The AFC and NFC Championship games will be played tomorrow. The first game will be the New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts for the AFC title. The Colts were undefeated in week 16 when the Jets came to town needing to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Jets did pull out a controversial victory and have reeled off 3 more in a row after that to get to this point. The reason the game was controversial is because the Colts were 14-0 and leading at the half when head coach Jim Caldwell decided to pull his starters and the Jets went on to win the game keeping them in the playoff hunt and eventually they did make it and won 2 playoff games on the road to get here. The Colts fans really wanted the undefeated season and this is something that win or lose will be discussed all offseason. If the Colts do go on and win a Super Bowl it won't be as big of a deal but everyone will still wonder if they would have gone undefeated and if they lose well then it really will be criticized. I really like what the Jets have done in the playoffs and they won't change their style now. They will run the ball and play good defense but in my mind the Colts are the best team in football and they are home. I don't see the Jets winning this game although it should be close. I am picking the Colts to win by the score of 24-17.
The NFC Championship will be at 630 tomorrow night and have the Minnesota Vikings taking on the New Orleans Saints. The Saints who have been a long suffering franchise will host their first ever title game. They have never made it to the Super Bowl. I think with all that has gone on in that city they really need this and are riding a wave of momentum and passion. The Vikings have played great football this season but not on the road and I think this will be the end for them. I see the Saints winning this game by the score of 35-21. I hope everyone enjoys the championship games and tomorrow night we will find out who will be facing off in the Super Bowl.
The saga of Johnny Damon continues, today there was information coming from Jon Heyman of SI. He tweeted that the Yankees have offered Damon a deal believed to be no more then 5 million in base and maybe incentives. The Yankees told Damon they want an answer by the end of the weekend and if it is no they will be signing another LF shortly. The other options the Yankees have are Reed Johnson, Jermaine Dye, Jim Edmonds, Xavier Nady, Randy Winn. Johnny Damon has said all along he wants to remain a Yankees so then he should show it and take the deal.
The thing that gets me in all of this is that both sides like each other so why are they playing this game. They should have just got together and hammered it out. The main reason is the agent Scott Boras who overestimated the market for Damon and his other main client Matt Holliday. Johnny Damon has no other suitors at this point unless there is a mystery team. He wrote in a text message today that he would have a team this week, so that adds to the speculation even more. I am going to say at this point he comes back to the Yankees, Bobby Abreu did the same thing with the Angels last year and turned it into a 2 yr 19 million dollar deal this season. Nick Johnson is a high OBP guy and a good player but Johnny Damon fits this team as it's #2 hitter and there first four with him in the lineup is the best in baseball. Jeter, Damon,Tex,A-rod is unstoppable and then you can have other guys hit further down in the lineup like Granderson and Nick Johnson, making the lineup that more dangerous. It will be interesting to see what happens but it appears this will finally play out this weekend.
The New York Mets made a trade today to get another outfielder with the absence of Carlos Beltran for at least the beginning of the season. They traded right handed pitcher Brian Stokes to the Anahiem Angels for Gary Matthews Jr. He isn't the same player he was at one time, but should provide pretty good defense. The reason this deal is ok for the Mets is because the Angels were so happy to get rid of him that they are paying 21 million of the 23 million owed to him over the next 2 years.
Thisstory is fascinating to me if not a little strange. A 23 yr old prospect from the Oakland A's is leaving baseball for the priesthood, this is something you don't see everyday. The really strange thing about it is that he had a great year last year and appeared to be closing in on getting to the big leagues.
The Philadelphia Phillies have signed pitcher Jose Contreras. He was ok at one time, never really made it with the Yankees. I guess this is a good move for depth reasons but I just can't see him succeeding in that park. The thing to me is how are the Mets not making any moves for a pitcher when that is what they really need.
Here is a nice article with Curtis Granderson, the new Yankees centerfielder. One of the quotes that came out of this article was this " When you wear it, man it is something, it pops." That was Granderson on wearing the Yankees cap.
Jim Edmonds who was an elite centerfielder at one time but hasn't played since 2008 is trying to get a job, several teams have called him and apparently the Yankees are one of them. I just don't see the Yankees going for this guy, they can stick with what they have or hope to get Damon back or maybe just sign Reed Johnson or someone like that for leftfield or to caddy with Gardner out there.
I didn't get up any posts yesterday, as it was a really uneventful day. The one bit of news that emerged was Jerry Hairston Jr. on a XM radio show saying that he never got an offer from the Yankees. The reason is the story though, he said it is because the Yankees were waiting for Johnny Damon to come to them and his price to drop. Yankees GM a little while later shot down that rumor but I would think it is probably true. If Johnny Damon comes to the Yankees and says he will take a one year deal for 5 million are the Yankees really going to say no?? I mean if they go a few million over budget is it going to kill them, I don't think so this is the Yankees.
The Angels also signed Joel Piniero to a 2 yr deal worth 16 million. This is another guy the New York Mets missed out on. I really wonder who the Mets may get now, Jon Garland, Ben Sheets?? I think this was a good move by the Angels, they had to do something to counter what Seattle has been doing plus he is a pretty steady veteran pitcher.
I am not going to go through the whole list since it is pretty long. I will discuss the biggest names though. Here are some of the players and the contracts they agreed too.
Jonathan Papelbon/Boston Red Sox-1yr 9.35 million
Jered Weaver/Anaheim Angels-1 yr 4.265 million
John Danks/Chicago White Sox- 1yr 3.45 million
Rafael Perez/Cleveland Indians-1 yr 895,000
Jorge Cantu/Florida Marlins-1 yr 6 million
Matt Lindstrom/Houston Astros- 1yr 1.625 million
Alex Gordon/K.C. Royals- 1yr 1.15 million
Howie Kendrick/Anaheim Angels- 1yr 1.75 million
Jonathan Broxton/L.A. Dodgers- 2 yrs 11 million
Andre Ethier/ L.A. Dodgers- 2yrs 15.25 million
James Loney/L.A. Dodgers-1 yr 3.1 million
Russel Martin/L.A. Dodgers- 1yr 5.05 million
Carlos Gomez/Milwaukee Brewers-1yr 1.1 million
Rickie Weeks/Milwaukee Brewers-1yr 2.75 million
Francisco Liriano/Minnesota Twins-1yr 1.6 million
Carl Pavano/Minnesota Twins-1 yr 7 million
Jeff Francouer/New York Mets-1yr 5 million
Ryan Ludwick/St. Louis Cardinals-1yr 5.45 million
There are many others but this is a pretty good list. Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners signed an extension for 5 yrs and roughly 8o million dollars. That was a great move by Seattle, he is their ace and they needed to lock him up. The Detroit Tigers finalized their deal with Jose Valverde to be the closer for 2 yrs and 14 million. There is a club option for 2012 for 9 million.
The saga of Bengie Molina took an unexpected turn when the Mets made him a 1 yr offer and told him take it or leave it. It was for 5 million and he left it and signed back with the San Francisco Giants for 1 yr and 4.5 million.
The Colorado Rockies signed Huston Street to a 3 yr 22.5 million dollar deal. He came to them last season in a trade.
The New York Yankees have come to terms with Chad Gaudin and Boone Logan. They settled and won't have to go to arbitration with these 2 players. Boone Logan got $590,000 and Chad Gaudin got 2.9 million. Chad Gaudin could have a role on this team, i think as a longman or maybe even 5th starter. I think the Yankees would like Phil Hughes to be the 5th starter and Joba in the pen but you never know how it shakes out. It is also possible that Gaudin gets traded, having him and Mitre is basically having 2 similar guys for one role. Boone Logan will compete for the second left hander out of the bullpen, I would say he is the frontrunner to make the team with Damaso Marte right now but we will see how the spring goes and if any of the youngsters make a good impression.
There are only 3 NFL games left in the season, there isn't much going on in the baseball world. Hockey and basketball are in full swing but the Nets may set the all time record for least amount of wins, they are on pace for 6 which I believe is the record. The New York Knicks were showing signs of life but coming into today had lost 4 out of their last 5. The New Jersey Devils are the best team in hockey but the Rangers and Islanders are middle of the pack type teams. I also don't think many people are focused on hockey but if you are I would love to hear from you and get your take. I think with all of this in mind and knowing that it is only 31 days until pitchers and catchers report it is a good time to look at the Yankees/Red Sox rosters and see how they match up.
Boston Red Sox: New York Yankees1B-Kevin Youkilis 1B-Mark Teixeira2B-Dustin Pedroia 2B-Robinson CanoSS-Marcaro Scutaro SS-Derek Jeter3B-Adrian Beltre 3B-Alex RodriguezC-Victor Martinez C-Jorge PosadaLF-Jacoby Ellsbury LF-Brett GardnerCF-Mike Cameron CF-Curtis GrandersonRF-J.D. Drew RF-Nick SwisherStarting Rotation Starting RotationJosh Beckett CC SabathiaJohn Lackey A.J. BurnettJon Lester Andy PettitteDaisuke Matsusaka J. VazquezClay Bucholz Phil HughesBullpenCloser-Jonathan Papelbon Closer-Mariano RiveraSetup-Manny Delcarmen Setup-Joba ChamberlainSetup-Ramon Ramirez Setup-Dave RobertsonLefty-Hideki Okajima Lefty-Damaso MarteLongman-Boof Bonser/Tim Wakefield Lefty-Boone Logan Longman-Sergio Mitre/Chad Gaudin
I know the rosters aren't complete but this is pretty much what it will be. There are some spots in the bullpen that could be open or change and same thing with the bench that is why I didn't put the bench on here. I think the Yankees have a better lineup, starting pitching is pretty close, I probably would give the Yankees the slight edge and I think the Yankees have the advantage in the bullpen. It will be a very different Red Sox team, pitching and defense. They don't have a great lineup and it will be interesting to see how that plays out with them, over the last few years they always have a very good lineup. I still think these 2 teams and the Rays are the best teams in the AL, it comes down to injuries and guys executing especially against each other.
The New Orleans Saints came into their playoff game with the Arizona Cardinals limping. They had lost 3 straight to end the season after opening with 13 straight victories. The Arizona Cardinals won a thrilling game against Green Bay last week and were riding some momentum. The Saints took care of all that yesterday and looked like the team they were for most of the season. They beat the Cardinals by the score of 45-14. The Saints took the time at the end of the season and the bye to rest some guys and get healthy. Jeremy Shockey was back and played a good game. He was his wild, emotional self and that seemed to lift the Saints early. Reggie Bush had his best game as a pro with over 200 all purpose yards. He looked like the man that played at USC 4 yrs ago and won the heisman. The Saints will take on the Vikings at home in their first every NFC Championship game. The Saints will be looking to make their first trip to the Super Bowl.
The Vikings led by ageless wonder Brett Favre put a spanking on the Dallas Cowboys today and beat them 34-3. Dallas was riding momentum after finishing the season strong and then winning their first playoff game in 15 years last week. Minnesota weathered a early storm from Dallas and then never looked back. They finished the season 9-0 at home. They will take on the Saints in New Orleans next week, it should be a high scoring game.
The Indianapolis Colts who were heavily criticized for not going for the record undefeated season came out and took care of business over the Baltimore Ravens yesterday. They won the game 20-3. They were never really in danger in this game and the Colts didn't look great but they didn't have to be in this one. They will host the AFC title game for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
The New York Jets who have been the big underdogs keep living up to their talking. They came out to San Diego and weathered a dominating first half by the Chargers. The Chargers were in control but only led 7-0 at the half. The New York Jets turned it on in the second half and won the game by the score of 17-14. Nick Kading the placekicker will be kicking himself for missing 3 field goals. The Jets defense is starting to really earn its stripes and will now head to Indianapolis for what will be their toughest test. The thing is if they could go into San Diego and win they could probably beat anyone. San Diego definitely helped the Jets but all that matters is they got the victory, it doesn't matter how. The Jets and their fans should enjoy this one and then start looking ahead to Indy. The Jets beat the Colts in Indy in week 15 after the Colts were heavily criticized for pulling their starters after the first half. The Colts will surely be fired up for this one as they want to show the Jets they can beat them. It should be a fun weekend next weekend with the title games.
I am a diehard New York Yankees fan,season ticket holder and a sportsnut. I also like the New York Giants and Rangers. I am married with a beautiful babygirl. I am a caremanager for passaic county and graduated from William Paterson University in Wayne,NJ. I have always wanted to be a sportswriter and thought this blog would help me live my dream. I cover the Yankees/Mets Giants and Jets for www.worldnewsvine.com and also will be writing for numberonebaseball.com so check me out there, thanks.