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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bruins: A rebuttal to opinion on free agency

I was reading an article on The Hub Of Hockey and could not help to voice my opinion against it. The article, entitled "Bruins must be active during free-agency" by Mark Marino explains how it would be nice not to trade Marc Savard yet somehow find a way to dump either Tim Thomas or Michael Ryders' contracts and move after a young scorer, in this case Duck's young forward Bobby Ryan, a restricted free agent.

What really gets my goat is that a good portion of the article is still going back to the loss of Phil Kessel as the primary reason the Bruins scored 74 less goals in 2009-10 than in 2008-09.

Consider this: The Bruins last year had a 7.5 percent shooting percentage. League average is around 10 percent (2008-09 Bruins shot 10.9 percent). This, like the BABIP stat in baseball, is one that tends to come back to the mean and is somewhat a signifier of luck. How many times last year did you see a sure goal bounce away? Those goals would go in in a different year. The Bruins deficit of goals from 2008-09 to 09-10 cannot, and should not, be attributed to Phil Kessel. Yes, perhaps he was a percentage but the problems the Bruins faced last year (injuries leading to lack of length on the lines) would not have been fixed directly with Kessel. I am of the opinion that, without doing much maneuvering, the Bruins would come back to the middle of the pack in scoring. Add Horton and Seguin, a healthy Krejci, Savard and Lucic an maturation from Blake Wheeler (which is distinctly possible) and the Bruins might be looking at a good scoring team. Better than average, at least. It is not unreasonable to expect a jump in scoring though it probably is unreasonable to say the Bruins get back to 2008-09 levels no matter what they do. It was a fortuitous year that saw a majority of Bruins players perform well above expectations. 2009-10 was directly the opposite yet the Bruins made it just as far as they had the year before. The point is that Chiarelli should not get crazy in free agency and by everything he has said to this point, he will not. The UFA (and especially the RFA) market is a good way to handicap future plans, of which the Bruins seem to have a good plan that I would like to see Chiarelli develop. Look for the only real signing for the Bruins to make to be roster filler second market guys (the Begin, Yelle, Satan types) and depth moves. Fans love to salivate over free agency. It is fun. They look over rosters of who is available and concoct schemes to acquire them. Yet, a team like the Bruins (who have some questionable contracts that are hard to move) cannot afford to go big in the free agent signing period. I guarantee that in two years you will be writing the same article about how Player X needs to be moved because of his contract the same way that you are railing on Michael Ryder (who should be moved less for his performance and more for his attitude down the stretch last year, he just seemed not to care).

Chiarelli has said repeatedly that they would acquire through the trade market. From breakdown day to the draft last week, he has stressed that the Bruins will not be active come July 1. This is perhaps smoke and mirrors, but I doubt it. He does not have a lot of flexibility at this point. Yes, he would love to move one of his more cumbersome contracts and there is a fair likelihood that he does, but do not expect him to jump off the deep end. Chiarelli is nothing if not pragmatic (though sometimes his decision making is questionable, ie, Lucic/Ference contract extensions).

What I do agree with you on is that moving Savard would be a mistake, at least in the short term. Tyler Seguin can play a wing and probably should start there given the current roster configuration. He will get his chance to play center next season, an injury always comes up. If the situation becomes untenable, then make a move.

Disagree if you like. I will make some type of gentleman's wager -- If Bobby Ryan is a Bruin next year I will eat my hat (not literally, but something of that ilk).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What can Dunn do your you?

On most nights the Nationals cannot buy a run. It is like Washington's offense mirrors the business on Capitol Hill -- slow, stagnant and dull to watch. A perpetual filibuster impeding on progress.

Thus, the notion of trading the most productive piece of the lineup -- Adam Dunn -- would seem like a major mistake. Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham have enough troubles on their hands as the Nationals offense has sputtered in June. Imagine the drop off without Dunn and a disappointing summer in D.C. becomes downright unbearable.

These are temporal concerns. That Nats are going to be better than their last two 59 win campaigns yet, at 33-44 they are on target for a 69 wins and a forgotten entity in Washington come August when Redskins training camp gets into full gear. Hence, no matter what the Nats do, the second half of 2010 is as much a throwaway as the last five years of baseball in the nation's capital.

Hence, trading Dunn now does not seem that bad of an option. He is making $12 million of his two-year $20 million contract this year and, if he was traded today, the organization that picked him up would take on approximately $6.3 million of that contract (considering a $12 million contract comes to about $74,000 a game, times 85 more games). That is not an insignificant chunk of change, about 11 percent of the Nats season payroll of $66.275 million.

Nationals president Stan Kasten knows what it takes to build a winner in the Majors. He presided over one of the greatest stretches in the history of major league baseball as the Braves president from 1986 to 2003 when the Braves won 14 straight division titles, a World Series and sported one of the greatest collection of pitching arms in the modern era.

That is what Kasten and general manager Mike Rizzo will be looking for in dangling Dunn -- pitching. Not just any pitching though. The Nats are not exactly in a position to be buyers where a stabilizing starter and reliever will put them over the top. Washington is on the lookout for close to major league ready young pitching with high upside. The ideal would be someone in double or triple A who could break the rotation by July 2011 at the earliest. 

According to the rumor mill, the White Sox and Angels are the teams most interested in Dunn. So, heading over to Baseball-Reference to check on the organizational pitching depth charts of those two particular organizations and you find . . . 

Just about nothing.

Los Angeles and Chicago are interesting teams. Both have been strong over the last decade and are too proud to throw the towel in on any season. Both started this year on down streaks only to come back in the last month to be contenders in their respective divisions once again and go from probably sellers to definite buyers. Yet, because of this competitive nature, neither team has much depth left on the farm, either from graduation or previous trades.

It is not like Dunn will bring a future John Smoltz or Greg Maddux to Washington in any deal. But, Washington could hope for a player on par with a guy like Derek Lowe (discounting the fact that the Heathcliff Slocumb for Lowe and Jason Varitek trade between the Red Sox and Mariners in 1998 was perhaps the most lopsided deal in the last 20 years), a sinker-baller that is durable to slot into the middle of the rotation for the next five years or so.

The two most promising players in the upper-echelon of the White Sox organization appear to be Daniel RHPs Daniel Hudson and Carlos Torres. Hudson, 23, was a fifth round draft pick in 2008 and is 10-3 in 15 starts this season at triple-A Charlotte. He has a 3.84 ERA over 82.1 innings and a K/9 rate of 10.6. His BB/9 is a touch high at 3.0. In six games (two starts) with the White Sox last year he went 18.2 innings with 6.8 K/9 though an abnormally high 4.3 BB/9. That figures to come down closer to his minor league average given more time in the majors. In the majors last year he had 20 ground balls (including one bunt) versus 38 fly balls/line drives (32 and 6).

Torres, 26, is a touch too old to be considered much of a prospect anymore and did not pitch particularly well in 28.1 innings last year (30 hits, 17 walks, 19 earned runs). His strikeout rate was OK at 7.0 per nine but he also sported an absurdly high 5.4 BB/9, well above his still high 3.7 rate through five plus seasons in the minors. rank Hudson and Torres as the 1st and 20th best prospects in the Chicago organization, respectively and it is not outside the realm of reality that Dunn would be worth the best prospect in a weak farm system along with a a guy who could end up being a useful arm to have kicking around the organization. Other names to watch would be LHP Santos Rodriguez (10th, primarily a reliever) or Jhonny Nunez (12th).

The Angels are similar in having poor depth in the system but have a significantly larger pool of pitchers to choose from. The top names on the list are LHP Trevor Reckling, who is having a terrible season after being promoted to triple-A this season (4-7, 8.53 ERA with appropriately terrible supporting numbers). 

Right-hander Garret Richards is the Angels No. 4 prospect and has played well after being a 2009 supplementary round (No. 42 overall) pick by the Angels. He is currently pitching well at low-A Cedar Rapids and projects to be major league ready by 2012. Of all the options that are available between the two teams, Richards would probably be the best though one has to wonder if general manager Tony Reagins would want to split with perhaps his best pitching prospect for half a year of Dunn's bat, especially considering that Kendry Morales will be back in the lineup in 2011.

This, as always, is just speculation but it is always interesting to size up the trade market as the All-Star game approaches and teams identify where they stand heading into the final two-thirds of the season. If Rizzo can make an acceptable trade, a lost half season of Dunn would be a player well spent.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

McNabb short on tools in D.C.

A new era is upon the Washington Redskins. Mike Shanahan now has control of the ship and Daniel Snyder once again has a big name coach to oggle for a couple of years. Larry Johnson joins Clinton Portis on a full time basis with fast Willie Parker and Ryan Torain rounding out the options for Shanahan's vaunted running scheme.

And run they will. It is what Shanahan does. Has always done. There are no other coaches in the last 20 years to craft a running game the way Shanahan did in Denver on a year-to-year basis and there is no reason to think that it is going to be any different in D.C.

Yet, Shanahan has a new (well, new to Washington) quarterback to play with -- Donovan McNabb.

The reports of McNabbs demise are, somewhat, exaggerated. His time in Philadelphia had run its course as the city never really forgave him for his fourth quarter meltdown against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX (or the plethora of botched NFL Championship games before that) and it was just time for him to get out of Eagle territory. Curious that Philadelphia would trade him to the Redskins. The notion here is that the Eagles must think they sold Washington a poison pill of which will slowly kill it or that the Redskins are such a non-factor in the NFC East that, even with McNabb, they are no threat.

Are the Redskins a threat? It is a valid question.

Lets assume for a second that the defense will be adequate and the running game above average. Kind of a stretch, I know. Really though, when it comes to rounding out of the offense, who does McNabb have as toys in his play box?

Foremost, his X receiver, Santana Moss. The same Santana Moss that was just recently implicated in an Human Growth Hormone scandal in May and who, at 31, is coming off his lowest average yards per catch of his career (12.9 on 70 receptions). Even with McNabb throwing him passes instead of Jason Campbell, Moss is on the wrong side of 30 and his numbers do not project to be much better in 2010. Backing him up is Joey Galloway. Galloway is still blazing fast but if his time in New England is an indication, he is also a bit too long in the tooth. Galloway had trouble running routes in the Patriots system and could not hold onto the ball when Tom Brady put it in his hands anyway.

On the other end Malcolm Kelly and and Devin Thomas are not exactly names that bring to mind images  of touchdown dances and prolific scoring. Between the two last year they were mildly productive -- 50 catches (25 apiece), 672 yards, three touchdowns (all by Thomas). Any team with a decent second cornerback will have little trouble containing either receiver, assuming that Shanahan does not cut Kelly outright in training camp.

I know what you are thinking, Redskin fan. Who needs wide receivers when we have one of the best tight ends in the league in Chris Cooley? Well, the venerable Mr. Cooley missed the last half of 2009 with an ankle injury and this year he will definitely be asked to help in the run game as Shanahan likes his tight ends to chip in on the zone-blocking scheme. Through his career Cooley averages 3.9 catches a game at 43.6 yards and has scored 30 touchdowns since 2004. Somewhere Tony Gonzalez is snickering at the notion that Cooley is a top end tight end in the NFL.

Then there is Fred Davis, who played well in Cooley's absence last year with 48 catches, 509 yards and six touchdowns. Not bad production really but still falls in line with what an average receiving tight end in the NFL does on a yearly basis. Really, when it comes to producing offense, outside of a couple exceptions, tight ends are not viable threats as stand-alone players. They are much better in supplementary roles to quality wide receivers and running backs. It is hard to imagine, given the state of the Redskins wide receivers, that the Washington offense can take any giant leaps forward from the 22nd overall (26th scoring) offense from last year.

So where does this leave McNabb? Facing the twilight of his career with a franchise that has no option but to go through a lengthy rebuilding process in a division where the other three teams are consistent contenders.

That does not mean that McNabb will not be viable. There is a good chance that he can approximate his last three seasons -- between 3,000 to 3,500 yards with 19 to 23 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and a QB rating between 87 and 92.

The problem with those numbers? They are not all that different from Jason Campbell's from last year. Campbell was the 14th ranked quarterback in the NFL last year. McNabb?


Given his regression, age, new system and the lack of tools around him, do not expect McNabb to be much better than his predecessor going forward.

Which will probably make for a long year in the nation's capital.


A mid-summers look at the Bruins

Some of you have been missing my Bruins analysis in the last month. Just because I am currently unaffiliated though does not mean that I cannot still break a roster down with the best of them. Since you last heard from me at there have been some interesting developments in the Bruins orbit. Cam Neely has been promoted to president of the team, Tim Thomas had hip surgery, Dennis Wideman was shipped out of town for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell and the team drafted some guy you may have heard about.

In my extensive breakdown of the Bruins roster shortly after the playoffs I made some predictions about the options that general manager Peter Chiarelli had in front of him in the offseason. Some of them have come to fruition (Wideman out, scoring forward in) and some that did not (Shawn Thornton being signed to an extension). So it goes. Sports reporting is an imperfect science and for the most part the best we can do is make educated guess and watch as the sideshow plays out.

After Chiarelli's conference call when the Bruins officially received the No. 2 pick in the draft, I felt like he was leaning in the direction of Tyler Seguin. That was before the OHL playoffs and Taylor Hall's gritty performance and his proposed affinity for Bobby Orr, but in trying to read Chiarelli I thought I got the sense that he liked the speed and scoring of Seguin just a bit more. Hence, I am not surprised that he did not try to get out of the second pick or make an drastic moves to get the the first overall from Edmonton because, as he stated all along, he was happy with either. Chiarelli would have been very pleased with Hall and in the end the forward probably had the slight edge over Seguin in Chiarelli's book but not enough to do anything drastic. Really, Seguin is a gift from Toronto general manager Brian Burke and Phil Kessel and the best thing for Chiarelli to do was to take that gift, say thank you and not look back.

And so it went.

Outside of the draft, the other priorities of immediate concern for the Bruins were to get their three primary unrestricted free agents figured out. Foremost on that list was Dennis Seidenberg, who Chiarelli awarded with a four-year, $13 million contract early in June. Seidenberg was important to keep because he can be slotted into the first pair with Zdeno Chara and significantly ease Chiarelli's mind when it comes to finding a sidekick for Big Z, a mild concern last offseason before the ill-fated acquisition of Derek Morris.

Johnny Boychuk was the second player on the list as the former AHL Defensive Player of the Year proved his NHL worth as a definite top-four defenseman who grew into Claude Julien's system (and the hearts of Bruins fans) as the year went along. Mark Recchi was next in line, ponying up for his usual $1 million one-year deal. Recchi was important to keep around if he was not going to retire as he is the type of character veteran that the Bruins need in the clubhouse after losing leaders P.J. Axelsson and Aaron Ward the previous year. Recchi is accountable and keeps the team on an even keel while putting things into perspective for a squad that often presses when things are going badly. He provides good depth and a stabilizing presence on Patrice Bergeron's wing and should make a semblance of a good mentor to Seguin (especially if Savard stays in the fold and Seguin ultimately plays the wing).

Thornton was a surprise to me in terms of Chiarelli's decision to keep him around as an unrestricted free agent. Many of us supposed pundits had him figured as out because of his limited hockey abilities outside of being a standup individual and team enforcer. My thought in particular was that Chiarelli would not want to keep a roster spot for an enforcer (of any kind really) given how the post lockout rules  make the position increasingly obsolete. On a personal note, I am glad that Thornton is back. Truly one of the good guys in the league.

Outside of the imminent trade market in the next couple of days before free agency opens Thursday which could see Savard or Thomas (or both) on their way out, Chiarelli's task is now to figure out how to fit his restricted free agents under the cap. With Wideman out of town it becomes important to get defenseman Mark Stuart under some form of contract for next year as he figures to man the second pairing with Boychuk or Andrew Ference. Blake Wheeler is trade bait but I am not sure that Chiarelli is ready to cut bait on the former top-five pick, especially considering the team's need for offense and the potential that Wheeler has in that department. Figure Daniel Paille to stick around as a penalty killer who has the intangibles to make him a good fit in terms of lengthening Julien's lines and his ability to jump up in lines given the inevitable injuries that come with the 82-game grind.

So, let's take a look at how the depth chart looks heading into Monday, June 28th (lines are approximate guess).


Mark Recchi - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin

Milan Lucic - Marc Savard - Michael Ryder

Nathan Horton- David Krejci - Blake Wheeler

Shawn Thornton - Daniel Paille 

Depth -- Maxime Sauve, Zach Hamill, Jordan Caron and Joe Colbourne will all have a chance to make the team out of traing camp with Hamill perhaps the likeliest addition as a fourth-line center after the trade of Vladimir Sobotka to the Blues. 

Note - Marco Sturm fits into this equation in the second half of the year but after destroying a knee for the second straight year Chiarelli has to figure that any production out of the German winger is gravy on top of the biscuits.


Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg

Mark Stuart - Johnny Boychuk

Andrew Ference -- Matt Hunwick


Tuukka Rask

Tim Thomas

Depth -- In the event that Thomas is traded, look for Dany Sabourin to get first crack at backup duties with Matt Dalton and Kevin Regan distant players in that race.

Depth -- Adam McQuaid has proven he is NHL ready and Chiarelli has made a plethora of depth moves to bring in young defensemen to the farm. Jeffrey Penner and Andrew Bodnarchuk are probably looking at careers as Black Aces with Bodnarchuk a restricted free agent this summer.

What are the questions here? Chiarelli is probably looking for another big time defender, with the Leafs Tomas Kaberle always a perpetual option via trade. Does Michael Ryder stick around? It is a good bet that either Wheeler or Ryder will not be with the Bruins next season though with Ryder's $4 million contract, Wheeler will have to be the dangling carrot.

This is all, of course, very unscientific and since I have not been privy to insider conversations recently, really are just my best guesses based off talent available and the current organizational depth.

What do you think? What is the next move as Chiarelli retools his team into a legitimate Cup contender?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lack of length plagues Nationals lineup

The last time the Nationals were close to the .500 mark was entering play on June 11 with a 30-31 record after a sweep of the Pirates in a series that saw Stephen Strasburg make his MLB debut. Since then, Washington has gone 3-9 to fall to nine games back of first place and mar what was becoming a promising season. In Nats standards, that means that they were not absolutely abysmal and had an outside shot at being relevant in September.

Well, that probably was never going to happen, but being near .500 in mid-June with the best prospect in baseball bringing big buzz to National Park was about as good as could be expected. It seemed a minor tweak here and a roster spot there and the Nats might actually make a run at it.


Perhaps all Washington needs is to get out of the inter-league portion of the schedule as the last four series have come against American League Central opponents and two of the three wins came against the Royals, a organization far more damaged these days than even the Nationals (though they did find a way to beat Strasburg).

For the most part, it is all about the lineup. Yes, and I have harped on this before at Sports Chutney, they lack starting pitching depth but if Jason Marquis (elbow) and Chien Ming-Wang (shoulder) come back and are productive and Jordan Zimmerman (elbow -- Tommy John surgery) makes a solid return then then the rotation is not quite a glaring weakness as it has been. John Lannan, the nominal No. 1 for the last two years, has finally had his talent level catch up with his production and is back in the minors to work things out though in a real world rotation he would be a decent fourth or fifth starter if he can keep his ground ball rate up.

The pitching has given up 4.5 runs per game the last 12 games (55 runs allowed), which is actually about league average. The problem is that the lineup has gone into a serious funk at 2.66 runs per game and the Nats have been blanked with 1-0 scores twice in the last week, not counting the 2-1 extra innings affair when Strasburg went seven one-run innings against the White Sox and left the game with a 1-0 deficit (though they would score one in the bottom of the seventh to technically take him off the hook) last Friday.

When discussing major league lineups, there is a lot to be said about length. Washington has three good to great hitters in Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham, who have produced 43 of their 65 home runs and make for as stout a middle of the order presence as can be found in the majors. Yet, the trio might as well be an island and when they hit slumps there are not much other tools that manager Jim Riggleman can deploy to get the team over the hump in games where the starters give them a chance to win, as has been the case in the last six games against the White Sox and Royals.

It starts at the top. Nyjer Morgan, for all his supposed defensive prowess (great UZR/150 last year of 39.4, projected to be at -7.3 so far this year), is simply not a leadoff hitter. His slash line of .244/.304/.320 is below replacement level and his WAR of -.4 means that he has actually cost the Nationals half a win this year as opposed to where the Bill Games projected him to be at 2.4 before the season. He has 15 stolen bases but his percentage is terrible with 11 times caught stealing. Yet, Riggleman has little choice but to roll him out in the No. 1 spot every day and hope he makes some plays. Morgan will eventually come around to be a little bit better than replacement but general manager Mike Rizzo should keep his eyes open for a legitimate leadoff hitter either later this summer or in the Hot Stove. Length in the a lineup starts with two hitters at the top of the lineup who can get on base for the middle of the order and Morgan's .304 OBP just does not cut it.

Then there is second baseman Christian Guzman. He is a decent complimentary player and at first glance you might think that he is a consistent contributor with his .303 average. Yet, he has a .329 OBP, about league average and that is actually better than his career average of .308. Add to that his .389 slugging percentage (.414 usual league average) and, overall, Guzman is more of a liability than a benefit. Taken as a unit, the table setters for the Zimmerman/Dunn/Willingham trio provide scant opportunity for the big boys to feast.

On the other end the Nationals have Ian Desmond at shortstop, Ivan Rodriguez at catcher and Roger Bernadina in right. Desmond is a shell of a hitter at .251/.286/.381 and his minors line of .256/.326/.388 through five seasons does not bode well for future production. Riggleman tends to have him in the No. 8 spot which basically gives the lineup two automatic outs with the pitcher in the No. 9 spot. Despite his "hitting," Desmond has a .07 WAR, mostly because he plays decent defense with a 2.5 UZR (6.7 UZR/150 projected) thus far.

Rodriguez's line of .313/.338/.416 is good but deceiving. Of his 52 hits, 12 are doubles with one home run and one triple, making him, for all intents and purposes, a singles machine. Combine him with Desmond in the bottom third of the order and the slugging and on base percentages that lengthen a lineup are virtually nil.

Then there is Bernadina. In his first full season, he is holding his own at .284/.344/.436 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 49 games and 164 plate appearances. His OPS+ of 108 shows that he is eight percent better than league average. In a perfect world he would be a great compliment lower in the lineup but at this point might be better suited in the No. 2 slot or even leadoff. Outside of the slugging trio, he has been there fourth best hitter this year, with apologies to Pudge. He might be due for a regression with a .330 batting average on balls in play but, lucky or not, there are not a lot of options in the cupboard.

There are things to like in Washington. The core is sound with Dunn/Zimmerman/Willingham, a top-five National League starter (and likely better than that in years to come) in Strasburg and a sound bullpen with Matt Capps, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Yet, there is no bench to speak of, the rest of the lineup is spare parts and starting pitching depth is non-existent. Yet, the task in front of Rizzo is not impossible. A couple key additions (maybe a big free agent hitter and a couple upgrades to the the spare parts) and the Nationals have the chance to be competitive next year. Considering how the National League fluctuates on a year-to-year basis, that may be good enough to grab a playoff spot.

There will be money to spend as well as the Washington market (even with the Orioles just to the north) figures to be able to support an above average payroll. Hey, if the Twins can have a $100 million payroll this year, the Nats certainly should be able to spend some money. Jim Bowden may have thrown the organization off three or four years with his roster bungling (and alleged scandal) but all is not lost in the nation's capital. Strasburg's buzz may help convince a marquee name into Nationals Stadium and from there it could be off to the races. Either way, the prospect of continuous 59 loss seasons should be behind the organization. There is hope to be competitive next year . . .

Or at least be in contention in September. In Washington recently, that would still amount to a major coup.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fantasy Football -- Albert Haynesworth's potential impact

It is only the middle of June, but news from the NFL is starting to make its way into the sports headlines. Logan Mankins looks like he is on his way out of New England. Darrelle Revis is throwing a hissy fit about his contract heading into his fourth year with the Jets and and Chris Johnson is not happy in Tennessee. Vince Young continues to hallowed tradition of Titans getting frisky at strip clubs.

Then there is Albert Haynesworth.

The big man is not happy in the nation’s capital. New head coach Mike Shanahan wants him to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Haynesworth’s agent says that the defensive tackle would have never agreed to sign his $100 million free agent contract with the Redskins if that was ever going to be the case.

That is a gargantuan pile of steaming dung.

Haynesworth signed the largest contract for a player at his position in the history of the NFL. He signed it within minutes of the free agency period opening which was a fishy move by Washington in the first place considering that it was technically not allowed to negotiate with him before free agency started.

Granted, when Haynesworth is a motivated, happy player he is one of the truly ascendant talents that has come through any NFL defensive line at any time. The problem is that Haynesworth is never really happy. He is like the Terrell Owens of defensive lineman – happy in the honeymoon but when the good vibes wear off he is just another grumpy prima dona.

Now, what does this have to do with fantasy football?

I am of the opinion that it is still too early for me to start crafting my draft strategies. The reason for that is because there will continue to be stories like this for the next month until rosters settle down and the full landscape of the league has a clearer picture.

The Redskins had the 10th ranked total defense last season (8th pass, 16th run) and were 18th in points against at 21 per game. It was not a defense that was all that draft worthy and most teams projected that go 4-12 usually are not worthy fantasy options. Yet, there were reasons for optimism on the defensive side going into last year, mostly because of the addition of Haynesworth. LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rodgers gave them some decent players in the secondary and if Haynesworth could help stop the run the way he did with Tennessee then there was some significant potential.

Sans Haynesworth, the Redskins look like they are in trouble … again. Maake Kemoeatu is not on the same type of level and general manager Bruce Allen will have his hands tied with available options going forward.

The most interesting aspect of Haynesworth’s actions is who the potential suitors may be. If this all works out the way the defensive tackle hopes (traded to a contender with a 4-3 base) then the loss for the Redskins is an equal or greater benefit to his next team. There are rumors that the Vikings are kicking the tires and if that were to go through then it would be interesting to see the 6th ranked total defense (2nd run, 19th pass) add a potential beast to an already dynamic unit. Haynesworth could make more room for Jared Allen who was second in the league last year with 14.5 sacks and help an ailing secondary by putting more pressure on the quarterback.

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys would love to stick it to Washington by acquiring Haynesworth, even if the rivalry is a little empty these days considering how bad the Redskins have been. The Cowboys had the 9th best defense last year (4th run, 20th pass) and were second in the league at 15.6 points per game. Haynesworth probably would not like to play in the Cowboys’ 3-4 but perhaps DeMarcus Ware could shift to the outside on the defensive line in a realigned 4-3 to accommodate the Haynesworth.

Baltimore is probably all set with their defense, as usual and there is no telling which way Ray Lewis falls on the Haynesworth-as-potential-teammate subject. New England just dealt with a disgruntled Adalius Thomas and for the first time in a long time had locker rooms issues, so it is probably out. San Francisco has the potential to play a 4-3 and has a recent history of dealing with disgruntled personalities (hello Michael Crabtree).

A case could be made for or against every team in the league. The broader point that Haynesworth brings up though is that, even though it is only June and defense is often a minor fantasy concern, it is never too early to start planning your strategy. The guys who win their fantasy leagues year after year are the ones who are paying attention to news from mini-camps and contracts in June.

Dan Rowinski is a Fantasy Baseball Columnist for If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him at You can follow him on Twitter at Dan_Rowinski.