Rockies Cut Bait on Stewart

The Rockies finally gave up on Ian Stewart.

The Colorado Rockies made yet another trade Thursday night, the fourth trade that the club has completed over the last nine days. The trade will send embattled third basemen Ian Stewart and right-handed pitcher Casey Weathers to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Tyler Colvin and infielder D.J. LeMahieu. The Rockies have ended the Ian Stewart era, effectively stopping the bleeding.  

Stewart, 26, seemed to have played his way out of the Rockies future plans this year as he hit .156 with a .221 slugging percentage in 48 games in 2011. There was plenty of speculation from outside the organization that Stewart would not be coming back to the Rockies after making $2.3 million in arbitration last season and likely due for close to $3 million in arbitration for 2012. The Rockies gave Stewart, the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft, every opportunity to succeed and he never did as he ends his Rockies career with a .236/.323/.428 batting line. However, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported as recently as November 21st that Rockies G.M. Dan O'Dowd said the club would tender Stewart a contract for 2012. Now, they don't have to worry about that as Stewart will be another team's headache next year and the Rockies even acquired some young bit players for their trouble. 

The other player coming from the Rockies in the deal, Casey Weathers, is kind of an interesting player despite being lost in the shuffle here. The former first round pick still has some upside despite major control issues. He's 26 year old and had a 5.32 ERA at Double-A last season.  

Colvin, 26, has some similarities to Stewart. Both were highly regarded in the draft as Colvin was the 13th pick overall in 2006. Colvin as fell out of favor with the Cubs fairly quickly after holding his own as a rookie with 20 home runs and an .816 OPS in 135 games. Colvin's game relies heavily on power as he lacks plate discipline and the ability to make consistent contact. Even in his passable 2010 debut, he struck out 100 times and walked just 30 times which earned him a .314 OBP. His deficiencies were figured out quickly this year as he fell on his face hitting .150 with 58 strikeouts in 80 games. It's hardly surprising that the first moves made by new Cubs President Theo Epstein and G.M. Jed Hoyer—who both have sabermetric backgrounds—were to block Colvin in the outfield by signing David DeJesus and then get rid of him entirely. Expect to see more of the same with Colvin in Colorado as the thin air at Coors isn't likely to make him any more patient at the plate. A .240/.270/.500 line wouldn't be out of the question in the event that the Rockies ever gave Colvin consistent playing time. 

LeMahieu, 23, could be in line for a utility infielder's role with the Rockies in 2012, which could also lead to Jordan Pacheco keeping third base warm until Nolan Arenado is ready (but that's a story for another day). A second round pick by the Cubs in 2009, LeMahieu can play all the infield positions although he doesn't play any of them particularly well. He raked at Double-A as a 22-year-old last season as he hit .358 and carries a career minor league batting average of .317. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much power to speak of and doesn't project as a future everyday player. Though, to be fair, neither do any of the other players in this trade. 

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