Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Nobody was ever going to mistake Ian Stewart for a hall-of-fame caliber third baseman. At best, he is a journeyman player who has managed to hang around the majors for quite some time, always playing consistently enough to remain an affordable option for teams that were waiting for younger guys to develop.
The Cubs acquired Stewart under those exact circumstances. After trading Aramis Ramirez to the Brewers, the Cubs were left with a hole at third base, as Josh Vitters was not quite ready to jump up to the big leagues. The Cubs picked up Stewart from the Rockies, I believe as a free-agent, and he promptly filled the spot with consistent defense. However, he soon became plagued by injuries to his wrist.
Stewart’s injury problems forced the club to pick up some extra help in the forms of Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom. The “problem” is that those guys have been playing really well, and when Stewart came off the DL he had no home with the big club and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa.
When a player is outrighted, it basically means that their contract is changed so that there is no obligation to make sure they are playing in the big leagues. In short, unless somebody gets hurt, Stewart will remain in the minors for the rest of his contract.
I think that the hardest thing to deal with as an athlete would be this situation right here. You get hurt, the clubs has to fill the spot, the guys filling the spot perform well, and you have no job when you come back. Basically, things that you have no control over sent you back to the minors. I could tolerate being sent to the minors because I wasn’t playing well, but this situation would infuriate me and I would probably quit.
Ian Stewart appears to be a different kind of player. He seems to realize that even though his situation sucks, the Cubs owe him nothing because he hasn’t been playing like a guy who deserves to be in the bigs. As he currently sits, backing up Josh Vitters on the Cubs depth chart, he understands how difficult a return to the big league club will be. At this point he needs to out perform three players, one of whom is being groomed as the future third baseman for the team, and start consistently performing at the plate.
Despite all of this, his attitude seems to be good. In an article by Carrie Muskat for Cubs.com, Stewart said, “I’m over the not being in the big leagues part. Now I’m just trying to put some good games together.” One can’t help but admire his attitude here (not that I’m making him my new role model…we all know how I feel about that). Most guys in his situation would either be constantly complaining, or hanging it up to go sell tires at Sears. I was never a big Ian Stewart fan before reading about this situation, but now I can’t help but like the guy. He is somewhat reminding me of Crash Davis in Bull Durham. Either way, I hope Stewart has a long career in baseball ahead of him…be it playing or coaching. A guy with his experience could be a valuable piece for any organization.