Friday, February 27, 2009

Haynesworth to the Redskins; Hall re-signs (updated)

After not making much of a move in free agency last year, Daniel Snyder has had no problem spending a ton of money on the first full day that teams can sign free agents.

According to ESPN and other sources, the Redskins have signed defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a seven-year, $100 million dollar deal, which includes $41 million in guaranteed money. The Redskins also re-signed cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a six-year, $54 million dollar deal with $24 million in guaranteed money. Haynesworth turns 27 in June, and Hall turned 25 in November; so maybe Snyder has learned that it isn't best to sign top players past their primes.

It's amazing that Snyder keeps getting the Redskins in position to sign high-priced players year after year with his salary cap maneuvering. But they're probably not done signing free agents, so I'll give a more detailed opinion/post when they're finished.


According to an article on, Haynesworth's deal is pretty interesting:

League sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that a $29 million "poison pill" in the fifth year of Haynesworth's contract effectively makes it a four-year deal worth $48 million. The Redskins would owe Haynesworth a lump sum of $29 million in salary and bonuses in 2013, the fifth year of the deal. It is unlikely the team will pay the full commitment of $100 million over seven years unless the contract is re-negotiated. Haynesworth will receive $41 million in guaranteed money.

There's not much of a chance that Snyder would pay Haynesworth $29 million for one season, so the deal appears a little better than at first glance. It's still a big cap number and a big risk, but the guaranteed money means nothing to Snyder anyway.

Just know that Haynesworth will not be making $100 million in Washington.

Dockery comes back to Washington

According to Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post, guard Derrick Dockery will be the third major signing of the offseason for the Redskins. The deal appears to be for five years and around $27 million, with $8.5 million in guaranteed money.

Dockery fills a huge need on the offensive line for the Redskins, who struggled to protect quarterback Jason Campbell as the season progressed. This move probably means that Pete Kendall will not return, and as of right now, the Redskins line would probably look like this:

LT: Chris Samuels (31)
LG: Derrick Dockery (28)
C: Casey Rabach (31)
RG: Randy Thomas (33)
RT: Jon Jansen (33) or Stephon Heyer (25)

That's a decent line, but it's also really old. The Redskins MUST still address both the offensive and defensive lines in the draft to get younger and to add more depth -- unless, of course, Daniel Snyder somehow signs 15 more guys and finds a way to get them all under the cap.

For those keeping track at home, Snyder has handed out nearly $74 million in guaranteed money for three players: Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall, and Dockery.

Nick Young: change he probably didn't need (updated)

With President Barack Obama attending the Bulls-Wizards game tonight, perhaps Wizards guard Nick Young wanted to show off a new haircut to impress him -- or maybe not. Either way, things didn't quite work out that well.

Ivan Carter writes:

Nothing really new to report about the Wizards, who have lost two straight - both here at home - and continue to lack anything looking like consistency. Nick Young will sport a bald look however. Apparently he messed up while doing something with the clippers and had to shave it off. He was getting killed in the locker room before the game.

It doesn't really look that bad, but maybe that's because he's wearing a headband right now. Still, I'd expect nothing less when Young is involved.

(I just added the picture, so now you can see Young's new look. Also, Brad Miller makes some odd faces.)

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kurkjian has some harsh but honest words for Mike and Mike

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, who regularly appears on the radio show Mike and Mike in the Morning, apparently has no problem being brutally straightforward on what he thinks about the show.

"I've acknowledged several times on that show that 'this is the stupidest show I’ve ever been on.' And I really mean that and I actually mean that in a really nice way. You suspend all journalism, obviously, when you go on that show, and I've made the point several times that I used to be a journalist, but now I’m a cartoon character when I go on their show."

If you've ever listened to Mike and Mike, you know exactly what he's talking about. Then again, it's not really a good thing to have one of the better baseball writers come on a show to be "a cartoon character" for 15 minutes.

If you're a fan of Mike and Mike, Kurkjian's comments certainly won't sway your decision to keep listening. Nonetheless, his thoughts are pretty funny.

Dave Neal's screen

Hopefully Nolan Smith is OK. Still, it was a great screen by Neal -- plus he hit a three right afterwards.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Duke tops Maryland, 78-67

Maryland, trying to ride a wave of momentum and complete an improbable two-game stretch against No. 3 North Carolina and No. 7 Duke, fell behind late in the second half when Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler hit consecutive three-pointers. Ahead 66-60, Duke took the lead for good.

The Terps could've used more from its best player, Greivis Vasquez, in the second half, but he picked up his fourth personal foul with 18 minutes left in the game. Because of the foul trouble, Vasquez was limited to 22 minutes (10 points, six rebounds, five assists) in the game. Sean Mosley also missed a few minutes in the second half after apparently twisting his ankle.

Landon Milbourne (19 points), Adrian Bowie (14 points), and Eric Hayes (10 points) all had solid games. Dave Neal had an OK night with six points, but he did have one bone-jarring screen on Nolan Smith, who didn't return to the game afterwards.

Unfortunately, Cliff Tucker didn't contribute much, as he had just four points in 19 minutes on one-of-five shooting. Apparently he can only score points against North Carolina; he hasn't scored more than 14 points against anyone else this season.

Duke might have been in trouble if not for the play of Henderson -- 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and four blocks. Henderson got Duke going with a thunderous dunk early in the second half, and he also played pretty good defense and made some timely blocks. He stepped up for Singler, who didn't have one of his best games.

Even with the loss, Maryland still controls its NCAA Tournament chances. The Terps' three remaining games are: at NC State, home against No. 14 Wake Forest, and at Virginia. With the way Wake Forest has been playing, all three games are winnable.

The loss to Duke hurts, as it always does, but there's still plenty of work to be done. Now isn't the time for panic.

AP Photo/Rob Carr

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Terps get key ACC win

In shocking and exciting fashion, the Terps stunned third-ranked North Carolina today in overtime, 88-85.

Down nine at the half and as much as 16 at one point, the Terps, led by the all-around play of Greivis Vasquez and the hot shooting of Cliff Tucker, battled back against the Tar Heels and finally earned an important in-conference victory.

Vasquez finished the game with the third triple-double in Maryland history; he had 35 points (13-24 shooting), 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He also had seven turnovers -- but whatever. Tucker came out of nowhere to hit five of seven three-pointers and had 22 points. Hayes added 17 points, but no one else scored more than six.

Facing a size disadvantage, Maryland was outrebounded 46 to 38. Yet the Terps held Tyler Hansbrough to 11 points on four-of-12 shooting. North Carolina also shot just 26.3 percent from three-point range, compared to a crazy 64 percent in their 108-91 victory over the Terps on Feb. 3.

Now 6-6 in the ACC, the Terps' final four games include: No. 9 Duke, at N.C. State, No. 8 Wake Forest, and at Virginia. Winning two of the four and winning at least one game in the ACC Tournament would seemingly point to an NCAA Tournament berth for Gary Williams. Three wins would certainly guarantee it, though that is unlikely.

Nonetheless, the win over UNC is huge, and the Terps should be ecstatic.

AP Photo/Rob Carr

Friday, February 20, 2009

Redskins release Washington

In case you hadn't heard, the Redskins released linebacker Marcus Washington earlier today.

The Washington Post's Jason La Canfora summarizes the move pretty well:

Washington's departure will save the team $4 million in cap space (a $2 million dead cap fee remains from a signing bonus proration, but his salary is off the books). He was very popular with fans and teammates alike, but could not get on the field with regularity and had a difficult time making plays in 2008.

Washington, who signed with the Redskins in 2004, probably had his best season in 2005 when he totaled 93 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one interception. But since that season, his time on the field has declined; he played in just 14, 12, and 10 games in 2006, 2007, and 2008, respectively.

Still, Washington will be remembered for playing solid defense and providing lots of entertainment with dance moves like this. (Try to ignore the stupid fans in the background calling for Collins.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

LeBron James's act is getting old

If you watched the 2009 NBA Slam Dunk contest tonight, then you already know that LeBron James announced his preliminary intentions for being in the 2010 event. If not, then, well, you just found out.

I'm not sure why it didn't hit me at first, but the announcement wasn't some spur of the moment or spontaneous move by James; he's been planning this for a while. LeBron's big move is coming in the summer of 2010, like so many NBA fans already know, when James and several other superstars (Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, Ginobili, Nowitzki, Redd, etc.) will hit the free agent market.

When I first heard LeBron's statement on TNT during the competition, I thought, wow, maybe he's changing a little. Maybe he's going to do something just for the hell of it. But no, he's not.

My beef with James has never had anything to do with his talent. There isn't anything on the basketball court he can't do. He's going to end up being one of the best players of all time, no question about it. But fans have wanted to see him in the slam dunk contest for years, and he always brushed it off for no reason. He always acted above it, like he was too big for such a thing.

And now, when it benefits him most to be involved, he makes the announcement as if he just thought it over real quick on the sidelines.

It may be a genius move for him, his bank account, and his overall popularity as a player, but the timing of the move is pretty weak when considering the rationale for it.

Thanks again, LeBron. Maybe you won't be so lame in the future.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One more Gary Williams post

With this post, three of my last five blog entries have been about Maryland basketball and Gary Williams. For some reason, I'm extremely intrigued by the intense debate going on about whether or not Williams should focus more on recruiting or just stick to his guns and do as he always has.

But I'm not the only one that's interested. I've read a few articles on the same topic, with varying opinions, and I've heard several discussions on sports talk radio. Just about everyone has a take on this issue; some are on Williams's side, and some thinks he needs to change and do whatever he has to to get more talent to College Park. To me, the whole thing is fascinating.

I know that Williams isn't the only college basketball coach who refuses to cheat when he recruits, but he does seem to be the only one who holds a grudge against AAU coaches and almost completely refuses to deal with them at all.

Anyway, Washington Post writers Steve Yanda and Eric Prisbell recently put together a fantastic three-part series on Williams and the apparent decline of Maryland basketball in the last several years. Part one deals with the decline, part two examines recruiting and the shady world of AAU basketball, and part three looks at the possibility of a solid 2010 season for the Terps.

In my view, part two is the best and most informative of the three. In part two, a few coaches give their opinions on Williams and the dilemma at hand, and the Rudy Gay recruiting controversy is discussed. Unfortunately, Yanda and Prisbell kind of mailed in part three instead of hammering home many of the points made in the previous two articles. They could have interviewed some former Maryland players and compared their experiences being recruiting by Maryland and Williams to the examples of Deron Williams, Matt Walsh, Josh Boone, Scottie Reynolds, Joe Alexander, and Malcolm Delaney in the first article.

Nonetheless, all three articles are well done and provide great analysis to anyone who wants to learn more about Williams's philosophies on recruiting or gain some insight on the overall topic.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More Gary Williams bashing

Not that it's breaking news, but the criticism of Maryland head basketball coach Gary Williams is far from over.

Jason King of Yahoo! Sports recently wrote an interesting piece on the whole Williams saga. As expected, King focused on the recruiting angle, which is what Williams has been attacked for recently.

The lead of the story might be the most telling of Williams and the recruiting situation:

But when high school standout Kendall Marshall went to Maryland for an unofficial visit, he never met the head coach. Instead of Gary Williams, Marshall and his parents were greeted at the Comcast Center by a Terrapins assistant.

After asking Marshall’s mother to wait outside, the assistant escorted Marshall and his father, Dennis, into a musty men’s dressing room, clearing away clutter so the two could sit. Using a dry erase board, he gave the Marshalls a short presentation about how Kendall would fit into Maryland’s program.

And then?

“That was it,” Dennis Marshall said. “The whole visit was over in 20 minutes. No tour of the campus, no tour of the facilities … nothing. We just walked back to our car and went home.”

A few months later, Marshall – the fifth-best point guard in the Class of 2010, according to – committed to North Carolina. Instead of making the 40-minute drive from Arlington, Va., to watch his son play at Maryland, Dennis Marshall is preparing for a lot of four-hour treks to Chapel Hill.

There's a whole lot more -- seriously, it's well worth the read -- but the dilemma basically goes back to the fact that Williams is a tremendous coach -- but one who won't bend the rules to get high caliber players into a Terps uniform. He wants players that fit his system, and he has no problem giving his support to players whom he actually covets.

And, obviously, various AAU coaches, who Williams doesn't really have much contact with, don't understand what he's doing.

These days, though, simply talking to a high-profile recruit requires going through layers of AAU coaches, mentors, handlers and advisors – some of whom expect perks such as getting a job on a college coaching staff. It’s a situation that disgusts old-school coaches such as Williams, but it’s also a situation that isn’t going to change.

“The game is different now,” said Boo Williams, who runs one of the country’s most successful AAU programs. “With some of these kids, it starts as far back as elementary school. There are a lot of people you have to touch hands with to get in on a recruit.

“I sure hope [Gary Williams] changes, because that’s how it is now.”

If you can't trust a guy named Boo Williams, who can you really trust?

Seriously though, it's unlikely that Williams will change this late in his coaching career. But it's also true that Maryland just doesn't seem to have as much talent as several other ACC teams.

Do you think Williams should take some more risks? Or do you just think he should be more active in recruiting in general?

What will happen? Only Williams knows for sure.

Friday, February 6, 2009

O's offseason moves draw praise

Andy MacPhail has a plan, and, for the second straight offseason, has made some shrewd baseball decisions.

Here's a quick recap of the moves this winter (not in chronological order):

  • Traded Ramon Hernandez and cash to the Reds for Ryan Freel, Justin Turner, and Brandon Waring.
  • Signed Nick Markakis to a six-year, $66 million extenson.
  • Signed Koji Uehara to a two-year, $10 million dollar contract.
  • Signed Ty Wigginton to a two-year, $6 million dollar deal.
  • Inked Cesar Izturis to a two-year, $5 million dollar contract.
  • Avoided arbitration with Luke Scott: one-year, $2.4 million deal.
  • Signed Mark Hendrickson to a one-year, $1.5 million dollar contract.
  • Gave Greg Zaun a one-year, $1.5 million dollar deal with a 2010 club option.
  • Avoided arbitration with George Sherrill: one-year, $2.75 million deal.
  • Dealt Garrett Olson and Henry Williamson to the Cubs for Felix Pie.
  • Let Brian Burres, Luis Hernandez, Alex Cintron, Juan Castro, Lance Cormier, Rocky Cherry, Brandon Fahey, Kevin Millar, Freddie Bynum, Jay Payton, and Daniel Cabrera leave for other teams. (Mostly the Blue Jays and Nationals)
  • Traded Randor Bierd to the Red Sox for David Pauley.
  • Signed Donnie Murphy, Justin Christian, Robby Hammock, Chad Moeller, John Parrish, Brad Hennessey, and Chris Gomez to minor league deals.
  • Received Rich Hill from the Cubs for a player to be named later.

That's a lot of small moves. So, besides the big contract extension given to Markakis, which certainly needed to happen, the Orioles signed a few players to relatively cheap one- and two-year deals. The O's didn't lose any player of significant talent in their trades, and they acquired a couple of players with some upside who could pan out: Pie, Hill, Pauley, Hennessey, etc. And if they don't, that's fine.

The important thing is that the Orioles didn't throw a ton of money at one player who could really hurt them down the road. This offseason didn't have any Albert Belles, David Seguis, Javy Lopezes, or Rafael Palmeiros. MacPhail already knows that this team needs to build from the ground up; he's not going to jeopardize that.

Back to the point, though; a few smart baseball writers are on board with what the Orioles are trying to do. Not that it's a huge deal, but I'm at least surprised -- and moderately excited -- that the Orioles are actually earning some props for apparently doing something right.

Tom Verducci is impressed with the Orioles' outfield and young talent:

Realistically, they have no shot at the playoffs, not in the AL East. But Baltimore actually has an honest-to-goodness shortstop now, Cesar Izturis, and under Andy MacPhail has a deep collection of young arms that will audition throughout the season. Only the Rangers allowed more runs than the 869 yielded by Baltimore pitchers last season, so improved run prevention should not be too difficult. With an exciting young outfield (Felix Pie, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis) and the next great catching prospect (Matt Wieters), the Orioles at last are on the right track.

Keith Law, who gives a straight-forward answer, believes the Orioles are making smart moves:

john (baltimore, md): Have you been impressed with Andy MacPhail with the Orioles? Player development for the O's seems to be going in the right direction?
Keith Law: Yes, and yes.

And Jayson Stark recently talked with an MLB scout who likes the addition of Rich Hill to the rotation.

"I think Rich Hill can win 10 to 12 games in Baltimore," [said the scout.] "He's a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he's a major league pitcher. He's left-handed. And he's going to be around the right people. [Pitching coach] Rick Kranitz will be good with him, and [manager] Dave Trembley will be good with him. So he should be a lot more relaxed than he was in Chicago."

Just like last offseason, most, if not all, of the moves the Orioles made during this offseason seem to serve a purpose, and none of them will cripple the Orioles in any way going forward. The Orioles are at least somewhat better at this point than they were a few months ago. What else can you ask for? (And if your answer is: Sign Adam Dunn or Ben Sheets, then you have failed Orioles Rebuilding 101.)

(Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for some O's salary information.)

Deron Williams's crossover

Apparently Williams is not a big fan of Jason Terry.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII pick

Steelers 24, Cardinals 13

No in-depth analysis on this one. Just a hunch.

I also find it hard to believe that, if the Cardinals win, the Redskins will have beaten the last two Super Bowl champs in the regular season. It doesn't mean anything -- just saying.

Enjoy the game.