Khalil Greene just needs to play better

May, 19, 2009
5/19/09
3:38
PM ET
As Joe Strauss writes today, there's a changing of the guard in St. Louis.
    Shortstop Khalil Greene will be used in more of a utility role rather than starting for at least the near term, manager Tony La Russa confirmed Monday. The hope is that Greene, whose struggles at the plate have bled into his defense, will benefit mentally from a lighter load.

    "At some point, he needs to play better. I'm just doing what I can," La Russa said before Monday night's game against Milwaukee.

    La Russa met with Greene after Sunday's loss and informed him of a decision to reduce his playing time. Greene, who is hitting .204 with a team-leading six errors and has started only one of the team's last four games, was on board with La Russa's move.

    "I think I can use the time I'm not playing to look at it and get back to the basics of the game," Greene said. "I think at times it's really easy to get down and really fall into a circular thought pattern, where things do seem negative and it's hard to find the positive."

    --snip--

    Greene admitted to feeling increasingly overwhelmed by his situation and did not dispute accounts that he has several times punished himself physically.

    Several team members have expressed concern about the degree of Greene's self-punishment.

    "That's the way it's always been," Greene said, referring to his condition's compulsive nature. "It's not rational. It's not something I think as an intelligent thinking human being ... I understand the disorder of it. It just doesn't help."

    Mozeliak said the club does not intend to place Greene on the disabled list. "At this point, he still wants to try to play. We still think he's capable of playing," he said.

Continuing the theme from my last post:

He needs to play better?

We still think he's capable of playing?

What, are we still living in the Dark Ages? What's next, maybe a good bleeding? Or some wisdom teeth removed? Is there anyone outside of St. Louis who doesn't realize that Greene needs a long break from baseball, during which he engages in some serious talk therapy and perhaps a bit of medication.

I do not mean to make light of this situation. Greene was a good player for four seasons, a league-average hitter and a decent enough shortstop. And then, suddenly and shockingly, he was not. Suddenly, he went from being worth $10 million per season to being worth nothing as a ballplayer.

I know that's harsh, but it's the truth. Still, one might have assumed that Greene's 2008 season was a fluke, the product of some terrible convergence of randomness or (more likely) an injury that wasn't enough to impress his manager but was enough to limit his abilities on the field.

Greene apparently looked fine in spring training with the Cardinals, and yet now he's playing worse than ever. Now, you simply can't say things like "He needs to play better" or "We still think he's capable of playing."

Why would you think that, exactly? John Mozeliak is not a foolish man. But the notion that Greene's once-impressive skills are going to suddenly snap back into place is approximately as reasonable as believing in fairies and unicorns and leprechauns who wear little pointy shoes.

(H/T: BTF's Newsstand)

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