When I heard Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer speak before last season, he mentioned third baseman Ian Stewart was the type of player the front office of the Cubs would seek. Or as many stock brokers would suggest, buy low and sell high. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Stewart missed time with a surgically repaired wrist. Even when he played, it was ugly. He batted .201 in 55 games with five home runs.
Instead of cutting their losses, the Cubs decided to take another shot with Stewart. The third sacker has suggested that his wrist is now 100%, and he’s ready to show what he can do. For the sake of Cubs fans, they’d better hope he’s a lot better than last season.
Stewart will have some competition at the hot corner. Luis Valbuena and Josh Vitters will compete for the starting job. While all three essentially suck, one will come out the winner. Vitters is considered one of the Cubs top prospects, but he was quite horrific last season. Valbuena is worthless.
Stewart isn’t exactly an under-the-radar guy. He was drafted in the first round by the Colorado Rockies, and was immediately saddled with enormously high expectations. Many felt he was going to be a cornerstone of the Denver baseball team for many years. However, he never lived up to expectations. He showed some power and an ability to get on base, but his average was never up to par. The Rockies eventually lost patience with Stewart and decided it was time to part ways.
So what do I think we can expect from Stewart in 2013? He has always been one of the game’s best fielding third baseman. That is something that cannot be taken away from him. But his ability to make consistent contact is a huge concern. The Cubs are expressing their excitement in his return, but considering the competition he faces at third base, it may be wishful thinking. Based on his age and potential, I think Stewart should have the biggest shot this season. If he has anything left in the tank, he could be a building block.
Left handed hitting hitters that play third base don’t grow on trees, so his upside is there. Now he needs to turn that into production. I’ll hold my breath.