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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cards Land Khalil Greene, Padres Fans Rejoice

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 10:29 AM

At this writing it remains unclear which "relief prospects" the St. Louis Cardinals surrendered to the San Diego Padres in exchange for shortstop Khalil Greene, but the Padres faithful over at the Gaslamp Ball blog are slamming the door on the Mulleted One's backside while he's still packing.

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The 29-year-old Greene, a number-one draft pick (13th overall) in 2002, made it to the majors in '03 and became the Pads' number-one shortstop the following year. From '04 through '07 he played solidly in the field and put up decent offensive stats, a .256 overall batting average and the ability to hit with some pop despite playing in one of the unfriendliest home ballparks in baseball. In '07 Greene smacked a career-high 27 HR and 44 doubles (also a career best).

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Then last year it all fell apart. Two-thirds of the way through the '08 campaign, Greene was hitting an anemic .213, purportedly owing to the fact that he was trying to hit everything out of the park. His season ended in late July when he punched a storage chest in frustration and broke his hand.

Can Tony La Russa and Cards hitting coach Hal McRae help put Greene together again? That's the $6.5 million gamble the Redbirds are taking (assuming the Padres don't pick up any of his salary next year). On the plus side, there's his proven ability. On the minus side are his headcase traits -- is it merely a coincidence that he bears an uncanny resemblance to actor/suicide-risk Owen Wilson? (though some prefer to compare him to a young Sean Penn...same difference) -- his propensity to strike out (his career on-base percentage is a wee .304) and, of course, that mullet.

-Tom Finkel

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