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Well, it was the minor deal that had been discussed for days, and tonight the Cubs pulled the trigger. During those days of discussion, the question was: will the Cubs part with Tyler Colvin or DJ LeMahieu for Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart?

It turns out the answer was both.

The Cubs also pick up Casey Weathers, a right-handed minor league pitcher. Weathers, 26, was a first round pick back in 2007, but has never done anything to justify his selection. He’s always struck out a ton of guys, but he’a also always walked a ton of guys. At 26, he’s still not made it out of AA. Suffice it to say, he is a relatively unexciting inclusion. (UPDATE: He was the Rockies’ 14th best prospect before last season according to Baseball America, and he did have Tommy John surgery at one point, so his advanced age is a little more explainable. And, again: he does strike out a ton of batters, to the tune of 11.3 per 9 over his minor league career.)

Which means the Cubs gave up not only Tyler Colvin for Stewart (a swap which would have been acceptable, but unenticing due to Colvin’s cheap contract (relative to Stewart’s)), but also a very useful young player in DJ LeMahieu. When rumors swirled that the Rockies wanted LeMahieu, alone, for Stewart, I thought it was too much to give up for a guy the Rockies were looking to dump. It was reported that the Cubs said no to the LeMahieu for Stewart proposal, and I smiled.

So you can only imagine what I’m thinking now that the Cubs have given up both Colvin and LeMahieu for Stewart.

I’m not too happy about it.

Let’s be clear: neither Colvin nor LeMahieu figured prominently into the Cubs’ immediate future. Colvin showed absolutely nothing last year to demonstrate that his 2010 season wasn’t a mirage. And LeMahieu, 23, had the glove for third, but not the bat, and had the bat for second, but not the glove.

I understand moving them.

But they had value. LeMahieu, in particular, was always a kid just outside the Cubs’ top 10 prospects, and many scouts love his bat. He may not develop power, but becoming a .300/.360/.420 hitter at the big league level was not out of the question. If he blossoms in Colorado, I may be despondent. (Ok, that was dramatic.)

As for who the Cubs pick up, in addition to Weathers, I’m just not that excited about Stewart. Obviously the men in charge see the upside – Stewart is still just 26, destroyed the minors when he was young at every level, and had a decent season and a half two years ago – and I’m not going to question the scouting side of this thing. In isolation, trading LeMahieu and Colvin for Stewart and Weathers is understandable.

What I question is whether Stewart should be handed the Cubs’ starting third base job in 2012, to the exclusion of other possible candidates. Based on what the Cubs gave up to get him, it seems like he will. He’s coming off a lost year in 2011 and a wrist injury, and many scouts – Kevin Goldstein, among them – simply don’t believe he’s a big league regular. And, he’s scheduled to make some $2.5 million in 2012 (with two more arbitration years thereafter). He was at risk for being non-tendered on Monday, but apparently the Cubs felt they couldn’t risk another team swooping in and taking him.

I’m going to have to let this news sink in over the next few days, and hear from the men upstairs, before fully making up my mind. Maybe Stewart won’t be the starter. Maybe this is a precursor to other moves. Maybe saving money at third base was desperately necessary for other really exciting, super awesome moves.

We’ll see.

  • MrCub73

    Most reactions to this trade are still typical Cub fan reactions. Does anyone really believe than any GM out there could not wait to get DJ or Colvin in their lineup? I can only imagine the contravention that will arise when the Cubs do make a significant trade and really give up a decent prospect. DJ was talked about on here as a super sub and Colvin was lost at the plate. What other 3rd baseman was available? Can’t say Headley, cause virtually every report I saw coming from San Diego said a trade was not likely. If he were, than he might be in Chicago right now. This trade is well worth the gamble. If it don’t pan out, you have not lost much. DJ may be a 300 hitter in the bigs, but Stewarts potential is a little more on the surface. You have a better idea what Stewart can do based up the 2009 and 2010, when he was 25 & 25, an age when guys are just trying to figure it out. 2011 was a lost season for Stewart. Don’t be surprised if Stewart hits 250-260 15-25 HR 65-85 RBI next season. The Cubs did not give away the farm here, regardless of how overrated us Cub fans typically like to rate our prospects.

    • Kyle

      Funny, I see a typical reaction when a Cubs fan ignores all the waving red flags and starts projecting their new acquisition to the best numbers of their career.

      I don’t care about we gave up. I just think it sucks that Ian Stewart is going to be our 2012 3b.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Im with MrCub on this, IMO the typical Cub fan reaction is to throw a fit about giving up any player whose name they recognize. Whether it be trading DLee, or letting Aramis walk, its typical for them to whine about it without thinking about how much it really helps the club.
        How is putting Stewart at 3B any worse than putting a guy like Dominguez or Vitters there? He has the highest ceiling of any 3B available. Whats wrong with taking a shot and possibly coming up huge? You need impact players, this is no different than taking a chance on some kid.

        • Cedlandrum

          Neither Dominquez or Vitters is a 5 year MLB vet making 3 million. So there is a big difference. I would expect one of those guys to maybe struggle in the bigs their first year. Stewart is probably going to suck and still make coin. If we wanted someone to suck, do it on the cheap with Lemahieu or Flaherty or Vitters.

          • ferrets_bueller

            …but while they all have equal potential to suck, Stewart is the only one with the potential to be a great player. Why not go for broke? Its only a couple million…you spend that on guys out of high school.

            • Kyle

              I’d think it sucked if Vitters or Dominguez was going to be our 3b too.

              I don’t see how any one can possibly, with a straight face, say that Stewart has the potential to be a great player. He’s been in the league for four years now. He is what he is.

              When healthy and everything is going perfectly for him, he’s almost an average 3b. That’s his upside.

              • Boog

                Aramis Ramirez’s MLB career stats at the time the Cubs traded for him: .263/.312/.435, 90 OPS+

                Ian Stewart’s: .236/.323/.428, 89 OPS+

                • Kyle

                  That’s a good point, but I think it misses be cause it oversimplifies.

                  For one thing, it’s very difficult for guys with Ian Stewart’s K percentage to significantly improve. Ramirez didn’t have that problem.

                  For another, Ramirez’s MLB stats were severely hampered by the Pirates bringing him up way too early because they are, well, the Pirates. If Stewart had hit the majors at 20, his MLB career totals would look a lot worse.

                  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

                    If Stewart can get his OBP back into the neighborhood of .350 where it was a few seasons back, I think he’ll be ok. I don’t expect any All-Star games from him, but I’m not expecting the 2011 Edition of Tyler Colvin either.

                    • Kyle

                      Stewart’s best OBP is .349 in five MLB seasons, and he needed a .362 BABIP to get there.

                      His upside OBP is reasonably more like .335

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Stewart’s best OBP is .349 in five MLB seasons, and he needed a .362 BABIP to get there.

                      That is really disheartening.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      wouldn’t Stewart’s number rise dramatically if, IF, he were to be batting 3rd, in front of Fielder? maybe thats the plan

        • hardtop

          not too many typical cubs fans having knee jerk reactions here on BN.  most of contributors are knowledgeable and thoughtful.  im not throwing a fit, but odowd won this one.  the difference between signing stewart and taking a chance on some kid is that you dont know what you are going to get with the kid.  he could be a dud, average, or a superstar.  no one knows until they get some playing time.  also a kid is younger, cheaper, and under control longer if they do, in fact, become a superstar.  stewart, however, was the rockies 4th option at 3rd last year (options 1,2 and 3 werent all that special): it appears the writing is on the wall with stewey. DJ has an upside that stewart clearly does not have, if nothing else because he’s younger and not played enough to know if he’s a viable major leaguer.   id pretty much written off colvin, but again, based on years in the league, i’d rather gamble on him.  this appears to be a terrible deal and feels like a move, just for the sake of making one.  theo made a promise that we would try to compete every year, and he had to do one little thing to make masses believe he was moving that direction.  im quite certain we are no more competitive now than we were 2 days ago but we are slightly older, with slightly less money to spend, with slightly less depth.  time will tell if stewart will rebound, i truly hope he does.  im not closing the book on thed or anything, but this is mildly disappointing and pretty far from encouraging with regard to the 2012 season.

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            Like I said last night, Weathers is the key to the deal. Weathers has the potential to be a major league closer. If he stays healthy and the Cubs can fix that balance issue that is messing up his control, he’ll probably be the best closer prospect in the system, topping the likes of Carpenter and Dolis.

            Should Weathers establish himself as a setup man or closer, I think the Cubs win the trade. That won’t happen in spring training, but it could by 2013 easily.

            I hate giving up LeMahieu, but I like the gamble on upside. I just wish I knew who the starting second baseman is.

            • Fishin Phil

              “I hate giving up LeMahieu, but I like the gamble on upside. I just wish I knew who the starting second baseman is.”

              I don’t think he is on the team yet.  I don’t know who, but I think that is one of the moves yet to be made.

              • hansman1982

                eh, losing LeMahieu is not a big thing.  He has consistently relied on hitting the ball to get on base to the tune that his career minor league OBP is 36 points higher than his batting average.  Last year in a small sample size he put up 12 more points of OBP than BA.

                He is NOT a “Moneyball” player, therefore, WHATEVES.

                Stewart on the other hand has put up 87 more points of OBP than BA in his MLB career.  Even if he turns out to have a Carlos Pena type career (.250 BA, .340 OBP but 30+ homers a year), this will be a great trade for 3 years of player control. (assuming the injury didnt rob him of power and ability)

          • http://bleachernation ferris

            you dont this this gave any wiggle room to the 40 man roster…..i dont think many see the big pic we have lehair lh 1b/0f already who is a better hitter than colvin…….we didnt have a lh 3b unless you count 2b dewitt wich col. wanted but we didnt trade lemaheu is a solid backup 2b we have 3 guys dewitt/barney/baker that can play 2b……stewart may not even start for sure but i think if he played everyday like anyone else they get better.

      • Cedlandrum

        Mark Bellhorn Redux.

        • ferrets_bueller

          The Cubs or the Redsox version? The Redsox one always cracked me up, especially how divided the fan base was about him. “Who died and made you Mark Bellhorn?’ http://sonsofsamhorn.net/wiki/index.php/Who_died_and_made_you_Mark_Bellhorn%3F

          • Kyle

            Bellhorn is a great comp.

            Guys like that are undervalued when they are producing. The problem is, while K’s are not much different from other outs in determining a player’s value, they are a *huge* red flag when trying to project for the future. Guys who strike out in 25% or more of their plate appearances have trouble maintaining their production over a number of years. Bellhorn scrapped together a decent 3-year stretch and then fell off a cliff and never got it back.

            Ian Stewart scrapped together a decent 3-year stretch, then fell off a cliff, and now we’re betting he can get it back. I don’t like his odds.

            • Cedlandrum

              Exactly. I am glad you picked up what I was putting down.

            • hansman1982

              he put up a good three year stretch and then was injured last year.

              He struck out 28% in 2009 and 25% in 2010.  Good direction.  The key thing is he also hits for power.  Fangraphs did an article a few months back that basically said in order to succeed with that high of a K rate you need to be putting up 25-30 HR’s a year.  Averaging his last 2 *almost* full seasons you come out to 29.6 HR’s over 600 PA’s.  The key thing will be keeping him healthy.

              • Kyle

                So if we cherrypick his best seasons, ignore the bad ones, and project him to health and playing time he’s never achieved, he might be okay?

                Pass.

                • hansman1982

                  I was “cherrypicking” his two fullish seasons and throwing out his abhorrent last season (which included a BABIP .074 below his career average), his 1st season where he put up 46 PA’s and 2008 which was a half season.

                  Looking at his career on the whole, and not throwing out any short seasons you get a 28% K rate and a 10% BB rate, the K rate is not good and I am not sure what a good BB rate is but he has put up what would be 25-27 HR’s a season which (especially considering his K rate is driven up by the first 3 years he was in the league and is trending down the last 3) is enough to make him an average player with above average potential.

                  In short, I stand by my previous statement without doubt.  The key will be his health.  If he stays healthy, I see 2010 Pena type production as the low end and 2008 Pena (minus the BA) type production on the high end.  Not bad at all for Colvin and LeMahieu.

            • http://bleachernation ferris

              26 same as colvin and hopefully that pitcher be used as comp. for theo

  • TSB

    for almost a full year, people have been posting what a loser Colvin is. Now they complain that we didn’t get Tulowitzki for him. “Don’t say i’m ugly all week and expect me to ask you to the prom”. As for LeMahieu/Weathers: they’re both minor leaguers, and as such, a crap shoot. Very few can predict stardom with an average above the Mendoza line, so wait and see.

  • kernzee

    we also have in baker an ideal platoon partner for stewart

  • die hard

    I still would have liked a Soto at third base and Reed Johnson at first base corner infield. Both are athletic enough to fill those positions.

    • die hard

      If youre going to use my handle at least be original

  • njriv

    So does this mean BJax is going to be on the ML roster? Because I know when the Cubs signed Dejesus, there was talk that he was not going to be on the big league roster.

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