Ian Stewart is gone, and there is weeping in Denver.
Okay. Perhaps I’m the only one weeping, and I’m on the east coast, so the collective mood in Denver today might actually be pretty good. But come on guys, it’s Stew. I know you’re all mad at him because he never figured things out in 2011, and at times he seemed a little blasé about it. I just hate it when we have to let go of a born and bred Rockie because he didn’t live up to expectations. To me that feels like putting a kid up for adoption because he wasn’t what you had in mind. Obviously it’s not as bad as that, but I hate it anyway.
All right, enough moaning and groaning. The meat of the trade is Stewart plus pitching prospect Casey Weathers to the Cubs for infielders Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu. I suspect Cubs’ general manager Theo Epstein sees what Stewart can still be, and that he believes he’s the winner in this trade. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find that he’s right. Weathers I’m not as upset about losing. I’ve only seen him pitch once, in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game, and he had a tough time finding the strike zone. Reports suggest that is a common struggle of his, so he might be better suited for a team that plays in heavier air. On the other hand, recent acquisition Tyler Chatwood has the same problem, so it may be that we already have a Weathers replacement ready to go.
Colvin is the Cubs’ version of Stewart, in that he kind of bottomed out last year and the organization thinks it’s time to give up on him. In 80 games last season, he posted a dismal slash line of .150/.204/.306. The only thing he has on Stew is a bit better slugging percentage, though their power potential is about the same. Defensively, Colvin is primarily a corner outfielder, and has never made an error in 65 games in left. He’s being touted as a possible corner infielder as well, but he’s only logged 4 games at 1st and none at 3rd, so I’d prefer we didn’t take our chances on him there. He’s not going to replace Stew in the field, but will instead compete with Charlie Blackmon/Ryan Spilborghs/Seth Smith (assuming all those guys are still around opening day) for an OF spot. Will he succeed? Last year’s numbers say no. But so do Stew’s. So if this was crap for crap at least all we gave up was crap.
LeMahieu is a bit more untested in the majors, having only made his debut this past May. But he hit over .300 in all three of his minor league seasons, with an OPS over .700. What he can do really remains to be seen. He plays second and third, but the thing is, we need somebody regular in both those positions, and we don’t know if he can be either of those guys. He made 4 errors in 11 games at third in 2011 with the Cubs, which doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. I’d be much more willing to give him a chance at 2nd, where he posted his best fielding percentage (.985) in the minors. And now that I can no longer assert my belief in Stewart at 3rd, I’m going to want Chris Nelson there every day next year. Which leaves 2nd for LeMahieu.
Last one. The PTBNL in the Huston Street trade was named, and he is Nick Schmidt, a pitching prospect. He has 61 career starts in four years of minor league play, with an ERA of 4.61. I don’t know what else to say about him except add him to the pile. We have pitchers coming out our ears at this point.
And that’s it for the winter meetings. Hopefully the hot stove will cool down a little until after the holidays, because I don’t think I can absorb one more major trade like these without a break first.