View From The Bleachers

May 7, 2013

Ian Stewart’s Lost Weekend

Filed under: Featured,General — Jeremiah Johnson @ 2:17 pm

Ian Stewart went missing over the weekend. By now you’ve probably seen the note in Joe’s recap this morning, but just in case here’s the story so far. Stewart’s abysmal performance (he hit .091) in his rehab stint with the Iowa Cubs cost him his promotion back to the big league team. Consequently the Cubs optioned him to Iowa, meaning he could have–and should have–kept playing with the Iowa Cubs. He didn’t.

Instead he took off, enjoying a 72 hour window afforded to any player who has been optioned. It seems he even talked his decision over with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer before he bolted. From what I can tell, there aren’t any indications of where he went or what he did–he just took off.

To me that seems like a highly unusual decision for a guy who ought to be trying to work his way back to the majors. I’m sure he’s disappointed in his performance and the fact that he’s got a lot to prove if he wants to turn his career around. But what sense does it make to start that potential turnaround with some extended “me-time”?

I never followed Stewart on Twitter (he apparently deleted his account late last week), so I missed out on his ranting and his late-night stupidity. Honestly, I don’t have much of a read on the guy. I wasn’t impressed that he opted out of rehabbing from his wrist surgery with the team last season, but I can be talked into a  number of excuses on that matter.

But abandoning his team is an entirely different story. Not only is it a terrible example for his AAA teammates, it’s also a betrayal of his big league coaches and teammates. And it’s a slap in the face to a Cubs’ front office that has shown a lot of faith in Stewart. This past offseason, the team gave him a new (and largely unwarranted) $2M contract. Apparently this is how he repays their confidence in him and his abilities. And assuming this is his last season with the Cubs, what does this little walkabout demonstrate to any future employer? Nothing good. In fact, for all I know we might be watching him set fire to his own career. Short of an explosive turnaround in his performance, it’s hard to imagine him getting another big league contract. Even a promotion back to the Cubs seems unlikely at this point.

Which is what makes this so surprising to me. As I said, it seemed like the front office and the coaching staff had some reason for hope with Stewart–that he could and would reward their confidence. It seemed like people were legitimately hopeful he’d be able to perform at a high level. Now I’ve got to believe that his weekend off has burned through substantial amounts of that good will. Why would anyone in the Cubs organization still be rooting for to make it back to the bigs. He proved this weekend that he’s a bad investment–one that will likely be gone at the end of the year.

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  • Noah_I

    This was a weird one for me, too. While Valbuena has earned a well deserved hold on 3B for the time being (and I’d presume he’d have to go in a rather extended slump to lose that spot), injuries happen. And Valbuena could also shift over to 2B if Barney got hurt. So there’s potential for that 3B spot opening up. With Vitters’ hitting upon returning from the DL, you’d think Stewart would want every opportunity to hit possible to be the guy who gets the shot if an injury happens.

  • BLPCB

    Yeah. I feel like the Cubs have extended a lifeline to Stewart’s career and he isn’t taking advantage of it.

  • Doc Raker

    Is that $2M guaranteed even if he is in Iowa? Did he lose that $2M when he was optioned? If he lost that contract I understand his depression and wrestling with retirement. If he banked his previous earnings he may not need to fight his way back to the bigs and if he lost confidence in himself I can see why he would go AWOL. Now if the Cubs are still paying him the $2M then he needs to get his butt back to Des Moines.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Yeah, it seems the money is guaranteed. And what I can tell, he is back with the team today.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    I heard he was in Japan filming a cameo spot in LaHair and Murton’s sitcom, in preparation for his full time role next season.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Tonight, on a special episode of “Twin Dragons”…

  • Noah_I

    He would have lost the remainder of the contract had he not reported after the 72 hours.

  • Jedi

    We’ve cleaned up the waiver wire twice in two years now with Valbuena and Ransom. While neither of them is a long-term solution (and sometimes neither seems like even a short-term solution) – both are better than Stewart. Dump him and move on.

    He couldn’t hit at Coors, couldn’t hit at Wrigley, couldn’t hit in the PCL…put him on a LL field and I bet he still can’t hit…

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    Thus he only shows up for the paycheck, and does not care about anything else. What a waste of a zombie life form, because I doubt he has a real life.

  • Doc Raker

    It must be hard for an athlete to accept he can’t perform to expectations. I imagine being a multimillionaire helps ease the pain but still hard nonetheless. I don’t blame him for taking the 72 hours if it is part of the collective bargaining deal. Let him get his head straight before he goes to Japan to play Lenny to LaHair’s Squeggy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JeremyAce4 Jeremy Johnson

    Wow, not impressive. Not impressive at all, dude.

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    I was merely listening to tonight’s game’s audio feed, but it sounded like Wood was throwing hard.

  • Joe Aiello

    Wood had Wood?

  • Mark_from_Toronto

    Almost as bad as Len and JD’s commentary when Travis Wood was pitching to Matt Carpenter. The wood cutting and sawing jokes were flying like there was no tomorrow.

  • Doc Raker

    That’s all Len has, lame pun jokes. The Cubs could do better on the field and in the broadcast booth.

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