Multiple playoff contenders? Consider NL Central Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey

The National League Central has a reputation in some quarters, and that reputation isn’t entirely good. It also isn’t entirely fair.

Over the past 10 seasons, the Central produced the most playoff teams of the three National League divisions, as well as the most NL pennant-winners. And once again in 2013, the odds are good that multiple playoff teams will come from the NL Central.Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey.

The clubs in best position to do that are the ones that did it last year. The reigning champion Reds made a nice upgrade to their lineup, bringing in Shin-Soo Choo to lead off, but otherwise bring back most of a club that won the division by nine games. The Cardinals lost two starting pitchers from their end-of-year starting five, but they’re confident in what they have to replace Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse.

Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.

So it’s no exaggeration to say the rest of the division is chasing the Redlegs and Redbirds. After all, one or both of those two teams has made the postseason in each of the past four seasons.

Each of the three challengers has reason to think it’s closer to the top. The Pirates made a major upgrade at catcher, and they’re counting on steps forward from some promising young players. The Brewers believe they fixed the bullpen that cost them so many wins last year.Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey. The Cubs overhauled their rotation, likewise fixing what was their biggest problem in 2012.

They’re all still chasing the Reds and Cards, but they may be getting closer.Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

You may notice someone has been left out of this discussion, by the way. That’s because there’s a little more elbow room in the Central this year. 1989 Joe Montana Jersey. Formerly baseball’s most populous division, it’s now down to five clubs thanks to the Astros’ move to the American League West.

We polled our NL Central beat writers — Brewers reporter Adam McCalvy, Cardinals reporter Jenifer Langosch, Cubs reporter Carrie Muskat, Pirates reporter Tom Singer and Reds reporter Mark Sheldon — and asked them to rank the clubs in four major categories as well as to give some input as to the race as a whole.

Wells Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey joins Yankees as trade is completed

Vernon Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey Wells admitted to having a difficult time stifling a grin once he was told where he had been traded. After years of admiring the Yankees from afar, the veteran outfielder will have a chance to wear pinstripes this season.

Wells was officially acquired by the Yankees from the Angels on Tuesday, along with cash considerations. New York sent Minor Leaguers Exircardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed to the Halos in exchange for the 34-year-old Wells, who is expected to step in as the Yankees’ Opening Day left fielder.

“Just the history and the names that are in this clubhouse, and the guys that are in this clubhouse — this is special,” Wells said. “It’s obviously a huge commitment to put the pinstripes on, but this is baseball. This is the center of it all and this is a fun way for things to go toward the end of my career.”

The Yankees did not waste any time finding a spot for Wells, welcoming him to camp by batting him sixth and sending him to left field for Tuesday’s game against the Astros at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Wells went 0-for-3, but brought home a run with a sharp grounder in his third at-bat in a 4-4 tie.Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.

“He’s got a chance to play every day here in left field for us,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve seen him very good and used to face him 18 times a year [with the Blue Jays]. He brings some power, brings some speed, has been a good defender. He’s got a good opportunity here.”

The transaction required two days to complete and required the approval of the Commissioner’s Office because the Angels are taking on the majority of the $42 million Wells is owed through the 2014 season. The Yankees’ share of the contract will be approximately $13 million over the next two seasons.

According to The Associated Press, the Yankees will pay most of Wells’ salary this year, a move designed to help the Angels to stay under the luxury-tax threshold of $178 million. The Angels will pay most of Wells’ salary next year, when the Yankees hope to get under the threshold as it rises to $189 million.

The Yankees had some extra money to spend because part of Mark Teixeira’s salary — approximately $4 million per month — is being covered by insurance from the World Baseball Classic while he is on the disabled list. Wells is expected to help solidify the Yankees’ outfield while Curtis Granderson recovers from a fractured right forearm.

“I feel like I’m a kid again,” Wells said. “I got goosebumps driving down the road a couple hours after they told me about the trade. I started thinking about the [Bleacher Creatures] roll call. I won’t be the guy that gets picked on by the bleachers this time, even though I enjoyed it.”

Wells Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey struggled during his two seasons in Anaheim and was limited to part-time duty in 2012. He played in just 77 games, posting a .230/.279/.403 line with 11 home runs, and said that more regular playing time should help his performance.

“He’s had some injury issues he’s had to go through,” Girardi said. “Sometimes your new surroundings are hard to get used to; I’m not sure. But we think he’s a much better player than he’s shown the last two years.”Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

Wells is a .292 career hitter with 62 homers against left-handed pitching, and he compiled some impressive numbers this spring with the Angels, batting .361 (13-for-36) with four homers and 11 RBIs.

“My goal was just to get back to the basics and just put the barrel on the ball as many times as I can, shorten my swing and use the other field,” Wells said. “I forgot what right field was like for a couple of years. You get caught up in hitting home runs and seeing how far you can hit them, and your swing changes.”

The Halos received two lower-level Minor Leaguers in the deal. Cayones, 21, batted .228 with 15 RBIs in 47 games for Class A Staten Island last year after being acquired from the Pirates as part of the A.J. Burnett trade. Sneed, 24, was 0-7 with a 5.37 ERA in 31 games (four starts) at Class A Tampa.

In order to create room on the 40-man roster for Wells, the Yankees unconditionally released infielder David Adams.

Because it is so late in camp, Wells found that he was assigned a locker spot in “catcher’s row” between Francisco Cervelli and Bobby Wilson.1989 Joe Montana Jersey. He was temporarily issued uniform No. 56, which had been previously used by bench coach Tony Pena.

“They said, ‘We’ll get you a little lower one when the season starts,'” Wells said. “But I’m going to wear Lawrence Taylor for a little bit.”

Wells was a three-time American League All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner during his nine full seasons with the Blue Jays from 2002-10. The owner of 259 career home runs, Wells said that he is honored to have the chance to call the Bronx home.

“I remember the first time I played the Triple-A Yankees when I was 20 years old, and [Darryl] Strawberry was on that team,” Wells said. “It was the first time that I actually got goosebumps playing against another team.

“From that day, I’ve quietly been a Yankees fan — obviously not when we played against the Yankees, but every time or anytime the Yankees were in the playoffs and I was sitting at home, I was cheering for the Yankees. This is somewhat of a dream come true.”

Wild’s Fletcher Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey on building a winner

Do you have a special appreciation for Brendan Gallagher and what he’s able to do on the ice because maybe, just maybe, he reminds you of yourself when you were starting out in the NHL?

Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey.

“Absolutely. He’s a great, great talent. He works extremely hard. So, for sure I do. The things he is able to do, how hard he plays the game, the way he plays the game — I really enjoy watching him play. I have such respect for the way he plays because that’s the way I have always played it. It’s great when you see guys that are doing that, especially guys that are smaller and surprising people.

 “Overall, the youthfulness and the energy we have, it definitely rubs off on guys. We have a great mix. We have some veteran guys, but we also have some youth that sparks things up and brings that energy night in and night out. It’s a testament to where the organization is going and the type of people we have, the depth of our organization and what’s coming along.”

Was your opinion of Michel Therrien different before he got to Montreal and if so, why and how has it changed?Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.

 “Not at all. I’m the type of guy, I like to find out for myself. You get information from people, but I never had a preconceived notion of what he was going to be like, how he was going to be. He’s been great. He’s balanced a lot of things. The system we’re playing, it keeps guys accountable. Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey.He’s been great with the scheduling as far as it being a compressed schedule and you have to be smart with time off or optional skates. The balance between enough rest and too much rest has been perfect. Things like that, he has just been great with.”

 When both the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins are good like they are this season, how does that change the rivalry?

 “Oh, it’s so much better.Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey. When you have two competitive teams, that’s what feeds and fuels the rivalry. If you had a one-sided affair all the time, the rivalry wouldn’t be what it is. You see it with all the rivalries, no matter who it is, when both teams are competitive and both teams are at the height of their game, that’s when it’s the most fueled, that’s when it has the most passion and that’s when it has the most juice to it.

 “It’s tough to place whether this rivalry is the best for me. I had the Devils-Rangers and that was a huge one with a lot of animosity. I had Boston College vs. Boston University and that was huge, too. They’re all different in their own way but they’re all exciting. That’s what makes sports so great, is having those rivalries.”2013 Joey Votto Jersey.

Here are Five Questions with … Brian Gionta Joey Votto Los Rojos Jerse:

Are you surprised by what you guys have been able to do this season, that it’s happening like this after finishing last in the Eastern Conference last season?

 “No, I don’t think so. I mean, we were a team that was plagued by injuries last year and some other things spiraled away, but for the most part we’ve got the guys in that room, veteran leadership guys, that play the game the right way. 2013 Joey Votto Jersey.It’s just a matter of getting back to that.Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey.

 “We had injuries and people in places that maybe they’re not used to being in, but the changes made over the summer have been great. We were excited in the summer by the changes that were made and it was tough to wait it out during the lockout, wait to see the results of it, but I think they’ve been great.”

 You were one of those guys that was banged up last season; in fact you played only 31 games. When you factor in that and couple it with being the captain of a team that was struggling, does 2011-12 go down as your worst season in the NHL, if not your entire hockey career?

Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey.

 “Sure thing it does. It was my longest injury of my career and it was frustrating that way. It was frustrating not being able to get out there and help the guys, find ways to turn things around, or just be a part of it. And it’s the first time in my career to not make the playoffs.Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey. So, a lot of things were frustrating for sure, and to be on the sidelines and not have much say, it was really tough.

 “You want to be in the battle with the guys. You want to be right in the thick of things. You want to be there for your teammates. It was frustrating not to be there.”

Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.

Five Questions: Gionta Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey discusses turnaround season

Brian Gionta Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey‘s 2011-12 season was limited to 31 games due to bicep surgery. The Montreal Canadiens captain would have to watch from the press box as his team stumbled and slumped all the way to a last-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

 One year later, Gionta is healthy, playing in every game, and helping the Canadiens rise toward the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

 The difference between last season and this season is striking, and the feeling Gionta has about them is exactly what you would expect.

 Last season was his worst in the NHL; this season could turn into one of his best.Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey.

Before the Canadiens got started on what is arguably the biggest week of their season with games at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Boston on Wednesday and at home against the New York Rangers on Saturday, Gionta Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey spoke to about last season, this season and, of course, the Canadiens-Bruins rivalry that will add another chapter this week in NBC Sports Network’s Wednesday Night Rivalry game.

Here are Five Questions with … Brian Gionta:

 Are you surprised by what you guys have been able to do this season, that it’s happening like this after finishing last in the Eastern Conference last season?

 “No, I don’t think so. I mean, we were a team that was plagued by injuries last year and some other things spiraled away, but for the most part we’ve got the guys in that room, veteran leadership guys, that play the game the right way. It’s just a matter of getting back to that.2013 Joey Votto Jersey.

 “We had injuries and people in places that maybe they’re not used to being in, but the changes made over the summer have been great. Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.We were excited in the summer by the changes that were made and it was tough to wait it out during the lockout, wait to see the results of it, but I think they’ve been great.”

A guide to the 2013 NCAA Tournament Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey

When the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey opens this weekend, about the only thing known for sure is there will be a new champion.

Boston University, which beat Ferris State for last season’s title, lost 1-0 to Massachusetts-Lowell in this season’s Hockey East conference championship game, and then missed out on an at-large bid.

Five teams received automatic bids for winning their respective league tournaments: Canisius from the Atlantic Hockey Association, Notre Dame from the CCHA, Union College from the ECAC; UMass-Lowell from Hockey East, and Wisconsin from the WCHA.

Another 11 teams received the at-large invitation based on the final PairWise rankings.

The winner of each regional advances to Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh for the 2013 Frozen Four, with the semifinals set for April 11, and the championship game at 7 p.m. ET on April 13.

Here are the 16 teams seeded in the four regional brackets, with comments and predictions:


Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, N.H.

March 29: No. 1 UMass-Lowell vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (4:30 p.m. ET ESPN3; 10:30 p.m. ET ESPNU tape delay)

March 29: No. 2 New Hampshire vs. No. 3 Denver (8 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

March 30: Northeast Regional Championship (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

This regional offers the deepest core of NCAA-experienced teams.

UMass-Lowell established itself as a national contender with a top-10 rank all season, as well as Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles. And they’ll be playing close to home — their campus is 30 minutes from Verizon Wireless Arena. The River Hawks’ strength is its sixth-ranked defense, and freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, a Winnipeg Jets draft pick, leads the NCAA with a .949 save percentage.Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey.

One major problem for UMass-Lowell is that Wisconsin’s defense is No. 4. That showed last weekend when the team won the WCHA Tournament with a play-in win Thursday against Minnesota State, and semifinal and final wins against St. Cloud State and Colorado College, respectively.

No team has a better home-ice advantage in the four regionals than New Hampshire. Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey .While the Wildcats have struggled with only four wins since Feb. 1, they have Casey DeSmith between the pipes and a balanced offense. DeSmith topped most NCAA goaltender statistics during the first half of the season to give UNH a hefty cushion in the late-season national ranking to assure an at-large tournament bid.

Denver ranks No. 3 in team offense, but struggles defensively. The Pioneers also spend a significant percent of the game in the penalty box — they’re third in the NCAA at more than 16 penalty minutes per game. They need to score early and often, which they can do — they had 13 players reach double-digits in points.


Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.2013 Joey Votto Jersey.

March 29: No. 1 Minnesota vs. No. 4 Yale (2 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

March 29: No. 2 North Dakota vs. No. 3 Niagara

March 30: West Regional Championship (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Minnesota and Quinnipiac flip-flopped in the top two spots in the national polls during the latter half of the season. The Golden Gophers lead the NCAA in offense, topped by Minnesota Wild prospect Erik Haula and Florida Panthers draft pick Kyle Rau, with 88 points each. Another Panthers prospect, Nick Bjugstad, had 71 points, as did Nashville Predators draft pick Zach Budish.

The Golden Gophers also rank third nationally defensively.Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.

Yale has just six wins since Feb. 1, and received an at-large invitation based more on its first-half run. The Bulldogs need senior goaltender Jeff Malcolm to stifle the Minnesota offense if the Elis want to advance.

North Dakota brings the same ingredient to each postseason run: Snarl. They play an in-your-face, bring-it-on style that keeps them a national contender each spring. This season, senior Danny Kristo, a Montreal Canadiens pick has 25 goals and 51 points, putting him among the leaders in those departments.

Niagara ran the regular-season table to win the Atlantic Hockey Association regular-season title. They will need junior goaltender Carsen Chubak to excel to have a chance at advancing; he leads all goaltenders with six shutouts, and is fourth with a .938 save percentage

Russell Wilson Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey leading Seattle Seahawks workouts

Russell Wilson Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey was so impressive as a rookie quarterback because he didn’t resemble a rookie quarterback in so many ways. He avoided mistakes and he played best in the biggest moments. The game didn’t seem too fast for him.Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey.

Heading into his second season, it’s not a surprise Wilson is starting to take on other traditional roles of a veteran quarterback. He’s bringing his teammates out to Southern California before the offseason training program starts.

“Russ has kind of taken this whole thing into his own hands,” tight end Sean McGrath told “He’s taking us all to L.A. So it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better and kind of be on the same page as far as just a feel.  Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.This is so typical of Russ. We’re grown accustomed to him doing things like this, just because that’s the type of person he is. It will be a great team-building opportunity.”

Wilson Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey said he just wanted his teammates to get together to “get our minds ready and our bodies ready for a great season.”

Working out in the offseason together doesn’t equate directly to success. (Remember “Jets West” starring Mark Sanchez?) But Seahawks fans have to be excited about the attitude from the front office down to Wilson about the team’s offensive success last year.2013 Joey Votto Jersey.

Winning a playoff game was nice. But the Seahawks seem fully aware that they need to be better in 2013, and they are taking the steps in order to do so.

Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey Billingsley is optimistic he will start April 2

Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey Chad Billingsley said he was optimistic about starting the second game of the year for the Dodgers after throwing what he called a “normal” bullpen session on Monday, including seven curveballs.

Billingsley said his bruised right index finger passed that test and he was pleased with the quality of his pitches.

“I’m good. Everything felt fine,” Billingsley said. “The fingernail held up, no issues. It’s not really tender. I was a little surprised. It’s been a week and a half.”

Manager Don Mattingly indicated Billingsley would get the ball April 2 against the Giants, and not Hyun-Jin Ryu, but only if Billingsley has all of his weapons, including a curveball he hadn’t thrown since his last exhibition start on March 13.Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey. Two days later while bunting in batting practice, a pitch pinned Billingsley’s index finger against the bat, just below the fingernail.

Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey Billingsley has maintained his throwing regimen, even pitching 4 2/3 innings of a Minor League game on Saturday without curveballs because of the discomfort and chance that his fingernail would dislodge and put him on the disabled list.

Billingsley is in line to pitch somewhere on Thursday, when the Dodgers have split-squad games against the Angels in Anaheim and against their Class A team at Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. But if Billingsley pitches in either, it would prevent the Dodgers from back-dating his placement on the disabled list if necessary.

Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.

So he might just pitch a simulated game, at which time Mattingly said he would need to show he can throw curveballs to Major League hitters.

“It’s not only throwing them pain-free,” said Mattingly. “It’s also how they look. There’s a little concern. It could go either way.”

If Billingsley can’t start April 2, Ryu would. If Billingsley does start that game, Mattingly has indicated Ryu would be inserted into the rotation by April 13. 2013 Joey Votto Jersey.

Greinke plans to start season on time.Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey

Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey Monday night said his right elbow felt fine after pitching in his first Major League exhibition game since March 1 and he should be ready to start the season on time.

Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey.

“I should be. I think so,” he said. “I’ll definitely be there, if I can build up endurance. I need some improvement.”

Manager Don Mattingly agreed that Greinke has enough time to be ready to start the season active, with the Monday night start “a good outing for Zack to see Major League hitters, to see where he’s at and where he needs to go.”

Greinke wasn’t happy with a 64-pitch outing against his former club, the Kansas City Royals, that opened with the first two batters he faced singling and scoring and the last three batters he faced walking and scoring after he was lifted with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning.

“I felt strong, but obviously not if I’m walking three in a row.  2013 Joey Votto Jersey.That’s not normal if I’m feeling good,” said Greinke, whose first Dodgers Spring Training was interrupted by the flu, then inflammation in the back of his right elbow that required an injection and cost him much of the month. “I thought I felt good, but the results didn’t imply that.”

Now Greinke is in catch-up mode to build sufficient stamina to be ready for the regular season. He allowed nine baserunners and five runs. His next start is Saturday’s Freeway Series finale, which puts him in line to start the fourth game of the season on April 5 if he’s ready.Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.

“My offspeed was bad today,” he said. “My fastball was OK [90-94 mph]. There’s a lot that needs to be improved. My fastball wasn’t great, the offspeed was below OK. The changeup was good. That’s one positive. The main thing was the offspeed was so bad, they didn’t have to worry about it. I can’t get a real judge on the fastball because there was nothing else to worry about.Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey.

“This tells me I’ve got some work to do to build up arm strength and fine-tune the offspeed stuff. If my arm strength is there, I can make it work.”

Greinke pitched in a Minor League game five days earlier and said he could tell the difference in the opposition.

“Everything is different,” he said. “Even the Minor guys that had been in the big leagues had a presence about them.”

Mattingly Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey not concerned with Kemp’s struggles

Dodgers center fielder Matt Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey Kemp is batting .171 with Opening Day one week away, but after Monday’s 8-2 loss to the Royals, manager Don Mattingly said, “I’m OK with Matt.”

“He’s got bat speed,” Mattingly said of Kemp, who is coming off shoulder surgery. “He’s frustrated because he wants to get hits all the time. What I like is that he wants his hits, he’s feeling good enough, that intensity is there. Mentally he’s ready, and physically he looks ready.”

Kemp has one home run and six RBIs after going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly Monday night.

Mattingly Joey Votto Los Rojos Jersey  earns first spring ejection

 Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was ejected from Monday night’s 8-2 loss to the Royals by plate umpire A.J. Johnson.Joey Votto Alternate Red Los Rojos Jersey.

Johnson ruled strike three on a Matt Kemp check swing to end the top of the seventh inning and Mattingly came out to question why Johnson didn’t check with first-base umpire Alan Porter.

2013 Joey Votto Jersey.

“Really, I wasn’t even mad,” said Mattingly. “You think he might want to check. It wasn’t so obvious that he didn’t need to check. He told me I was arguing balls and strikes. I said, ‘What are you going to do? Throw me out of a bleeping Spring Training game?’ And he did.”

Johnson is a Minor League umpire.Joey Votto Jersey Cheap.