Rounding up hot topics from columnist Ben Frederickson's live chat with St. Louis sports fans.
2020 OUTLOOK FOR EDMAN?
QUESTION: Do you expect a sophomore speed bump for Tommy Edman?
BENFRED: It's a tall order to ask him to average .300 and slug. 500 over the course of an entire season, but I'm all for letting him prove that wrong. Especially because we aren't talking about an entire season anymore. We're talking about 82-ish games. He played in 92 last season, and 101 counting the postseason.
If the DH arrives for 2020, and there seems to be a consensus that it will, it should be easier for the Cadinals to get Edman plenty of at-bats. If he hits a skid, we should not be surprised. But let him hit it.
LOST SEASON FOR CARLOS?
QUESTION: Is this going to end up being a lost season for Carlos Martinez? How is he preparing for Spring Training 2.0?
BENFRED: I'll give Carlos Martinez some credit. There was A LOT of discussion this offseason about how his handling of said offseason will impact his chances of being where he wanted to be — in the rotation — during the season. And he answered the challenge. He was in good shape when he got to camp. Focused. It showed. He was looking like the All-Star starter we have seen before, the guy he says he still can be. Then the bottom dropped out through no fault of Martinez's.
How all players, not just Martinez, handle this unprecedented curveball is going to be a huge factor if and when games resume. We are going to find out about the guys who did not take care of business. They will be exposed. And, unfortunately, some guys who did the right things are probably going to be shut down to injuries that are beyond their control. Pitchers, especially, are routine-oriented athletes. Their routines have been altered.
How Martinez prepared for this spring should give us some confidence in how he will prepare for this shortened 2020, but he's still in prove-it mode.
Here's a thought: If Martinez and Kim return ready to roll, and Mikolas returns healthy, why not roll with a six-man rotation until someone inevitably hits a speed bump?
PAY CUT FOR YADI?
QUESTION: Yadier Molina says he wants to remain a Cardinal and thinks something could be worked out, yet acknowledges the physical challenge of catching at this point in his career. How about a two-year deal at $8 million per season, with incentives?
BENFRED: That would be a $12 million pay cut that would require Molina to — at least for the theatrics of it — go through free agency. Would another team be willing to give him more to shape a young pitching staff? Hard to say, considering his age and the financial landscape of front offices after the pandemic.
Ideally it would be a year with a vesting option for a second, but he might want more than that. Incentives that took him to $10 million would certainly be more appealing than a $10 million guarantee.
But we are ignoring the unknown, and it's a big one. How much does coronavirus tighten the spending on teams. It's safe to assume the Cardinals will be on the conservative side of the new normal.
HOCKEY WILL RETURN. BASEBALL? NOT SO FAST ...
QUESTION: What league(s) will play this summer: MLB, NHL or NBA?
BENFRED: I think they are all going to try to make a comeback this season. Too much money on the line not to try.
Now, what happens after that, I don't know. If multiple players get the virus, it's probably going to be hard to power through.
Important to remember the NHL and NBA only need to figure out ways to hold their postseasons, not the entire (shortened) season and the postseason, like baseball.
I'm most confident in hockey. There's been no fighting about money, and both sides badly want that postseason revenue.
I'm least confident in baseball. This fight about who gets paid what is ugly, but I do hope both sides realize how bad it would be for the game if owners and players let money keep them from trying to find a path forward.
BATTLEHAWKS COMING BACK?
QUESTION: Are BattleHawks fans going to get to Ka-Kaw again?
BENFRED: I would pump the brakes — or the tailfeathers? — on that idea.
Maybe Vince McMahon really is determined to emerge from the XFL bankruptcy as the XFL owner with an eye on the comeback, but his plans have not always worked out. His creditors are on to him, and there is a judge who will decide what can and cannot be done. McMahon has protested assumptions about his plan since the word got out.
On top of that, I would have some doubts about the support and the sponsorship that would await the XFL if it did return. A lot of people, not just XFL employees, got burned by the XFL punting. If that was just done to make a softer landing for McMahon's restart, he might not have as warm of a welcome in STL the next time around.
THE HERNANDEZ OVERSIGHT
QUESTION: Your thoughts on Keith Hernandez not getting into the Cards Hall of Fame? Should character issues matter when honoring a ballplayer?
BENFRED: I think Keith Hernandez should be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame. I think it's embarrassing that a fan base that prides itself in being so knowledgeable in baseball has not corrected that wrong.
The Cardinals Hall of Fame does not have a character-issue clause.
Mark McGwire is in it. The drugs he used helped him in baseball a lot more than the drugs Hernandez used.
That said, it's not my battle to fight. I'm not on the committee that helps pick the candidates, and after that point the vote is up to the fans. Those who vote have strong, negative feelings toward Hernandez. I would encourage those who see his impact differently to vote differently, because he won't get in without that kind of movement.
Follow-up: Maybe more fans would be in favor of Keith Hernandez making the Cardinals Hall of Fame if they read his book. He goes on and on about his love for the team dating back to his father teaching him about the Redbirds.
BENFRED: Few former Cardinals have been as outspoken about their love for the Cardinals as Hernandez.
He raves about them on broadcasts. You mentioned the book. At a writers' dinner a couple years ago, he sent in a video to congratulate a winner. He would have attended, but recently had a surgery.
I'm not sure what else he could do at this point. Certain people won't be swayed. They're going to have to be outnumbered for him to get in.
THE COLOR OF SOCCER IN ST. LOUIS?
QUESTION: Do you have a sense of when the MLS4TheLou group might announce its team name and team colors?
BENFRED: St. Louis won't announce its team name and colors before Charlotte announces its team name and colors, because the Charlotte expansion team is going to start play in 2021, a year ahead of STL's start in 2022.
The league will space out the announcements a bit, so after Charlotte goes, STL will be on the clock.
The name and colors have been decided. I don't know them yet. There has also been traction made on a key hire on the MLS4TheLou soccer operations side. Expect more on that soon as well.
Follow-up: Has MLS commissioner Don Garber got some kind of spat going with the media? What's up there?
BENFRED: There's a leak in the commissioner's office, it seems. Garber has been getting frustrated by the stories that are appearing in The Athletic. He sent out a memo warning people to stop leaking info, and someone leaked that memo.
Bad look for The Soccer Don.
There's a reason the MLS4TheLou group has kept its team name and color scheme under a tight lid. Garber knows, but few others.
WILL ENTERPRISE'S HARDSHIPS AFFECT MLS EFFORT?
QUESTION: Has the coronavirus pandemic's effect on rental car business affected the MLS4TheLou group due to its impact on Enterprise? Is construction continuing at the stadium?
BENFRED: Yes, site prep and construction continues at the stadium site downtown. We had that news a while back. Precautions are in place to help decrease the chances of problems related to coronavirus. The stage of the site development and construction does not require a ton of workers on the site at once, so there have not been any problems that I've heard about, and I've asked.
The business of Enterprise rentals has taken a hit, like most companies in that field. You've read about the recent furloughs there, I'm sure. But I would not rush to connect the dots between the business of Enterprise rentals and the business of MLS4TheLou. There has been no sign to suggest the hardship of the car rental industry at the moment is going to affect anything on the soccer side.
QUESTION: Got any fresh takes on the Petro sweepstakes? Wouldn't it be cool if they announced his signing before the playoffs start?
BENFRED: That would be sweet, but I don't have any reason to believe that's the case.
I think Petro's future will probably be decided after the season ends, officially.
It's interesting that he's probably going to have his contract extended just so he can finish the season. He's one of the expiring contracts the league and players will have to agree on rolling through the end of the adjusted season, because they would technically expire before that altered end if not adjusted.
I know that's not the extension Blues fans have in mind, but I'll echo what I've said in previous chats: I think Pietrangelo will wind up being in St. Louis for the long haul.
BAILING OUT KROENKE
QUESTION: Before voting to help out Stan Kroenke with hundreds of millions more in stadium funding, shouldn't the NFL owners have thought about how it could affect their upcoming lawsuit with STL? Will it change how NFL owners ask for that money going forward, and how cities will look at publicly financing stadiums, knowing the NFL can give out that money?
BENFRED: I don't think the NFL thinks much about how its actions are going to conflict with previous or future actions.
That's part of the reason there's so much rich fodder for this relocation lawsuit in the first place.
The league is used to doing what it wants, when it wants, rules or regulations be damned. And it will continue to operate in that manner unless someone does something to force a change.
Any region that finds itself caught in an NFL threat to leave should refer to what happened here in St. Louis, but that's easier said than done.
Cities want to keep their teams, usually. The NFL profits off that desire.
'THE MATCH' (ST. LOUIS STYLE)
QUESTION: After Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning faced off in "The Match," what are some other sports figures you'd like to see face off?
BENFRED: Just in golf, right? How about a Cardinals Classic? Ozzie Smith. Mike Shannon. Albert Pujols. Each get to pick a teammate, but that teammate has to have played or coached or managed for the Cardinals. (The smart captain would pick Cardinals pitching coach and hole-in-one master Mike Maddux.) Put Danny Mac on the call.