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. Adam Wainwright is back. The Blues are rolling. Big game for Mizzou hoops tonight. Big(?) game for Mizzou football on Saturday? Big game for SLU hoops Sunday. Tons to discuss. Let's ride.
    "Tommy Edman is better than Munoz." Convince me. Don't get me sideways here, I love Edman and how he plays. However, the narrative last year for Munoz was, nearly, word for word the same as Edman. "Plays multiple positions, has pop in his bat, etc." So what is the difference? Did Munoz regress or did other clubs have a solid book on him? And how long before they have the book on Edman?
    I WANT Edman to succeed. I want him to be the player Munoz was sold to be. Is he? If he is, how does he stay relevant and NOT slide into the sophomore slump?
    Well, let's start with that first season you referenced.
    Edman averaged .304 with a .350 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. That's an OPS of .850.
    Munoz in his rookie season averaged .276 with a .350 on-base and a .413 SLG. That's an OPS of .763
    Munoz has been described in many ways -- versatile, gamer, strong-armed, free-swinger, but pop is not something that has ever been his calling card. He has 10 homers in 465 at-bats. Edman has 11 in 326.
    The difference, to me, is that Edman is a more polished defender with a more starter-type bat.
    But yes, he has to continue to prove that. He has to adjust as pitchers adjust. The sophomore slump can come for any player, but I don't know that the comparison between Edman and Munoz goes much beyond that.
    Munoz's challenge is to prove he deserves a spot on a big league bench. Edman's is to prove he's more than that.
     
    Everyone is trying to figure out what happened to the Tiger football team. Latest theory I heard from two different sources yesterday is that something happened internally after the 5th win and if and when it comes out, it will explain everything. Any thoughts on this theory?
    It's a shame this season has devolved into a public guessing game about what The Big Secret is that derailed the Tigers, but I don't know of any smoking gun.
    I think it's a combination of things.
    Cale Garrett's season-ending injury was bigger than most realized, myself included. The defense played well the next game out, but his leadership is missed, and it's just different trying to lead when you're not playing.
    Kelly Bryant appears to have been over-hyped. Then he got hurt, first the knee and then the hamstring. Then he was trying to lead during a losing streak, something he's never, ever done before. His presence seemed to shrink, and this team had spent its offfseason and winning streak with that presence as a cornerstone to its confidence.
    The offense has melted down instead of turned to new leaders.
    Larry Rountree has lost ground. Albert O is a chronic underachiever. No big play receiver has emerged. A lot of it starts on the offensive line, which has underachieved and probably lost confidence as players get shuffled around.
    The five-game home winning streak -- a strange twist to any college football schedule -- seemed to give the team a false sense of confidence, even after the season-opening stubbed toe at Wyoming.
    Perfect storm.
    If there is One Big Moment in all of that, the team is doing a good job of covering it up.
     
    Ben, now that Waino has signed and we just have the one slot left for the rotation, what are the chances that last slot ends up a leftie? I feel like it would be good to have at least one in our rotation, and if it does end up a leftie, who? Could the Cards pony up for a Bumgarner or Kuechel or would it end up being Gomber?
    That would be nice, simply to offer hitters something different. We know how the Cardinals feel about their internal options. They like to give them a chance. I don't have a good enough read on Austin Gomber's current state to know if he's able to be banked on for the rotation, or not. I'm not sure that's possible to know until he shows up and pitches at spring training. Hard to not feel the same way about Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes. I'd prefer Keuchel over Bumgarner, I think. I'm also somewhat intrigued by Cole Hamels. Before you scream about his age (35), here's why. He's floated that he could be open to signing a one-year deal with a winning team. And check out his career numbers against National League Central teams not named the Cardinals, as pointed out recently by Cubs scribe Patrick Mooney. Just something to chew on while we wonder if the Cardinals will take a bite of the free-agent starter market.

    • Hamels vs. Cincinnati: 11-2, 2.30 ERA (20 starts)
    • Hamels vs. Milwaukee: 8-5, 3.53 ERA (20 starts)
    • Hamels vs. Pittsburgh: 5-4, 2.52 ERA (13 starts)
    Your thoughts on the Brouwer and McGinn tryouts? I can see the potential fit with McGinn, but Brouwer has me scratching my head. I know there's history there but he's on the wrong side of 35 and his game has kind of sagged the last few years. I know neither guy will break the bank but it seems like the opportunity could be used on an internal guy.
    I get it. And I thought Blues general manager Doug Armstrong played it well. There's nothing wrong with giving the vets a 10-day window to prove they can add some experienced edge to the team. The youth will be waiting if they can't. If you missed it, here's Armstrong's explanation in Tom T's story. It's a long season, and sometimes the idea of youth is better than the growing pains of it. The money line, as you will see, is bold. This is simply a vetting process, more than anything. If it works, great. If it doesn't, the young guys will be leaned upon. And if it motivates the young guys to see the old dogs get a shot ahead of them, even better.
    Here's the Army quote: “If you lose a Steen and a Tarasenko and you put in guys with no experience, there’s a difference,” Armstrong said Monday. “It’s a man’s league. We want to respect the league and see if there’s veteran players who can help us. If they can’t and if the young guys are better, they’re better. But I’ve seen teams that have gone totally young and there’s growing pains with that and I think we’ve stated all along that we want to try and be competitive with the upper echelon teams and most of those teams are experienced also.
    “In our game in Calgary, I think we had eight players on our roster with less than 200 NHL games. We played five guys with less than 100 at the start of the season. It’s an experienced league and we want to see if there were any experienced players that can help us. ... We don’t want to get in a situation where we have 11 or 12 players without experience. There’s no guarantees for Jamie or for Troy, but we’re going to bring them in and take a look at them.”
    Any Free agent BP guys that might make a difference while CMart joins the rotation?

    The BP almost always needs to get rebuilt. Will John Gant revert back to his first half? Can Gant ever become a starter who starts 30 games?
    Sure. There always are arms out there that could help. The hard part, especially for the Cardinals lately, is finding ones that help more than they hurt. The team has had its best luck turning minor -- to us -- names and finding roles for them -- John Brebbia, John Gant, Giovanny Gallegos, Bud Norris, etc. The team has not had much luck paying known quantities to come out of the bullpen -- Brett Cecil, Luke Gregerson, to some extent Andrew Miller. I imagine this is the offseason the Cardinals will punt on any high-priced, established relievers. Every offseason includes some type of bullpen churn, but the Cardinals have had better luck with minor moves that have major impact, not the splash additions.
    If everyone's saying Carpenter's going to play next year then why is there chatter about Moustakas? I personally would love him on the Cardinals but how realistic is it?
    There is chatter about Moustakas because he could be a realistic and relatively affordable upgrade at a position that was not very good for the Cardinals last season. The Cardinals, at least based on their end-of-season press conference, seem to see it differently. They have decided to view Carpenter's 2019 as an outlier. Their words. In the front office's perfect world, Matt Carpenter reclaims his starting position at third and Tommy Edman becomes a bounce-around Ben Zobrist. I just think that's asking a lot of Carpenter, who has been one of the league's least effective regular hitters since September 2018. I'd love to see manager Mike Shildt hooked up to a lie-detector test answering which player he would rather have starting at third tomorrow: Carpenter or Moustakas.
    A great news with Waino signings. I really think him and Molina are the leaders of this team for a long time, and they deserve all the credit in the world. A 38 year old pitcher winning 14 games is a great accomplishment . I really glad he is here for another year and he will continue to perform at a highest level and will assist young pitchers in their development. Now MO just need to sort out the outfield situation for the future once and for all, Thank you
    Whatever chatter there was about Wainwright pitching elsewhere always seemed silly to me. He wanted to be back. The Cardinals wanted him back. We'll see what the specifics of the contract are when it comes out, but a decent bump from the incentive-laden deal he capitalized on last year seemed to make sense. He bet on himself and delivered. The Cardinals wanted that to happen, and it did. My only question was if the notion of walking out on a high point intrigued him. It's just so hard to predict what a 38-year-old arm is going to do moving forward. But, his tank is full, and he doesn't want to leave anything on the table. It's hard to not respect that. We know the Cardinals certainly do. A cool reminder from today's announcement of the deal: Wainwright was the first Cardinals pitcher since Pete Alexander (16 wins in 1928 at age 41) to post 14+ wins at age 38 or older, and the first in the majors to have done so since the Mets’ Bartolo Colon (15 wins in 2016 at age 43).
     
     
    Good morning. Read your column today about the questions that Jim Sterk must answer regarding the football program and its leadership. Also read Dave Matter's column asking the question if HCBO and the team can avoid a continuing spiral in 2019.

    Can this team avoid a further spiraling over the last three games?

    One perspective ----- fans, players, coaches, et. al. focused on the "ease of schedule" and not on the fact the team was simply not anywhere as good as was advertised.
    It might be as simple as -- does Kelly Bryant play and play well? Odom said today he expects the graduate transfer QB to play against Florida. We'll see if that waffles as the game nears. Bryant played but did not play well the two games before he missed. One wonders if the knee injury against Troy was more serious than advertised, but the weird thing about it was he played perhaps his best game of the season against Ole Miss. Without Bryant, I don't see the Tigers beating any team but Arkansas moving forward. With Bryant, they might beat Tennessee, too. I think Florida wins Saturday either way, unless the Gators freeze up in the cold.
  • With Illinois going bowling this season and Missouri perhaps going bowling (if the qualify and are allowed to.) is there any bowl scenario that pits an SEC team against a Big 10 team? It would be neat to see Mizzou vs. Illini.
    The Citrus Bowl and Outback Bowl are both Big Ten/SEC matchups, though those seem unrealistic for both teams mentioned here.
    I think the Gator and Music City Bowls can go either SEC/Big Ten or SEC/ACC depending on certain circumstances.
    Those two would be more likely and likely appealing considering there would be some interest in that game for traveling fan potential.
    In your short time in St. Louis, is this DeSmet team one of the best teams you've ever seen?
    East St. Louis is pretty dominant. Looks like they're going to win another championship running away.
    DeSmet is rolling along, too. I'm really happy for Coach Steeples. We were at Mizzou at the same time. Very cool to watch his climb.
    Is there any thought that the Cards are downplaying their ambitions this off-season so they don't face the kind of trade demands they faced when everyone knew they were trying to make big moves the two previous off-seasons to improve?
    I don't think so. Those trade demands -- if referencing the ones surrounding starting pitching at last season's trade deadline -- were high for all teams, not rising specifically to try to swindle the Cards. The Yankees, like the Cardinals, walked back a public goal of adding a starter because of the prospect ask being requested by teams. That's just trading now. Teams covet prospects and don't like to deal top ones. Teams that are dealing performing major league players want to clean the cupboard as much as possible, not only but in part because they realize fans can be sold on high-end talent being added for years to come. The Cardinals don't do a lot of say one thing, do the other. In past offseasons, they have had an underlined need atop their list, and went about finding the way to add it within their sustained success model. The only audible, usually, is if they call off the search because they did not find a deal they believed was palatable. This offseason they have made it clear they don't plan on drastically altering the payroll and that they don't plan on this team looking drastically different from 2019. They're going to work the margins. At least they're being honest about it.
    We did the right thing with Wainwright! A Cardinal for life. I am curious do you think that some of these athletes would give concessions like Wainwright if they were openly respected? Meaning, I felt that Pujols should have been a Cardinal for life and that should have been stated publicly ... with the understanding we can't get in a bidding war and still maintain a competitive team every year. Would that not put more pressure on the player?
    Not sure if I'm following.
    This deal with Wainwright, like last season's, is a mutually beneficial one between the player and the team.
    Wainwright wants to keep pitching. The Cardinals liked how he pitched last season. And on top of that, there are a bunch of positives to the relationship, like Wainwright mentoring the young guys, and Wainwright being a living Cardinals legend. He would not get that if he was pitching for, say, San Diego. 
    This made a lot of sense for both sides, and if it doesn't work out, it's a one-year deal, not the end of the world.
    As for Pujols, he was a free agent believed to be in the prime of his career who had a long list of suitors.
    Different situation.
    I don't think the Cardinals claiming he deserved to be a Cardinal for life, or any other phrase, was going to work around their decision to not match the contract the Angels gave him.
    Not that the Cardinals should have, either.
    They are glad they don't have that deal on their books.
    I'm not quite at the point with Mizzou football as I was with Mizzou basketball under Kim Anderson... but I'm close. The absolute apathy surrounding this team is depressing, and it seems like it's infected the team as well. Is there any hope that Odom is the guy to pull the team out of this? We're four years into Odom's tenure as head coach - at this point, it's entirely on him.
  • The Kim Anderson comparisons should not be thrown around lightly, and I'm a fan of Kim Anderson, the person.
    But using that era to tag on whatever team is not trending in the right direction at the moment is both unfair and inaccurate.
    The basketball program spent three seasons as one of the least competitive in the country.
    Mizzou football is not that.
    That is, like, Rutgers or something.
    Apathy means you're not interested. You have given up. Checked out.
    I don't think the football team produces apathy. I think it produces frustration, confusion, etc. People are not disinterested as much as they are confused by some of the non-winning traits of this team. I don't see shrugs about Mizzou football. I see people asking questions and wondering why it falls into some of the same pitfalls over and over again.
    And yes, there is a big difference.
    Mizzou AD Jim Sterk made a change when the basketball team caused apathy.
    I'm not sure an SEC AD can wait to see his football team come close to that.
    If I'm him, I need some concrete evidence that this is going to change.
    And yes, the statute of limitations has expired by year four.
     
    Vladimir Tarasenko goes down and the Blues don't skip a beat. Do you think this is sustainable? I think the Blues are showing the league what depth can do. You look at teams like Colorado, who granted aren't playing terribly but not nearly as good as they were, who list Rantanen and Landeskog, they are very top heavy. Can you imagine what would happen to Edmonton if they lost McDavid or Draisaitl for any length of time?
    Probably not. But the ground they are adding to their lead now certainly helps prepare them for the valley that will inevitable arrive at some point. That's big. And if they had any doubts that they could win without No. 91, those concerns have been answered. It will be harder. It won't always be as smooth of sailing as it is now, but the Blues won a Cup based on everybody pulling their portion of the rope. They're not going to forget that lesson because of Tarasenko's absence. It's next man up, and the Blues are deep, as you mentioned. Good leadership, too. Some of the most important players have pushed their play up another level since Tarasenko went down. That's what it takes. They can be a playoff team without No. 91. And if they get in ... who knows.
    Will the Cardinals ever stop re-signing Waino and Yadi? When you look at 2020, it almost feels like the Cards are using them to sell tickets in lieu of getting big ticket free agents, like "don't miss what could be their last season."
    That suggests the Cardinals used to get "big ticket free agents."
    That's never been their style, and it won't be under this leadership.
    That said, the Cardinals do find themselves caught between their adoration for Molina and Wainwright and their adhered to way of doing business.
    In the Wainwright and Molina send-off season, they sound prepared to more or less stand pat.
    A case could be made to stretch the model to send these guys out with their best chance of winning a championship, right?
    But that gets back to the Cardinals' rejection of the theory of a championship window.
    Not their style. The system is bigger than any player in it, Wainwright and Molina included.
    Kind of scary that the Cardinals need a closer and there’s so little talk here about it. Opening day is less than 5 months away. 2019 proved that while we he got us by in an injury pinch, Martinez was/is not the answer. This is a bigger need than who’s going to play LF or 3B IMO. Those can take care of themselves. *This* cannot.

    Who is going to be the everyday 9th inning closer on 3/26?
    I've gotta disagree here.
    If the season starts today, I'm much more concerned about Carpenter and Edman's potential sophomore slump than I am about which arm claims the ninth.
    The Cardinals have a lot of guys who could fit that description. Carlos Martinez could wind up back there again, if his latest run at the rotation does not work out.
    Junior Fernandez, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller, John Brebbia could all slot into that spot.
    Jordan Hicks should be back at some point next season, though he won't be ready from the jump.
    And don't forget Ryan Helsley.
    I'm completely fine with sorting the closer out as you go -- especially considering the Cardinals' luck with acquired, "proven" relievers.
    Can someone explain to me how Dakota Hudson wasn't a finalist for Rookie of the Year? I get the award was Alonso's to lose, but still.
    Pretty simple. He finished fifth. Not bad.
    Position players tend to get the nod over starting pitchers in these types of awards, because they play more. More chances to make an impact on the season.
    If the award was best NL rookie pitcher, Hudson would have been a finalist. He would have gotten second, after Braves rookie Mike Soroka.
    Soroka edged out Hudson in most significant categories.
    He had three fewer wins, but had the advantage in ERA, innings per start, walks, strikeouts and quality starts.
    I had a vote in this one this season.
    My ballot read Pete Alonso (1), Bryan Reynolds (2) and Mike Soroka (3).
    Hudson would have been fourth probably.
    I was in favor of Alonso winning and had no beef with Soroka getting second. He was splendid.
    I'm the only voter who had Reynolds second. I think he got overlooked. Played a ton for a rookie. Hit for average and power. He made more of an impact than the third-place winner Fernando Tatis Jr. who was limited to just 84 games due to injury. Tatis might be the best player mentioned in this answer when all is said and done, but I thought there were more deserving players for third place.
    Did you read that MLB Trade Rumors has predicted the Cardinals to land up with Strasburg?
    Now that would be something.
    If CMart ends up back in the rotation and starts pitching to his talent level, and assuming the other four pitch roughly to their expectations, do the Cardinals have the best rotation in the NL? (If Stras returns to the Nationals, I understand this question becomes moot)
  • There's a whole lot of "if" baked into that question.
    I'd like to see how the offseason chips fall first.
    It seems a bit optimistic, to me, to hope Martinez is going to suddenly flash back to All-Star starter form.
    Is it not more realistic that he winds up playing the closer role again?
    He's a wild-card, but I tend to lean toward what we have seen most recently.
    I have a topic that is more important in St. Louis than you'd realize - NBA load management. I'm debating whether I should go to Memphis for an NBA game against a talented team because they may decide to rest their players. I'd be spending money on travel, hotel, food etc. just to watch two pretty poor squads play NBA basketball. For as much as we in St. Louis hate the NFL, every game matters, so you don't need to be worried about playing sitting out due to load management. What do you think about load management?
    I can relate. My brother-in-law and I made a trip to Indianapolis last year to see LeBron, and we spent the entire month leading up to the trip wondering if he was going to be on the court. Not ideal for once-in-a-while ticket buyers like us, is it? I loved Archie Miller's response today that got Twitter traction: "There is no load management in college basketball." (At least not yet.) In short, it sucks for the fans. But unless there is a reaction to it that hits the wallet of the league or the players, it appears the horse is out of the barn. Ideally, the players' union would work with the league to answer some of the problems through some scheduling changes that make the season less grueling if possible. I'm not sure if that's realistic. The players more or less call their shots in the NBA, and the coaches seem more and more willing to sit guys as they see fit. My advice would be to only pay for tickets what you would feel comfortable paying to see the backups, because you are going to feel robbed if you splurge and the stars sit.
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