Phillies rumors: St. Louis Cardinals an ideal trade partner

Aug 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) in the dugout during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) in the dugout during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phillies fans should get familiar with the St. Louis Cardinals prospects

A recent stretch of success shouldn’t jade how fans and team executives view the Phillies, who reside in the basement of league standings. Players are destined to be moved prior to the July trade deadline, and more moves are expected during the August waiver period.

Two of the biggest, and oldest, trade chips owned by the Phillies this season are reliever Pat Neshek, and OF/INF Howie Kendrick. Both arrived via low-cost trades during the offseason with the hope of getting equal or greater value in return.

The value for both players is due to be greater than those involved could have imagined. Considering all the Phillies gave up for the two (in separate trades) was Darin Ruf, Darnell Sweeney, and a player to be named later/cash considerations, any return on the investment should be augmented.

One team that should have a strong interest in both Kendrick and Neshek heading towards the deadline is the St. Louis Cardinals. A perennial playoff contender in recent seasons, St. Louis sits in the midst of an incredibly tight NL Central division despite losing 15 of their last 20 games.

Aug 23, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Alex Reyes (61) pitches to a New York Mets batter during the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. The Mets won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Alex Reyes (61) pitches to a New York Mets batter during the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. The Mets won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

A key reason St. Louis has slipped recently is injuries to starters, namely top prospect Alex Reyes needing Tommy John surgery.

Help will come with Kolten Wong recovering from a left elbow strain, but his return doesn’t provide much for a team with the fourth-lowest scoring average in the league at 4.04 runs a game. That’s just slightly worse than the Phillies at 4.14 this season.

Kendrick gives St. Louis a body at either second, first, left, or even third if needed. Randal Grichuk is manning the left field corner with a .222 batting average and a dWAR of -0.4 in 2017. Compare that to Kendrick hitting .348 with a dWAR just slightly better at -0.1 as a Phillie.

As Phillies fans know Kendrick isn’t exclusively a left fielder, and is historically known as a middle infielder. His presence on a team such as St. Louis provides insurance should Wong battle the elbow injury throughout the season.

Kendrick can also assist at first base, where Matt Carpenter while supplying a team-high nine home runs, is hitting a mere .209.

Then comes Neshek, who appears to be the Phillies closer after Hector Neris crashed and burned against the Braves. At 36-years-old, Neshek hasn’t allowed a run in 8.1 innings of work, while striking out nine.

Jun 6, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Pat Neshek (17) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Pat Neshek (17) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Their bullpen has blown the league average eight saves, and in save situations possesses a 4.13 ERA. They’ve also lost 11 games while giving up 22 home runs.

Neshek will have the opportunity in the coming days (if his offensive teammates ever give him the opportunity) to prove his worth as a closer.

That increases his value even more for a team such as the Cardinals, who have allowed 98 runs in innings 7-9, an astronomical difference to the league average of 74 in that span of innings.

Related Story: Phillies prepared to cash in on Neshek

With any trade partner the Phillies encounter, the ability to fork over the assets necessary is obviously key. While not among the top farm systems in baseball the Cardinals have the types of players needed in the Phillies organization.

MLB.com lists the Cardinals top 30 prospects, and rates 17 to be pitchers, which all Phillies fans know to be a big hole in the organization’s rebuilding blueprint.

Next: Odubel Herrera a centerpiece for the Phillies

Between St. Louis’ need to finish games at the plate and on the rubber and their surplus of minor league arms, a potential fit rests in front of general manager Matt Klentak in the form of the Cardinals.

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