Back in 2004, Bobby Crosby and Khalil Greene appeared to be rising stars and potential building blocks for their teams. The shortstops were coming off impressive rookie seasons in which they both proved they belonged in the big leagues. Greene looked like a slick fielder with lots of power potential at the plate while the Athletics thought Crosby would become one of the best hitting shortstops in the game.
However, things began to go downhill fast for both Crosby and Greene. Both guys have dealt with lots of injuries since 2005, which have prevented them from getting on the field consistently. Greene has missed at least 40 games in three of the last four seasons while Crosby has played over 100 games in a season just once since 2005. It's impossible to grow as a player when so much is lost due to injuries.
So it should come as no surprise to us that both Crosby and Greene have struggled on the field as well. In particular, Greene, 29, has struggled to produce an OBP above .300 or maintain a quality batting average, which is unacceptable for a starting shortstop. The power is still there for Greene, but his inability to get on base or keep the strikeouts down have hindered his production.
As for Crosby,29, the power he displayed during his rookie season (22 hrs) seems to have evaporated. Crosby has not hit more than 10 home runs in any season since 2004 and his OBP and batting average have been on a steady decline since 2005. Crosby did hit 39 doubles in 2008, which is encouraging, but he needs to turn some of those two baggers into home runs.
Coincidentally, both Greene and Crosby are at crossroads in their respective careers. Both guys have been given up by the teams they came up with, the Padres and Athletics respectively, and it remains to be seen if either guy will re-capture the magic of 2004.
Right now, Greene looks like he has the best chance to explode. The Padres traded Greene to the Cardinals in the offseason, which gives Greene a fresh start to show what he can do. His split with the Padres was somewhat ugly, so it was definitely the right move for him to move on. Greene will be the starting shortstop in one of the best baseball cities in America, so odds are high that he finds some of the old magic.
As for Crosby, the outlook looks quite bleak at the moment. Crosby was preparing to be the Athletics starting shortstop in the offseason by training and hitting with Mark McGwire (hopefully with no steroids involved!) and focusing on the problems that have plagued him over the past few seasons. However, just two days ago, the Athletics gave up on Crosby and signed Orlando Cabrera. The veteran Cabrera will supplant Crosby as the Athletics starting shortstop as Crosby will now moves to the bench.
This was not exactly what Crosby had in mind. It's not surprising that Crosby has requested a trade because he wants to show what he can do. But it's obvious that he won't get that opportunity in Oakland-at least right now. Will the Athletics move Crosby before the season? Doubtful...especially considering how bad the shortstop market is right now.
The 2009 season is huge for both players. Greene and Crosby are both free agents at the end of the season and could be in line for a big contract if they produce in 2009. But they both run the risk of becoming obscure, fringe players if they cannot find some way to thrive in 2009. It has been quite a fall from grace for these two former rising stars, but hopefully they can turn their respective careers around...and fast.