The St. Louis Cardinals filled a big gap Thursday when they traded Mark Worrell and a player to be named later to the San Diego Padres for shortstop Khalil Greene.
The Cards could have broke the bank and signed a top tier free agent shortstop like Rafael Furcal or Edgar Renteria, but they decided to go a cheaper route. While these players may be considered to be better, in my opinion Greene came at a better price than Renteria, who was signed by the San Francisco Giants for $18.5 million over two years.
Both Renteria and Furcal are being over valued. While it is true that Renteria is better in the National League, it is unlikely that he will do what he did with the Atlanta Braves. It is very probable he will be better than he was in 2008, but not an All Star. Although he is a top free agent shortstop this year, he definitely isn't top tier player anymore. At 33, he is barley a second tier shortstop.
As for Furcal, everyone is forgetting that he just had surgery and missed most of last year. While he did come back and play well in the postseason, he is 31, and still may be an injury risk. He may not be worth the money that he is going to get.
Now Greene did come at a price. Mark Worrell, who is 25, is one of the Cardinals few prospects who may turn out to be something. The thing is, he might not be anything more than a set-up man, and the Cardinals seem to have enough guys like that.
The Cardinals will also send the Padres another player later. If the player isn't much better than Worrell, the Cards are getting a great deal. We will have to see.
As for Greene himself, he is 29 years old and only has one year left on his current contract, which is worth about $6 million this year. Although he will be a free agent next year, if he has a good year and likes St. Louis, he may decide to stay.
Greene will be an upgrade over Cesar Izturis, who was the Cardinals shortstop last season. He is a superb fielder. There is no argument there. Also, he has good power so he should add some pop to the lineup. The thing that makes him a second tier shortstop is his batting average.
Greene is a career .248 hitter and a career .270 hitter outside of the Padres' Petco Park. Many people believe that it does make a difference. The outfield goes for miles, so fielders get to things that may normally bang off a wall or even leave the park. But he still strikes out a lot. Last year he struck out 100 times in 389 at-bats.
Even with the strike outs, he is still a good bat. The Cardinals lacked production at shortstop all year last year between Cesar Izturis and Brendan Ryan. The only bright spot was when utility player Aaron Miles started.
The other thing one might worry about is his health. Greene seems to get hurt once a year. He missed the final two months of the season last year with a broken left hand. If the Cardinals can keep him healthy they will be in a good spot. If he gets hurt for an extended period, they had better have a good replacement.
For all the hype the free agent shortstops are getting, they are being overrated. Khalil Green is a pretty good hitter and a great fielder, who came at what appears to be a low cost. He should help the Cardinals build on their unexpected success that they had last season.