Now that Clint Barmes is officially a Free Agent the Astros have a serious dilemma at the shortstop position. Houston may attempt to re-sign Barmes but the price could be to steep. There are plenty of Free Agent shortstops on the market this off-season. Unfortunately for Astros fans budget constraints will limit Houston’s ability to sign a proven player. The Astros have hinted that Jimmy Paredes may be the opening day starter at short. I think that would be a big mistake.
Having an excellent defender at the shortstop position is a key component to winning baseball games. Don’t underestimate the impact that Rafael Furcal had on the St. Louis Cardinals storybook season. Furcal is one of several shortstops that will be available should the Astros wake up and see the importance of filling this cavernous void in their defense. Here is a list of shortstops that will be on the Free Agent market. Several of them could be affordable, even for the price conscious Astros.
I like Paredes as a prospect, but his minor league fielding percentages at SS, 3B, and 2B have been atrocious. Paredes was below average at 3B after being called up to the Astros late in the season. He had a habit of rushing his throws and his footwork looked awkward. Paredes does have a great arm, and that is one of the reasons he has been viewed as a prospect at the position. But I think his overall defensive skill set screams outfielder. Paredes has outstanding foot speed that would be better utilized in the outfield. He is fast enough to cover the spacious center-field area of Minute Maid Park and his arm is strong enough to play in right. Paredes jumped from AA to the big leagues in 2011 at the age of 22. The Astros would be wise to put Paredes in the outfield at AAA in 2012 and find an experienced shortstop.
Jimmy Paredes minor league Fielding statistics