Rumor has it that the Nats were scouting the Memphis Redbirds the other day:
The tidbit is at the bottom of the page and mentions that the Nats are shopping the Donkey around. Part of me finds it funny, since Willingham and NJ are the two most prominent trade chips that are going around. Then again, Dunn is the only name that would really be a fit for St. Louis. Why? Some guy named Albert Pujols obviously nullifies any interest the Cardinals would have in Johnson, while the Cards also have a seriously need for a left-handed power bat more than anything else.
I guess I'll speculate a bit on who or what the Nats could be looking at in the Cardinals system:
Brett Wallace - I'll be honest. Rizzo would have to rake Mozeliak over the coals if he ended up with Wallace somehow. While Wallace was drafted as (and has played as) a third baseman in Springfield and Memphis this season, his defense may always be something of a question mark because of his body type. Most saw a move to first base in his future when the Cardinals drafted him, but that's obviously never going to happen with Pujols manning first for (presumably) years to come. Wallace has managed to show an average glove at third base, and probably should be in the majors at this point (with DeRosa moving to second and Schumaker moving back to the outfield). In just his first full professional season, Wallace has hit .294/.375/.438 with 11 HR and 35 RBI between Springfield (AA, 32 games) and Memphis (AAA, 59 games). Pretty much anywhere you go, you'll find him ranked among the top 10 hitting prospects in the minors. I'd LOVE to see the Nats get him and move him to first base, but it's just not gonna happen.
Tyler Greene - Honestly, looks like a guy who is probably going to be a utility type in the majors. He can handle both middle infield spots, but he's a natural shortstop. Solid defensively, and he kind of reminds me of a similar fielder to Alberto Gonzalez with a better arm. Good speed. Below average to average with the bat. Not much in the way of power. He'll turn 26 in less than a month, so I don't think there's a lot of upside there.
Jarrett Hoffpauir - Second baseman in the Jeff Kent mold, though he obviously doesn't have the kind of talent that Kent did. Good power, below-average defense. I'd put his bat at slightly above average in part because (while he hits well for power for a middle infielder) he doesn't strike out a whole lot. He brings nothing in terms of speed, and (like Greene) little in terms of upside.
I suppose I could see them looking at Bryan Anderson (C), though his prospect status has taken a bit of a hit in the past year. I'd like to think that they'd have the prudence to get down to Springfield anyway and scout Daryl Jones.
Now to the problem, and why I don't really see a fit here. I guess we'll start out with the one I like the most.
Jess Todd - Always known for pounding the strike zone, Todd was a pretty solid starting prospect in his first few years in the Cardinal organization. He breezed through three levels as a starter for the Redbirds last season, going 8-6 with a 2.88 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and a 136:42 strikeout to walk ratio in 153 innings between High A, AA, and AAA. Oddly enough, the Cardinals decided to move him to the bullpen this season, where he's torn apart the PCL with a 2.12 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and a 56:11 strikeout to walk ratio in 46.2 innings. Just 23, he's one of the few Cardinals in AAA who hasn't gone beyond the age where we could still call him a "prospect." He could work either as a starting prospect or a relief prospect, and would be a heck of an addition as part of this deal.
Mitchell Boggs - OK.... Here's what I mean. There's a reason Todd Wellemeyer remains in the Cardinals' rotation, and it's because they don't have a whole lot of options available to them. Boggs is probably the best of them, but that's not saying a whole lot. Middling strikeout rate. Average walk rate. Very hittable. Maybe he tops off as a back-end starter, but at 25, he's pretty close to his ceiling.
Blake Hawkesworth - Again, at 26, it's hard to consider him much of a prospect. He experienced some success in the low minors when he first signed, playing against competition that was probably a little young for him. He hasn't had much in the way of success in three years in AAA. He's turned the corner a bit this year in Memphis, and is another guy who pounds the zone for the most part.
Honestly, there's just not a lot of pitching. I could talk about Ottavino, but he's nothing special. Wish list would look something like this:
1) Wallace (to move to first with an NJ trade for pitching to follow)
2) Daryl Jones
2a) Jess Todd
Again, there's no way that the Cards move Wallace for Dunn. I just couldn't see it. I could see a deal including Jones and Todd, or maybe Todd and Greene or Hoffpauir (though I think the Nats would be losing out there). I have little to no interest in any of the starters. Also, despite Brendan Ryan's emergence at shortstop, I could see the Cardinals having some interest in Guzman.