Boy, things could not have gone worse for Ian Stewart as a Chicago Cub.
Not only was he arguably the worst everyday third baseman in the league, but he has dealt with nagging injuries all season long. Today, he was placed on the disabled list with a left-wrist injury that's been bothering him for a while, according to the Associated Press.
The Cubs were expecting mediocre offensive production from Stewart, and that would have been enough to get him the starting job all season long with a team playing this dreadfully. Yet on the worst team in Major League Baseball, Stewart was nearly the weakest link.
His touted defense seemed to lack in the recent months, and his hitting never left the dirt. After exactly 200 plate appearances this season, he remains a .201 hitter with five home runs and a paltry .627 OPS.
He isn't even someone that works in a platoon situation, as he still didn't produce acceptably against right-handed pitching.
It pains me to say that starting Blake DeWitt every day would have been a more productive solution than playing Ian Stewart. That is the worst case scenario that the Cubs have found themselves in.
In no way is anyone vouching for DeWitt to get the job right now. It's merely an example of how big of a black hole third base has turned into.
Luis Valbuena is the likely player to get the nod. While the 26-year-old infielder has been more than underwhelming in his small time spent playing for the Indians, he has been productive across the board in the Pacific Coast League this year. While none expect him to be any real solution to the problem, he could certainly work his way into a useful utility role if he finds himself to be productive for the rest of this 2012 season.
Anything has to be better than giving Joe Mather another start at the position.
Some fans seem to want the oft-mentioned Josh Vitters to get called up and handle the open position, but the 22-year-old just isn't ready for the bright lights of the show quite yet. Not only has his defense been near-atrocious so far, but he has not exactly been tearing up the Cubs AAA-affiliate at the plate either.
The league is a hitter's paradise, and even those who hit like an MVP can struggle in the majors. All that means is that Vitters would be easy prey for nearly every major league pitcher he faces. The youngster still has a lot of developing left to do.
Valbuena may not turn heads at the hot corner, but the team should not consider Stewart a potential starter when he returns. His role on the Cubs will be of much debate when he returns.
That "when" may be even longer than 15 days, as reports have come in to claim that he may have more serious nerve damage on his wrist.
Stewart's time in Chicago has been most unfortunate, and it looks like his time as an everyday player has potentially come to a close. Although it's clearly a rebuilding team heading towards 100 losses, Stewart may not have earned a trip back to his prior role, even if he returns sooner than expected.