Five Things: What To Watch This Weekend

With the Super Bowl over a week away, The Combine’s Joe Nicely offers five ways to get your sports fix this weekend.

Thanks to the NFL’s constant attempt to make itself feel important, we don’t have a Super Bowl to watch until next weekend. Next week we’ll get the ridiculous “Media Day” and non-stop TV coverage of the upcoming big game…basically a week-long NFL commercial. So, what is a football-starved sports fan supposed to watch this weekend? Here are five things that will help tide you over until Super Bowl Sunday.

1. College Basketball: Kentucky vs. Kansas (Sat. 6:00 PM)

We all know that the NCAA basketball regular season is just about jockeying for postseason position. The big boys are trying to play their way into a high seed for the NCAA Tournament in order to make their championship road as easy as possible when March rolls around. The #9-ranked Kansas Jayhawks head to Rupp Arena to face the #8-ranked Kentucky Wildcats this Saturday for what may well be a Final Four preview. This game features two perennial national powerhouse programs that have championship aspirations this season. I really like that it’s at Rupp Arena instead of being one of those chickenshit “neutral court” games. The best thing about college sports is the amazing atmosphere and “Big Blue Nation” will be fired up for this one.


2. Men’s Tennis: Australian Open Final – Novak Djokovic vs. Rafa Nadal (Sun. 3:30 AM)

I’m not a big tennis fan, but this is a clash of the titans matchup between Djokovic and Nadal, two of the game’s all-time greats. We’ve been living in what is perhaps the “Golden Age” of the men’s game with these two players and the great Roger Federer constantly battling for supremacy over the last 10-plus years. This will be the 53rd career matchup between Djokovic and Nadal, but just their second meeting at the Australian Open, with their first duel, a five-set marathon in the finals, becoming an instant classic. They have 31(!) combined grand slam titles and Djokovic is trying to win his record-breaking seventh Australian Open title. Both men are still playing at a world-class level, but we have to wonder how many more of these Djokovic/Nadal/Federer grand slam final matchups we will have a chance to watch.


3. PGA Golf: Farmers Insurance Open (Sat. and Sun.)

While I don’t watch much tennis, I actually am a big golf fan and this should be a great tournament to watch this weekend. The Farmers has the best field of players we’ve seen in 2019 and is being held at a really fun Torrey Pines golf course that will host its second U.S. Open in a couple of years. Tiger Woods is making his 2019 debut and has won at Torrey eight times in his career. It’s always fun to see the best golfers in the world doing battle on a challenging golf course. Torrey Pines has an amazing par-5 finishing hole that has water in play and always makes for riveting TV. Jason Day won last year’s epic tournament on the SIXTH(!) playoff hole.


4. NBA Basketball: Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics (Sat. 8:30 PM)

After a couple of lackluster starts, both of these teams are coming into this possible NBA Finals preview in hot form. Golden State has ran off nine straight wins and is looking like the unbeatable juggernaut we all thought they would be. DeMarcus Cousins made his Warriors debut a few nights ago and makes their starting lineup look even more unfair than it already did. It seems like a different player leads the Warriors to victory every night. The Celtics got off to a sluggish start this season and the mediocre play lasted a lot longer than anyone thought possible. Boston appears to have things heading in the right direction, winning seven of their last 10 and five straight. Kyrie Irving is a one-man whirlwind and Boston is one of the few teams with roster talent that is in the same ballpark as the Warriors.


5. NFL Football: Pro Bowl (Sun. 3:00 PM)

I don’t watch the NFL Pro Bowl. It’s undoubtedly the worst All-Star game in any of the major sports, but yet the NFL refuses to let it die the death it deserves. Major League Baseball can give us amazing hitter vs. pitcher matchups and I’m always down to watch NBA players team up and do some awesome dunks…but football just isn’t a sport that lends itself to an exhibition game. NFL players don’t have guaranteed contracts and you can’t blame them for not wanting to play in this game. About the only thing that makes this farce watchable is the fact that you can bet on it. Do yourself a favor and take the Over…you have to be a little dead inside to bet the Under in the Pro Bowl.



Hitters Who Will Benefit from New Homes in 2019

Mehall analyzes which hitters will benefit most from changes of scenery for the 2019 MLB season

A timid and monotonous off-season, coupled with a dull week of Winter Meetings, has left even the most casual baseballs disappointed with off-season results thus far. It’s no secret this free agent class was supposed to be the most exciting in recent history, with the likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado searching for new teams. Both of them remain unemployed for now.

We’ve still seen a number of players sign new contracts, such as DJ LeMahieu heading to the Yankees and Jed Lowrie winding up with the Mets. Some stars will find that their new ballparks will give them a positive uptick in production, which of course means good things for prospective fantasy owners. Thanks to FantasyPros here for the assist with its Park Factors (PF) statistic, which compares a ballpark’s rate of stats at home versus the rate of stats on the road. 1.000 is the baseline value for a neutral park. Any figure greater than 1.000 favors hitters. Without further ado, let’s dive into the part one of hitters whose new homes are signs of good things to come this year.

Daniel Murphy

By all accounts, Murphy’s 2018 season was a disappointment on the fantasy front, and a slow rehab from offseason knee surgery did no good to help. The thirty three year-old second baseman only made 351 plate appearances and his two year streak of at least 23 homers ended. There are a few metrics behind the dip in power outside of the late start. Murphy’s HR/FB dropped over two percent to 10.5%, while his hard hit rate saw a significant drop to 26.1%, compared to 38 and 35% from his 2016 and 2017 All Star seasons. That should already convince fantasy managers positive regression is coming. The added incentive to pursue Daniel Murphy in your drafts is his move to Coors Field.

The three-time All Star signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Rockies in December. Even after playing 35 games at Wrigley Field, Murphy heads to one of the best hitters’ havens in the league. Coors plays much better to lefties in the power department, with a 1.275 HR Park Factor rating compared to just 0.885 at Wrigley. Furthermore, Murphy should also see an increase in the amount of Doubles he swats. In his shortened 2018, he slapped 15 two-baggers, compared to 47 and 43 in his two previous campaigns. With the dimensions at Coors park and a 1.288 PF, Murphy should expect to be much closer to his 162 game average of 42 doubles. Be sure to keep an eye on Daniel Murphy in your draft and pay for a strong rebound.

Brian Dozier

In my best Cris Collinsworth voice, now HERE’s a guy who too had a rough 2018 season between Minnesota and LA after back-to-back MVP caliber stints with the Twins. Brian Dozier watched his average, home run output, runs scored and hits drop to some of the lowest totals since his 2013 season. When observing his batted ball profile, there is not any drastic difference across his last three seasons between his contact or fly ball rates. However, a closer look shows his HR/FB% dropped six percentage points and his BAPIP tanked from .300 to .240. That’s more than enough to see his stat lines so negatively affected.

While Dozier spent the majority of his season in Minneapolis, his decline in LA cannot be ignored. This can be attributed to the poor park factors at Dodger Stadium, one of the worst run-suppressing (0.877 PF) and below-average homer (0.994) parks across the majors for right handed hitters. Now, we see a new hope for Dozier. Just last week, the Washington Nationals inked him to a one-year, $9 million deal. Nationals Park has a similar profile to Target Field, with righties seeing a slightly above average 1.051 PF for runs and a more favorable 1.150 factor for home runs.  As a result, Dozier will feel right at home, assuming his BAPIP recovers to his career .272 spot. Expect another 25+ homer and double-digit steal campaign from Brian Dozier.

Yasmani Grandal

I would be a fool to assume most baseball fans did not already know about Yasmani Grandal’s prowess at the plate. He has established himself as a top fantasy backstop, even with Austin Barnes breathing down his neck in LA, mashing 20+ homers his last three seasons. Grandal did so in the not-so-friendly-confines of Dodger Stadium, a venue that proved to be a poor fit for former teammate Brian Dozier. What’s most impressive is that Grandal can do even better. His 18% HR/FB profile in 2017 and 2018 do not come close to his 25% mark in 2016, the same year he hit a career high 27 home runs (mind you, he took 50 less at-bats in 2016 than he did in 2018).

The rich keep getting richer. In January, the Milwaukee Brewers penned the 29 year-old catcher to a lucrative one-year, $18.25 million deal, where he will have virtually no competition for playing time. The Brewers lineup is stacked as is with Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames and more. Now, Grandal will get ample opportunities to drive in more runs and hit in home-run friendly ballpark. FantasyPros rates Miller Park as an above average HR venue with a 1.10 PF, well above the 0.994 mark of Dodgers Stadium. Add in Grandal’s switch hitting skills, and as a lefty he will see that PF shoot up to 1.20. Grandal will be a surefire top 5 catcher in 2019 drafts, and is well worth paying a higher round to fill your C position.

Instant Analysis – Angels sign Matt Harvey & Trevor Cahill

Josh takes a look into the signings of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill by the Los Angeles Angels

The Angels made two very underrated signings this week in signing Matt Harvey (1/$11M) and Trevor Cahill (1/$9M).

Matt Harvey:

Matt Harvey has been injured or a disappointment for the past three seasons… but you may forget that he was pitching like a Cy Young winner the three seasons prior. Obviously the TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) derailed his once promising career, but it isn’t a death wish.

For reference, the Angels were rocking a rotation with Andrew Heaney as their #1, so anything would be an upgrade for them. Considering those circumstances and their payroll limitations, I think Harvey for 1/$11M is a great deal for them.

Harvey threw 155 IP last year and seemed to find some life in CIN after the trade with the Mets. His 4.33 FIP with the Reds won’t jump off the page but he could keep improving as he distances himself from the surgery.

If he can go for 160+ IP in 2019, which is no certainty with he track record lately, I can see him throw in the 3.80-4.20 ERA range with the defense behind him and snag double-digit wins.

It’s also worth noting that this offseason has seen Lance Lynn (3/$30M) and Anibal Sanchez (2/$19M + incentives) sign bigger than expected deals. For the same annual commitment as those two combined, the Angels got two pitchers with higher upside and only committed $20M combined (as opposed to $49M+).

Grade: B+

Trevor Cahill:

Cahill is in a similar situation… when he’s on, he’s on… but he’s also usually injured.

In 2018, he managed a 3.76 ERA (3.54 FIP) and surprisingly provided immense value for the A’s. But here’s where I go somewhat bold… I think Cahill posts an ERA in the range of 3.25 with the Angels in 2019. Am I tipping the eggnog early?… No. This is an extreme groundball pitcher with potentially the greatest defensive SS in MLB history AND a well above-average Zack Cozart at either 2B or 3B behind him.

Overall, it is ironic to see a team play “moneyball” with a payroll as high as the Angels… but they did well here. Their next big obstacle is to get Trout to sign a lifetime deal with them… but that’s another article for another day.

Grade: A


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*Photo by Hayden Schiff

Instant Analysis – Patrick Corbin signs with the Nationals

A quick look into the signing of Patrick Corbin by the Washington Nationals

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

In somewhat of a stunner, Patrick Corbin signed with the Nationals for 6 years and $140M.  The money falls in line with the 6/$132M I predicted in my Presidente’s 2018-2019 MLB Offseason Free Agent Predictions.  Everyone (including myself) had Corbin going to the Yankees… with a slight possibility of going to Philly.  However, the Nationals were the team to make the mistake.

If there was ever a poster-child for a player that balled real hard in a contract year and parlayed it into a fat deal, it is Patrick Corbin.



121 GS, 45-47, 4.12 ERA (3.96 FIP), 7.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9


33 GS, 11-7, 3.15 ERA (2.47 FIP), 11.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9


This deal basically comes down to if you believe 2018 was real or an aberration… and I tend to lean heavily to the aberration side of it.  Plus, I never recommend 5+ year contracts to pitchers… especially when you’re paying for their decline.

Overall, this seemed like a dumb move for a team that needs a 2B, RP, and to lock up their young stars before they leave like Harper.  Having roughly $80M/year tied up between their “big 3” will make it tough to keep their other stars like Rendon AND put championship talent around them.


Grade – D+


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*Photo by Not that Bob James

Instant Analysis – JA Happ Re-Signs with the Yankees

A quick look into the signing of JA Happ by the Yankees

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.


JA Happ resigned with the Yankees for 2 years and $34M (plus a 3rd year vesting option for $17M).  Again, I was very close but no cigar.  I had J.A. Happ going to Toronto for 3 years and $48M in my Presidente’s 2018-2019 MLB Offseason Free Agent Predictions.

A proven lefty with a great track record in the AL East and a shorter term contract… can’t ask for much more in this market.  I am never a fan of giving a P more than 4 years because the of risk.  Granted a team like the Yankees can (and have) take that risk but it has never really worked out.  As far as the “Mid-tier” goes this year, I’d take Charlie Morton and JA Happ as the best value + performance of any free agent pitcher on a multi-year deal.


Happ’s stats from 2016-2018 (TOR (77 GS) and NYY (11 GS)):

47-21, 3.44 ERA, 518 IP, 498 K/157 BB, 3.91 FIP

Even better, here are his stats vs the AL East in 2018:

vs BOS – 4 GS, 1.99 ERA, 1-1

vs TB – 3 GS, 1.53 ERA, 1-1

vs TOR –  1 GS, 3.38 ERA, 1-0

vs BAL – 5 GS, 1.55 ERA, 3-0


Although the dollars are a little high for a SP entering his age 36 season, it is a good signing in my opinion.  The Yankees didn’t have to make the 5-6 year-long mistake that they are accustomed to make.  Happ has the kind of stuff that will age well and health permitting, will be a solid #3/4 for them in 2019.

Grade – B+


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*Photo by Keith Allison

Instant Analysis – Rays/Indians/Mariners 3-Way Trade

A quick look into the 3 team trade with the Rays, Indians, and Mariners

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

Finally some real action in Vegas.  A three team deal has been announced between the Rays, Indians, and Mariners.

Mariners receive:

  • 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion
  • Comp Pick (Round B, Pick #77 from CLE)

Indians receive:

  • 1B/DH Carlos Santana
  • 1B/OF Jake Bauers
  • Cash considerations ($5M from TB + $1M from SEA)

Rays receive:

  • UTIL Yandy Diaz
  • P Cole Sulser


For the Rays:

They trade the only real 1B on their roster to CLE (and cash to Mariners for some reason) for a 27 year old utility infielder with no power or speed and a 29 year old minor league pitcher… not even a prospect.  This makes zero sense for the Rays.

Grade – F


For the Indians:

The Indians shifted some money around and brought back a familiar face in Carlos Santana.  Santana is owed $35M over the next 2 seasons vs Encarnacion’s $25M in 2019.  The end game here is they now owe Santana $29M over 2 years, rather than $25M to EE for one year.  Plus they get a useful bench bat in Bauers.

Grade – B+


For the Mariners:

Finally, Dipoto wins a deal!  The Mariners basically took on ~$6M in 2019 to clear their 2020 books AND got a comp pick in round B… and they can probably move EE pretty easily if they wanted to.  Even if they don’t move EE, they save a ton of money and could potentially strike gold in the draft and add to their system.  GREAT move for the Mariners.

Grade – A


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*Photo by Keith Allison

Instant Analysis – Joe Kelly signs with the Dodgers

A quick look into the signing of Joe Kelly by the LA Dodgers

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

Relief Pitcher Joe Kelly has reportedly agreed to a 3 year/$25M deal to join his opponent in the 2018 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I had Kelly returning to the Red Sox for 3 years and $27M in my Presidente’s 2018-2019 MLB Offseason Free Agent Predictions.  The money was in line but I chose the wrong World Series team.

There is no question Kelly has electric stuff, but he has problems locating.  Take a look at his past two seasons:

2017 – 58 IP, 2.79 ERA (3.49 FIP), 52 K/27 BB

2018 – 65.2 IP, 4.39 ERA (3.57 FIP), 68 K/32 BB

They show similar peripherals, but vastly different results.

But here’s a fun stat… In the past 3 years with Boston, Kelly has allowed 1 ER an 17 K/0 BB in 17.2 IP in the postseason.  How’s that for showing up on the big stage?

Overall, he has the stuff and experience that the Dodgers need come October… but can he harness it?  It’s not a huge risk for someone like the Dodgers, but an overpay in my opinion.  For my money, I’d rather take a flier on someone like Carson Smith, David Phelps, or AJ Ramos combined for the same amount.  We’ll see how it shapes up though.

Grade – B

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*Photo by Keith Allison

Instant Analysis – Jeurys Familia signs with the Mets

A quick look into the signing of Jeurys Familia by the New York Mets

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

Jeurys Familia has reportedly agreed to a 3 year/$30M deal to return to the New York Mets.  I had Familia going back to the Mets (to be their closer) for 3 years and $36M in my Presidente’s 2018-2019 MLB Offseason Free Agent Predictions.

This one is a little surprising because you would think he could’ve found a closing gig somewhere… I mean this is a guy that had 51 saves in 2016 for the Mets…  Maybe he wanted to show loyalty to the team that stood by him after he was arrested for domestic violence?  Who knows?

The Mets paid damn near “closer money” for Familia to setup for Diaz and they are looking at a formidable 7-8-9 in 2019.  Familia finished 2018 in Oakland and combined to throw 72 IP, 3.13 ERA (2.65 FIP) and 83 K/21 BB.

Overall the money is high for a setup man, but less than I expected him to get.  I think there would be better deals for setup men but their FAMILIArity probably goes a long way… further than that lame dad joke.

Grade – B+


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*Photo by Arturo Pardavila III

Instant Analysis – Tanner Roark traded to the Reds

A quick look into the trade of Tanner Roark to the Reds

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.

For the Reds:

They receive a SP with the ability to eat innings. The last two seasons, Roark has left a lot to be desired and I thought he would be a non-tender candidate. He averaged 181.2 IP per year with a 4.50 ERA and a 4.20 FIP. He doesn’t strike out many batters out and doesn’t light up a radar gun… but like Ivan Nova, you know he’ll be out there every five days. Like the White Sox trade for Nova, I think the Reds would’ve been better off signing someone via free agency. The bright side is he is a groundball pitcher and the Reds should have a good defense behind him?

Grade – C-

For the Nationals:

They save ~$9M… that’s it. The guy they got in return, Tanner Rainey, got lit up in his debut last season and has mediocre minor league stats. I can’t see him being anything more than AAA depth, if anything. Again, Roark should’ve been non-tendered.

Grade – C

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Instant Analysis – Lance Lynn signs with the Rangers

A quick look into the signing of Lance Lynn by the Texas Rangers

This offseason, I will be diving into the notable moves made and their impact to their individual teams and potential fantasy baseball implications.


A guy I didn’t even have on my top 30 free agents, Lance Lynn signed a 3 year deal for $30M with the Texas Rangers.

Guys… this absolutely blows my mind.  A guy with a penchant to give up the long ball and coming off a bad year (4.84 ERA and 3.84 FIP) after pitching in the AL for the first time, is handed 3 years and $30M by a rebuilding team.

Rumors had the Rangers in on Charlie Morton, who signed today with the Rays for $30M… did Jon Daniels decide to just reallocate those funds to a worse pitcher?  If you’re rebuilding, you sign high-upside guys to one year deals and try to flip them at the deadline… guys like Matt Harvey, Gio Gonzalez, etc.

Lance Lynn COULD do a mediocre job for the Rangers, but this is a case of too long of a commitment and for a team that isn’t competing in 2019.

Grade – D


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*Photo by Keith Allison

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