First, I want to be fair to Crowe. Granted he was a first round pick way back when and was a top prospect, but that time has passed. The Indians have already recognized their loss on Crowe and the Astros picked up him as nothing more than organizational depth and to be an occasional contributor and roster filler. Not to be a starter.
But thanks to the failures of Paredes, Crowe found himself in a starting role. However none of that made it any easier to stomach his .083 batting average over the last ten games. It was not part of the plan to rely on Crowe this much, but Paredes just did not look like a major leaguer and for that reason he was demoted; first out of the starting lineup, and then back to AAA.
Paredes was acquired from the Yankees in 2010 when the Astros traded Lance Berkman. Since then, Paredes has been a mystifying player for sure. He is athletic, has some tools, and just looks like he should be a good baseball player. Unfortunately, he has just not been able to put it together.
The problem with Paredes also, is that he has had some success. In 2011 he hit .286 in 179 plate appearances for the Astros and then followed that the following year by hitting .318 in AAA earning a return trip to Houston in 2012. In his second major league stint, he did not have the same success and hit .189 in 82 plate appearances.
After his hot start in AAA this season hitting .366, Astros fans are forgiven if they had high hopes for Paredes. There was some luck involved there as he had a BABIP of .418, but he did more than just regress. He imploded. Paredes hit .190 while striking out 33.7% of the time. But at the same time, he did show flashes of success.
To me at this point, Paredes looks more like a utility player who was overexposed in a full time role and needs some more seasoning. That is what he will get now in AAA as Maxwell returns from his hand injury to stabilize right field.
Even though Maxwell was a starting outfielder and key player entering the season, it is also important to limit your expectations for him. He had some trouble getting going in his rehab stint and was only hitting .234 prior to his injury.
Maxwell has a little more name recognition than Crowe and Paredes along with a slightly better track record, but not by much. I am happy that Maxwell is going to play right field, and Brandon Barnes will not be disrupted in center field where he has been having success.
At least for one game, Bo Porter inserted Maxwell into the 7th spot in the lineup, so he also will not disrupt whatever stability the Astros have in the middle of their order. If Maxwell produces, I think he will ultimately move up in the lineup, but I can’t see Maxwell starting for the rest of the season.
Either Maxwell will be moved to a contender looking for a fourth outfielder/right handed platoon option, or he ultimately will be relegated to part time duty as the Astros begin to promote some young players. And yes I am hinting at George Springer and Jonathan Singleton. That will be something to get excited about.
Maxwell did lead the Astros in home runs with 18 last season, so his return is a good thing and he is an upgrade over the Paredes/Crowe combination. But, although he will drive in some runs and make an impact, he likely will not be a difference maker.