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March, the Giants actually got off to a pretty decent start
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Newcastles high number of foreign players may weaken their chances in Sundays relegation derby against Sunderland, according to former Magpies goalkeeper Shay Given. Dmitrij Jaskin Jersey . The two sides head into the 153rd Tyne-Wear derby at St James Park, live on Sky Sports 1 HD, knowing a victory could significantly improve their chances of avoiding relegation.Sunderland sit just above the relegation zone on 25 points, ahead of Norwich on goal difference, with Newcastle one point behind in 19th position. Given, who made 354 appearances for Newcastle between 1996 and 2009, knows all about the passion and rivalry that the fixture guarantees, but is worried the clubs foreign players may not be able to deliver the result that new manager Rafa Benitez desperately needs.Speaking on Sky Sports Now, Given said: My only concern is that there are a lot of foreign players at Newcastle now. Emmanuel Riviere battles against Bournemouths Steve Cook during the Magpies 3-1 defeat Sometimes you question whether they know what it means to play in such a big game as this - what it means to the fans, what it means for them going back to work on the Monday morning?Youd like to think Benitez can get that message across. Newcastle forward Aleksandar Mitrovic is one player who has not yet had the hoped-for impact He added: Its a tense occasion. Its huge for the fans, wanting to win this game more than any other game but if you asked any Sunderland fan or Newcastle fan this week would you take a loss at the weekend and stay up, they would probably do that.Its definitely a six-pointer, theyre both in the relegation fight and its going to be so close who stays up.It looks like Aston Villa have gone, and that its between Norwich, Newcastle and Sunderland [for the other relegation places] so it looks as if one of the two big ones from the north-east are going to go down. This game at the weekend is monumental. Rafael Benitez took charge of his first Newcastle game against Leicester Its not just a normal game, its not just another Premier League game, its a very special occasion. You can cut the tension with a knife beforehand.Sunderland have won the last six Tyne-Wear derbies, while Newcastle are enduring a run of failing to score in the past four matches against their local rivals.Eight points adrift of Newcastle is another one of Givens former clubs, Aston Villa, who have managed to record just three league victories all season and the 39-year-old has deep concerns for Remi Gardes side ahead of their trip to Swansea on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 1 HD. Its bleak reading when you see the Premier League table relegation fight at the bottom and theyre so far adrift, Given said.Randy Lerner invested I think £50m in the summer, thats a huge investment. The biggest problem is the players they brought in dont seem to be up to the standard of the Premier League. Theyre sometimes good players in the French leagues or the Dutch leagues but its a big step up to the Premier League and personally I felt they should have signed more Premier League experienced players in the summer - who know the league and know what it takes to stay in the division. Also See: Clark: Biggest derby ever Benitez focused on positives Rafa v Premier League Relegation run-in predictions Ivan Barbashev Jersey . -- One shot came out of bottom of a cactus, the other from the base of a desert bush with rocks scattered around it. Robert Thomas Jersey .During the week, McCoy told reporters he respected Hoyer for his intelligence, athleticism and how he conducts himself on and off the field. This wasnt an act, some attempt at psyching out Hoyer. http://www.officialbluesnhlshop.com/carl-gunnarsson-jersey/ . Millsap will miss Wednesday nights game against the Chicago Bulls. The Hawks say Millsap also will be held out on Thursday at Boston.Baseball season is just around the corner and TSN.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 National League West in 2014. NL WEST Arizona Diamondbacks GM: Kevin Towers Manager: Kirk Gibson 2013: 81-81, third in NL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: Gibbys men were pretty much perfectly average in 2013. Apart from the unforgettable brawl that erupted in mid-June when Ian Kennedy plunked Zack Greinke (which, by the way, featured an incredible number of ex-MLB All-Stars on the coaching staffs - including the entire side of Montgomery Burns softball teams infield) the D-backs were 50/50 nearly the entire season. Never finishing a single month more than three games above or below .500 nor boasting a winning or losing streak of more than five games, the team was consistent from start to finish. The big story for the team was Paul Goldschmidts emergence as one of the games elite offensive weapons. Tops in homers and RBI, winning a Gold Glove and finishing second in MVP balloting, the third-year pro was a mammoth presence in the middle of an otherwise middling offence. They wound up second in the West in large part to the Giants drop-off, but clearly had it in mind to shake things up once the off-season kicked into gear. This is Now: There are a lot of intriguing names among the list of players that flew into or out of Arizona this off-season (see below). For the second straight year the D-backs dealt away a one-time blue chip arm. In 2013 it was Trevor Bauer that was Cleveland-bound and this past off-season it was Tyler Skaggs that was sacrificed in order to land Mark Trumbos streaky bat from the Los Angeles Angels. With last seasons mid-summer jettisoning of Ian Kennedy, one has to wonder what the end-game is with the D-backs pitching. That said, Trumbo put either directly in front of or behind Paul Goldschmidt gives Arizona one of the most fear-inducing power combos in all of baseball. That might have been the greater concern for Kevin Towers, considering his team tied for the fifth-least round-trippers in the bigs in 2013. Addison Reed is a nice pick-up for a team that featured a less-than-inspiring closer-by-committee approach last season and Bronson Arroyo will eat a large share of innings for the teams young-ish rotation. Whos In?: SP Bronson Arroyo (two-year contract), RP Addison Reed (trade with CHW), 1B Mark Trumbo (trade with LAA). Whos Out?: RP Heath Bell (trade with TB), IF Willie Bloomquist (signed with SEA), RP Shawn Camp (signed with PHI), 3B Matt Davidson (trade with CHW), OF Adam Eaton (trade with CHW), C Wil Nieves (signed with PHI), SP Tyler Skaggs (trade with LAA), SS Josh Wilson (singed with TEX). Colorado Rockies GM: Dan ODowd Manager: Walt Weiss 2013: 74-88, fifth in NL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: The Rockies view didnt get any better in 2013, as they held down their place in the N.L. West cellar, albeit not finishing as miserably as they did the previous year. Injuries were once again a problem for the Rockies core, as Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez missed a combined 88 games due to injury. The pair can be one of the most dynamic pairings in all of baseball - but neither has played more than 145 games in any single season since 2009. Jorge de la Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin actually put up good win totals and decent numbers, especially considering they were on a last-place club, but the back end of the rotation was patchwork for much of the year. One of the games quietest All-Stars (and potential Hall-of-Famers) bid farewell to the Coors Field faithful, as Todd Helton hung up his spikes after 16 seasons in Denver. Helton retired the franchise leader in games played, hits, home runs, RBI, total bases and more and the team has already announced plans to retire his number 17. This is Now: A quick look at the transactions below will reveal the amount of upheaval theres been for the Rocks since October. Will all the changes turn the fortunes? Brett Anderson can be an impact arm, but hes a health risk. Drew Stubbs and Justin Morneau could help the offence, but Morneau, too, comes with injury baggage and is well removed from MVP or even All-Star form. Dealing Dexter Fowler, too, seems an odd move, considering he still had some contract control and plenty of speed to burn. But the key for the Rockies, like every year, will come down to the health of Tulo and CarGo. If both can find even moderate health, their career numbers suggest they will carry the Rockies offence. But thats a huge "if" and not one that the Rockies seem too intent to plan contingencies for. Whos In?: SP Brett Anderson (trade with OAK), OF Brandon Barnes (trade with HOU), RP Matt Belisle (mutual option exercised), RP LaTroy Hawkins (one-year contract), RP Boone Logan (three-year contract), SP Jordan Lyles (trade with HOU), C Michael McKenry (minor league contract), RP Franklin Morales (trade with BOS), 1B Justin Morneau (two-year contract), OF Drew Stubbs (trade with CLE). Whos Out?: RP Mitchell Boggs (signed with CHW), RP Edgmer Escalona (signed with BAL), OF Dexter Fowler (trade with HOU), SP Jeff Francis (signed with CIN), SP Jon Garland (released), 1B Todd Helton (retired), IF Jonathan Herrera (trade with BOS), SP Jeff Manship (signed with PHI), RP Josh Outman (trade with CLE), SP Drew Pomeranz (trade with OAK), C Yorvit Torrealba (signed with LAA). Los Angeles Dodgers GM: Ned Colletti Manager: Don Mattingly 2013: 92-70, first in NL West. Lost to St. Louis in National League Championship Series. That was Then: Having money certainly seems to suit the Dodgers fine. A year removed from bankruptcy, the Dodgers built on the momentum theyd established at the end of 2012. With millions in cast-offs from the Boston Red Sox still on the payroll, the Dodgers went out and spent even more, grabbing Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and re-upping Brandon League to build one of the majors truly frightening staffs. But the big shift came in June with the arrival of Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig. Powerful, fast and electrifying, Puig shook up the N.L. West and added a needed boost to the Dodgers outfield that saw Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford all battle injuries. The Dodgers wound up running away with the N.L. West, winning by a comfortable 11 games and all but eliminating the shame of the Frank McCourt years. Post-season play would prove an up-and-down experience at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers would put the sticks to the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, winning their three games by a combined 13 runs, but theiir nemesis would rear its head in the form of unlikely rookie Michael Wacha in the NLCS. Carter Hutton Jersey. The 22-year-old held the Dodgers to just seven hits over two scoreless starts, beating Kershaw in a pivotal Game 2 and the decisive Game 6. This is Now: If you liked last year, you might love this year. The thought of an entire year with a Puig-Kemp-Ethier outfield â€" health-permitting â€" is enough to make Dodger fans eager for the 2014 season. The Dodgers rotation, already a thing of beauty, went and bettered itself by adding Paul Maholm and Dan Haren. The Dodgers also re-upped Brian Wilson, who looked very much his "Fear the Beard" self after being cut adrift by the Giants prior to 2013. The infield will take some re-shaping, with Mark Ellis moving to St. Louis and Michael Young calling it a career, but if Hanley Ramirez can stretch what he did in 2013 over a full season he might well have a career year. It would be a surprise if the Dodgers werent a playoff team. The only question heading into this year is: Are they a championship team? Whos In?: P Dan Haren, SP Paul Maholm (one-year contract), RP Chris Perez (one-year contract), IF Justin Turner (minor league contract), RP Jamey Wright (one-year contract). Whos Out?: RP Ronald Belisario (signed with CHW), 2B Mark Ellis (signed with STL), SP Ted Lilly (retired), RP Carlos Marmol (signed with MIA), RP Peter Moylan (signed with HOU), SP Ricky Nolasco (signed with MIN), IF Nick Punto (signed with OAK), IF Skip Schumaker (signed with CIN), SP Edinson Volquez (signed with PIT), IF Michael Young (retired). San Diego Padres GM: Josh Byrnes Manager: Bud Black 2013: 76-86, third in NL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: All-in-all, you could probably say that the Padres 2013 campaign comes out as a positive, but there were plenty of ups and downs to be considered before reaching a final verdict. The good news is that the team finished third in the division, ahead (once the math got worked out) of the Giants. They were above .500 for a good chunk of June, which marked the first time the club had been in that position since the end of 2010 and they finished strong, going 16-11 in September including series wins over three divisional opponents. Jedd Gyorko was also a rookie standout, leading the team in dingers (23) and RBIs (63). The Bad news came from the Biogenesis verdict that saw shortstop Everth Cabrera slapped with a 50-game suspension. His ban, coupled with the one handed to catcher Yasmani Grandal at the end of the 2012 campaign hung a gigantic cloud over the teams core talent. Add in a host of injuries that limited first baseman Yonder Alonso to just 97 games in 2013 and it was really a year that a lot of Padres players would like to have buried in the past. It will be interesting to see how they follow it up. This is Now: The Padres took a chance with their off-season strategy, but if the gamble pays off San Diego could be poised to at least be respectable in the West. Joaquin Benoit will eat a whole bunch of innings out of the pen and provides a nice back-up plan should Huston Street falter or get hurt. He and Alex Torres should ease some of the sting of dealing away Luke Gregerson. Similarly, Seth Smith provides some pretty decent pop off the bench and is a nice addition as far as fourth outfielders go. Thats not the risky part. If the Padres signed pre-shoulder surgery, 2010 edition of Josh Johnson for $8 million, theyve added a big piece to their rotation. Hes a player that was once one of the NLs best arms and might be worth a one-year flier. That said, he was bad in 2013 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He missed all of May with a triceps injury and was shut down in August with forearm tightness. If it were just a season of injuries that would be problematic enough, but he logged just 81.1 innings, going 2-8 and posting a grotesque 1.66 WHIP. A one-year deal is never truly risky, but an $8 million investment is not exactly a low-risk proposition for a player that underwent off-season elbow surgery. Hes already expected to miss at least a month with a flexor strain. Whos In?: RP Joaquin Benoit (two-year contract), IF Ryan Jackson (trade with HOU), SP Josh Johnson (one-year contract), OF Seth Smith (trade with OAK), RP Alex Torres (trade with TB). Whos Out?: RP Anthony Bass (trade with HOU), RP Brad Boxberger (trade with TB), RP Brad Brach (trade with BAL), IF Logan Forsythe (trade with TB), RP Luke Gregerson (trade with OAK), 1B Jesus Guzman (trade with HOU), RP Colt Hynes (trade with CLE), OF Mark Kotsay (retired), RP Tommy Layne (signed with BOS). San Francisco Giants GM: Brian Sabean Manager: Bruce Bochy 2013: 76-86, fourth in NL West. Did not qualify for playoffs. That was Then: Its never easy defending a championship and Giants fans found that out once more in 2013. After locking Buster Posey down to a mammoth extension in March, the Giants actually got off to a pretty decent start last season, playing .650 baseball through the first 20 games of the season. But the summer would not be kind to San Fran, as the Giants would drop 19 of 24 games in late June and early July. Shortly after that horrible stretch Tim Lincecum would make history by throwing a 148-pitch no-hitter, the second-highest count in MLB history. Losing Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong for stretches didnt help their rotation any and by the time the dust settled the Giants were fourth in the West, posting their first sub-.500 season since 2009. This is Now: With the amount of talent the Giants have at their core, its hard to believe they cant contend, despite the disappointment that was 2013. After all, they missed the playoffs the year after their 2010 triumph and came right back to win another championship the next year. They went out and added a wealth of experience to their starting rotation by taking a two-year chance on right-hander Tim Hudson, whose 205 career wins are tops amongst active MLB pitchers. He should add some nice insulation at the back end of their rotation behind the likes of Cain, Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner. A suddenly-trim Pablo Sandoval will be an interesting sight for the Giants this season and the Panda has made spring training promises to lose even more weight. Meanwhile, the continued development of Brandon Belt could provide even more runs for the traditionally run-starved team. Whos In?: SP Tim Hudson (two-year contact), SP David Huff (minor league contract), OF Michael Morse (one-year contract). Whos Out?: RP Jose Mijares (signed with BOS), SP Chad Gaudin (signed with PHI), SP Guillermo Moscoso (signed in Japan), OF Francisco Peguero (signed with BAL), OF Kensuke Tanaka (signed with TEX). 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