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.

    If Ozuna goes to the Reds, is he a perennial MVP candidate in that ballpark?
    I don't think Ozuna is a perennial MVP candidate in any ballpark. He has five homers in 100 career at-bats at Great American. His OPS is .770 there. Much, much better at Miller Park.
    One of John Mozeliak's most puzzling comments to me was the Lane Thomas comment. He said that they really missed him in September, and he had a chance to be an impact player. Upon further review, he made his debut in April, and made four starts all season, bouncing between here and AAA. In those four starts, he was 7-15, so he clearly hit enough to earn more. In the last 9 games before his injury, he made exactly zero starts. So, while I agree with the premise that Thomas can make an impact, to say they missed him in September when the manager wouldn't play him all year with a scuffling offense is kind of reaching. I know this might be a stretch, but can you attempt to explain what the thinking was here? I find it hard to believe he'd have gotten any more of an opportunity with so much evidence to the contrary, and also, I find it hard to understand why he didn't receive so many opportunities.
    On top of going seven-for-15 in four starts, he went 12-for-38 (.316) with a .409 on-base percentage and a .684 slugging percentage. He smacked four home runs and a triple. He had for more hits (12) than strikeouts (eight). I interpreted Mozeliak's comment as a defense of the play-the-young-outfielders theory, reminding us and listeners of the press conference that there is talent that needs to be given opportunity there. Your point is more than fare, and it's one I've wondered about. If these guys are the answer, why didn't they get more run in 19? And what will change -- beyond just the potential absence of Ozuna -- to get them more run in 20? If these guys -- Thomas, O'Neill, Arozarena, Carlson -- are going to settle this thing in an outfield carousel competition, does it make the most sense to lock in Bader and Fowler as sure-thing starters? I'd argue no. And I'd also argue that saying a guy is a starter in November means little, but keeps people happy until it's time to make a change. Any player who assumes his outfield spot is cemented is likely wrong.
    How will we know that Jeff Albert's coaching is working, and how long should it take for those improvements to be visible?
    Great question. I'll add another one. How do we know that whatever was going on in Houston did not make Albert's teachings look better than advertised? The Cardinals clearly viewed 2019 as a sample size that was too small to give much of a read on Albert's hire. In fact, they doubled down on their belief in him by firing longtime hitting teachers in Buddha and Greer. If the front office really does stand pat this offseason in terms of helping the offense, that puts even more pressure on Albert and his philosophy to produce results in 20. If the offense lags again, then what? It should be fair to expect results from the hitting coach in year two, especially if the front office makes sure all instructors are speaking his language. Right?
    Why are the Cards committed to Bader who has proven he can’t hit at the major league level? Seems like he should be included in the outfield tryouts the club is hosting next spring.
    I wouldn't get to caught up in this at the moment.
    If Bader can't hit a lick in spring, and the other guys rake, don't you think there could be some adjusting of that outlook?
    I do.
    Any idea how the Battlehawks ticket sales are going? There seems to be more buzz about the team and league locally than I thought there would be. It also seems that they are doing everything right to promote it locally. Great social media, local events, showing up to high school games. I'm pretty fascinated to see what the dome is going to look like for the hope opener.
    I was told we could not receive specific numbers but that the sales have been robust compared to other cities. Again, without seeing the numbers, it's hard to put much stock into it. I do think people will show up to see something new. And I agree that the team has had a good approach, trying to get in with the community. Will people come back is the big question. Is this sustainable? We'll see.
    Ben - Is it fair to criticize Cuonzo Martin's approach and effectiveness up to this point? I mean, we're now on year 3 and unless they drastically overachieve they will probably not be making the tournament. Or is this just a the result of how low the program had fallen under Kim Anderson?
    Sorry for the delay here. Full on computer freeze. Had to reboot.
     
    It's fair to examine the success of any coach who is making a lot of money. Cuonzo is no different. I'd just remind folks of where things where when he took over. Missouri was the biggest impostor of a high major program in a Power 5 conference for three years running when Martin got the job. That was the reality. He turned that into an NCAA tournament team in his first season. He got dealt some  terrible luck when it came to the health problems  of the Porter brothers, a deal every coach in the country would have loved to have. It didn't work out. Last year was a struggle, in large part because Jontay was not out there. The benefit of it was a lot of young guys -- Tilmon, Pickett, Smith, Pinson, Watson, others -- took their lumps and got better for it. We've seen how much Pinson has grown already. Dru Smith is showing he's a difference-maker after sitting out his transfer season. Tilmon is a beast when he's not in foul trouble. As far as expectations for this season, base them on what you have watched, not what a bunch of football-focused writers picked during the heart of football season when the basketball ballot arrived. Mizzou is 3-1 with all wins coming in lopsided fashion. Their only loss is on the road, in overtime, against a Xavier team that is now ranked 18th. Their team defense is surrendering an average of 54.3 points per game, which is tied with Butler for 16th-best in the nation. I think this team is going to be better than people think, when all is said and done. And I think Cuonzo is doing a good job. He needs to land a major commit from STL soon. He will. Just a matter of time. He's already started getting the guys -- Tilmon, Pickett, McKinney, Watson, Smith -- who were passing over the Tigers in the past.
    Don’t know if it’s been asked, but can you come up with what it would take to land Lindor from Indians with a Cards pkg. Remove Carlson but everybody else is available. Lindor just fixes everything the cards need. Something like

    Lindor- Gorman, ONeill, Woodford, JMart & Sosa
    You only give up the kind of trade package that will land Lindor if you are convinced you can sign him to an extension. He's a free agent in 2022, and has indicated he's all for exploring that free agency when it arrives. Hard to blame him for that. He just turned 26 and will have a big, big market waiting on him when he gets there, as long as the bottom doesn't drop out, and there's no reason to think it will. The Cards like DeJong. They like what they have bubbling up in the farm system for third base. With that in mind, I don't think they make the painful swap it takes to get just two guaranteed years of Lindor. Would be fun to see him in St. Louis, for sure. But I don't see it.
    Is Moustakas at 3rd completely off the table this winter?
    If the Cardinals are serious about their commitment to Matt Carpenter with Edman being the safety valve there, yes.
    Didn't Thomas just hit .268 in Memphis in 2019? You can't make much of an argument that is was as good as Randy A?
  • I'm not saying Thomas is better than Arozarena. Anyone who says they know which of these guys will be the best MLB outfielder of the bunch is just guessing right now. The Cardinals don't know. If they did, they would have streamlined this group by now. What they do know  is that they need to find out. Soon. That's what they are saying 2019 is about to some degree.
    Ben, do the Cardinals have "one-on-one's" with the players on their 40 man roster during the off season to make sure they are focused on improving their performance next season, either by strength training or nutritional enhancements? Who is watching Carlos Martinez in the off season or are they leaving him to his own devices?
  • The Cardinals, over the years, have created more check-ins with  players throughout the course of the offseason. Remember last year's "offseason of accountability?" This year will be no different. It does require some want-to on behalf of the players. They all receive individualized instruction on what to attack and prioritize before spring training. How they go about that -- or not -- can have an impact on how things shake out during spring. The amount of communication and buy-in seems to vary. The Cardinals  were frustrated last season because they did not have much communication with Marcell Ozuna, for example.
    Why do we not see more C-3B, C-1B, C-OF? It would seem to make you more valuable. You can pinch-hit, take over a position on a double-switch, then youre still in the game if the catcher gets injured.
    My guess is because it's hard.
    Catcher is a demanding position that requires a ton of time working with pitchers, first and foremost.
    Should MLS4STL make a run at Zlatan Ibrahimovic as its first player signing? Instant headlines and relevance.
    Not if they value defense and making the most out of their money. I'd rather see them spend their money on talent in its prime instead of name recognition from beyond-their-prime former stars. They should trust that STL will support a team trying to win, not trying to grab headlines the easy (and expensive) way. Atlanta kind of revolutionized the approach I'm talking about. This explains it well. https://www.fastcompany.com/40582620/how-atlanta-uniteds-innovative-recruiting-changed-the-mls
    The "last 3 years" comment was referencing the last 3 offensive years for the St. Louis Cardinals. The 2 previous seasons that Mabry was on the hot seat and the next fired. The last season that they were in the bottom 1/3 in baseball in almost all significant offensive categories and historically awful in the NLCS...the last 3 years

    WE GET IT...the Cardinals with an inferior team architecture made the playoffs. This answer is EXACTLY why the fan base was torn to root for a team that was clearly inferior to the titans in the game. I can appreciate they made the playoffs while also acknowledging the probability of a team with such a massive hole in architecture is not good enough to win a world series.
    Thanks for clarifying. I think it's an important clarification, considering last season the Cardinals overcame that lagging offense to reach the NLCS, where they lost to the team that won the World Series. You all are around this chat often enough to know I'm not interested in arguing on the Cardinals behalf when I don't agree with them, but I do not understand this tendency to shrug away a team's success because one part of the team did not perform well. The Red Sox averaged 5.56 runs per game in 2019. Fourth-best in baseball. If that's all that mattered, Dave Dombrowski would not have been fired. The Cardinals had strong-to-great pitching (rotation and bullpen), defense and baserunning. They had a manager who pressed enough correct buttons to win manager of the year. They didn't hit very well, or very consistently, and they seem prepared to bet 2020 on the hope most of the same characters can hit better than they did in 2019. The Nationals had a dumpster fire bullpen and won a World Series. There is no specific architecture that leads to a World Series winner. This season was a big reminder of that.
    Moustakas is an ideal fit. And Kuechel. Why not get them now.
    Because of Carlos Martinez and Matt Carpenter, says the Cardinals.
    Can J-Mart improve his defense? Or is it a lost cause.
    Never stop trying, but be realistic. He's 31. He's a better outfielder than first baseman. And his bat plays. It is what it is.
    Ben - Don't you think now would be a good time that the cardinals could trade one of their many outfielders (with the exception of Carlson) in a package deal and try to get something in return they can use now?
    Sure. And that's on the table. Their challenge is deciding which ones to trade. I'm not sure they know which ones they want to keep, and which ones won't come back to haunt them if sent away.
    I hat is Dooley doing wrong. Seemed like he called good games last year and part of this season. Are we lacking athletes?
  • Well, the biggest thing would be being unable to figure out how to find some sort of a spark for an offense that has spent the past four games showing little to no signs of life. The offensive line has regressed. The running game is not a threat. The deep passing game has pretty much dried up. It's looked bad with and without Kelly Bryant. So, take your pick. The offense has scored 27 points, total, in its past four games. When Barry Odom became a head coach, he made it pretty clear his offensive coordinator was going to be the head coach of the offense. He handed those keys to Dooley upon his hire, a questionable one at the time, considering Dooley had never before called plays. Dooley's hire is on Odom. The offense's nosedive is on Dooley.
    And updates on Jontay Porter or MPJr?
    I'd bet money that Andrew Miller isnt the everyday closer in 2020. I know he's got the most experience in that role. But the guy just seems off and his trendline is down.
    He doesn't have to be. The Cardinals have an interesting mix of relievers who could fill  that spot at various times throughout the season.
    Gotta run, folks. Thanks for a lively discussion. We will do it again next week, from Kansas City, where I'll be covering some Mizzou hoops and seeing some family for an early Thanksgiving. Cheers!
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