As the first actual trade of the Theo Epstein Era with the Chicago Cubs, their acquisition of Ian Stewart will not be looked on too favorably in any way, shape, or form.
The Cubs sent Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Stewart and minor league pitcher Casey Weathers, who had a miserable season in Double A ball.
Stewart was also essentially useless for the Cubs this year. A ‘change-of-scenery’ candidate, wrist problems saw Stewart struggle mightily at the plate before he was eventually shut down for the year very early on in the season. He isn’t expected back with the team next season.
The failures of Stewart, combined with the success of both Colvin and LeMahieu in Colorado has led many a Cub fan to lament over the deal, particularly from the Colvin side of things.
If you remember, Colvin had a very strong rookie year in 2010, finishing with 22 home runs and 56 runs knocked in. He struggled throughout 2011, both with his performance and his playing time under Mike Quade. Performance certainly hasn’t been an issue for him with the Rox.
Colvin has quietly had a very strong year in Colorado. He’s hitting up near .300, has 18 big flies, and has knocked in 72 runs. He also has 10 triples on the year. Of course, that’s not going to make Cub fans too happy, but would we have seen this same type of performance on the North Side this year? The answer is no, for multiple reasons.
Under Mike Quade, Tyler Colvin saw very inconsistent playing time. Is there any reason to think it would have been any different under Dale Sveum? Colvin is versatile, playing both in the outfield and at first base. But there still would have been no room for him in the every day lineup.
The Cubs began the season with an outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and David DeJesus, with Bryan LaHair at first base. Once Byrd was traded, there was a short period of time before we saw Anthony Rizzo called up. Rizzo saw the everyday starts at first base, with Soriano, DeJesus, and LaHair in the outfield at that point.
Colvin wouldn’t have seen playing time. There’s also the obvious benefit of playing at Coors Field. It’s been very good to him. He still strikes out more than you’d like.
It’s nice to see Tyler Colvin having success with the Rockies. But there’s little evidence that says he would have had this type of year with the Cubs, because he probably wouldn’t have, mainly because of the playing time factor.
At the end of the day, the Rockies ended up getting the better end of the deal. Colvin has been successful and LeMahieu has been solid in the time he has seen. Not every trade is going to be a big win for the Cubs. And that’s certainly the case here, as the Cubs likely will never see the likes of Stewart or Weathers at Wrigley again.