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Our chat this Friday focused on Cardinals pitching and a lesson that Mizzou fans could learn from Seinfeld. Here are some of the highlights

Sports columnists Ben Frederickson and Jeff Gordon weigh in on the ongoing negotiations between MLB owners and players.

Q: While I seldom support the Cards front office on anything, I agree with their position to not pursue top tier pitchers. To pay Max Scherzer $100 mil for 2-3 years on past performance that will likely not be repeated at the age of 37 is a recipe for fiscal insanity. The Scherzer bus passed through 8 years ago and the Cards did not buy a ticket. I realize Ben and many others strongly disagree. Wonder where you come down?

A: I'm leaning with you on that. I'm the grumpy old guy who is quick to see the downside of any scenario. Just ask my relatives. As much as I love Mad Max, a Hall of Famer in the making, I just see so much danger in that move. If the Cardinals spent that money on him and he broke down, that money is sunk. DeWitt is not going to just shrug and spend $40 million a year on something else.

The Cardinals have scalded by age-related regression again and again and again and again. Scherzer is a warrior who battles through injuries, but injuries will be an issue for him from here on out. As I've noted before, it's an easier risk for the Dodgers to take because they can outspend mistakes. Their operation on a whole other financial plane.

As for signing Scherzer to somehow cripple the Dodgers, that team will just keep buying players. If they lose a guy, they will buy another one.

Q: Any chance the Cardinals sign Zack Greinke?

A: Mozeliak likes to be "opportunistic" in the market. Greinke faded badly last season and his underlying numbers became worrisome. But the Cardinals brought Lester and Happ back to life, so this could actually make some sense. A big ballpark, an outfield that chases down fly balls, a reliable infield, the Wainwright/Molina pitching culture . . . I can see a sale here. He might only be a depth pitcher at this very late stage of his career, but the Cardinals need depth pitching.

Q: I hope DeWitt and Mo realize that ticket sales go hand in hand with their off-season moves. The 2021 Attendance dip was more performance than pandemic, not to mention a boring product

A: When the team started playing better last season, the attendance picked up. The product was much better at the end of the season than in the middle, when fans were first allowed to fill the park.

But the pandemic played a huge part in the attendance decline, both in terms of the initial gate limitations and the uncertainty over travel in the summer. A big chunk of this team's attendance comes from out-of-towners taking vacation trips here in the summer. The pandemic cut into that.

Expect more of that issue this year, so attendance will remain off. But if the team plays well, fans will forget about what did or didn't happen in November. The gates will improve somewhat.

Q: Shouldn’t this team be in more of a win now mode? The division is there for the taking, Goldie isn’t going to be Goldie forever, Jack Flaherty seems determined to test free agency and depart, both Molina and Waino are gone after this year. Seems as if there were a time to add some stud pieces SP AND a generational talent SS, this would be the year.

A: Coming off a playoff berth and a 17-game winning streak that saved the '21 season, the Cardinals are trying to win in '22. They are set up well with dead money leaving the payroll, players coming back from injuries and key prospects getting ready for their MLB debut.

But . . . the Cardinals do not expect to collapse when Wainwright and Molina finally age out. Their plan remains the same: Contend every year. So the team will spend money (or not) with a long view. They will judge and deploy their younger players with the long view. They keep an eye on 2024 and 2025 this winter. They will not operate willy-nilly like, say, the Tigers or Rangers.

Q: I'm not counting on cards to get any good SP or SS this off season. So I don't know what to expect. Piggy back Reyes and Hicks maybe?

A: Hicks has so much to prove. He ducked out of the Arizona Fall League after a cameo appearance this year, so he remains a complete mystery as a starting pitcher. I'll put him in the pile with Oviedo, Liberatore and Thompson -- guys who still need to build a track record in the Triple-A rotation. I am calling for a six-man rotation plus a spot starter/long reliever to start the season. Maybe those latter two spots could fall to Reyes and either Oviedo or Hicks if they absolutely dazzle in the spring and make the case to stick. But I'd rather see veterans in those spots/ The idea of starting out this way is to pace some of the veteran starters, ease the younger guys in and stay ready for the inevitable injuries to hit.

Q: What do you think we can expect from MLB on Dec 1?

A: Most everyone expects a lockout. These two sides have not been able to bargain constructively, so I believe a lockout will be needed to create urgency. Then the game of chicken starts. Teams will start losing their preseason sales before players feel any financial hurt. For many teams, the 2022 season is their first chance to sell a full stadium from Day 1 of the season.

Still, this could drag on toward Opening Day because the players feel little pain until the real games begin.

Q: There's a great Seinfeld scene where Elaine says: Is it possible I'm not as attractive as I think I am? And Jerry replies: Well anything's possible. I often feel like that is a good description of how Mizzou fans view the national appeal of their programs, when in reality its pretty run of the mill. And how we end up with Kim Anderson and Barry Odom as the alumni hires when better options aren't interested. So maybe we should think about that before running Cuonzo out of town.

Mizzou defeats Central Michigan 78-68

Cuonzo Martin directs players on the court during the season opener against Central Michigan. Photo by Colter Peterson

A: Mizzou will always be an attractive to a good mid-major coach, as long as the money is right. See: Drinkwitz, Eli. But Missouri has a substandard fan base in football and basketball. Recruits see lots of empty seats on their football and basketball visits. Mizzou needs to double its fan base, booster base and overall revenue -- and even then it would still be playing catchup in the crazy SEC. Fans can expect a big season here and there, but it's hard to imagine Missouri ever establishing itself as an upper-tier athletic program in this conference.

So, yes, fans should quit pretending and face reality.

Q: Do you think there will ever be a possibility in the next 20 or so years that Mizzou will leave the SEC and at least go back to a conference with historic rivals? I understand the money made for Mizzou by joining the SEC, but I have lost 90% of my interest in watching the basketball and football teams play SEC teams that I have no hatred for.

A: Many fans feel your way, but the college sports landscape is treacherous. Going back to the Big 12 isn't a great plan because the Big 12 isn't really the Big 12 any more. The Big Ten has always been a better fit for Missouri, but the love hasn't been reciprocal.

The hard reality for Missouri is this: If the superpower schools keep congregating into superconferences and an exclusive tier of college sports, the Tigers could get pushed out of the SEC into a secondary conference with schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Vanderbilt, TCU, SMU, Tulsa, et al.

Q: When coach Cuonzo Martin recruits, he always states they can shoot. Well maybe he should recruit athletes that can make a shot.

This has gone on way too long and unfortunately we have to put up with this boring basketball for 2 more years.

 A: Dru Smith and Kassius Robertson had good shooting years here. Mark Smith was a good shooter until he wasn't. Xavier Pinson ran in streaks before he washed out.

As for this crew, I like Boogie Coleman's shot. And I believe Javon Pickett will hit some spot-up corner 3s. But . . . this clunky offense tends not to put shooters in position to shoot. The Tigers missed some few 3s in offensive rhythm or in transition against Northern Illinois, which had to be discouraging, but they also forced up a bunch of bad shots because they couldn't get good ones.

Long story short, it appears Martin still needs an offensive coordinator.

Q: Perron is going through a tough stretch - goal wise. A result of bad pick luck or something at play here?

A: Perron's overall play lagged in the absence of Ryan O'Reilly, then during ROR's sluggish return. Now that O'Reilly has his legs back and Berube is teaming Perron with him, expect Perron to regain his usual form. I think you saw signs of that against the Sharks. David wants another contract here, so he knows the stakes.

Q: It’s early , but do you think SLU has a good chance at making the NCAA tournament ?

A: That's a bubble team at best, unfortunately, despite building impressive depth. This looks like a team that will win some games but go into the A 10 Tournament needing to win it to be sure. Now, had Perkins not been hurt . . .

Jeff Gordon • 314-340-8175

@gordoszone on Twitter

jgordon@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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