Khalil who? That's what a lot of Padre fans are saying these days, especially with young shortstop Everth Cabrera proving he was worth acquiring via the Rule V draft on Jan. 1, 2009.
Almost a month prior to the Padres selecting Cabrera from the Colorado Rockies, they made a move unpopular with Padre fans. On Dec. 4, 2008, the San Diego Padres decided to part ways with long time short stop Khalil Greene as they traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Mark Worrell and a player to be named later.
The trade, thus far, hasn't really worked out for either team. Greene has struggled thus far, currently hitting .201, and has been placed on the disabled list more than once with what the Cardinals' organization called "social anxiety disorder."
As for the Padres, they lost pitcher Mark Worrell to season ending surgery before the season ever started and that "player to be named later," was eventually named on March 14, 2009 as relief pitcher Luke Gregerson.
As for the trading of Khalil Greene, you heard the familiar groaning of fans. Some saying "he'll probably be the next Ozzie Smith," and to be fair Greene was the most exciting shortstop to wear a Padres' uniform, but not exciting enough for anyone to be calling him "the next Ozzie Smith."
So, when the Padres selected Everth Cabrera in the Rule V draft from the Colorado Rockies, noone knew what to think of it, especially since this young kid had never seen time past Low-A ball.
But, Kevin Towers and company had faith in the young shortstop and immediately brought him into major league camp during spring training. The speed that so many had heard about, the speed that got him 73 stolen bases with the Asheville Tourists in 2008, was quickly on display in Peoria, Arizona as Cabrera stole nine bases for the Padres.
Though Cabrera was learning on the job, he showed a lot of heart and showed the Padres' brass that he was willing to do whatever it took to become a better player. He was taking ground balls before any of his Padre teammates were on the field, even staying after to continue his practice.
By the time spring training concluded, Cabrera had impressed enough to be able to start the year with the big club in San Diego, starting the year on the bench behind Luis Rodriguez. But, after Rodriguez suffered an ankle injury, Cabrera was given and never let go of the starting job until he went down himself with a wrist injury that put him on the disabled list for the better part of a month.
With Cabrera on the field, there's excitement in fans and excitement on the field. He's proven that he can play in the big leagues, and play well. Through 52 games this season, the young shortstop is hitting .268 with two home runs and 15 stolen bases.
One of his home runs came on Aug. 7 when Cabrera took a 3-2 fastball from Met's closer Francisco Rodriguez and sent it over the right field fence for a walk off grand slam to give the Padres a 6-2 come from behind win.
For having no experience past low-A ball, Cabrera has shown that when you have the talent to play, it doesn't matter how much experience you have below the big leagues. Cabrera has impressed everyone from his teammates to fans who didn't think he would be able to hang.
With him only being 22 years of age, turning 23 in November, Cabrera could be the best short stop in Padres' history. But, before I go giving him that title already, I want to see him get a few more seasons under his best, especially when the Padres are in the title hunt. When this team gets back into the thick of things in the National League West, it takes a different toll on players and they start to force things a little, especially the younger players.
If Cabrera can show his maturity in a pennant chase and stay within himself, you can count me in at that point as a definite fan of this young player's future.