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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