright. I don't know what Shildt said during that interview. I was on a plane. But by the time that plane landed, the Cardinals had announced Kim, Wainwright and Flaherty. It could have been a live-TV blip, conclusions drawn prematurely or something else. Shildt talks today here in San Diego, so we will find out.
  • Just FYI I had to do some navigating to find this chat, it wasn't on the sports home page at all like it usually is.
  • Thanks for the heads up. There should be a banner up now directing folks here. Let me know if you don't see it after a refresh.
    How much is MO willing to spend to keep Yadi and Waino? Is he willing to sacrifice Wong to keep them?
    All fair questions. No answers yet. And no reason at this time to assume that will be what the decision comes down to.
    So much of this will hinge on how the Cardinals decide to spend (or not spend) after a season played without fans, and with some potential lingering uncertainty about what 2021 looks like. If Molina doesn't want to factor that into his ask, that conversation could reach a sticky spot, and fast. He's a future Hall of Famer and a Cardinals legend forever, but he's not a $20 million player on a post-pandemic payroll, and while he's respected and revered across the league, he's not the top catcher in this free-agent class. That would be 29-year-old J.T. Realmuto. If Molina will take a Wainwright-type deal (lower base salary, plenty of performance-based incentives) I don't think this is an issue at all. If he starts to feel disrespected, or if he and Wainwright decide to make a change and finish somewhere else together, things could change. I just don't know, and the Cardinals don't either. Some interesting talks are coming after this season.
    To reply to DDMN in 2006 the prevailing thought by national media was ANY AL team would defeat ANY NL team in the World Series yet the Cards won the championship. History shows anything can happen in the playoffs. Cards excel when they’re the underdog and no one expects them to succeed. Go Cards!!
    The Cardinals indeed have some unique playoff DNA.
    I learned this firsthand as the Rick Hummel intern in 2011.
    I left that summer to return to Mizzou, the Cards were playing poorly, and my dad asked me if they had a chance to figure things out, get in the postseason and make a run.
    No chance, I responded.
    Joke was on me.
    More than the past WS teams, this one reminds me a lot more of last season.
    I would not be surprised if the Cardinals put things together enough to rise up and surprise the Padres, like they did the Braves in last season's NLDS, but I have a hard time seeing them getting out of the NLCS if they get there.
    Lugging this offense that deep is just asking too much.
    How much optimism do you have for the offense to tick up after a couple days off and a reset? Guys like Goldschmidt and Miller faded down the stretch and the grind had to have made it tough on them
    After the grinder the Cardinals went through, I imagine consecutive days without a game is going to feel like a full blown vacation. It's as much mental as anything. A chance to reset. The player I think it could help the most? Paul DeJong. He missed time due to COVID. He came back on August 23rd and from there started 40 games in 37 days. He hasn't homered since September 5. If he can reset, and power up this lineup looks different. Especially if Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson can keep their recent upticks rolling.
    Any news on whether Lamet will really be ready to start game 1 or Clevenger game 3?
  • Plenty of speculation. Nothing official. It'll be announced today. Padres reporters said Monday's throwing sessions for both created optimism both could pitch in this series.
    How much flak would Shildt get if the Cards get swept and we are eliminated from the playoffs without Flaherty pitching an inning?
    It shouldn't be too much from people who have watched Wainwright and Flaherty pitch this season.
    Sorry for this contrary opinion of Goldy. I was not a Holiday fan because I think he had too many defensive lapses on routine plays when it counted. However, Goldy has a long way to go to be put up against Holliday for his batting performance with the Cards. Yes he has a good BA this year, but appears to be at the expense of power. Once again, it looks to me like MO paid for past performance.
    I was more implying that the move to acquire Goldschmidt was like the move you were calling for -- a move that added a legitimate, feared bat instead of a what-if.
    Goldschmidt's had a great season for a guy who's hitting in a lineup with little to no protection. His power is down because teams are not giving him anything good to hit, because they are confident they can get the next guys out.
    I’d much rather save Waino for game 3 if need be as he has the experience and mindset to handle the pressure. Not sure Flaherty has the confidence right now to get it done in a win or go home situation
    Game 2 could be a win or go-home situation, though.
    Best not to slow-play your best-performing arms in the postseason.
    In every sport, good to great defense negates good to great offense. Not to mention the intangibles that come with experience. And Yadi will do something amazing. I’ll take the Cards in 3.
    Yadier Molina having a really good postseason is perhaps the easiest bet for anyone who knows Molina to make. He's playing for an extension. He wants another ring. He gets to catch his pal Wainwright in a huge game. He's healthy. We might get some World Baseball Classic Yadi, and that's must-see stuff. His knack for the moments this year -- hitting a homer on Roberto Clemente day was just one -- have been remarkable. I bet there's at least one more left.
    While it is usually important in any playoff series, one of the keys for the Cardinals not discussed yet for this series is the ability to get a lead and hold it. According to Baseball Reference, 22 of San Diego's 37 wins this year are comeback wins while the Cardinals blew 11 leads. With no doubleheaders to have to manage around, how do you see the Cardinals aligning their bullpen for the late innings if they have a lead?
  • That's what a powerful offense will do. The Padres are never really out of a game.
    The Cardinals can now, finally, shift into postseason gear with their relievers.
    Alex Reyes looks ready for this stage. Genesis Cabrera has been filthy. Andrew Miller has been locked in, and Ryan Helslely has looked sharp lately too.
    Each could find high-leverage spots.
    The Cardinals also have to find a way to get some good use out of Daniel Ponce de Leon and Austin Gomber. They're too good to sit and wait for a starter to break down.
    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Weaponize the depth.
    Hey Ben. I have a question that I have been trying to get on here to ask for over a month And now seems like the perfect time so... Last month Fernando Tatis Sr. called out the St. Louis front office in a tweet. It was something along the lines of "The Cardinals saw my son in 19 different workouts and they did not sign him". First, I am not surprised that the team failed to recognize the talent there. Were he a pitcher they would have been all over him, but a position player? Particularly a position player who has a bit of attitude? Can't be talented, right? But anyway, my question is if you are aware of any reason why Tatis Sr would feel the need to call out the Cardinals directly. Is there some sort of bad blood there? Or is it a situation where he wanted his son to join the organization that he came up with and is a bit bitter that they had no interest? It just seemed odd to me.
    It is a great time to revisit what happened there, and that's a story someone at the paper currently has in the works -- if Tatis Sr. is willing to talk.
    How's that for a tease?
    Tatis Sr.'s initial comment was to a reporter named Hector Gomez who works out of the Dominican Republic.
    So, yeah, the Cardinals were one of the teams that missed on Tatis Jr.
    There were many.
    Including the White Sox, who did sign him, then traded him away for, uh, James Shields.
    It could be come the White Sox version of Brock-for-Broglio.
    Baseball's weird. That's my final answer.
    I don't understand the comment about the Cardinals steering away from position players with "attitude." 
    The Cardinals drafted Delvin Perez, who fit that description.
    Some would describe Yadier Molina, or even Harrison Bader in that way.
    The Cardinals just missed on Tatis Jr. Along with pretty much all the other teams not named the Padres.
    Mike Trout was drafted 25th.
    From the MLB Network Interview: Shildt told Chris Russo on MLB network that Kim was going game 1 and then Russo concluded that meant Flaherty going game 2 and Shildt didn't correct him. Shildt never actually said that Flaherty was going game 2.
    Thanks for clarifying. Twitter's gonna Twitter. That makes sense. Come on, Mad Dog! (I do like Russo. He cracks me up.)
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