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indians logoThis is an unexpected, frustrating, and disconcerting turn.

The Cleveland Indians today claimed pitching prospect Robert Whitenack off of waivers from the Cubs. Whitenack, who is slowly coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2011, was recently DFA’d and waived to make room on the 40-man roster for Alberto Gonzalez, in the wake of Darwin Barney’s knee cut.

Digest that for a moment. Because Darwin Barney cut his knee in an exhibition game in Houston, and because the Cubs simply couldn’t go without journeyman Alberto Gonzalez (career OPS+: 61), they now lose a struggling, but promising, pitching prospect.

There were reasons to believe that Whitenack was in for a long recovery, of the kind that could smother his career before it really gets underway. He’s already almost two years removed from surgery, and his velocity this Spring was reportedly still in the mid-80s – a serious problem for him. The fact that the Cubs were even willing to DFA him just a few months after adding him to the 40-man roster is telling.

What happens now? Well, my understanding of baseball’s tortured roster rules is that when a player is waived following a designation for assignment, his waiver is irrevocable. That means, if he’s claimed by another team – as Whitenack has been – he’s gone. The Indians clearly thought Whitenack was worth a 40-man roster stash (though they can now waive him, try to sneak him through, and if no other team wants to put him on their 40-man roster, the Indians can then send him to the minors scot free).

Whatever the future for Whitenack and however unlikely his prognosis is for success, this really sucks.* Losing pitching prospects because of a knee boo-boo suffered in a fake game is maddening. Couple it with the fact that the Cubs could have called up, for example, Logan Watkins – who is already on the 40-man and, thus, already using an option year – rather than adding Gonzalez, and it’s beyond maddening.

*(Unless the front office simply thinks Whitenack is done, and was willing to cast him aside regardless of any roster machinations. That is, concededly, a possibility.)

  • Norm

    Meh.

  • Die hard

    Tell it like it is…. A clusterf$@k

  • Mike

    Yeah, I don’t really get this move, either. The Cubs protected Whitenack over the winter, just to let him go for Gonzalez. I was all for them bringing up Watkins for however long Barney is out. To me, that’s part of having players on the 40-man is for (besides Rule V draft, etc)….no removal/adding players to 40-man roster if an injury comes up. Now, instead of using an existing 40-man player, they just had to let go of a prospect (even if he doesn’t pan out) for a the use of a journeyman infielder for a couple weeks. Heck, I would have been fine with Josh Vitters (if he’s healthy) being a utility infielder for a couple weeks, if Watkins was out of the question. He’s on the 40-man too, for some reason, right?

  • gutshot5820

    This is ridiculous. Are the Cubs so bad, that we now have to focus on an injured 80MPH pitcher who obviously lost it and will most likely never be heard from again? Big deal. Let’s focus on the big club, with actual meaningful players. The Cubs are on a winning streak and in first place.

  • Vulcan

    I’ll get over it……..Done.

  • Curt

    thanks a lot bud selig, isn’t if time for ur old behind to retire .

  • DCF

    I doubt they would have put Whitenack on the wire if they had cared whether he gets claimed or not.
    However I fail to see why thethey wouldn’t. Going into 2013, he was he was ranked 15th by mlb.com and 23th by BA. That’s nothing to write home about, but also nothing to give up for free either.

  • Chris

    I understand the frustration of losing a pitching prospect who was once regarded highly prior to a Tommy John surgery, but I really think the pitchforks should be stashed. I know some guys can come back mightily successful from TJ surgery, but so far, he’s not one of those guys. From 2012 on, he certainly would not be considered one of our top 25 prospects, and, frankly, I wouldn’t even put him in my top 50.

    Although I agree calling up Logan Watkins would’ve made more sense than purchasing Alberto Gonzalez’s contract (or even putting either or both of Ryan Flaherty and Marwin Gonzalez on the 40-man a year back), at the end of the day, we really don’t need to overly concern ourselves with a low-mid tier pitching prospect.

  • X The Cubs Fan

    Couldn’t they wait until they waive him and release Gonzalez and move Watkins up for good to be the second utility man.

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