The Chicago Cubs have been plagued with a ridiculous amount of injuries during this year’s Spring Training, but with Opening Day only two short weeks away, it’s time to get serious about who will make the final roster cut.
Third baseman Ian Stewart is just one of many that the Cubs should reconsider giving a roster spot to. Stewart has been sidelined with tightness in his left quad since February 21 and has missed the majority of Spring Training because of it. That wouldn’t be too bad except Stewart also missed most of the 2012 season because of wrist surgery.
Why are the Cubs wasting their time and money on a guy who is hurt half of the time? If they want a chance of having a better season than last year, they’re going to need to start with healthy players, something they’ve been having trouble finding this spring.
According to Cubs.com, Stewart played in a minor league game on Friday, his first game since his quad injury three weeks ago. The third baseman added that he felt good about his game, although he still felt some soreness in his left leg.
This close to Opening Day, I don’t think it’s terribly promising that Stewart feels good if he still has some soreness. His health has been an issue for a year now, and the Cubs should probably begin to think about finding someone else to play third. The question is, who would be their best candidate?
Luis Valbuena seems to be the obvious choice.
The 28-year-old has stepped up and covered third base since Stewart’s injury, and manager Dale Sveum has already given him a spot on the Opening Day roster. Valbuena has had an impressive spring so far with a batting average of .276 and an on-base percentage of .344, according to Cubs.com. The Venezuelan native played a number of games at third for the Cubs last year, and it seems promising that he may win the job as the starter this year.
If Valbuena wins the spot at third, where does that leave things with Stewart?
According to Cubs.com, Stewart signed a $2 million non-guarantee contract over the offseason, meaning the Cubs have the option of letting him go before Opening Day as long as they pay what’s left of his salary.
Given the numerous problems the Cubs have encountered during Spring Training, their best bet is to let go of Stewart and give Valbuena a chance to play third.