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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