Ian Stewart was one of my favorite Rockies to bag on a few years ago for what I felt was laziness and an overall lack of caring. I thought Stewart appeared to be one of those guys with a heap of talent and a brain/desire to not get better. He is so talented that he could get to the major leagues without ever really working his butt off to get better. With some hard work he could have been one of the game’s top third basemen.
That is me looking at Stewart from afar, of course. Based on his tweets and what I saw from him on the field, his lack of caring, or so it seemed, when the team lost or when he struck out (which was often).
That was two years ago.
Last year I thought he got the short end of the stick from Jim Tracy and the Rockies organization. Too often the team shipped him between Denver and Colorado Springs and a guy trying to get his swing right and get confidence, let’s just say moving between AAA and The Bigs every few weeks doesn’t do wonders for a guys confidence.
There have been rumors that Stewart was the man at third for the Rockies but there were many more rumors that he and fellow teammate Huston Street were trade bait. Street was moved a few days ago and last night the Rockies shipped off Stewart to the Chicago Cubs.
Along with Stewart the Rockies sent former first round pick Casey Weathers to the North Side of the Second City.
Weathers was drafted to be the team’s closer of the future but injuries have derailed him and the Rockies eighth pick of the 2007 draft never made it to Coors Field. In fact, he never even made it Colorado Springs (although that is becoming a trend for the Rockies organization: they are not sending prospects to Colorado Springs to get beat up).
What did the Rockies get in return for a third basemen who never lived up to his potential and a backend of the bullpen pitcher who never found his way to the big leagues? An outfielder who had a breakout year in 2010 to only find himself in AAA much of 2011 and an infielder who is about as fast as they come who might be able to fill the void at second base that the Rockies front office believes is a major concern.
Tyler Colvin was the Cubs pick in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft. He is a right fielder by trade but can play left and first base. His defense is average, nothing spectacular. In 2010 he had an OPS+ of 113 while slugging .500 with a really low on-base percentage (apparently Dan O’Dowd doesn’t buy into the overall importance of not making outs and getting on base – based on his trade acquisitions and free agent signings the past two off seasons).
Colvin’s triple slash of .254/.316/.500 isn’t really that great. Sure he hit 20 home runs but he struck out 100 times versus only 30 walks. He makes a lot of outs. In 2011 his line dropped all the way to .150/.204./306 and one can only hope that O’Dowd doesn’t really think Colvin has any shot of replacing Seth Smith in the Rockies outfield.
The second piece and maybe the most intriguing and the one who has the best shot of making the Rockies 2011 Opening Day roster is DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu was drafted in the 41st round by the Detroit Tigers in 2007 but didn’t sign. He was then drafted by the Cubs in the second round of the 2009 draft. His triple slash in the minor leagues reads like a guy who might work as a leadoff hitter or maybe bat in the second spot of the order: .317/.353/.399. He does get on-base and makes contact.
2011 was LeMahieu’s first big league experience and in 62 plate appearances he didn’t hit much but that can be expected for a guy’s first go at big league pitching.
All and all the Rockies sent what could end up being a very good third basemen (I think he will definitely do better now that he is out from under Tracy) and a pitcher who may or may not end up as a middle reliever in the major leagues to the Cubs for an outfielder who at his best is a guy who will hit as many home runs as Seth Smith but make many, many more outs in between big flies and potentially a serviceable second baseman.
Hard to say at this point who gets the better end of this trade. Many Rockies fans might immediately assume the Rockies did because of their disdain for Stewart, but I would hold judgment on this trade and see how Stewart performs in Chicago without the constant threat of being sent to AAA on a daily basis.