As snowfall lands on Minnesota in the inchwise double-digits, the Minnesota Twins are in full spring swing in Ft. Myers, Florida, with spring training suddenly underway after what felt (to me) like a brisker offseason than usual.
Of course, we’re not quite there yet — we still have a month to go before the real games get going — but the Twins will play a split-squad set tomorrow (!) against the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays. Before long, we can all stop deep-diving through our historical OOTP sim of choice (the 2008 Twins probably don’t need a Game 163 if Barry Bonds is their designated hitter, you know what I’m saying?) and instead start deep-diving into full-season stats extrapolated from a two-game sample size.
While we wait, there’s plenty to catch up on around the division, as Minnesota’s rivals have begun breaking camp and hitting the bricks, too. As we get ever closer to the 2023 regular season, there’s still plenty of time for...
RIVAL ROUNDUP, BABY
- It’s not the biggest story in camp so far, but it’s definitely my favorite. Embark on this wild journey with Terry Francona, and experience the plight of one man attempting to prepare some opening comments:
Terry Francona gave his annual team speech. He was so nervous he was drenched in sweat. He declined dinner w/ coaches last night so he could make edits. He made pasta, but it didn't fully cook and broke his tooth. He arrived at camp at 3:30am & spilled coffee all over the speech.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) February 21, 2023
- Anyway, the biggest story in the division is probably Elvis Andrus’ return to the White Sox.
Infielder Elvis Andrus and the Chicago White Sox are in agreement on a one-year deal, pending physical, sources tell ESPN. Andrus, who filled in at shortstop when Tim Anderson was injured last year, is expected to play second base for the White Sox.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 19, 2023
- I was among a coalition of Twins fans who thought that Andrus might be a good fit for the Minnesota roster — but, of course, this was back in Carlos Correa’s west coast days. Now, the 34-year-old Andrus is a better fit on the Chicago roster, on which he appeared in 43 games last season and marked up a 116 OPS+ while still playing decent defense for a mid-30s shortstop.
- The Tigers are attempting to rebuild the culture, as their organizational rebuild continues to stall and they find themselves with more than a few rostered players who have been told “this is the year it all turns around” for a couple of seasons. Neither the A.J. Hinch acquisition, nor the Javier Baez signing, nor the debut of their heralded top prospects, has led Detroit to any real improvement since their last playoff appearance nearly ten years ago.
- Additionally, they added some good eatin’ docs.
Being told that in continuing efforts to improve the minor league environment, the #Tigers will have a minor league nutrition coordinator for the first time this year.— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) February 17, 2023
In addition, they will also have a nutritionist and two athletic trainers at each affiliate level, per source.
- The Tigers also did Miguel Cabrera a solid, by taking on the insurance risk that otherwise would have prevented Cabrera from participating in the World Baseball Classic — an impediment that rendered Clayton Kershaw ineligible with the Dodgers.
- “Best shape of his life” season continues in unceasing fashion.
Eloy Jimenez says he’s 25-30 pounds lighter. “I’m quicker, faster. I feel great,” he said. pic.twitter.com/58SlIw62kz— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) February 22, 2023
- Meanwhile, the vaunted Guardian pitching pipeline takes a hit.
Guardians morning briefing:— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) February 20, 2023
*Top pitching prospect Daniel Espino is being shut down for at least eight weeks with a strain/year in his shoulder
*2022 first-round pick Chase Delauter will miss 4-5 months with a fracture in his foot (same injury he had last year)
- Finally, while they aren’t the only team in the division to switch managers this offseason, the folks over at Royals Review are covering Kansas City’s major personnel shakeup that began a new era for the Royal franchise this winter, including the managerial change to Matt Quatraro, the new bench + pitching coaches, and the new head of baseball operations.
Things are starting to kick into gear, and there are only a few more rivals left to be rounded up before the regular season is officially underway. See you next week!