Not such a hot time for the Cubs these days, is it? They're 23-31 and heading out on the road trip from hell, to St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia. We've got some bad medical news from the minor leagues and a link to a story on the Cubs being out of compliance with Major League Baseball's debt-service rules.
First, a shout-out to all the readers here. We're putting up big numbers on the blog. Chicago's most popular sports team may be a troubled one right now, but there's never any lack of interest or hunger for news about the Cubs. And interest seems to tick up whenever the team is going bad. I appreciate the input here and the thoughtful posts.
On the last swing away from Wrigley, I wrote about the possibility of a winless trip then. With Big Z in good form and Garza coming back next week, you figure the Cubs get a couple on this trip.
The L.A. Times wrote a story today about the Cubs being one of nine teams out of compliance with MLB's debt-service rules:
The paper writes: "The rules, intended to ensure clubs have the resources to support their financial obligations, generally limit a team's debt to 10 times its annual earnings, although (Commissioner Bud) Selig has wide latitude to enforce those rules."
It appears the Cubs' woes are related more to the debt the Ricketts family took out to buy the team rather than player-payroll issues. In any event, it just hasn't been a good-news week for this franchise at all.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
We've written a lot about pitcher Rob Whitenack on this blog. The 22-year-old right-hander out of SUNY Old Westbury will undergo Tommy John surgery next Tuesday. He had been experiencing some elbow discomfort. The Cubs brought him to Chicago for an MRI and got the bad news last night.
At Class A Daytona this year Whitenack was 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA. He got moved up to Class AA Tennessee, where he went 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA. In a combined 60.2 innings, Whitenack gave up 43 hits while walking 14 and striking out 47. The Cubs took him in the eighth round of the 2009 draft.
People tell me he had a real shot of a possible September call-up.
"It's a crushing blow and unexpected," farm boss Oneri Fleita told me this morning. "I told him the advantage he has is that he was a step away from Triple-A. He knows how close he is, and that's going to make him work harder to come back. He'll be fine. He knows what he's working for."
Whitenack's teammate, pitcher Trey McNutt, came out of last night's 3-2 win over Huntsville after only 2 innings. The Cubs were still trying to gather all the info, but apparently McNutt was involved in a collision while fielding. He tried to stay in the game but eventually had to come out.
UPDATE: Carrie Muskat from cubs.com has updated info. She writes: "(McNutt) had to leave the game because of soreness in his ribs. McNutt apparently bruised his rib cage in a collision five days ago and tried to pitch through the injury. He will miss his next start, and there is no timetable for his return."
Class AAA Iowa fell 15-11 to Nashville. Welington Castillo, Bobby Scales and Bryan LaHair all homered.
Daytona fell 10-1 to Charlotte. Five Cubs were named Florida State League midseason all-stars: RHP Frank Batista, INF Justin Bour, OF Evan Crawford, RHP Aaron Kurcz and INF Junior Lake.
Class A Peoria picked up 20 hits in an 11-5 win over Lansing. Matt Szczur went 4-for-6 with this third homer and his team-leading 14th stolen base. He's hitting .340. Dallas Beeler got a no-decision, working 5.1 innings and giving up 5 hits and 2 runs, 1 earned. He walked one and struck out six.