Brach Dealt With Mono, Kintzler Just Wants to Chuck, BULLPEN, and Other Bullets

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Brach Dealt With Mono, Kintzler Just Wants to Chuck, BULLPEN, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The kiddos – ALL. THREE. OF. THEM. – have dentist appointments today. Pray for mojo.

  • I don’t like to speculate about the precise nature of player injuries/illnesses, both because I’m not a doctor and also because it can understandably be a sensitive subject. If we have information that’s out there publicly, then, yes, we can start discussing the ramifications. But until there are particulars, I just don’t like to go down that road. To that end, when Brad Brach revealed that his deal with the Cubs was (significantly) reworked after a bout of sickness, there was only once sickness that came (privately) to mind: mono. Its severity varies from person to person, but for some, it can be a seriously debilitating affliction, sapping strength and energy for a month, and for a professional athlete, it can throw everything off for a good long while. Again, though, I wasn’t going to speculate mono in the absence of Brach saying that’s what it was – and now, he has in fact confirmed that it was mono.
  • In an article at, Brach describes a bit more on how things went down, how he was initially “pissed” that the blood test from his physical detected the mono and the Cubs were thus interested in renegotiating the deal. He appreciated that Theo Epstein reached out to him personally as soon as the new deal was done to apologize for the way the relationship started, but he’s over it and ready to go now with the Cubs. As for the sickness, he lost 10 pounds, but has been on a normal throwing program this spring, and hopefully will be unaffected.
  • If you missed the particulars on how his contract was re-worked, see here.
  • Ultimately … this ain’t great. We now know that Brach, who turns 33 in April, may be physically impacted this season – even if only slightly – and that was precisely the risk the Cubs sought to protect against by re-working his deal. Good, fine, great, they have protection, but Brach was supposed to be the Cubs’ most significant bullpen addition this offseason. It’s a bullpen full of depth and POTENTIAL upside, but also replete with questions and aging and injuries and heavy usage. Oh, also, one of the other attractive bullpen additions this offseason is Xavier Cedeño, who is behind with a wrist issue.
  • Speaking of the bullpen … Brandon Kintzler struggled horribly after his midseason trade to the Cubs last year, and he offered some insight into why that may have been, and how adjusting to a new team can be a really idiosyncratic process – good for some, a challenge for others (NBCS Chicago): “When you come to a new team and you’re just trying to fit in and see what they do, you kinda get away from everything and try to do what they think you should do or what a scouting report says. I’ve never actually been a huge scouting report guy. I’ve always just been a ‘let’s see what happens’ kinda guy.”
  • The Cubs, obviously, are huge on scouting reports for their pitchers, and developing a pretty detailed plan of attack. When a guy arrives at midseason, of course they’re going to try to work him into that system, because hey, their pitching infrastructure makes guys better! But what if, for a particular player who has otherwise had a lot of success, that approach just isn’t going to work – at least if not if you approach it as aggressively as you normally do? You simply won’t have enough time to really figure out the contours of a guy’s mind and how he works best in your system before the season ends. It’s one of the latent risks in making a midseason acquisition, but it’s also a reason for optimism when it comes to a guy like Kintzler, who had been good for a long time before coming to the Cubs. They know him better now. He knows them better now. Each side can kinda let the other do their thing a bit more, and get to a better mental place where Kintzler can just do what he does: not walk anyone and get a buttload of groundballs.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • By the way, don’t tell Joe Maddon you have concerns about the bullpen:

  • Like I keep saying: I do like the volume the Cubs have available, and I *can* see a good bullpen here. It’s just that you like to see competitive teams do more to ensure they cover up significant potential weaknesses in the offseason.
  • Of course, bullpens being what they are, we’re bound to see a crew totally anchored by Dillon Maples, James Norwood, Dakota Mekkes, and Allen Webster come July, because baseball. (Based on pure stuff, you are permitted to LOL about how good that bullpen could be if those four guys were absolutely peaking.)
  • A stray, thinking-out-loud note about the rotations in the NL Central:

  • The Professor has jokes:

  • This sounds like you accidentally stood too close to a giant firecracker:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.