Ian Stewart has been dealing with wrist pain all season. Actually, he’s been dealing with it since an injury last season in Colorado. Actually, he’s been dealing with it since an injury in the minor leagues all the way back in 2005.

So, after a cortisone shot last week failed to provide him sufficient relief, you can understand why he might be ready for surgery. Both Dale Sveum and Jed Hoyer hinted at that possibility recently, and now it looks like it’s going to happen.

According to Stewart, himself, on Twitter, the Cubs’ third baseman will have wrist surgery as soon as today, and will be out for six to ten weeks. That puts him back with the big team in September on the optimistic side, and ends his season on the pessimistic side. While Stewart will hopefully finally get the relief that’s eluded him for so long, it’s a bummer that his season could be over.

Assuming Stewart doesn’t come back in September and blow the doors off the place (although maybe in that case, as well), the Cubs will have a difficult decision to make this Winter. Stewart will be eligible for arbitration for the third time (out of four), and would be due to make just about his current $2.24 million salary again in 2013. Do the Cubs tender him a contract for 2013, knowing he’s a $2+ million lottery ticket without great odds of paying off?

More likely, the Cubs would plan to non-tender Stewart, with an offer that they’d like to have him back for closer to $1 million. If the two sides can come to that understanding before the non-tender deadline, maybe everyone wins. The Cubs get cost certainty and a low risk option at third (and possible 2013 trade chip, if everything breaks right with Stewart’s recovery and Josh Vitters’ development (or Junior Lake’s, or someone else (you get the idea)). Stewart gets a guaranteed contract with a team he’s come to know over the past year, which might be a better deal than he’d find if he were suddenly a free agent coming off of major wrist surgery.

We’ll have to see how it plays out.

I’ll be rooting for a full recovery for Stewart, whose obvious talent has probably been marred by this wrist injury for years. Still, it’s hard to call his acquisition anything but a failure at this point. Not only was he unproductive in his couple months of work (to say nothing of the intermittent hot streaks by Mr. Colvin in Colorado), but he’ll likely finish the year on the shelf with an injury that was known to the Cubs’ brass when they took a chance on him in December. When you take a chance on a guy with wrist issues, and his knee explodes, I can’t rightly cast aspersions. But when his wrist plagues his season?

Well, let’s just say Theo and Jed can’t get ’em all right.

  • Ben

    he is always pretty honest on twitter and he seemed super down…..He even alluded to coming back next spring if the Cubs have him back

  • Fishin Phil

    I wish him the best for a speedy recovery, but I would definitely nontender him. I like his defense, but those wrist injuries are just too iffy to mess around with.

    • rcleven

      Have to agree Phil. I don’t see full recovery till at least 2014 if at all. If he will come back for the 1 mm range he might be a LH back up coming off the bench.

  • oswego chris

    on the surface the Colvin trade looks awful, but I would be interested in looking up his home/road splits…lefties rake in that place…stewart is a non-tender

    • KyleJo

      colvin 1.104 ops at home, .673 on the road. 1 of his 8 homers have come on the road.

  • Mat B

    This trade I will call an abject failure. It is also frustrating watching the Rockies treat Colvin the same way Pinella did. He has 3 hits one day and sits the next 5. Colorado needs to put him out there every day and see what he can do. I liked the DeJesus signing, but not at the expense of Colvin. After Pinella destroyed Colvin’s confidence Quade ground him into the dirt. As for Stewart, it would be nice to see him return to his potential, but given the fact that it is so doubtful, I would rather see it for another team.

    • Drew7

      Its called a platoon. Colvin is being used very similar to the way LaHair is: in spots where they are the most likely to succeed.

    • hansman1982

      So three different managers and 2 organizations have treated him as a 4th of and you think he is an every day guy?

      • Mat B

        Yep, it’s pretty clear Pinella & Quade mismanaged him. He is skilled defensively. He can hit. If I recall correctly, his rookie season he did well against lefties. No, I didn’t look it up. I’m just going on my mid 40’s memory. Yes it’s true that memory isn’t what it used to be. Drew, it looks to me that Colvin has done nothing but succeed this season. He’s got 10 doubles, 5 triples, 8 home runs and 30 rbi’s in 161 at bats this season. I’d say that should have earned him a starting position by now.

        Oh & don’t you think DeJesus in center & Colvin in right would be an improvement over what we’ve had so far this year. DeJesus gets on base a lot & Colvin could have been helping by driving him in a lot more.

        • Drew7

          “Drew, it looks to me that Colvin has done nothing but succeed this season. He’s got 10 doubles, 5 triples, 8 home runs and 30 rbi’s in 161 at bats this season.”

          Right – playing mostly against RHP and at Coors Field, and sparingly against LHP of lesser quailty. I’m happy for the guy, but I’m certainly not convinced he’s an every day OF’er.

          This really is the same problem with fans’ view of LaHair: Just because a guy produces in certain situations, doesnt mean he will produce playing every day.

          • Grant

            But if you don’t give them the opportunities to prove they can play outside those very specific situations, how do they ever break out of the platoon role?

            • DocPeterWimsey

              They do it in the minors. Remember, MLB is the big show: the primary development comes in miLB.  Part of what kept LaHair in the minors for so long was almost certainly his poor performance against lefties.

              Colvin has not been as extreme, but he also has benefited greatly from platooning.  (Yes, he’s been mostly a platoon player in Colorado: he’s played against a few more lefties than LaHair because of injuries and also the propensity for blowouts in Colorado leading to lots of early inning pitching changes.)  And, of course, Denver has helped him greatly: he has been subpar on the road.

              • Grant

                Good points…

                That said, something seemed to click with LaHair last year, and I’m guessing he had to at least do passably well against LHP to ring up the numbers he had in AAA.

                Also, in a lost season like this, why not give him a shot to get better. I’d rather give LaHair a chance to improve versus LHP than trot out Jeff Baker every time the cubs face a lefty.

                • calicubsfan007

                  Grant: Yeah, it is kinda sad when Jeff Baker is supposed to be the trump card for the Cubs against lefties.

            • Drew7

              Each case is different, but in the cases of LaHair (he’s 29, had almost 0-success against LHP in the minors, and certainly hasnt shown anything in the Majors against them) and Colvin (Shown little success outside of Coors, not patient), that opportunity was in the minors.

              The Big-League club is where teams field the players that put them in the best situation to win ballgames, and playing a guy simply because there might be a small chance he turns things around in certain situations, in which he has repeatedly under-performed in the past, doesnt put you in that situation.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Would we have been a better team wigh Tyler and DJ instead of Stewart? I think maybe so. Bdt Theo wishes he could take that one back.

    • Mat B

      Yeah, I’m sure he would like to take that one back. I don’t think they had anyone in mind for third base without Stewart, though. Valbuena has been doing a nice job, but if Vitters keeps going like he is, I think it’s his job next year.

  • Daniel

    Let’s just go get Hadley, then sign him to an extension…

    Vitters, and someone for headley=third taken care of.

    • Aaron

      We won’t be getting Headley, I don’t think. His age and price don’t fit what the FO is trying to do.

      • Daniel

        Your probably right…

        I would love to see vitters up in a week or 2 though…

    • dreese

      I think Hadley is older than the cubs would like.

  • Andrew

    Colvin has an ops of .673 away from coors. It still is a bad trade, but completely understandable. Colvin isnt part of the plan for Theo and co. Most of colvins peripherals arent very good. still strikes out 25.6% of the time and is walking at 4.1%. His success is mainly attributable to a ridiculous BABIP of .373 compared to a career babip of .277. Stewart hasnt panned out, but we parted with a failed prospect, and for now he is still just that. As for the contract, I say paying him 1-2 mill isnt a terrible deal for the cubs because at worst we get some LH power off the bench with a chance to turn it around. Stewart’s approach is still solid, the main issue this year has been his GB/FO ratio which jumped this year. To me, that seems likely caused by the wrist. We knew the wrist was an issue from day one. If surgery seems to resolve the issue, I think you give him another shot, even if you try to lowball him for the contract.

    • Cedlandrum

      That isn’t a great OPS away from home, but it is still higher then Stewarts OPS overall. We can try and look at it overall and try and make sense of it, but it was a very poor trade the day it was made and it looks worse today. It was a way to try and cleanse the system of Hendry guys and it didn’t work. So move they just have to move on.

      It would be nice if Weathers could get ahead in SO/bb. He has been terrible. he is the only chance at this point to bring value back in the trade. So far he has been a bust too.

      • hansman1982

        You cannot compare Stewart to Colvin unless Colvin can play 3rd (he can’t).

  • dreese

    I think the trade was a necessary risk. The cubs saw a lot of potential in Stewart and all they had to give up was a 4th OF with power? That sounds like a good trade but Stewart is injured and we lost a 4th OF with power. Either way we would still be in the position we are in now, standing wise.

  • Rich

    Surgery is a bad decision. What are they going to do? Injection was for pain and to rid inflammation. The MRI showed no structural damage. I have seen these conditions for 15 darn years. I could fix him in 2-3 weeks WITHOUT surgery.

    For those that read this site, avoid surgery when at all possible. You cannot UNDO a surgery.

    With that said, Josh Vitters at 3rd after all star break ( AUG or SEP ) and see how he does.

    • aCubsFan

      Did you step up and contact Stewart or the Cubs and tell them you can correct it? Always nice to say you could after they have scheduled surgery.

    • hansman1982

      So you have been able to examine his wrist to determine what is going on? You have palpated, x-ray’d, cat scanned his wrist to see exactly what is bothering him or are you just going on wild speculation based on the patients you may have seen?

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    First Josh Hamilton revisited, again, and now fretting over a guy with a 370+ BABIP and a career 286 OBP.

    • hansman1982

      only in Cubdom can we assume that a traded away prospect would have OPS’d over 1.000 at Wrigley and the myth of Josh Hamilton would live on through perpetuity.

  • http://skippyhahavintage.blogspot.com/ Pouncey

    Ha! Yeah, Soriano is a real hot commodity – everybody wants him, obviously. My post reflected correctly that we passed on Hamilton, then signed Soriano for 136 million during the same Winter. These are not separate arguments. The Cubs were handed a gift with Hamilton, and instead chose the path they have been on for years (Pie, Soriano).

    If you don’t care about the Cubs, then it doesn’t matter.

    • Cedlandrum

      Oh for the love of God. Cueing Hansman.

      • hansman1982

        goddamnit there are 2 in one day? So continues my Quixotic quest to educate Cubdom. EN GARDE WINDMILLS!

        Consider this my formal request. I am willing to sponsor an ad at the top of the page with the explanation of the Hamilton trade. This is getting ridiculous people.


        You should be more upset that the Cubs passed up on Pujols 30 times the year he was drafted than Hamilton. (FWIW, there was a Rays scouting director that was begging his FO to draft Pujols, clearly they didn’t listen either.)

    • Drew7

      “These are not separate arguments”

      You’re right: Soriano was signed to help get the team over the top, and he responded with a 7 WAR season in his 1st year here.

      Hamilton’s chances of making any sort of comeback were very small, even in Cincy, where he was surrounded by people that knew and cared about him. It’s not as simple as saying, “well, it worked out there, so it obviously would have worked in Chicago as well.”

  • Danny B

    I feel for Stewart. Wrist injuries can alter your career tremendously. It sucked watching D. Lee fall off after breaking his. I could be convinced to keep Stewart for 2+ mil. even though he hasn’t necessarily earned it. But it seems like a fair price tag for his defense and potential, that of which he flashed in ’07.

    The big call now is in regards to Vitters. I think he should don a Cubs uniform at some point this season. Even if he is not ready, it’s looking like a lost season, so get the guy his hacks and let him take his lumps now.

  • Dustin S

    Colvin hit .150 last year in over 200 ABs, not really a small sample size. Plus the Cubs were pretty desperate to get a warm body to fill in at 3B while Vitters developed. It just was a longshot gamble for both sides for players with little value. It looks like the Rockies got lucky and will come out better on the deal, but that’s how those types of deals go. Plus there were some team->player issues with Colvin and him not being happy about being sent down. Some of his complaints on how he was used and brought up/sent down had merit for sure, but that was still part of the reason that trade was made.

    Taking a positive spin on it, at least Stewart and Valbuena kept 3B warm and gave the Cubs some more AAA time for Vitters so they weren’t forced to bring him up early. So in that light the trade was still a good move.

  • willis

    Easy to call the trade a bust or failure, but at the time there was a huge hole at 3B when it was decided not to offer Ramirez. There needed to be a stop gap who had the potential to be an everyday player for years. Plus, at the time I’m guessing no one knew Byrd would be the worst player ever this year. The outfield was spoken for and money had been sunk into it. So why not take a flier on Stewart. Plus you got the talent of Weathers as a throw in. Neither have worked out. It happens. But really it was garbage for garbage, the only difference is the garbage the Cubs got back had huge potential.

    And sucks for him that he’s out, but really Valbuena has been more than an answer there both offensively and defensively. He’s an upgrade from Stewart. So whatever.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To call it a bust isn’t to say it never made any sense. Just that it really, really hasn’t worked out. And it hasn’t.

      • willis

        With all the factors involved in the decision, it absolutely made sense. They were hoping to and needing to tap into Stewart’s enormous potential. It hasn’t worked but I’d do that deal again and again under the circumstances.

        And who knows, maybe it’ll be the “Casey Weathers” trade someday???

    • Grant

      I’m with ya’ here, Willis. Stewart was a low-risk, high-upside player that they picked up at the cost of someone who didn’t really have a future with the team. If Stewart’s wrist was actually fully healed, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion. His defense was pretty spectacular (a nice improvement over Ramirez), but I think he just had a combination of bad luck and recurring pain. Hopefully this surgery straightens things out for him, because I think he’s got good potential, but his body just isn’t cooperating.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    evrybody remember one thing it will take a long time to get over all the damage jim hendry did to this team period!

  • calicubsfan007

    Wrist injuries are a major pain to deal with. Two years ago,I found out that I HAD a stress fracture in my wrist (it was calcified in the xray), that was the first time that I ever knew that I had one. I felt pain there, I was afraid of losing playing time and I always thought that I just sprained something.. Its permanently screwed up now because I ignored the pain and kept playing, I hope it doesn’t do the same to Stewart.

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