It hasn’t been announced officially by the team yet as a set of spring “cuts,” but the team transaction wire shows that the Chicago Cubs have optioned lefty Brad Wieck to Triple-A Iowa.
Assuming that isn’t a technical glitch, it would mean that Wieck – who was delayed in his ramp-up – would head to the alternate site to open the season. It would also mean that if the Cubs elect to carry two lefties in the bullpen to open the season, Rex Brothers would win the job behind Andrew Chafin.
Brothers has gotten a lot of love recently, including from David Ross. I am of the mind that if he’s in a good place physically and mechanically – throwing strikes! – he’s one of the best eight or nine relievers available to the Cubs. I know not everyone agrees with me on that, but I just like what I see from him so much right now. Brothers, 33, has had tremendous big league success before (albeit eight years ago (I know, I know)), and he has had success at Triple-A whenever he’s actually been throwing enough strikes. The Cubs have indicated he’s in a good place mechanically – and started to get there at the alt site last year – and I do buy their ability to reshape these kinds of pitchers. Brothers also has a minor league option left, so if he’s put on the 40-man, he can then thereafter be optioned if the Cubs want to swap him out.
If Brothers does make the team, it’ll be another 40-man spot the Cubs have to open up. As things stand, they’ll already have to open one for back-up catcher P.J. Higgins, as well as likely bench guy Eric Sogard. If Pedro Strop were to make the bullpen, there’s another. If Cameron Maybin were to make the bench, there’s another.
The Cubs don’t *have* to carry two lefties in the bullpen, obviously, but I would prefer it, all else equal, especially when you have a completely right-handed rotation.