Philadelphia Phillies v Milwaukee Brewers

The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but both the Yankees and Red Sox lose. New York stays ahead of Boston by two and a half.

The skinny: It’s gonna be funny when the prognosticators look at the stumbling finish each of these teams seems to be embarking upon and uses it to predict playoff doom for them. When, in fact, there is little if any correlation between how a team finishes and how it does in the playoffs. Remember the 2000 Yankees?

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers were idle and Chicago beat Cleveland. It’s an eight and a half game lead over Chicago, ten over Cleveland.

The skinny: The party’s over.

AL WEST

The spread: Both Texas and Anaheim had the night off. Texas’ lead is two and a half.

The skinny: The Rangers open a series against the A’s. Anaheim hosts the Yankees.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies win one and the Braves win two. A ten game lead for Philly, a seven and a half game lead for the Braves in the wild card.

The skinny: The Braves play a series against the Cardinals this weekend. If the Cards sweep I presume there’s a race for the wild card. Anything less and I’m having a hard time seeing it.

NL CENTRAL

The spread: The Brewers lose to Philly, Cards idle. Milwaukee has an eight game lead.

The skinny: I’m informed by Brewers fans that, because they have a lead in the division, Albert Pujols sucks and Nyjer Morgan is just some precocious scamp. At least that’s what I think they’re telling me. Success has a strange effect on a certain brand of fan.

NL WEST

The spread: Diamondbacks win, Giants idle, and the snakes have a seven and a half game lead.

The skinny: The Dodgers are four back of the Giants in the loss column. How sad would it be if San Francisco finishes in third place?

We’ll see a leaner Yasiel Puig in 2017. Just like we did in 2016.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers tips his hat to Vin Scully as he announces his final home game for the Dodgers during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Yasiel Puig made a public appearance today. He was a guest barista at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Los Angeles as part of a charity . . . thing. I dunno. I just hope that, after finishing the foam on someone’s latte he airmailed it past his fellow barista at the counter and got it to the customer on the fly 300 feet away, after which he flipped the espresso machine. Gotta stay on-brand.

After that he talked about baseball. Puig, who was demoted last season and then brought back up in a part-time role, said that it’s his goal to be a starter again, if not in Los Angeles than someplace else. As for the someplace else, the Dodgers explored a Puig trade last season and it was thought they’d try again this offseason, but it’s been all quiet on that front.

What is Puig, for his part, doing to become a starter again? Getting in shape. From MLB.com:

Puig has been working out at Dodger Stadium the last two weeks. He is conditioning his leaner body to avoid injuries that have plagued him and working with batting coaches in search of regaining the impact bat that once had him on the verge of superstardom . . . The 6-foot-2 Puig, who last year was listed at 240 pounds, now has a personal chef to prepare healthier foods.

A leaner Puig. That’ll certainly be a game-changer, right?

Yet as a new season dawns, the team still hopes he can recapture the form he displayed as a rookie in 2013. The organization asked Puig to slim down and focus on durability rather than musculature. Friedman sounded pleased with the result. Puig had suggested he weighed about 240 pounds, down 15 from his listed weight in 2015.

Oops. That was from January 30, 2016.

If he keeps getting leaner each offseason eventually he’ll just disappear, right?

Corey Dickerson has lost 25 pounds

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Corey Dickerson #10 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo during the Rays' photo day on February 25, 2016 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.

Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.