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?

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.