If Opening Day is like Christmas for baseball fans, then the start of spring training is akin to Black Friday. It starts with a bang, and you might spend more money on it than you were hoping — and there might be a few unwanted injuries to be had — but a day or two later, you are left with little more than anticipation for the festivities to come.
We’re not sure where Truck Day fits into this comparison, but the Detroit Tigers packed their bags and began their trek down to Lakeland for spring training on Monday.
Next stop: LAKELAND pic.twitter.com/zG1ByPlgjs— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) February 3, 2020
Teams aren’t the only ones heading to spring training
Writers and media members also have to find their respective ways to Florida or Arizona for spring training, often to very little fanfare. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, who covers the Yankees, chronicled his trip from New York to Tampa on Instagram. I don’t know how to embed the whole thing here — we need a 14-year-old to tell me if that’s possible — but there are small children, bad puns, and... whatever this is to be found at the above link. Trust me, it’s well worth your time.
Looking at depth
Evan Woodbery of MLive is breaking down the depth at each position of the major league club. We have three positions to consider below.
The Tigers resorted to free agency in an attempt to fill the second base slot for the second year in a row this offseason, and as Woodbery writes in his analysis of the organization depth at the position, they are hoping for a better result with Jonathon Schoop this time around, but the long term solution at second is still a question. There are familiar names in Dawel Lugo and Willi Castro. Woodbery tosses in Isaac Parades as well, although he seems pretty deeply entrenched at third. At the double-A level there’s Kody Clemens, and after that a cornucopia of infield talent that could rise up. As it is for now, Woodbery tentatively pencils in Castro and Clemens to fill in in 2021 and 2022.
In the next installment of his positional depth evaluations, Woodbery took some time to ponder on the state of first base for Detroit, and he came to the conclusion that 2020 may be the year we see the future of that position come into shape. C.J. Cron was signed in the offseason to cover the bulk of the games at the position, with Miguel Cabrera still looking to put in some time. Jeimer Candelario is also an option, but he needs to show enough skill with the bat. A move to first for Candy would open up third for Isaac Paredes which would be ideal for everybody. Beyond that is organizational depth. The answer here may be found in the draft if the Tigers go with Spencer Torkelson.
In looking at third base, we’re talking Candelario and Dawel Lugo. Neither of the two candidates really lit it up in 2019, and patience is running thin. If neither of these two can show they’re up to the task, Paredes is waiting. Paredes could play in a variety of spots and having one of the other options work here would be great. Candelario is coming off a strong winter baseball performance so maybe something happens for him. In the longer term the team drafted Nick Quintana and Andre Lipcius in 2019, so we may hear from one of those two in the not too distant future.
Joe Jimenez is ready for spring training
TIME FOR WAR! It's our turn now.⚾️ @adidasBaseball @tigers pic.twitter.com/by725wjQKn— Joe Jiménez (@JAJimenez27) February 3, 2020
Around the horn
Matthew Boyd is the 23rd-best (or eighth worst) Opening Day starter, according to MLB.com. Reader BigMaxN wrote an awesome FanPost that you can find on our front page. Contending teams have holes too; hopefully that means there are trades to be found. Are WAR and other context-free metrics telling the whole story? Here are all 30 Opening Day closers, something you will need to know for your fantasy draft and... yeah, that’s about it.