Just when you thought the Cubs would leave Dallas without making a move, Troy Renck announced that the Cubs have completed a trade to acquire Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers for Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu.
On the face of it, I think this is a pretty fair trade. Both teams acquire players, in Stewart and Colvin, who are coming off of down years and might benefit from a change in scenery. In addition, while I like LeMahieu and hate to see him go, Weathers is a former first round pick (8th overall in 2007) with a plus fastball and slider who was once considered the Rockies closer of the future.
Stewart has more major league experience than Colvin, amassing 1242 at bats and a .236/.323/.428 line compared to Colvin's 581 at bats and .215/.274/.422 line. Both players strike out too much, with Colvin striking out in 28% of his at bats compared to Stewart's 32%. However, Stewart has shown a better ability to take a walk and both have similar power numbers.
LeMahieu has a career line of .317/.353/.399 in the minors and, due to a lack of power, probably projects best as a utility infielder. Weathers has struggled with command in the minors. He has a career 7.1 BB/9 in the minors and gave up 48 walks in 45.2 IP this year.
Overall, I like the trade, as the Cubs dealt away a couple spare parts for a potential starting third baseman and another bullpen arm. The Cubs still have Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt as fall back options should Stewart not pan out, plus there's always the possibility that Josh Vitters finally figures things out. In any case, its a low risk move that could pay off.
In other news, the Cubs are not players for Prince Fielder, according to Peter Gammons, because they do not have the cash. I find that a little hard to believe, unless the Cubs are saving their money for more pressing needs, such as pitching.
If Fielder is not an option, there isn't much left on the free agent market, unless the Cubs want to revisit Derek Lee or Carlos Pena. Thus, their best bet might be a trade. As one of my commentors, wilee23, pointed out, with the recent signing of Albert Pujols, the Angels might make Kendrys Morales available.
In any case, its obvious that the Cubs are taking a different approach to rebuilding the team than in years past. It may not make them a contender next year, but, if they do things right they could build a strong nucleus that they can keep under team control for several years.