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Khalil Greene is everything St. Louis Cardinals fans tend to love.
He's scrappy, plays hard, has a knack for making impressive defensive plays, and even has a little bit of pop in his bat. So although his last season with the San Diego Padres was a disappointing one, finishing with only a .213 average and 10 home runs, look for Greene to bust out in 2009 as the Cardinals new starting shortstop.
There are a number of factors. First off, Jose Oquendo will undoubtedly have a positive effect on Greene as the infield coach as will batting instructor Hal McRae. Also, Greene will be escaping pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
Petco is arguably one of the worst hitter's parks in the league, and Greene still had 27 jacks and 97 RBI only two seasons ago in 2007. Look for bigger numbers at Busch Stadium.
The backup situation behind Greene is very similar to the spot at second base. Tony La Russa likes to use utility guys to keep everybody fresh and try to spread at-bats around as much as possible, so Brian Barden, Joe Thurston, and Brendan Ryan (if/when healthy), will all get looks at the spot depending on matchups and who's hot.
After David Eckstein was not brought back to St. Louis before last season, the Cardinals basically had no starter. Having Greene will allow La Russa some stability in his lineup, but still the same flexibility of shifting in a hot bat on occasion to give Khalil a day off.
With Greene's power arm and possible power in the Cardinals lineup, St. Louis hasn't had more potential at the shortstop position in years.
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