We take on your question about the Mizzou basketball program and potential upgrades to the Cardinals lineup in our weekly chat. Here are some of the highlights.
Q: As a long-time chat participant - I have come to the realization that Cuonzo Martin has become the new Matt Carpenter in 'Chatter World.'
A: When the Tigers lose, they do not do it half way. When they go down, they go paws up. The "it's just one loss" argument fades when there are many losses by massive margins. Those collapses set off all sorts of warning sirens. Martin can still make progress with this team and show sufficient promise to get more time, but it's safe to say he is on the clock.
Q: Is Cuonzo Martin the Mizzou head men's basketball coach on May 2, the day his buyout as I understand drops to $3 mil.? Does your experience tell you that one serious weakness has been his inability to judge talent and to make changes to his coaching staff and other non-player individuals?
A: If the school decides to fire Martin, that contract date won't prevent it. Martin's lawyer could use it as leverage to gain favorable settlement structure.
As for Cuonzo, he came into this year without a true point guard and without a SEC-caliber center. This batch of mid-major transfers did not match the quality of what other schools got. And his team's tendency to collapse totally in the face of adversity is alarming. There is a chance this team will implode completely and that is hard to overcome, even if it's just one terrible season.
Two big questions for his boss: Can Martin make better use of the transfer portal and can he use the NIL opportunity to get better players, as Drinkwitz has?
Q: Men's basketball I think needs a total rebuild. Go after a up and coming coach who can recruit SEC type players. Only players I see that should be retained is Brazile. I can't make a case for anyone else. I think Brown enters the portal. New coach must bring in 2 good point guards a couple bigs and someone that can shoot.
A: I could see Kobe staying here in a prime role because his brother is here. Elite teams might not take Kaleb in a package. I can see Kobe assured of being the go-to guy and part of a big push forward for next season. Brazile aside, yeah, you're looking at a bunch of guys who can play at this level but not make a big impact. Adding a dynamic point guard could make some of the current players better. Ditto with a powerful low-block player. Mizzou will need a lot more than the two freshmen signed for next year to rise up.
Q: What are Mo and staff doing these days if no baseball business can be done? Cleaning their offices? Taking extended vacations? There are only so many minor league contracts that can be signed.
A: Yeah, this has to be a weird time. Maybe they can go back and review those advanced analytics that kept telling them that Matt Carpenter was hitting well. Maybe they will discover they were reading the chart upside down.
Q: The 2021 Cards lost in a 1-game playoff in the Wild Card, that required a 17-game win streak to get to. They scored a single run on offense vs the Dodgers. How is that team better today? And if they don't add a bat somewhere how can they expect different results in '22?
A: The team at the end of the year was different than the one at the beginning. Sosa and Nootbaar added life, O'Neill broke out and Bader got healthy. The Cardinals upgraded the bench on the fly last year. They finally subtracted the useless Matt Carpenter from that team and they will plug in either their emerging prospects or stopgap veterans who are likely to produce more than Carpenter did.
Q: Binnington carried us to a cup and he will live in St. Louis lore for our lifetimes. That said, Husso's numbers can't be ignored. Are we in a 1A/1B situation where Husso merits 40% of the starts? And wth Lindgren showing he deserves a chance at least as a backup, might we see the Blues move a goaltender at the deadline?
A: Husso is due for a new contract with a significant raise, so the Blues need to give him a good look the rest of the way. Binnington's been back in battle mode, making some remarkable saves, so I'm not giving up on him. The Blues have two back-to-back sets later this month and one immediately after the February break. Plus the team will have to make up three games, so I see Husso getting a fair amount of work in the coming weeks.
As for Lindgren, as long as COVID-19 is a threat the team should keep all of their goaltenders through the end of the season. Look around the league. Look at some of the guys teams are forced to play. Armstrong should cling to his security blanket.
Q: Perunovich looks very talented offensively but isn't he limited like Krug defensively (reminds me of Dunn) and neither kill penalties and don't have the size or reach to be real effective in the defensive end. With Krug playing much better this season and signed long term is Perunovich a luxury and maybe a prized trade piece to land a top defensive D?
A: Krug and Perunovich are so much alike. Maybe there will be another way to realign the defensive corps to add more size and checking ability, but it's not hard to see Perunovich emerging as a top trade chip. He is going to have a heck of a NHL career and the whole league can see that.
A: I am a big Jake Walman fan and am perplexed about his season. He was a regular earlier in the season, then he couldn’t get back in the line up for months. Is he in Coach Berube’s doghouse? What is your prediction for his career — a Blues regular or extra man, or a player Doug Armstrong will package as part of a trade to acquire a top four defenseman?
A: Speaking of trade chips . . . Walman has come a long way in a few years, but he got passed by Mikkola and Perunovich here. Bortuzzo is valued as a shot blocker and Scandella has tons of experience and the willingness to handle tough assignments, so Walman has been relegated to the No. 8 role. So he could move in a deal to land another defenseman. There is still upside there. Walman can rush the puck up ice and that has value.
Q: Do you think there is a behind the scenes agreement on Berube future here? He doesn't act like a typical "lame duck" coach? Or is so confident in his coaching that he knows he'll be highly sought after if he's not resigned here?
A: I'm not sure if there is a deal in place, but I'd be shocked if Berube doesn't re-sign here. Armstrong has a history of committing to guys he believes in. He stuck with Hitchcock as long as he did for that reason.
Q: Any word on André Curbello's time to return to the Illini? If so, will be an added bonus or disruption?
I haven't much on Curbelo, other than he has been doing more work with the team. Offensively his ballhandling would be welcome if he didn't try too many high-risk plays. That would free up Trent Frazier to hunt more shots. Defensively, he will be challenged to get up to the team's current level. The Illinii have pushed their defense to midseason level and that has never been Curbelo's strength.