Ian Stewart, Dave Sappelt, and the Education of the Chicago Cubs


May 20, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of a British Airways 777 jet as it flies over the main scoreboard during the first inning between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

By now you’ve probably grown tired of the whole Ian Stewart Twitter drama, as has most of the general population. Good news: This post isn’t about that! For the sake of not leaving anyone out, though, I will summarize what two Cubs minor leaguers have been doing on the Internet.

It all began almost a year ago when Iowa Cubs OF Dave Sappelt started complaining about not being called up to the major league club after the Reed Johnson trade. Sappelt, an undersized right-handed hitter who hits LHP well, fit the description of Johnson’s job – a fourth outfielder who can pinch hit – but that wasn’t the case. The front office decided to leave Sappelt in Iowa and he was infuriated. The man took to Twitter (@SappySappelt6) to subliminally let out his frustrations, often offending Des Moines, IA residents. The same happened when he was demoted this season, with his final comment being “back to the trenches”.

And then there was Stewart. What can be said about the struggling 3B that hasn’t already been repeated a thousand times? Fact of the matter is that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you – and much less on the Internet.

But once again, this post isn’t about that. I’m here to tell you that the new (well, semi-new now) regime of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod are doing the best they can to avoid this stuff from happening with their players by teaching them the Cubs Way.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “The Cubs Way? What, how to blow leads and leave runners in scoring position?” No. The Cubs Way is a complex idea that was brought into the organization when Thoyer (Isn’t that a cool combination?) took over. The sixth tool – makeup – is highly valued by this organization. Players with good makeup, like 2012 first round draft pick OF Albert Almora, are more likely to keep it together when struggling. There is no room to be unprofessional in professional baseball. Period.

But the Cubs weren’t satisfied by simply being told by scouts that Almora was an exemplary kid. They sent him, and the majority of new additions to the system (Including OF Jorge Soler), to their complex in Arizona for a few weeks after signing to teach them to be professionals and represent the organization well.

I expect the same to be done this year’s number 2 overall pick 3B Kris Bryant. I have a strong feeling that Bryant will probably play some games for the Mesa Cubs (Even though he is way more advanced) simply to learn about the organization and how to handle things such as the press and mass coverage.

And if you didn’t know, Bryant is no slouch in the makeup department himself. The tall righty was named Baseball America’s college player of the year for the 2013 season – and it wasn’t only for his historic 31-homerun season. “Bryant’s total package—not just his top-of-the-charts power—makes him the kind of player that San Diego coach Rich Hill said “comes along once in a coach’s career.”” I highly suggest you read the rest of that article. It made me fall even deeper in love with Bryant.

So if you’re worried about future displays of unprofessionalism, don’t; It is a wonderful strategy that will only help avoid Stewart-esque meltdowns in the future and help the Cubs put the best product – both physically and mentally – on the field.