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ning at home. The Blazers swept the Jazz for the first

  • 导出博客文章Baseball season is just around the corner and TSN. Keke Coutee Texans Jersey .ca has you covered for whos in, whos out and what to expect from all 30 teams. Check in every day this week for two new division previews, finishing up with Scott MacArthurs look at the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. Heres what to expect out of the American League West in 2014. Houston Astros GM: Jeff Luhnow Manager: Bo Porter 2013: 54-111, fifth in AL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: The Astros American League debut last season wasnt exactly a sterling one. Coming over from the National League Central to the AL West, the Astros dropped a league-worst 111 games last season, the most by any team in 10 years and a franchise record, and hit the 100-loss mark for the the third-straight season. They closed the year on a 15-game losing streak. Welcome to the American League. Though the teams season was abysmal, catcher Jason Castros was not. The third-year catcher set team records for the position in home runs (18), runs (63) and slugging percentage (.485). In recognition of his season, Castro was named the teams lone All-Star. Jose Altuve continued to emerge as one of the leagues finest young middle infielders and the team was able to lock him up to a modest, $12.5 million, four-year extension last summer that included two team options. The 23-year-old Venezuelan led the Majors with 41 hits in September and finished the season with career-highs in hits and RBI. To be charitable, the Astros entire pitching staff was battered last season. The teams ace, Bud Norris, and its closer, Jose Veras, were both trade at the trade deadline in July (Norris to the Baltimore Orioles and Veras to the Detroit Tigers) and the rest of the Astros arms struggled mightily. The Houston staff and bullpen finished with a league-worst 4.79 ERA and gave up 766 earned runs, 33 more than the second-worst Milwaukee Brewers. Third-year starter Jordan Lyles, now with the Colorado Rockies after a December trade, led the rotation with a modest seven victories. This is Now: Its pretty telling of a teams offseason when the biggest news will likely have little to no impact at all on the club on the field. After bringing aboard Reid Ryan a year ago as team president, the team brought back his father, Hall of Famer Nolan, as a special assistant to owner Jim Crane in February. Obviously, Astros fans will be thrilled to have the legendary Ryan back in the fold, especially at the expense of their cross-state rival Texas Rangers, but nostalgia will only take you so far and not nearly as far the Astros need it to in 2014. Despite the acquisitions of veteran help in Dexter Fowler, Chad Qualls and Canadian Jesse Crain and a new staff ace in Scott Feldman (the teams highest-paid player at $10 million), this season has the potential to look a lot like last season. Thats not to say that there isnt young talent to be excited about for the Astros in the likes of George Springer, Delino DeShields, Jr. and Mark Appel, all of whom will likely see some Majors experience this year, but their time has not come yet or, at least, it shouldnt be expected to come yet. While the team has made strides to correct its bullpen woes, outside of Fowler, little has been done to address 2013s .673 OPS (again, a league-worst), another 100-loss season shouldnt come as a surprise. One early storyline to follow: If the Astros start the season with six-straight losses (they open with a six-game homestand with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels), they will have lost 21-consecutive games that will tie the 1988 Baltimore Orioles record for the longest streak since the turn of the 20th Century. Fun times. Whos In?: OF Dexter Fowler (trade with COL), SP Scott Feldman (three-year deal), RP Jesse Crain (one-year deal), RP Chad Qualls (two-year deal + option), RP Matt Albers (one-year deal + option), OF Jesus Guzman (trade with SD) and SP Jerome Williams (one-year contract). Whos Out?: SP Erik Bedard (signed with TB), OF Brandon Barnes, SP Jordan Lyles (traded to COL) and 1B Brent Wallace (designated for assignment; later signed with BAL). Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim GM: Jerry Dipoto Manager: Mike Scoscia 2013: 78-84, third in AL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: Halos owner Arte Moreno has never been shy about spending money and made the biggest free agent splash last offseason in scooping up slugger Josh Hamilton from the rival Texas Rangers. But like the Albert Pujols signing the previous winter, Hamilton failed to pay the immediate dividends expected, hitting just .250 with only 21 homers and 79 RBI. Those are fine numbers for an average-to-above average outfielder, but not ones expected from a perennial All-Star and former MVP in the handsomely paid Hamilton. He wasnt the only disappointment for a team expected to contend for the division title and even more. Injuries forced the Angels to trot out 11 different starting pitchers in 2013 and, while Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson were dependable, the rest of that rotation was not. On the bright side, Mike Trout, once again, made his case for being the best all-around player on the planet with 27 home runs, 97 RBI, a .326 average and an OPS of .988. This is Now: The good news? The chances of Pujols and Hamilton bouncing back this year are exponentially greater than the pair having another off-year. Make no mistake, though, both sluggers are aging (34 and 32, respectively) and the team knows that its window with those two is closing. The team sacrificed some power and speed in the outfield to address concerns in the infield and on the mound. In dealing Peter Bourjos, arguably the fastest player in the American League, to the St. Louis Cardinals, the team acquired the dependable bat and infield arm of David Freese, who slots into third base. The team also traded Mark Trumbo and his 34 homers and 100 RBI as part of a three-team deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox that netted young arms Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. Skaggs has more upside of the pair, but both pitchers will be looked upon to shore up the back end of the rotation (along with Garrett Richards) that sorely needs the help. The team will also find out if outfielder Kole Calhoun is ready for prime time. Calhoun, who has looked good in a small sample size, will lead off for the club and is expected to be the everyday right fielder. Whether hes up to the task remains to be seen. Another thing: The team needs to be much better playing within the division. They were 32-44 against divisional opposition last season, including an abysmal 4-15 against the Rangers. A year after unquestionable failure, tempered hopes for 2014 belie the fact that much is still expected from this team. Whos In?: IF David Freese (trade with STL), DH Raul Ibanez (one-year deal), SP Tyler Skaggs (acquired from ARI), SP Hector Santiago (acquired from CWS) and RP Joe Smith (three-year deal) Whos Out?: OF Mark Trumbo (traded to ARI), OF Peter Bourjos (traded to STL), SP Jason Vargas (signed with KC) and SP Jerome Williams (signed with HOU) Oakland Athletics GM: Billy Beane Manager: Bob Melvin 2013: 96-66, first in AL West. Lost to Detroit in American League Divisional Series. That was Then: You would think that the Oakland As would get sick of defying the odds, but no, they went out again last season and won the AL West over the highly favoured Angels and Rangers for a second-straight year. The offence was led by Josh Donaldson, who finished fourth in AL MVP voting after an outstanding campaign that saw him hit 24 home runs and knock in 97 RBI while hitting .301 with an .883 OPS and an 8.0 WAR. Thats not to say that the team relied on Donaldson solely. The team produced the third-most runs in the AL through a balanced attack that featured major contributions from Josh Reddick, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes. On the mound, ace Jarrod Parker continued to eat innings (12-8, 3.97 ERA and 1.223 WHIP in 197.0 IP), while the seemingly ageless Bartolo Colon won 18 games and was named to the All-Star team eight years after his last appearance. A.J Griffin, Tommy Milone and Dan Straily rounded out what ended up being one of the best young staffs in all of baseball. A bullpen anchored by closer Grant Balfour was arguably the best in the AL. This is Now: Injuries have ravaged the rotation and the As will have to overcome those if they have any designs on a threepeat. Parker is lost for the season, thanks to a second Tommy John surgery. Griffin has been shut down for most of spring training with elbow discomfort. New signing Scott Kazmir will be ready for Opening Day, but he, too, has been afflicted with triceps issues. With Colon moving on in free agency, the team hopes that Sonny Gray, impressive in his 10 Major League appearances, can slip seamlessly into the rotation and help shoulder the load. Milone and Straily will make up the back-end of the rotation with the likes of Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz able to spot-start if need be. Even with Balfour gone to the Rays, the bullpen remains a strength and is now anchored by All-Star Jim Johnson, the ALs reigning saves leader over the past two seasons. Luke Gregerson and Fernando Abad, the other new pen additions, will also be joined by Eric OFlaherty in the summer, once his rehab for Tommy John is completed. If the As offence, mostly unchanged from last season, plays to what its capable of and its staff depth can absorb the teams pitching injuries, Oakland will be competing for another division title and another trip to the post-season in 2014. Whos In?: RP Jim Johnson (trade with BAL), SP Scott Kazmir (two-year deal), OF Craig Gentry (trade with TEX), RP Luke Gregerson (acquired from SD), RP Fernando Abad (acquired from ARI) and Nick Punto (one-year deal with club option). Whos Out?: SP Bartolo Colon (signed with SF), RP Grant Balfour (signed with TB) and OF Seth Smith. Seattle Mariners GM: Jack Zduriencik Manager: Lloyd McClendon 2013: 71-91, fourth in AL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: The Mariners werent very good last year, finishing below .500 for the fourth straight-time and missing the playoffs for a 12th-consecutive season. Much was riding on the youth in Seattle last year and, while their were flashes of greatness, there was nothing consistent enough to make anybody think twice about the Mariners as anything but also-rans. Former first-round pick Justin Smoak again failed to live up to potential with a dreadful year at the plate, hitting .209 in the second-half of the season. Dustin Ackley struggled with consistency, while the less said about Jesus Monteros season, the better. Still, there were signs of life from youngsters with Kyle Seager, Canadian Michael Saunders and Nick Franklin all showing why the team values the trio so highly. Veteran acquisitions were a mixed bag. Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales contributed offensively with the seemingly 150-year-old former leading the team with 29 RBI and the latter knocking in 80 runs. On the flip side, Mike Morse disappointed and was jettisoned to the Baltimore Orioles at the deadline and Jason Bay simply had nothing left in the tank. The team got 200-plus innings from Hishashi Iwakuma and superstar Felix Hernandez, but pitching on the whole, was suspect. The Mariners had the fifth-worst team ERA at 4.25, the fifth-most hits allowed (1467) and the fourth-most earned runs conceded (702). This is Now: The Mariners spent that Nintendo money in the offseason...a whole lot of it. The team signed the most coveted player available in Robinson Cano to a massive 10-year, $240 million deal, but that wasnt all. Closer Fernando Rodney was brought in to anchor the bullpen and former All-Star Corey Hart, who missed all of last season, was signed to a one-year deal. Hes slotted in to play right field. The question remains, even with Cano and the other additions, is this Mariners team any better equipped to compete in what should be a good AL West? New manager Lloyd McClendon has spent the last several seasons as Jim Leylands right-hand man in Detroit, so theres hope that hes learned some of the codgers tricks after what was a pretty inauspicious managerial bow with the Pittsburgh Pirates. If the teams youth can step up (including highly rated starter Taijuan Walker, who starts the season on the DL and speedy shortstop Brad Miller) with a previously absent level of consistency, Hart can return to form and the likes of Smoak and newly acquired Logan Morrison tap into their potential, the Mariners will be in the mix, but it will be tough. Whos In?: 2B Robinson Cano (10-year deal), OF Corey Hart (one-year deal), OF Logan Morrison (trade with MIA), C John Buck (one-year contract) and IF Willie Bloomquist (two-year deal). Whos Out?: OF Jason Bay (retired), OF Kendrys Morales (unsigned), Raul Ibanez (signed with LAA), RP Carter Capps (traded to MIA), SP Aaron Harang (signed with ATL), RP Oliver Perez (signed with ARI) and SP Joe Saunders (unsigned) Texas Rangers GM: Jon Daniels Manager: Ron Washington 2013: 91-72, second in AL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: After a horrible collapse in 2012, the Rangers found a new way to end the season on a sour note, losing an AL Wild Card tie-breaker (the 163rd game of the season) to the Tampa Bay Rays to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009. September was once again cruel to the Rangers, as a 5-15 start to the month effectively ended their pursuit of the Athletics division lead and condemned them to the tie-breaker. Why did this happen again? While still respectable and despite the yeomans effort of Adrian Beltre, the offence suffered with the departures of Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli. The team led the league with 808 runs in 2012, but only scored 730 last season. Losing Nelson Cruz to a 50-game PED suspension certainly didnt help those matters any. On the other side of the ball, Yu Darvish was dominant, recording 278 strikeouts, the most by any pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2012. The bullpen, anchored by the 43 saves of Joe Nathan (now departed), was also solidly reliable, but the midseason acquisition of Matt Garza did not work out as planned. This is Now: If the Rangers had questions about making up for lost run production last season, they think theyve answered them by bringing in Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. Though Fielder cost the hefty price of 2B Ian Kinsler, the Rangers hope that Fielder can take advantage of the short fence in right field. Choo, the new lead-off man, will be relied upon to help set the plate for the big first baseman and if the two combine the way that theyre capable of, the Rangers will have found a lethal combination at the top of the order. The team isnt sure with what theyll get offensively from the platoon behind the plate. With A.J. Pierzynski in Boston and Geovany Soto out for up to three months with a torn meniscus in his knee, J.P. Arencibia appears to be the man. Arencibia is coming off of one of the statistically worst seasons ever with the Toronto Blue Jays. With Kinsler gone, stud prospect Jurickson Profar gets an everyday role, but hes going to miss up to three months with a torn muscle in his shoulder. The Rangers wont start the year on the mound unscathed, either. Derek Holland is out until the summer, recovering from knee surgery. Matt Harrison is also not ready to go with a back injury. The teams impressive pitching depth allows for the likes of Matt Tepesch to step into the rotation, but questions remain. Despite the loss of Nathan, the Rangers bullpen remains formidable and, if he can regain his form prior to his injury, Neftali Perez could make for a fine closer. Whos In?: 1B Prince Fielder (trade with Detroit), OF Shin-Soo Choo (seven-year deal), C J.P. Arencibia (one-year deal), OF Michael Choice (acquired from OAK) and IF Donnie Murphy (acquired from CHC). Whos Out?: 2B Ian Kinsler (traded to DET), RP Joe Nathan (signed with DET), OF Nelson Cruz (signed with BAL), SP Matt Garza (signed with MIL), DH Lance Berkman (retired), OF Craig Gentry (traded to OAK), C A.J. Pierzynski (signed with BOS) and OF David Murphy (signed with CLE) Sorry, youll have to wait. Check back in on Friday for Scott MacArthurs exclusive 2014 Blue Jays preview. Martinas Rankin Jersey . He still wanted out. "It just seemed like the direction they were going didnt fit what I thought my career was going to be," Kesler said. "At the end of the day I want to win a championship and I want to win it now, and four years is a little too long for me. Jordan Akins Jersey . After seven wins in a row, they have to do it one more time to get into the playoffs.SALT LAKE CITY -- Portlands Damian Lillard just needed to make one shot to get going. Once he saw that go down, he went on a fourth-quarter scoring flurry. "That first 3 felt real good," Lillard said. "Once that went down, I felt if I got another clean look, Im gonna raise up again. And then it happened a couple more times." Lillard scored 14 of his 16 points in a key run to rally the Portland Trail Blazers past the Jazz 111-99 on Friday night. "On the offensive end, I need to tell my teammates whats coming. As a point guard, youre the head of the team," Lillard said. But even the second-year guard didnt know when his offence would start flowing. When it finally did, the Jazz had no answer. Wesley Matthews had 21 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 14 rebounds -- his 40th double-double -- and Nicolas Batum added 15 points to keep Portland in the race to host a first-round playoff series. Derrick Favors scored 21 points and Enes Kanter had 15 points and 13 rebounds, but the Jazz have lost eight of nine. Early in the fourth quarter, the Jazz led by two and Lillard hadnt converted a single field goal. Over the next 3:24, Lillard made four 3-pointers and a pair of free throws. "We closed out with our hands down," Utah coach Ty Corbin said. "But give them credit, they made plays down the stretch." After that, the Blazers led by double-digits for the first time at 96-85 with 6:28 remaining and soon earned their seventh victory in their past eight games. "He hit those 3s and he just kind of felt it. Those 3s really turned the momentum of the game," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "Damian just took it on himself to make something happen." Marvin Williams was out with a knee bruise and the Jazz started the five players that figure to be the core as they rebuild. The quintet -- Gordon Hayward, Favours, Kanter, Trey Burke and Alec Burks -- are all 23 years or younger and have gained experience during this often-frustrating season for a franchise that once made the playoffs 20 years in a row. Burks has primarily filled the sixth-man roole while veteran Richard Jefferson had been the only Utah player to start (and play) every game this season. Martinas Rankin Texans Jersey. The youthful lineup paid dividends early, but the Jazz struggled in the critical moments against a better team as they have all season. Burks had 16, Burke had 14 points and 11 assists and Hayward added 14, but no one could stop Lillard when he was determined to score in the final period. The Blazers drew within a half game of Houston for the fourth slot in the Western Conference as Minnesota edged the Rockets 112-110 on Friday. "You always want home court. If we can get it, we definitely want it. We saw Houston lost so that helps our chances," Aldridge said. Portland won its final road game of the season and has two remaining at home. The Blazers swept the Jazz for the first time in franchise history. The Blazers defence had improved over the past few months but the Jazz got the shots they wanted, for the most part, until Portland clamped down in the fourth and scored 35 points on the other end. "We just knew we had to take care of business. We got locked in and played better defence. It was just an understanding," Aldridge said. The Blazers went 7 for 8 from beyond the arc in the final period and though they were outrebounded by a 47-41 margin, Portland grabbed four offensive rebounds to get second shots down the stretch. "Were coming together at the right time. Defensively weve been locked in and our offence is starting to come around again. Were looking forward to the playoffs," Stotts said. The Jazz led most of the first half before Matthews scored 10 points in the final 3:09 of the second period to lift the Blazers to a 53-51 advantage at the break. Notes: Rudy Gobert was accidentally backhanded in the face by Burks as they pursued a rebound in the second quarter. ... Lillard, who was already frustrated and had not scored at that point, got whacked in the chin in the fourth quarter by Haywards head. ... Utah is 1-30 against Western Conference opponents this season when scoring fewer than 100 points. ... In his eighth start of the season, Burks played a career-high 42 minutes. Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Camo Wholesale Black NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Store Cheap Authentic Jerseys ' ' '