One of the biggest question marks coming into the 2013 season for the Chicago Cubs was the position of 3rd base. Ian Stewart was resigned to a one-year deal in the off-season, and was expected to man the position in 2013, even after a poor season in 2012 where he hit .201 with 5HRs and 17 RBI in only 55 games. Even though he struggled mightily at the plate, Stewart played very good defense. That coupled with the fact that there were few good options on the open market made the Cubs decide to give him another chance. Well, Stewart started the season injured and is now playing at Triple-A Iowa, because the Cubs are getting great production at the hot corner with a platoon of Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom.
Vaulbuena was with the Cubs last season, starting many games at 3B with Stewart battling injuries. The 27-year-old infielder only hit for an average of .219, but the Cubs liked his patience at the plate and the fact that he can play all over the infield. As the 2013 season approached, it was obvious that Stewart was not going to be ready for opening day, so the job was Valbuena’s for the time being. The plan still seemed to be to give the job back to Stewart when he was ready to return. Valbuena has responded well, hitting .250 with 5HRs and 13 RBI in 25 games. He has played great defense at 3B and has filled in at 2B a couple of times.
Ransom started the season for the San Diego Padres where he struggled mightily and was eventually placed on waivers, where he was picked up by the Cubs on April, 16th. Since arriving in Chicago, Ransom has been on fire. Playing mostly against LHP, he has hit .350 with 3HRs and 4 RBI. So, with pretty much a strict platoon of Valbuena versus RHP and Ransom versus LHP, the Cubs 3rd basemen have hit 8 HRs and 17 RBI so far this season. That is pretty good production at the position, especially considering it was an obvious weak spot heading into the season.
Stewart was removed from the DL on Friday, and was immediately optioned to Iowa. The Cubs are paying Stewart $2 million to be a minor league player, but with he production they are getting at the position in the big leagues, I do not know what other choice they have. “Right now that combination is one of the best in baseball at that position, so there’s nothing you need to change there,” manager Dale Sveum said. It seems as if the Cubs are content with their current platoon at the hot corner, hopefully they continue to produce and lead to a few more wins for the North Siders.