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.


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