Ian Stewart Could Surprise In First Year With Cubs

By Randy Holt

While the Cubs made most of their moves in relation to an overhaul in the pitching staff, there are a few new faces that will be taking the field for the Cubs in 2012.

One of those names is Ian Stewart, who will be manning the hot corner for the Cubs this season.

Stewart was acquired this offseason in the deal that sent Tyler Colvin and DJ LaMahieu to the Colorado Rockies. The deal also brought pitcher Casey Weathers to the North Side.

In Stewart, they get a guy who has been the poster child for a “change of scenery”, in an offseason that has seen the new Cubs front office bring in a handful of those types.

With the Rockies, Stewart never really got his full shot at the Major League level. He bounced between the Rockies and Triple A, while being blocked for a good chunk of time by former Rockie Garrett Atkins.

When Stewart did get his chance, he wasn’t able to put up consistent numbers. His best season came in 2009, when he hit 25 homers and knocked in 70 runs, but his average was very low at .228. He did bring it up to .256 in 2010, while still maintaining some decent power numbers, but his 2011 season signaled the end of Stewart’s time with the Rox.

He was a trade candidate coming into the offseason, after a campaign that was plagued by injury and disappointment. He split the season between Colorado and Triple A Colorado Springs, posting an average of just .156 for the year.

After dealing for Stewart, the Cubs acquired the guy they expect to replace Aramis Ramirez at third base. Despite initial speculation that he could platoon there with somebody like Jeff Baker, Dale Sveum has already said he won’t platoon position players.

With the Cubs, Stewart gets his fresh start. He comes in as the unquestioned starter at third, but is already faced with a tall task in replacing the offensive output that Ramirez brought to the spot for the last several years.

From a power standpoint, there’s little question that Stewart is up to the task. He’s shown an ability to flash the power bat in his brief career, but likely won’t approach the .300 mark regularly, like Ramirez did. Still, he should be an upgrade defensively, and should provide plenty of power at the spot.

Expectations for Stewart from the Cubs are high. He’s under team control for a few more years, and they’d like to have that side of their infield settled for the next few seasons, with Stewart and Starlin Castro.

It’s possible. A guy with a fresh start, knowing the job is already is in an environment that comes with virtually no pressure, for now, Stewart could be energized and very well could surprise some people in 2012.

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