Shall we discuss the Brett Wallace taking a turn at 3rd base thing? I suppose I wouldn’t be your friendly neighborhood Astros blogger if I just let it go without comment. I mean, every other site, traditional media or blog, took it on immediately yesterday. I needed time to marinate on it.
To begin with, let’s talk about what we already have available at third. There’s Chris Johnson. CJ had a tremendous rookie season in 2010 with a .303 BA / .337 OBP / .481 SLG / .881 OPS. Be still my heart, I liked that OPS from a rookie. And then 2011 came.
Last season CJ struggled with his hitting line dropping to .251 / .291 / .378 / .670. Not only was his bat just mediocre, but he struggled defensively, ultimately landing him down to AAA. It’s not uncommon to see a sophomore slump in the Majors and perhaps a trip back to minors was just the inspiration that the 27 year old needed.
CJ seems to be of a mindset to arrive in Kissimmee ready to do battle. He’s tweeting about workouts, tweeting excitement about the upcoming Spring Training and interacting with fans. I think the spark we all saw in Chris Johnson, the rookie, has been reignited.
And then there’s the kid. When CJ headed to OKC last season that corner spot was filled with one Jimmy Paredes. The 23 year old put on a good showing last year for the second half. Paredes is a tough one for me to talk about since he was part of the package the Astros received from the Yankees in exchange for Lance Berkman. I was poised to not like him.
The problem is…he came up, played well and I DO like him. He isn’t a power hitter, per se, but a hitting line of .286 / .320 / .393 / .713 wasn’t too shabby for a guy who jumped from AA Corpus to the big club all in one swoop. I think Paredes has a future and a big one in the majors, but I also think he needs some more development time. To crown him the everyday third baseman is a bit premature in my eyes.
Then there’s Matt Downs, the current Prince of infield utility for Houston. I think they’d rather float him around than give him a starting spot so I expect him to be a nice bat off the bench for 2012 as well as being a mentor to the young guys.
So that brings us back to Brett Wallace and Brad Mills’ comments yesterday about giving him some time at third base. When I heard it, I took it to mean that the club would give him a go a few times during Spring Training and perhaps play him at third from time to time come the 2012 season if at all. Wallace used to be a third base guy, but with his size, it’s really not a good fit.
What B-Dub could be perfect for is the club’s 2013 DH. Yep, I said it. the dirty word. The thing is, he’s built for it. The problem is, he hasn’t figured out yet how to harness the power in those massive thighs and use them to drive balls into the seats. With only 5 homers in 2011 and a .339 SLG he’s got work to do.
Wallace absolutely has potential to be a big power hitter, he just has to figure out what adjustments it will take to get him hitting that way regularly. Remember the home run last season that was the longest hit by an Astro at MMP who isn’t named Lance Berkman? That doozy was a B Dub special. I’d like to see him start clocking those on a regular basis. What do you think, Brett? Can you and Barnett cozy up and work on that for me.
Yes, the Astros will give Wallace some time at third base, but I think the focus for him will be on fine tuning that stance and swing to get more balls out into fans hands.
Of course, a lot can change in the sunshine of Kissimmee, Florida and every spot is up for grabs, but for now, my money ‘s on Chris Johnson for the 3B starting job.
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the tortured Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her ridiculous ramblings on sports, vodka and the weeone on twitter @agirlinthesouth.