- BJ Upton is an Atlanta Brave. 5 years and $75 million is the cost of the deal, and Atlanta has a 28-year-old center fielder. Overall, this is a win for both sides. $15 million a year is probably a slight overpayment, but if you take a look at previous numbers combined with age, Upton could also be a decent value. He's coming off a "bad" season where he posted only a .298 OBP (by far the worst of his career), but he managed to hit a career-high 28 homers and steal 31 bases which helped to hold his value with a 3.3 FanGraphs WAR. There are concerns about his plate discipline that are 100% based on last year's season, but there's also reason to believe that the norm for Upton is somewhere in the .320 OBP range, and that's more than acceptable given his premium position, defense, and power. In addition, a lot has been made of Upton's penchant for striking out, as he has K'd 150+ times for four straight years, but it's almost as if people have forgotten that Michael Bourn struck out 155 times last year. This isn't a worry when you factor in that a) he isn't a leadoff hitter, and b) he has power. The best part about this signing is that Atlanta has locked up Upton for his peak seasons between ages 28 and 32, which should assure that he's capable of playing above-average defense in CF for the entirety of the deal and that there's a small sliver of hope that he could actually be better in Atlanta than he was in Tampa with ballpark factors and bounce-back potential in his ability to get on-base. One final note surrounds Upton's durability. Something like "playing in all of your team's games" gets overlooked.... until you have someone that doesn't.... but Upton has played in 145+ games in 5 straight seasons, and that helps with "safety" concerns. Basically, I wish Atlanta could've gotten him for $60-65 million as I had opined for previously, but this isn't a disastrously huge contract, and I think Upton fits nicely next to Jason Heyward in the outfield for the next 5 years.
On to everything else...
- Louisville is headed to the ACC for 2014 in a move made to replace newly-departed Maryland. My question is: did the ACC actually make out better here? I absolutely disdain all of the conference alignments at this point, but given that they aren't going away, isn't Louisville a better commodity in basketball and football than Maryland? Strong by the ACC, who now has a 3rd basketball power to go with UNC and Duke, as well as the current "best in the Big East" football program.
- NBA Roundup - The Atlanta Hawks won their 6th straight decision over the Bobcats in Philips Arena last night. The result was too close for comfort (94-91) but it's another win. Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Lou Williams had 17 a piece in the victory. Washington got a win! The Wiz beat the struggling Blazers 84-82, and that's all you need to know. There was a massive fight in the Celtics/Nets game that saw Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries go at it. There will be a suspension coming for Rondo and Boston lost the game 95-83. Double whammy. And finally, OKC spoiled the return of James Harden with a 120-98 domination of Houston. Harden struggled mightily, shooting just 3 of 19, but the story was Kevin Durant and his 37 points on 13 of 22 shooting.
- College Hoops! - Duke got the headline victory of the night over Ohio State by a 73-68 tally. After trailing by 8 at the half, the Blue Devils blitzed OSU in the 2nd frame, scoring 50 points and seizing the victory. Also, OSU was held to just 34% shooting on the night, and Mason Plumlee was easily the player of the game with 21 points and 17 boards for Duke. For reference, Duke has now beaten the #2 (Louisville), #3 (Kentucky), and #4 (OSU) teams in the country when they played them, and have the best resume in the country. Elsewhere, Michigan State was upset down in Miami as they fell 67-59 to the Canes and Illinois held serve 75-62 over a game Georgia Tech squad by making 14 of 28 threes in the contest. To recap, the ACC/Big 10 challenge.... It split itself 6-6. Good job, good effort.
- Is Aroldis Chapman headed to the rotation for the Reds? It looks that way after Cincy signed Jonathan Broxton for 3 years and $21 million. It was inevitable that they would move Chapman to the rotation simply because the value is so much greater in that spot, and that's the right move. However, signing the mediocre Broxton to a 3-year contract at big money? That's an awful move that I'm sure Dusty Baker was the influence on. Good luck with that.
What to watch for on Thursday (in chronological order)...
- 7:00 - NCAAB - #8 Kentucky @ Notre Dame (ESPN2) - Gotta love the blatant rip-off that is the SEC/Big East challenge! Anyway, this is a nice game as the very, very young Kentucky squad has to go on the road here.
- 7:30 - NCAAF - Louisville @ Rutgers (ESPN) - This is the de facto Big East championship game for a spot in the BCS. Therefore, it actually matters.
- 8:00 - NBA - Spurs @ Heat (TNT) - This is the best game of the NBA season so far and I mean that. A potential Finals preview (the one I picked, in fact) and a battle of 12-3 vs. 10-3 in the record book. It's a must-see and it's really a shame to be going against the best Thursday Night NFL game of the year.
- 8:20 - NFL - Saints @ Falcons (NFL Network) - The aforementioned best of the NFL's Thursday night slate so far, and it happens to be in my backyard. New Orleans has absolutely owned the Falcons, even during the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan resurgence, but I like Atlanta in the game at home. Will be toggling back and forth with Spurs/Heat all night, but this is the main focus in the ATL.
- 9:00 - NCAAB - Marquette @ #7 Florida (ESPN2) - This is the better game of the two because a) Marquette is better than Notre Dame, and b) I actually think Florida is the favorite in the SEC.
- 10:30 - NBA - Nuggets @ Warriors (TNT) - Fast-paced and a million points here. Perfect late game for entertainment purposes.