Powell at the Park: La Stella returns and for good reason

Tommy La Stella #2 of the Chicago Cubs hits a single during the first inning against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field on July 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Tommy La Stella #2 of the Chicago Cubs hits a single during the first inning against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field on July 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

By Kevin Powell

The only question that needs to be asked when discussing the Tommy La Stella saga is, “Can he help the Cubs win baseball games?”  Yes, yes he can. That’s why he’s playing in the majors right now and not in Iowa.

It was easy to bash La Stella, and draw quick conclusions when he protested his demotion. He was criticized. I was one of many doing so. And I still think it was an incredibly poor decision for the infielder to go sit at home for three weeks instead of following his bosses’ orders. Even Cubs President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said his knee-jerk reaction was to release or suspend La Stella. What we’ve continued to hear over and over is that this is a complicated matter. I get it. I respect Epstein for digging deeper into the matter and trying to understand the situation.  But there is no chance La Stella is back with the Cubs if they don’t think he can help them win games.

If La Stella was hitting .205 instead of .295 at the time of his demotion/protest, my guess is Epstein pulls the trigger on that knee-jerk reaction and gets rid of him. But manager Joe Maddon can utilize La Stella’s flexibility in this final month to give his starters rest.

In all professional sports, teams can continue to preach about character, player makeup etc., but the only thing that really matters is how the athlete performs in competition. Is Tommy La Stella going to push the Cubs over the top to a World Series win? Probably not. But he can play a vital role in giving starters rest for the October push. And that’s all that matters.