Aug 19, 2011; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Jimmy Paredes (38) throws out a San Francisco Giants runner in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. The Astros won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Who should man the hot corner, Chris Johnson or Jimmy Paredes?


Jeff Luhnow has hinted that there will be plenty of competition for jobs when the Astros arrive in Kissimmee for Spring Training next month. Brad Mills has stated that he likes Jimmy Paredes as the team’s every day third-baseman. Chris Johnson has been working hard this off-season and has something to prove. Add it all up and we’ve got a battle for the hot corner.


While Johnson has been fielding grounders and lifting weights, Paredes kept in shape by playing in the Dominican Winter League. The 23 year-old Paredes hit .306 with one HR and 18 RBIs in 39 games in his homeland this winter.

Last year, Johnson’s misfortune turned into an opportunity for Paredes. The youngster was promoted directly to the big club from AA when a struggling Johnson was demoted to Oklahoma City. Most Astros fans had grown weary of Johnson’s lack of plate discipline and subpar defensive performance and welcomed Paredes with open arms. Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 in 46 games with the Astros. Although those numbers are nothing to get too excited about and the sample size is small, fans seem to be ready to anoint Paredes as the 3B of the present. Not so fast, please. I think Paredes has a bright future but I’m not quite ready to give up on Chris Johnson.

Johnson had a tremendous rookie season in 2010 that his critics are quick to dismiss, citing a .387 BABIP as evidence that Johnson was lucky. A closer look at the data shows Johnson had a line drive percentage of 24.0 which ranked sixth in the majors among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances. Even with his struggles last season Johnson still managed a 23.2 line drive percentage, which ranked 30th among big-leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances. When he manages to make contact Johnson consistently hits the ball on a line. He obviously needs to cut down on the strikeouts and become more selective at the plate. If Johnson is able to accomplish this there is no reason to believe he won’t put up numbers similar to his 2010 season. Johnson has also shown the ability to hit the ball out of the park, a skill that is in high demand.

It should also be noted that Paredes posted a .383 BABIP last season and his batting average was nearly 20 points lower than Johnson’s rookie season. Paredes had a line drive percentage of 21.0 which is above average, but Johnson’s numbers in this category are elite.

Both players are somewhat of a liability on defense. Johnson had a dismal .908 fielding percentage in 2010 and committed 18 errors. Last season was better (.937 with 15 errors)  but was still well below average. Paredes is still learning the position and fielded at a .953 clip with five errors in his 46 games with the Astros.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Matt Downs figures to be the backup 3B, so whoever loses this position battle could be on the outside looking in. It would seem as though Paredes would have more to gain by spending time at AAA learning the position. At 27 years of age, Johnson should be entering his prime. To me it makes sense  to give him another chance to play every day and see if he fits into the team’s future plans. Paredes may not be ready and could experience the same type of sophomore slump that Johnson did. On the other hand, Johnson could indeed be ready to break out like he says he is.

 

Tags: Brad Mills Chris Johnson Featured Houston Astros Jimmy Paredes Matt Downs Popular

  • Stroscrow

    Paredes was definitely called up to soon, and there is a very good chance he will struggle in the majors this year, but given his performance last year he has definitely earned a shot to prove himself IMO. I voted whoever has the best spring, but not necessarily just offensively, but defensively as well. We are almost to the point (not quite, but almost) where CJ has a large enough sample size to determine he is what he is defensively. He doesn’t have much upside there where I think it is possible Paredes could develop into an above average defender one day.

    In a vs. Matchup I tend to favor Paredes over Johnson, but I value defense and athletic ability. That being said I don’t want to give up on Johnson altogether. If he could summon Joeboo to teach him how to hit a curveball then he would be alright. If CJ went to AAA that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world either. 2013 presents an extra atbat and DH could have his name on it. His batting line isn’t horrible, I wasn’t all that disappointed with the .250ish average. My biggest problem with CJ and third is the defense. There’s a good chance that Paredes will only be marginal upgrade at the hot corner, but he does possess the upside.

    Long story short, I wouldn’t be hurt if either one made the team. Paredes could definitely use the fine tuning and delaying his service time by a year isn’t a bad thing. For me to be satisfied with that though CJ would have to show a huge improvement defensively.

  • astrosince1975

    @Stroscrow I agree that 3B is not the best place for Johnson. DH or maybe even 1B could be his best position. I also believe he can develop into a good hitter if he learns to lay off breaking balls that he can’t even reach. Pence used to have the same problem and he was able to improve. You also make a good point about the advantages of delaying service time for Paredes. I just don’t see what the big hurry is. Sending either one of these guys to AAA is not going to block another prospect.

  • Stroscrow

    Paredes was definitely called up to soon, and there is a very good chance he will struggle in the majors this year, but given his performance last year he has definitely earned a shot to prove himself IMO. I voted whoever has the best spring, but not necessarily just offensively, but defensively as well. We are almost to the point (not quite, but almost) where CJ has a large enough sample size to determine he is what he is defensively. He doesn’t have much upside there where I think it is possible Paredes could develop into an above average defender one day.

    In a vs. Matchup I tend to favor Paredes over Johnson, but I value defense and athletic ability. That being said I don’t want to give up on Johnson altogether. If he could summon Joeboo to teach him how to hit a curveball then he would be alright. If CJ went to AAA that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world either. 2013 presents an extra atbat and DH could have his name on it. His batting line isn’t horrible, I wasn’t all that disappointed with the .250ish average. My biggest problem with CJ and third is the defense. There’s a good chance that Paredes will only be marginal upgrade at the hot corner, but he does possess the upside.

    Long story short, I wouldn’t be hurt if either one made the team. Paredes could definitely use the fine tuning and delaying his service time by a year isn’t a bad thing. For me to be satisfied with that though CJ would have to show a huge improvement defensively.

    • astrosince1975

      @Stroscrow I agree that 3B is not the best place for Johnson. DH or maybe even 1B could be his best position. I also believe he can develop into a good hitter if he learns to lay off breaking balls that he can’t even reach. Pence used to have the same problem and he was able to improve. You also make a good point about the advantages of delaying service time for Paredes. I just don’t see what the big hurry is. Sending either one of these guys to AAA is not going to block another prospect.

      • LEXthePEX

        @astrosince1975 @Stroscrow I think Paredes being rushed last season was Wade trying to showcase the talent he acquired. I would like to see Jimmy in AAA next season and kill that pitching. Not a fan of CJ, in fact, I don’t think he makes the squad out of ST. Matt Downs is my sleeper pick to win the job in ST.

        • Its Gonna Happen

          @LEXthePEX @astrosince1975 @Stroscrow I have to admit right off the bat that I’m a CJ fan. Since he led the league in HRs in ST in 2010 I’ve been a fan of his bat. He also has a cannon for an arm, but like early model cannons, its not very accurate. I’ve really wanted to see how he could do as an outfielder, but I doubt that ever happens. Even though I am a CJ fan, what Paredes showed last year really impressed me. He has some real upside both offensively and defensively, but I think his future will be best served by getting some much needed polish in AAA. I’d rather he not suffer a set back like Johnson had last year and start having doubts about himself. If Johnson can learn to lay off of craptastic pitches like Pence did, he could be ready to break out in a big way. Either way Lex made a good point in both CJ and JP have a good backup in MD, and he could end up having a bigger year than either of them. I say let the best man win.

        • Stroscrow

          @Its Gonna Happen @LEXthePEX @astrosince1975 Delaying service time for Paredes is probably the leading reason for me as to keep him in AAA this year. It would be nice to have him for an extra season if for some chance the stars do align and he reaches his potential.

          Lex – I was hoping the Astros would have gave Matt Downs consistent playing time once they released Bill Hall, or when they demoted CJ. His defense didn’t offer much in a small sample, but his bat showed potential. There’s a good chance that be will never be more than he was last year (a good bat off the bench with some pop) but there definitely would not have been any harm in seeing what he could do in a lost season. Oh well.

          CJ is pretty athletic for a big guy, so I suppose left field wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities, but I’d be pretty surprised if anyone ever tried him there.

          The McTaggart article on CJ was somewhat promising. It kind of gave me the impression that he knew his time was running out, and it sounded like he worked hard to improve himself this offseason. Hopefully that is the case (both offensively and defensively). Depth is always nice and valuable, so CJ putting it together only helps.

  • LEXthePEX

    @astrosince1975 @Stroscrow I think Paredes being rushed last season was Wade trying to showcase the talent he acquired. I would like to see Jimmy in AAA next season and kill that pitching. Not a fan of CJ, in fact, I don’t think he makes the squad out of ST. Matt Downs is my sleeper pick to win the job in ST.

  • Its Gonna Happen

    @LEXthePEX @astrosince1975 @Stroscrow I have to admit right off the bat that I’m a CJ fan. Since he led the league in HRs in ST in 2010 I’ve been a fan of his bat. He also has a cannon for an arm, but like early model cannons, its not very accurate. I’ve really wanted to see how he could do as an outfielder, but I doubt that ever happens. Even though I am a CJ fan, what Paredes showed last year really impressed me. He has some real upside both offensively and defensively, but I think his future will be best served by getting some much needed polish in AAA. I’d rather he not suffer a set back like Johnson had last year and start having doubts about himself. If Johnson can learn to lay off of craptastic pitches like Pence did, he could be ready to break out in a big way. Either way Lex made a good point in both CJ and JP have a good backup in MD, and he could end up having a bigger year than either of them. I say let the best man win.

  • Stroscrow

    @Its Gonna Happen @LEXthePEX @astrosince1975 Delaying service time for Paredes is probably the leading reason for me as to keep him in AAA this year. It would be nice to have him for an extra season if for some chance the stars do align and he reaches his potential.

    Lex – I was hoping the Astros would have gave Matt Downs consistent playing time once they released Bill Hall, or when they demoted CJ. His defense didn’t offer much in a small sample, but his bat showed potential. There’s a good chance that be will never be more than he was last year (a good bat off the bench with some pop) but there definitely would not have been any harm in seeing what he could do in a lost season. Oh well.

    CJ is pretty athletic for a big guy, so I suppose left field wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities, but I’d be pretty surprised if anyone ever tried him there.

    The McTaggart article on CJ was somewhat promising. It kind of gave me the impression that he knew his time was running out, and it sounded like he worked hard to improve himself this offseason. Hopefully that is the case (both offensively and defensively). Depth is always nice and valuable, so CJ putting it together only helps.

  • BHam2421

    Paredes was rushed to the big leagues, along with several other players, by Ed Wade as a way to showcase the guys he drafted/traded for in an attempt to save his job. Paredes was the one rushed way too quickly. I’d like to see him win the job in ST but at the same time, I believe it would be beneficial for him to spend a full year at AAA.

    As far as CJ goes, he swings at everything and strikes out a lot. I just don’t see him as an everyday starter at any position. In a perfect world, he could be our “power bat” off the bench. He does have power but he strikes out a ton and that in an everyday lineup isnt a good mix.

    My opinion is that CJ wins the 3B job in ST and Paredes is either moved to another position and makes the club (CF maybe?) or starts the season in AAA.

  • BHam2421

    Paredes was rushed to the big leagues, along with several other players, by Ed Wade as a way to showcase the guys he drafted/traded for in an attempt to save his job. Paredes was the one rushed way too quickly. I’d like to see him win the job in ST but at the same time, I believe it would be beneficial for him to spend a full year at AAA.

    As far as CJ goes, he swings at everything and strikes out a lot. I just don’t see him as an everyday starter at any position. In a perfect world, he could be our “power bat” off the bench. He does have power but he strikes out a ton and that in an everyday lineup isnt a good mix.

    My opinion is that CJ wins the 3B job in ST and Paredes is either moved to another position and makes the club (CF maybe?) or starts the season in AAA.

    • Stroscrow

      @BHam2421 If Paredes is moved to a different position again (other than second) then you have to start Paredes in the minors IMO. Him being able to learn center in spring training would be unlikely.

      The Astros do have a decent amount of centerfield depth in the system, albeit not up the upper levels. Bourgeois and Which are backup options to Schafer, and while neither field the position great, they are so-so options. Austin Wates at AA, and then either George Springer or Jay Austin at high A, and which ever one didn’t start there could go to Lexington, is good CF depth in the system. Javaris Reynolds drafted last year is another guy to keep an eye on.

      Basically outfield depth is not a problem, but the system definitely lacks depth at third. It would probably be a good idea to give Paredes every chance to stick at third before moving him off the position.

  • Stroscrow

    @BHam2421 If Paredes is moved to a different position again (other than second) then you have to start Paredes in the minors IMO. Him being able to learn center in spring training would be unlikely.

    The Astros do have a decent amount of centerfield depth in the system, albeit not up the upper levels. Bourgeois and Which are backup options to Schafer, and while neither field the position great, they are so-so options. Austin Wates at AA, and then either George Springer or Jay Austin at high A, and which ever one didn’t start there could go to Lexington, is good CF depth in the system. Javaris Reynolds drafted last year is another guy to keep an eye on.

    Basically outfield depth is not a problem, but the system definitely lacks depth at third. It would probably be a good idea to give Paredes every chance to stick at third before moving him off the position.