Cubs “shifting gears” because we have to

According to Paul Sullivan, the Cubs are going to shift gears with regards to what they're doing at 3rd base. You're not alone if that doesn't make any sense.

About 10 days ago this article was published on ESPN by Doug Padilla: Cubs' rebuild takes priority over hot hand

MILWAUKEE — The Chicago Cubs lineup Monday showed they are staying committed to their rebuilding project.

Despite the fact that Luis Valbuena was as hot as anybody during the just-concluded series at Cincinnati, rookie Josh Vitters was back in the lineup at third base for the series opener at Milwaukee.

Manager Dale Sveum could have simply reinserted the left-handed hitting Valbuena into the order since the Brewers had right-hander Mark Rogers on the mound, but decided against it.

“Valbuena got hot again and was really swinging the bat but my priority is still going to be getting Vitters quite a few at-bats,” Sveum said.

Since that article the Cubs have played 8 games. Josh Vitters has started 4 of them and Valbuena the other 4. What's particularly odd is that Sveum said his job was to get Vitters more at-bats and two days later he opted not to. And now 10 days later it appears they're going to "shift gears" and primarily play Luis fucking Valbuena over Vitters.

I was probably among the few after Vitters' call up that didn't mind he wasn't playing every day. The Cubs determined that he'd benefit more from being at the big league level than sticking around at the minor league level and that's good enough for me. I did assume Vitters would eventually get more playing time, but instead of that, he's getting less.

Here's what's being said today.

"I'll still mix and match," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Thursday. "You might see Valbuena in there a little bit more. We're just giving Vitters some time to kick back here now and see what happens. You're trying to evaluate, but you're trying to win ballgames at the same time. We're having trouble scoring runs, period, so the at-bats — Valbuena is getting on base, he's swinging the bat well, playing good defense."

Sveum admitted it's a change from earlier.

"I have shifted gears a little that way, because we're not getting anything out of that position," Sveum said. "A guy who hasn't struck out much is striking out quite a bit and not making contact. We're just going to evaluate and keep plugging along to determine what do we have and moving forward and evaluating these guys in situations that hopefully they're going to succeed."

We can't just blame Dale Sveum for doing this. Sveum isn't doing anything without Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein's approval. What Sveum is doing is endorsed by the front office. This in itself is not all that surprising.

Even though Josh Vitters was going to be at AAA Iowa this year, the Cubs went out and took a chance on Ian Stewart who had multiple years of club control. The Cubs wanted to acquire a 3rd basemen at the trade deadline. They were looking for one who was more highly thought of than Christian Villanueva who the Cubs acqured from the Rangers along with Kyle Hendricks for Ryan Dempster.

The Cubs have had no problem getting rid of some of Jim Hendr's top picks. In the Ian Stewart trade, they shipped former 1st rounder Tyler Colvin to Colorado. They flipped Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo. Hayden Simpson was playing for the US team in the Little League World Series.

Josh Vitters wasn't especially good at baseball prior to this season and in all likelihood still isn't very good. I have no idea what his numbers are to this point, but he's looked overmatched by big league pitching. Since Vitters is again relegated to the bench it's likely we'll not see Vitters as the 3rd basemen when the season begins. After all, Theo has gone on record many times saying that you can't learn much from spring training statistics. It's entirely possible the scouts rave about a transformed Vitters in the way they did with Jeff Samardzija, but two transformations would break baseball.

It will be interesting to see what the Cubs do this offseason at 3rd base. I had been assuming that Ian Stewart had played his final game as a Cub, but I'm not so sure now.