Northside Archives: Persona Non Regatta
Ian Stewart isn’t part of the Chicago Cubs. I find that to be an encouraging phrase. His career stats are .232/.319/.417. Gross. His best year was .259/.349/.455…for an OPS+ of 102…in Colorado. The Cubs knew all of this when they traded for him in December 2011. For some reason they thought they’d plugged a hole. I’ve never liked Ian Stewart. He’s the crumpled lottery ticket from last night’s drawing. The Cubs were the hobo thinking they’d found someone else’s accidentally discarded treasure.
Ian Stewart is part of the Iowa Cubs. I was fine with until Tuesday. In fact, I’d gone so far as to wish for him a long career as part of the Iowa Cubs. Now I’m not so sure. Stewart has been talking about his string of 2013 decisions that now finds him rotting on a AAA bench. The quote I like the least, “the only issue I had — and this is even hard to say, because they had Ransom and Valbuena up there swinging the bat — was that I still think there was an opportunity to be given to me, even if it was for a week or a few games. I still think that option was there, and I would’ve liked to have been given a chance. I could’ve started playing well, and they know what kind of defense I bring.” Really?
Ian Stewart was terrible before he was hurt. I’m racking my brains, trying to conjure up the period of Stewart’s injury-shortened 2012 season that made him think he was somehow a lock for the 3B position with the Cubs. And yes, he really thinks that. “I signed back here with the notion and the thinking that I was going to be the third baseman (in Chicago). Whether that was for one year or a few years, I didn’t really know. That was the feeling that I had coming back here and the impression that I was given.” Someone’s delusional here, either Theo & Co. for thinking Ian Stewart was going to be serviceable just by virtue of being healthy – or Stewart, for thinking that his .201/.292/.335 in 2012, or his .156/.243/.221 in 2011 (in Colorado!) was leading anyone to believe he was one of the 30 best answers at 3B in the whole world.
Ian Stewart was terrible after he was hurt. Stewart only played in 55 games before hitting the DL in 2012. He started Spring Training with an injury to his quadriceps in the earliest of intrasquad games. This injury lingered and lingered until eventually he started 2013 on the DL. When he was healthy the Cubs put him on a rehab assignment that is limited to 20 days by MLB rules. During those 20 days, Stewart was part of the Iowa Cubs. At the end of his assignment he’d piled up 4 hits in 44 ABs. The Cubs waived him, and because of his ridiculous $2-million price tag (and the fact that he can’t hit), no one claimed the 28-year-old Stewart. In a total of 62 ABs through yesterday at Iowa, he now has 9 hits (my TI-81 says he’s on a 5-for-18 tear since being dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster).
Ian Stewart dealt with this entire situation horribly. I said earlier that I changed my mind this Tuesday about his future at Iowa. I want the Cubs to dump him. Now. Pay the man and let him forge his own path elsewhere. Why? He doesn’t have a successful attitude at the moment. I’ll let him prove that.
- “If I wanted to stay with the Cubs and accept my assignment here, they were letting me know I wasn’t going to play a lot here.
- I don’t know if that was a way to get me to take my free agency, because there’s money involved in all of that.
- It wouldn’t really make sense for me to take a release or ask for free agency, because then I’d be giving up my contract, and that doesn’t make sense for me financially or for my family.
- I would say there’s times in guys’ careers where they think about doing something else. I would lie if I didn’t say that crossed my mind, but my wife is such a great support system. She knows this is what I was born to do, to play ball, and she reminds me of that every day, even when I’m struggling.
- I need to play to get everything figured out, and if I end up staying here the whole year, then it is what it is.”
So to recap, Ian knows he’s not going to play, but also knows that he needs to play. He’s thinking about doing something else, but needs his wife to talk him down. He says he was born to play baseball, but he’s taking $2 million so he doesn’t have to play baseball. Not exactly the example to set for those impressionable prospects in the minors. I much prefer the example Kerry Wood set when faced with the fact that his career was obviously coming to a close.
Ian Stewart must know this is the end. This is it. If he doesn’t impress someone this year, he’ll be ‘retiring’ because no one wants him. Just like Randy Wells. The mere fact that he’s unwilling to give up his remaining 2013 contract in order to chase a better opportunity tells me that he already knows there isn’t a better opportunity. If the off-season started tomorrow, no team would give him more than an invite to Spring Training – the reverse lottery ticket if you will. The Cubs have already demoted Brett Lillibridge who impressed in exactly the situation that Stewart will be hoping for next year…and Stewart now sits behind both Josh Vitters and Lillibridge for playing time at AAA. He needs to hope for catastrophic injuries or that somehow another team thinks he can fill their need. Not on a 40-man roster, not playing at AAA, there aren’t many paths left that lead Stewart back to the bigs. You’re not at a yacht race.