gods-benevolenceIan Stewart has long labored under the weight of hype.

A first round pick (10th overall) back in 2003, Stewart quickly became the Rockies’ top prospect, and then a top 50 prospect in all of baseball – status he held for several years as he developed in the minors. But, while he had some success from 2008 to 2010 in Colorado, lingering wrist issues and other health problems derailed his progressing career in 2011 and 2012. The hype faded.

The wrist issue, in particular, was a serious problem that, thanks to surgery in 2012, Stewart now believes has finally been addressed.

At the Cubs Convention this weekend, Stewart, whom the Cubs brought back on a non-guaranteed one-year, $2 million (plus $500K in incentives) deal, told Carrie Muskat that his wrist was finally 100 percent.

That’s a huge step, Stewart indicated, because it’s been a while since he was healthy.

“The last time I was truly healthy was 2010, and even then I missed the last month with an oblique injury,” he told Muskat. “I did well that year, and the last few years has been a lingering wrist issue and I really believe I got it taken care of.”

The last time Stewart was productive was 2010, also, so here’s hoping that the issue the last two years really has been one of health and not ability. When asked about third base this weekend, Dale Sveum indicated that he’s viewing Stewart as the presumed starting third baseman right now. So Stewart will get every opportunity to convince the Cubs.

The hype isn’t likely to return, but maybe he can at least become a league average third baseman (when considering defense, at which Stewart has always been solid).

Anything above that is gravy.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I’d happily take a .250avg, .340 OBP, and 20 homers from Ian Stewart. I dare say the word, FLIPABILITY there

  • ETS

    Drinkin the “stewart is going to be awesome and all his years of experience are just outliers” koolaid?

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Haha probably, but we can only hope. If healthy he has the “potential” to put up those numbers. He’s had .250avg, .338 OBP, 18HR season before in 2010. And he did hit 25 homers once as a young player. But those numbers could be inflated from playing at Coors field. It be interesting to see his home/away splits from a couple years ago. But hey you never know, maybe he got healthy and he’ll be able to get more contact

  • Bigg J

    Wonder if the Cubs could lose a trade partner with the Phillies as they are “seriously” considering Delmon Young?

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Delmon Young is terrible. Phillies shuld just pony up a decent prospect to the cubs for soriano. Maybe they have and the cubs are asking for a ton. but I’d take a solid minor leaguer wit high upside and moderate chance of making it for soriano now. But I’d still love the pipe dream of Dominic Brown, now the guy has huge boom or bust potential that we could afford to take the risk on

  • hansman1982

    Am I correct in thinking that Stewart had some pain/discomfort in the wrist last year that he was trying to play through?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes. He did.

      • hansman1982

        Well then, I’ll gladly take his 2010 offensive numbers then.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Stewart says he’s been playing with pain for the last couple years. Could be a reason for #’s being down? who knows but thats what I’m hoping and I hope it truly does feel 100% bc he told us his wrist was fine before but it wasnt

    • blublud

      Yes, that is correct. I am not willing to give up on Stewart. Now if we are able to swing a trade for Olt, Castellanos, Gyorko(is this correct) or another young third baseman, I’ll take it, but I think Stewart will suprise some people this year.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        I absolutely agree wit that plan. If we got a player of Olt’s caliber for say Garza, I’d let him season more in AAA and save his arb. clock and hope for good play out of stewart to flip him for a decent return at the deadline. Even if Stewart doesn’t have a great 1st half of the season and at least hits his weight with proj 20 homer end season total, he’s still young, still has a yr or 2 of arbitration left (ups his value), and plays slightly above average (if not better) and could net us a solid prospect midseason just for the simple fact that the 3rd base market projects to be terrible at the trade deadline. But this is all hypothetical. Plus you dont know who will be out of contention and selling

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    Great to hear Stewart’s healthy. I’ll say it again, I’m really glad they took one last chance on him after the surgery … what did they have to lose? Not much. Here’s hoping for a bit of return on the indestructible Tyler Colvin.

  • BD

    I know he didn’t start off well in Chicago, and now has to earn back everybody’s fanhood, but I think Stewart could be a 2013 surprise. I just have a feeling that fans could like him in the same way they did Todd Walker or Mark DeRosa. (i.e. he’s not a superstar, but plays hard and fans love him)

  • cubzforlife

    If only batting practice homers count. Stewart is a must see at bp. This guy Glenallen Hill’s the ball like no one else on the team. Go early and catch his act. Seemed like a cool guy really having fun joshing with the other guys. I truly wish him success. And that was with the bum wrist.

  • cjdubbya

    For the sake of it benefitting the Cubs, I hope that Stewart hits about .300 this year with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. The other benefit is maybe Chicago finally “wins” the Stewart-Colvin trade.

  • cubchymyst

    A good year from Stewart will help the cubs out a lot. The 3rd base market was crap this offseason and if Stewart turns it around he could net a good return at the trade deadline. My prediction is that either Stewart or Vitters is gone at the trade deadline this year.

  • MightyBear

    Waiting for a Kyle comment on this one.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Ha me too. He is to much of realist, he’ll probably put an to this optimism. But there is always the chance stewart does bounce back to have a decent season

  • cubsklm

    Help Wanted: Unemployed corner outfielder, 27 years old, past 3 year average stat line: 278 Batting Average, 18 homers, and 83 RBI’s. Have some on/off field problems with anger management, working on that. Looking for a last place team who needs flippable assets other than Tommy John reclamation projects and a 5-6 hole hitter, that can actually hit. Asking price: 2 year deal 5-6 million a year. Only teams with prior Zambrano and Bradley experience need inquiry.

    Guarantee: I will put up better 2013 numbers than the combination of DeJesus, Schiierholtz, Sappeldt, and Campana.

    Contact: Delmon Young – Bleacher Nation Rehab Center on Sheffield

    • Chad

      P.S. I couldn’t catch a ball if it was hit at my glove, so you’d better have the most amazing CF in the world that can make up for my suckiness in the OF. But yes, I can still hit at a lesser rate than Alfonso Soriano.

      • cubsklm

        Name anyone on the Cubs bench that can even hit?

        • CubFan Paul

          Steve Clevenger.

          • Boogens

            You forgot to include the “smiley” icon.

      • bbmoney

        P.P.S. – My career war in 7 seasons is .6 (ok..ok if you go by fangraphs it’s .8). Including an OPS+ of 98, featuring 1 above average full season (2010), whilst playing awuful defense. Oh and those “off the field” problems include lobbing some anti-semitic comments/threats around and getting arrested for it in NYC and some not so off the field problems including kicking an umpire in the chest in a minor league game.

        Keep on looking.

    • Chris

      Young is a left fielder. The price is right, but he’ll never be able to play RF in Wrigley. And I’ve seen Matt Stairs play there for a time… If they moved Soriano, it could work. Sveum might be better equipped to deal with him than Pinella was with Bradley or Zambrano. And Young isn’t known to be nearly as wacky as Bradley or Zambrano. Still, it’s a concern. Mental illness runs in his family. He’s shown signs of it himself. My gut feeling is the youth of this team might be too impressionable for Theo and Jed to take a chance like this, which leads me to think it won’t happen.

      • bbmoney

        To clarify while he played some games in LF last year (31). Young is a DH / Pinch Hitter.

    • CubFan Paul

      “Guarantee: I will put up better 2013 numbers than the combination of DeJesus, Schiierholtz, Sappeldt, and Campana. Contact: Delmon Young”

      Schierholtz may mash this year (vs RHP) while adding Plus-ish defense. I’ve actually warmed up to Schierholtz’s splits vs rhp because it’s a contract year for him. He’s roiding as we speak.

  • Crazyhorse

    There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, There’s a hole at third base dear Cubs , dear Cubs Fans………

  • Curt

    much like garza and all the I feel great and am ready to start , Stewart is the same we’ve all heard the talk get on the field and prove it, I wish them well bc if they succeed then myb the cubs succeed to.

    • hansman1982

      If Stewart is simply league average at 3rd, DeJesus continues to be DeJesus and a Schierholtz/Sappelt platoon is even moderately successful, the offense will be MUCH MUCH MUCH improved over the beginning of the year last year.

      The best part is all 3 of those happening wouldn’t be earth shattering.

  • MattM

    Taking another chance on Stewart was more than the right move it was the only move. The closest Cubs situation I can think of at third was the Todd Zielle (sp) situation. He comes to the Cubs and is hurt then sucks then the Cubs let him go for nothing. Then he turns out to be a really good offensive third baseman.

    Two years on this team hurts noone. If Stewart sucks fine, but look at his averages. If he even plays an average season with the Cubs he is STILL better offensively and defensively than anything the Cubs could have done other than him……

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Part of the Zeile situation was the Cubs FO deciding that he had a “bad attitude” because of the injury. He never quite returned to his Cardinals form, but he did post a couple of 0.800+ OPS seasons after his Cubs days. Still, the 1998 Cubs would have looked a lot better with his 0.780 OPS!

  • http://www.backingthepack.com Rynomite

    Stewart’s 2010 road stats: .248/.322/.480/.802

    Not even banking on that…but if he puts up even a .750 OPS the Cubs will be much improved over last season’s offensive black hole at 3B. (Though I do like Valbuena and think he could post a .700 OPS with GG defense given some BABIP luck).

    • CubFan Paul

      “Though I do like Valbuena and think he could post a .700 OPS with GG defense given some BABIP luck”

      at Second Base? Please?

  • Kyle

    His wrist is always healthy, until it’s not. That’s how wrist injuries are. He’ll be hitting .210 again with minimal power, then sometime in late May or early June he’ll feel a pop and blame all his struggles on it. He’ll get shut down for the season, then we’ll have to spend another offseason hearing about how he’s going to return to his 2010 form in 2014.

    Even if his wrist surgery was perfectly successful, the history of guys in years coming off their perfectly successful wrist surgeries isn’t great.

    • MightyBear

      That’s the comment I was waiting for. LOL

      • DarthHater

        I suspect Stewart may re-injure his wrist bitch-slapping someone…

        • KidCubbie

          Haha. Yeah bitch slappin’ all the doubters.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

          Maybe, but it won’t be an MLB pitcher.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    With Valbuena tearing it up in winter ball, we might be surprised at how much better he is now. If Stewart’s recovery is all BS, then Valbuena might be ready while Vitters is still developing (if ever).

  • Bill

    Does Stewart have compromising photos of all you guys singing his praises? Seriously, he’s not good, but we keep hearing how he could be good now that he’s healthy. He’s a good defensive 3B who hits for some power and who struggles to make contact. How many guys come back from wrist surgery and show much power? If Theo didn’t want to go the FA route he should have given the job to Valbuena for the first month or two and then call Vitters up. Not great options, but better than Stewart.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You may have a low definition of “singing praises.” I see a whole lot of discussion about him possibly/hopefully being average.

      • Bill

        Well, I can “hope” Valbuena becomes the next Scott Rolen, and hope I win the lottery, but we have to be realistic. Stewart is not a good ballplayer, he’s not even an avg player. Maybe someone else has done the stats, but I’d love to see what the pre/post power numbers are for guys who have wrist surgery. I’d especially like to see the numbers the first year off of wrist surgery. I suspect they aren’t good. We aren’t talking about a guy who hit for a high avg, we are talking about a guy who’s main offensive value is his power. Did we forget what happened to D. Lee after his wrist injury? The same people praising this move by the Cubs will say they need to give Stewart another year in 2014 because he needed a year to fully heal from surgery.

        I guess my point is that I’ve never seen an “avg player” have more apologists than Ian Stewart.

        • Lou

          Well, when everything Theo is an overreaction to anything Hendry, you’ll have that.

          • Crazyhorse

            WHo cares about Hendry, And Stewart is Theo’s mess Granted not a expensive mess in dollars but a catastrophe in production at 3b.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      I like you. Do you have a newsletter to which I can subscribe?

  • JP

    darthhater, steward may reinjure his wrist hitting you, the only bitch that comes to mind. duck!! seek some counseling, you lead an unhappy and even less productive existence.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Alright I’ll be sure to let him know, thanks for stopping by.