Archive for January, 2012

While it’s been floated as a possibility for the last few days, late Friday night word got out that may truly be nearing a deal to join the St. Louis Cardinals. It appears now that the deal is a go, and the former  ace will become a member of his former toughest rival’s ball club in 2012. Oswalt, who rejected a rumored $10 million deal to join the  earlier this week, was also been in discussion with the  and . The terms on the deal with the  are not officially known yet, but an incentive-laden pact with a base around $5 to $7 million has been the general idea of the club’s offer.

Oswalt compiled a 9-10 record along with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts a year ago.

His desire to stay close to the south, and his Mississippi home, has had a strong steering effect on just which teams he will consider. After a season as a member of the much hyped  “Four Headed Monster” pitching rotation, the limelight has shown as brightly on Oswalt in this season’s . Due to back troubles that limited him to 139 innings last season, his lowest amount since 2003, combined with his strict preference on where he would like to live, the market around him as been slow to develop.

However, St. Louis offers a competitive club for a player that has never won a World Series….

 

For the rest of this article, including what type of situation this leaves some current untradable Cardinals in, head over to St. Louis Sports 360 here: http://stlouissports360.com/oswalt-brings-variety-of-new-wrinkles-to-cardinals-mix/

 

And for more on this and how the Cardinals puzzle will fit together, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

"Yesterday....all my troubles seemed so far away..." - Peyton Manning...(not really but you get it)

The un-imaginable is really taking place; Peyton Manning isn’t going to be a Colt much longer. Right now, it’s not even for certain that he’s going to be an NFL player again really. But if Peyton is one thing, it’s tough. He never missed a game before 2011, and in that time he rarely even missed a snap. For all the debate about whether he will actually get on the field again, I honestly believe that if there was one player in the game that would die for it, it’s Peyton. Albeit, that’s what doctors and medical staffs are there for is to prevent kamikaze guys like him from actually doing that, but that’s neither here nor there.

I honestly believe that the Colts are going to have to make the toughest call on turning the page at QB since the 49ers had to move on from Joe Montana. In that case Steve Young made that decision a pretty easy one to live with, but the Colts have no reason to worry about who is next with top pick, uber-prospect Andrew Luck being on their roster nothing but a technicality of the NFL Draft making it official at this point.

But a healthy Peyton may be the best second life QB since Joe took his talents to Kansas City after being cast out from the team he built up from the ground to the heavens. He soon showed he had plenty of life left to him, and even pushed the Chiefs to an AFC Championship game. A healthy Peyton Manning is easily worth a few victories some hard up at quarterback clubs lose simply due to inept leadership in the pocket.

The Montana model is what could be in store for a club that looks into the disenfranchised Manning.

What teams are the best fits for a potential 4-time MVP, 11-time Pro Bowl free agent-to-be, which undoubtedly has a few more yards in him to add to the 54,828 he’s already covered? One thing for certain is that it opens up “a need” at QB for a lot more teams than there are without him on the market. A starter kit estimate would make sense for at least half the teams in the NFL to really take a hard look at how good they are now, and how much better they would be with Peyton on board.

The Dolphins, Redskins & Jets are the obvious contenders for his services, and no doubt he makes each of them a much better club (imagine Peyton in the AFC East going head up with Tom Brady and the Pats constantly?). Adding him to the NFC makes for even more intrigue in the most melodramatic division in the game. However, to see the true impact of his availability, the real impact is the fringe teams that come into play.

Regardless of what they say about their dedication to their current signal callers, the 49ers, Seahawks, Chiefs and Broncos would be foolish not at least inquire into his services. These are all teams that are one step away, and a healthy Manning takes everything about those teams to the next level. Cleveland has been a football wasteland for what seems like a millennium now, but nothing could kick the perpetual rebuilding phase to the gaining ground level like a move like this one. In Minnesota, Christian Ponder showed promise, but did he show that much to put off the possibility of pursuing Peyton and instantly reviving a sagging franchise in a super competitive division? They’ve danced a similar dance to this before, and the rewards they reaped were substantial.

How about the clubs that have high priced experiments in the mix such as the Cardinals and Jaguars? A Larry Fitzgerald-Manning combo is flat out Fantasy League-style fun to imagine and Blaine Gabbert could truly benefit from some bench time, just as new ownership could use the boom the league’s most marketable player brings to the gate. In the ultimate case of an emergency, what if (in the very definition and extreme of the term) the Saints can’t get a common ground with Drew Brees? It’s not a bad fall back to bring home town hero Peyton back to lead the Saints is it?

Much of this is speculation at its finest, but with the welcome mat being pulled in the house in Indianapolis, the unimaginable is about to become a very real situation soon. No matter what uniform he ends up in, it’s going to take a lot of eye wiping and head shaking to bring into focus. Getting ready for any and everything to take place in the biggest player auction in forever is going to be something to see, and in the end, could be the caffeine boost that either stagnant or on the verge team needs to have a pretty good run for a couple of years here.

Who’s got it in them to walk out on faith?

 

Follow me on Twitter, about 900 other folks will tell you it’s a good idea…most of the time. @CheapSeatFan.

While they didn’t make it all the way to the golden shores of Super Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers pushed their turnaround season to limit on Sunday night. Absolutely nobody would’ve picked a team coming off a 6-10 year, featuring a first time NFL coach leading a team with Alex Smith at quarterback, would end up a fumble and field goal away from being the best in the NFC this year.

Nobody.

It just goes to prove even further that nobody is ever truly out of it in the NFL. It only takes a few crucial moves, a quick change in philosophy and a bit of kind scheduling, to put a team in prime position to turn their whole fortunes around in the blink of an eye.

This time last year, nobody thought "Who's the next Alex Smith" could mean anything that didn't lead to a duel.

So who’s next? Can any of the bottom feeders from 2011 take on the full blown Cinderella move the Niners put on this year and wear the “glass cleat” they rocked almost all the way to the biggest dance of them all?

Well, yeah. It’s very possible, and there are a number of teams that have what it takes to have a day to the night that was the season that’s landed them atop the upcoming draft. So I’ve taken it upon myself to name a few of the most likely candidates to shock you later on this year.

 

Carolina Panthers: When you look at Carolina it’s easy to think Cam and that’s it, and for obvious good reason. The “better damn be Offensive Rookie of the Year to be” put on to the tune of 4,757 yards and 35 TDs this year, and carried the weight of a four game improvement. However, the best is yet to come here.

See, it seemed like it was a one man show because it had to be, mostly because they were among the most wounded teams in the league, with 18 players on the injured reserve. This impacted no side of the ball more than the defense where three starters were lost for virtually the entire season, most notably All-Pro linebacker Jon Beason. Him returning alone changes the whole potential of the club. Add in the the coin flipped eigth or ninth pick in the draft and a division full of teams undergoing makeovers and there could be a lot of noise coming out the Carolinas from more than just Mr. Newton.

The Miami Dolphins: In order to put your feet down and stop your misfortunes full speed like you’re riding that bike you had growing up with no brakes, you have to have a strength to lean on, and the Fins have that in their defense. After taking forever to wake up and realize the season had started, they played good football down the stretch. In all reality, it was more of a surprise that the defense played as bad as it did to start the year allowing the sixth fewest yards as a unit in the league.

Philbin will look to add the final spark to a Dolphins club that went 6-3 after a terrible start.

Now here’s the kicker, despite losing more games in ’11 from ’10, they actually gave up fewer points per game. As a bonus, the offense greatly overachieved in many regards, especially from the coming of age of Reggie Bush. New head coach Joe Philbin has already guarantees a change in philosophy on offense and has made landing a new QB top priority already (can you say Matt Flynn?), so pulling the offense up to speed with the defense is on pace.

Indianapolis Colts: Yeah, I know what just happened down there. It wasn’t even comical how much they got battered around the RCA Dome this year. On top of that, who knows who will be leading the way next year for that mess of an offense, will the defense get any better or who will even be calling the plays in. Sounds like a team that’s prone for another year on top of the draft right?

Wrong. The bottom line is that either Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck will be leading this team next year, and that’s worth between 5 to 7 extra wins itself. Also, they are in a division that is still far from claimed, although the Texans are on the way up.

 

The offense can still go; it just needs a capable driver to handle it and one way or another that’s guaranteed. Also there is a hyper-competitive owner in Jim Irsay that is embarrassed and doesn’t look to be too gun shy about pulling the trigger on any possible move that gets him back in the playoffs immediately. 2011 was an aberration, and this team is definitely prime for strong 180 next year.

 

For more on the march to the biggest Bowl of the year and basically everything else I may end up doing throughout the day, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.