Long story, but you asked.
Greene was a 1st round draft choice by the Pirates organization as a high school shortstop. As a 17 year old he put up a 900 ops in rookie league ball. He was moved to third base, but still projected as a pretty tremendous prospect.
In 1990 the pirates were pushing for the division title. Thinking flags flied forever they packaged Greene, Moises Alou and a bullpen arm for Zane Smith. Smith led the pirates in their playoff loss to the wire to wire reds. Moises Allou became Moises Alou and the Expos flipped Greene to the reds for ubberclosing prospect John Wettland (Wetteland had been part of the Belcher/Eric Davis deal and never threw a pitch for the reds.)
The reds had that fellow named Sabo at third and Greene was still young. He was called up for september appearances and flashed great talent. He was 22 when in 1994 when he got his first clear shot at a starting job. He did reasonably well in the spring, but Jim Bowden swung a deal for Tony Fernandez to come to town and play third. Well, if you sign an all star shortstop, he's going to play someplace and Tony wasn't moving Larkin over and Brett Boone was established at second, so....Willie got sent to AAA again. But for the strike, that reds team would have won the division and likely faced Wetteland and Alou in the playoffs, but for the strike.
In 1995 Fernandez moved on. Willie had a job, nobody was going to stand in his way. Something odd happened in spring training involving Willie Greene playing cards when he should have been out working. Davey Johnson threw conniptions and Green got sent to AAA again. The reds made it to the playoffs (for the last time) with Johnson spotting Jeff Branson and Mark Lewis at third while the uber-prospect got hurt at AAA. He was hit on the hands. Some say the injury sapped his quickness. Others say that's an excuse. I don't know.
1996 and Davey Johnson has been run out of town by Marge Schott for living with a woman. Good ole boy Ray Knight trying to keep his GM happy puts Willie at third. As a 24 year old, Greene puts up a 244/327/495 for an OPS+ of 115. Basically he has a slightly better season than Edwin did last year, but there were warts on his game. He threw...pretty much like Edwin and while the line is nice...a 244 batting average is percieved to be a problem. It was the best year of his career.
Under Knight the reds locker room went crazy. Rightly or wrongly Greene was percieved to be an underachieving malcontent. If he was interviewed on star of the game, Greene would be very delibrate in his responses. He was a country boy and not comfortable spouting cliches back to sports journalists.
His 97 numbers show a bump in batting average which bumped his ops but sapped his power. It's not a better line than his 96. Knight blasted Greene in the press, but then Ray Knight pretty much blasted everybody in the press. FWIW Greene's OPS in 97 was the best on the team, but that's more because Larkin and Sanders got hurt than because Greene took a step forward.
In mid 97 Jack McKeon came to town. Ray Knight had taken a perineal playoff team and turned it into ...well essentially into the type of franchise it is today. Mckeon's job was to sort out the talent and make a baseball team. If you count up the number of potential third basemen on the roster, it's pretty impressive. Konerko, Aaron Boone, Dmitri Young, Chris Stynes, Eduardo Perez and even Pokey Reese saw some PT there. During the first half of the season McKeon stuck Greene at third and left him alone. As he sorted through his talent he moved Greene around the field. He saw some playing time at shortstop, 20 games in right field and 10 games in leftfield.
While McKeon was sorting through his roster, he was also trying to find a centerfielder. Jon Nunnally ended up in the doghouse. I'm still not sure why. Reggie Sanders was game, but couldn't really cover center. Former #1 draft pick Pat Watkins kept getting hurt, so a little know prospect named Mike Frank got a look in center.
On July 26, Frank was in center and Greene was in right. Jeff Kent hits a fly ball and you can clearly see Frank calling the ball on the video. Greene comes out of no where and plows through his centerfielder. Franks' leg is broken, but he held onto the ball. Runner scores from third as Frank lays there with the ball in his mitt and the run costs the reds the game that day. Essentially both players careers are over at this point. Two years later, Frank was thrown into the Denny Neagle deal with the Yankees, but he never saw another major league at bat.
On August 10th Willie Greene is traded to the Orioles. The two teams trade problems. They took Greene and we got Jeffrey Hammonds who still wasn't the solution in center. Cameron for Konerko solved that problem nicely. After taking a look at Greene for a month, the Orioles let him go to free agency instead of sending him through arbitration. The BlueJays pick him up in 99. He doesn't hit. They let him go to the cubs as a free agent. He doesn't hit. At the end of the 00 season, Willie Greene's career is done at the age of 28.
It's tempting to paint Greene as a sympathetic character, but he managed to consecutively piss off Davey Johnson, Ray Knight and Jack McKeon in three years. He was then given chances by three other organzations who essentially all gave up on him in less than 300 at bats. Sooner or later you have to stop blaiming other people and look in the mirror.