Tag: ian stewart

Chicago Cubs: Is Mark Reynolds an Option at Third Base?

With yesterday’s non-tender deadline making Ian Stewart a casualty, the Chicago Cubs now have to take a very long look at their third base position.

Ian Stewart is a player who has never really lived up to expectations. Once rated No. 4 on Baseball America’s top prospect list, Stewart now finds himself looking for a job.

The move has also left the Cubs with two third basemen on the 40-man roster. They are Josh Vitters and Luis Valbuena. Junior Lake can also play third, but the organization has had him playing the outfield during winter ball as a tryout.

Are the Cubs ready to head into 2013 with Valbuena as their starting third baseman? Probably not.

Valbuena filled in for the injured Stewart in 2012 and could have seized the moment. Nobody was waiting in the wings, and he really didn’t have any pressure. All Valbuena had to do was outplay Stewart and he could have locked the job down.

Instead, he didn’t separate himself at all. He batted .219 with four home runs over a span of 265 at bats. He slightly edged out Stewart with his batting average, but in fewer at-bats, Stewart hit more home runs.

There really aren’t many top-flight options at the third base position in free agency this year. Mark Reynolds is a name that has to immediately turn some of the Cubs executives’ heads. While Reynolds is not known for his batting average, he would bring a tremendous amount of power to the lineup that is not generally recognized for its power.

Reynolds is probably best suited for an American League team so that they could split his time between playing third, first and designated hitter. However, he is definitely a serviceable third baseman. The Cubs can use him as a stop-gap until one of their top prospects, like Javier Baez, is ready.

With Anthony Rizzo hitting third, Alfonso Soriano hitting cleanup and Starlin Castro hitting fifth, the Cubs could slot Reynolds into the six-hole of their lineup and pack a serious punch.

Valbuena hasn’t shown to be much more than a .225 hitter with minimal power at this point. With Reynolds, the Cubs will get the same sort of low .200s batting average, but gives them the potential to add 20 to 30 home runs to the lineup.

The Cubs have the ability to pencil a .225 average, 25 home runs and 75 RBI into their lineup simply by signing Reynolds. Unless the Cubs work out some sort of trade this winter, Reynolds will be the only player that could bring that sort of offensive production to the third base position for them.

With the Winter Meetings a mere day-and-a-half away, it will be interesting to see how the Cubs address some of their gaping holes before 2013.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Chicago Cubs Interested in Ian Stewart

The Cubs offseason mentality is coming together with rumors like this: According to The Denver Post, it appears the front office is in talks with the Rockies to trade for third baseman Ian Stewart, and the proposed package would be quite a steal.

What exactly is this “package” that Colorado is asking for to acquire the 26-year-old infielder? It starts and ends with Blake DeWitt, someone Cubs fans wouldn’t bat an eye at releasing outright.

If the Rockies only ask for DeWitt in a trade that would send Stewart to Chicago, Theo Epstein has made another savvy, buy-low move in acquiring him.

To make a long, poor story of a season short, Stewart was bad last year, albeit in extremely limited time that was filled with injuries and trips back and forth from the Minors to the Majors.

But as recently as 2010 he had just under 400 at-bats, hit 18 home runs and posed a pretty respectable .786 OPS.

The best part is that the Rockie actually hit better away from home in 2010, as opposed to the horrors that fall upon most hitters who leave Coors field.

Over his career playing outside of Colorado slightly pulls his numbers down, but his split is so subtle that it resembles the average player’s decline when they aren’t playing at home. It is a negligible shift, in other words.

Stewart hit 25 home runs in 425 at-bats in 2009 as well, so his home run projection as a starter nestles nicely at 20.

That is the type of power the Cubs could desperately use in the middle-to-lower half of the line up.

It would begin to create a team of useful offensive players all around the lineup, a strategy employed by the 2008 Cubs team that led the MLB in wins.

Stewart plays slightly below average defense, which is a step-up from Aramis Ramirez’s performance last year. So in that area he’s either a small upgrade or a wash at worst.

Sure, much like David DeJesus, Stewart is not a “sexy” acquisition. But these are the types of moves that allow the franchise to add useful talent at the lowest risk.

The biggest thing to consider is that Blake DeWitt offers the Cubs nearly no value. He is a utility infielder who does virtually nothing well at the dish, and adds only mediocre defensive skills.

Stewart gives the team hope, DeWitt gives the team nausea.

Ian Stewart has a chance to hit 25 home runs, and be a useful and powerful lefty in the Cubs’ lineup. If he works out, the Cubs could use him as a starter for two to four years.

If the trade doesn’t work out, the Cubs would have lost Blake DeWitt—and that’s it.

It’s a move with only benefits, and with all of the positives that come with signing DeJesus, I’m beginning to see the sensibility of Theo Epstein and company.

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Colorado Rockies: Ian Stewart’s Demotion Is an Opportunity To Improve

Everyone has a bad day at the office.

Ian Stewart is no exception. 

The Rockies third baseman was optioned to AAA Colorado Springs on Tuesday in a move that was, unfortunately, a long time coming.

Rockies brass is steadfast in saying that this is not a demotion for Stewart. Instead, they encourage him to view it as an opportunity to improve. 

It’s no secret that Stewart has been struggling lately. In 26 at-bats so far this season, Stewart is hitting a paltry .077 (that’s just two hits for those of you doing the math at home) with just one stolen base. He doesn’t have any other offensive stats, other than he’s struck out 11 times. 


If anyone embodies the work ethic that the Rockies promote, it’s Stewart. Things just haven’t clicked for him this season.

It doesn’t help that he missed nearly half of spring training with a knee injury. He and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez collided in the outfield in the Rockies’ first spring training game back on February 26th. After examination, trainers confirmed he had sprained his right knee. 

He didn’t see the field again until late March. 

That cost Stewart a lot of at-bats. The lack of playing time in Arizona showed from the very beginning. Stewart, who homered on Opening Day last year in Milwaukee and was one of the Rockies keys to a successful 2010, barely made the Opening Day roster this year. 

Nearly three weeks after the Rockies opened the season, Stewart has just two hits.

Something had to give, and it finally did on Tuesday.

Manager Jim Tracy noted that he wanted Stewart to play in Colorado Springs for anywhere between two weeks to a month, to make up for the time lost during spring training. The hope is that Stewart will get his swing back against Triple-A pitching, have time to work on his mechanics and solve problems with his timing that have doomed his batting average this year. 

The Rockies won’t make another roster move until Thursday at the earliest, one day before they travel to Sun Life Stadium in Miami to face the Florida Marlins. The most likely move will be an infielder, such as Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr. or Willy Taveras. Outfielders Cole Garner or Charlie Blackmon could also fill the spot come Thursday.

Pitcher Clayton Mortenson, who worked five scoreless innings of two-hit baseball in relief of Esmil Rogers against the San Francisco Giants on Monday, will remain with the team until then, though he is not available to pitch Tuesday night. 

The Rockies want Stewart back as soon as possible. 

Simply put, the team is better defensively with Stewart in the lineup. His glove is the best at third base the Rockies have seen since Vinny Castilla, a member of the famed Blake Street Bombers. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t “arrive” like he was supposed to last year until 2012. 

Why so long, you ask?

Look no further than catcher Chris Iannetta. 

Iannetta was having an offensive year similar to Stewart’s this year. He was sent down on April 29th, 2010 in an attempt to give him time to fix his mechanics. He did, and on May 25th, he was recalled. He played well throughout the rest of 2010, but because Miguel Olivo was swinging a better bat, he didn’t get a chance to shine.

Much the same could happen with Stewart. Because the Rockies have Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez to spell him at third, it’s not unreasonable to think Stewart might not show his growth at the plate until the start of next season. 

The key with Stewart is patience. As long as he’s in a place where he can get constant at-bats, fix his timing and adjust his mechanics, he can thrive. Playing with the Sky Sox in Colorado Springs will help him do just that.

A few years ago, Stewart was hailed as the Rockies third baseman of the future. 

It’s coming soon, but it seems the future is still a little ways away. 

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2011 Colorado Rockies: Projecting the Lineup

The 2011 Colorado Rockies have a lot of potential firepower in their mostly very young lineup.  Jim Tracy has yet to make a final decision on an opening day roster, but in looking at his spring training games so far, piecing a projected lineup together is getting a little easier.

The Rockies have a couple of the game’s hottest bats right now and this could be a breakout year for them, which in turn could lead to a very good year for the Rockies.  A few questions remain, but let’s take a look at what the Rockies lineup might look like on opening day.

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Ways Rangers Can Still Salvage Michael Young Situation

When the Texas Rangers ponied up and offered free agent Adrian Beltre a six-year, $96 million contract, incumbent third baseman Michael Young, the Rangers all-time leader in hits and several other offensive categories, indicated that he was okay with moving to the role of full-time designated hitter.

Then, the Rangers acquired Mike Napoli from the Toronto Blue Jays, and shortly thereafter, all hell broke loose.

Two weeks prior to the start of spring training, the Texas Rangers went public in saying that Michael Young had demanded to be traded, with general manager Jon Daniels saying that Young had a “change of heart” regarding his role as designated hitter and utility infielder.

One day later, Young ripped the Rangers, telling Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

“The suggestion that I had a change of heart and asked for a trade is a manipulation of the truth. I asked for a trade because I’ve been misled and manipulated and I’m sick of it. Other than that, I’m not going to reveal any details about how this process unfolded. It’s not my nature to start blasting people publicly when I don’t think it’s necessary… But at the end of the day, I know the truth. And so does JD.”

While the Rangers said that they would honor Young’s request for a trade, there have been no significant discussions with any teams, and now, with the calf injury to Beltre early in spring training, the Rangers will certainly be in no hurry to accommodate Young’s request.

While Michael Young has been a consummate professional throughout his career with the Rangers, the current situation is still a distraction, regardless of what Young or anyone else on the Rangers says publicly.

The Rangers can still salvage the situation and try to trade Young, but there are only eight teams on Young’s contract that he has agreed to be traded to: the Yankees, Twins, Astros, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Rockies and Angels. Young has also indicated that he would we willing to waive his no-trade clause to other teams “on a case by case basis.”

So, with that in mind, here are ten ideas that the Texas Rangers can use in order to save face and get value for Michael Young in return.

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MLB Power Rankings: 15 Hidden Gems of the 2011 Fantasy Draft

As good as he is, Evan Longoria is not single-handedly winning your fantasy baseball league for you. Why? Because most of the owners in your leagues are getting fairly off-setting numbers out of their first round picks.

However, the players discussed here could win you that championship, because while everyone is getting minimal value from their late-round picks, you could be getting early-round numbers.

This doesn’t mean you should reach for them in the rounds where their value might end up, but you should target them late, and enjoy the results. (All projected draft rounds are in a 12-team standard snake draft)

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Troy Tulowitzki: Colorado Rockies’ Future Third Baseman

The  future may be sooner than anyone thought.

Don’t look now, but the Colorado Rockies just won another series. This one was a big home series against division rival, the San Francisco Giants.

Since June 11th, the Rockies are 14-9. That’s not amazing, and it’s still not enough winning.

I could mention how the Rockies need to gain ground if they hope to make the playoffs. They need to win more than the Padres and the Dodgers (Rockies actually lost a game on both the last 10 games even beating the Padres two out of three).

That’s not what this article is about.

The Rockies, while not racking up amazing win totals, are still starting to win.

They are playing like every game matters.

Earlier in the season many of them looked like they had better places to be than the ballpark. They gave up games. They gave up at bats. Many times they looked punch-less. For much of the season, they were dead last in batting average and scoring in the National League after the sixth inning.

I wrote an article about players having to step up when there is an injury. That’s not news. That’s the story of every team in every sport when there is an injury to a star player.

I suggested that Ian Stewart and Brad Hawpe were the two I thought needed to step up. So who has stepped up? And does it actually cause some line-up questions in the future?

Who out there picked Clint Barmes as the hero? Anyone? Didn’t think so.

Clint Barmes is every Rockies fans’ favorite whipping boy. He’s the weak link. He’s the guy that needs to be benched. He’s the reason a blockbuster trade for Dan Uggla, Brian Roberts, or Bobby Grich needs to go down to replace him.

Clint Barmes has been known to be streaky hitter over his career. He’s on a hot streak now. Over the last 30 days, he is tied for the most hits (30), tied for the most runs scored,15, and second on the team with 15 RBI. He’s also had the most doubles (7) and tied for third on the team with three home runs.

I really didn’t see this coming, but it seems like Clint is embracing his moment in the spotlight. He still has a tendency to chase sliders out of the zone. However, he’s able to hit pitches in the zone and make them drop.

On the flip side of Barmes is Ian Stewart.

Stewart has almost completely disappeared. His line over the last 30 days is .185/.312/.323/.635 He’s had only one double, and two home runs, and only five RBI. He’s also struck out 24 times in only 63 at bats! He’s starting to lose playing time to Melvin Mora, who hasn’t been lighting it up himself, only batting .215 over the last 30 days.

Many Rockies fans have wanted a trade at second base. I’ll say they don’t need to trade for a second baseman. I say the Rockies need to upgrade at third base, and that upgrade is in-house already.

It’s Troy Tulowitzki.

Yeah, you read that right.

When Tulo returns, he needs to be moved to third. Stewart needs to be benched. Barmes needs to start at shortstop. But, but, but…. isn’t Tulo the greatest fielding shortstop ever?

Not this year.

His UZR is 3.2, which is pretty amazing compared to Barmes at short who’s still a strong 1.9. However, if you look at RZR which measures handing balls in a normal fielding zone, Barmes is higher with a .877 rating against Tulo’s .838 rating.

In other words, yes. Tulo is an amazing shortstop. So is Clint Barmes.

I’m giving up on Ian Stewart.

I don’t think he can hit major league pitching. This was the year for him to step forward. However, he’s just another young power hitter that can’t make that adjustment to the major leagues. In fact, he’s gone backward.

He has a career batting average of .241. This year, he’s still above that even with his slide at .250 for 2010.

In ’09 Stewart hit 25 home runs. This year he’s on pace to hit only 17.

Strikeouts have been a problem with Stewart, as they are with many young left-handed sluggers. Instead of going down, he’s on pace to have near 150 K’s after having 134 in ’09.

It’s time the Rockies look at their roster and play players that are performing. Bench those that aren’t.

That means it’s time to end the experiment with Stewart.

I think he still has an option year. Maybe he could use a refresher course in AAA, like Dexter Fowler which worked out great, or Chris Iannetta, which wasn’t as great on his return to the majors.

But I move Tulo and not Barmes to third for a couple of reasons.

Tulo has the bat to be respectable as a third baseman.

Barmes didn’t get hot until he was put at shortstop. You can see watching the game that short is his natural position. He feels comfortable there when starting there.

Tulowitzki is the closest the Rockies have to a major league third baseman in their system. His size and his hitting profile him as a third baseman. Moving to third, would allow him to bulk up as he gets older, when we could assume his range will go down as well.

Tulo has been compared to Cal Ripken Jr. many times in his young career. Ripken also had to move to third as he got older.

Tulo doesn’t have to make that move now as he’s still a great shortstop. However, it’s inevitable he’ll end up there eventually. Might as well make it now and keep Barmes in his comfort role.

Injuries to stars force fans and team management to look at their players in a new light. Some step up. Some don’t. Clint Barmes has stepped up. Johnathon Herrera has stepped up. Ian Stewart has disappeared. If this trend continues, the Rockies should be thinking about trading or benching Stewart, and not Barmes when Tulowitzki returns.

This article is also featured on: The Rockies Reporter

And also on: My Team Rivals: Blake Street Baseball

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Fantasy Baseball By The Numbers: Week 11

They did it! The Blackhawks finally got their Stanley Cup in one of the more bizarre endings you’ll see in a championship game.

My only regret is that they didn’t win it at home. The city was wild enough on a Wednesday during an away game, imagine what clinching on a Friday at home would have been. Oh well, guess we’ll have to wait for the Cubs to win the World Series before we get another Chicago Fire.

Oh yea, and there were some baseball games this week.



Combined stolen base success rate for Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon , which has led to Ron Washington’s decision to limit their attempts until they can improve their technique. It’s a huge blow to each of their values, though Borbon didn’t have much anyway.

I’m especially concerned about Andrus because not only has his batting average dipped in recent weeks, he stopped drawing walks. His BB:K rate has been an atrocious 5:14 so far in June, lowering his OBP to .377, down from his high of .431 just a month ago.

Let’s hope it’s simply a case of a young player needing to make an adjustment and not a trend that will continue.



Batting average over the past 25 games for Ian Stewart , another young player poised for a breakout season who has fallen off the wagon in recent weeks. How close this is to his 2009 average (.228) is unsettling to say the least, but you knew you were getting somewhat of a batting average liability with him.

What’s more alarming is while the batting average is regressing to the norm, his power numbers have remained stagnant, with only one home run over that 25 game span. Looking at the numbers the culprit seems to be a severely decreased fly ball rate, which has turned into a bloated line drive rate (25%).

While this may sound great, it clearly hasn’t helped him recently. Plus, this number is unsustainable, so hopefully the line drives will turn back into fly balls and not grounders. I’m benching him until further notice.



Innings pitched by Zack Greinke in his last start, finally securing that ever elusive second win. We can all breathe a little easier now, the Zack Attack is back. He struck out 12 batters and walked zero, an unbelievable performance despite two solo jacks allowed to Joey Votto . Reportedly the performance was a result of an “adjustment,” always music to a fantasy owner’s ears and bodes well for future production.

Nevertheless, his struggles with keeping the ball in the park will keep him from repeating last year’s Cy Young numbers, but I’d still bet on a 3.3 ERA and over 200 K’s at the end of the season.


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