Author: Bob Harkins


Vote: Will Manny Ramirez get into Cooperstown?


So everyone knows the big news by now: Manny Ramirez has called it a career after failing a drug test for the second time since 2009.

Craig has a great analysis of Ramirez’s legacy right here, and also writes about the chances — or lack thereof — of the slugger being elected to the Hall of Fame.

But now it’s your turn to chime in. The polls are open now. Do you think Manny will get a chance to be Manny at a Cooperstown induction ceremony? Go ahead and rock the vote, then discuss in the comments section.

David Price open to extension with Rays ‘if it’s realistic’

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A big part of the Tampa Bay Rays’ strategy to compete with the big-market bullies in the AL East is to sign their young, talented players to long-term deals, giving those players some long-term security while buying out their arbitration-eligible years and ideally a year or two of free agency as well.

It worked with Carl Crawford, it worked with James Shields, and it worked most famously with Evan Longoria. And just the other day, the Rays did it again, signing pitcher Wade Davis to a four-year deal that also has three team options tacked onto the end.

Next up on the Rays’ wish list? How about locking up ace left-hander David Price to a long-term deal? Price told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he is open to the idea.

“If it’s realistic, absolutely, that is something I would definitely do,” Price said. “I love it here, absolutely. Everyone here knows that I’m a huge fan of this organization and all the people that are in the clubhouse. I feel like it’s the right place for me.”

The phrase “if it’s realistic” is a rather large qualifier in Price’s statement, and the pitcher didn’t expand on what exactly that meant. Price is set to make $1.25 million this season, and $1.5 million next year, but has the right to void that contract and go to arbitration in 2012, which he almost certainly will do.

The key will be how many years of free agency Price will allow the Rays to purchase in an extension. I would be surprised if he gave the Rays three team option years, as Longoria and Davis did. But Price’s agent is Bo McKinnis (past clients including Mike Mussina, Paul Byrd, Jose Canseco), – not Scott Boras — so you never know.

Longoria, not surprisingly, said he would like to see Price follow his path.

“I’m locked into a contract, which I’m very happy about, and I hope that something like that could happen with David, whether it be a two-, three-, four-year extension or something longer.”

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

Vote: Pick World Series winner, then argue about it!


You’ve seen our picks for this season’s division winners, now it’s your turn to get involved.

Vote for who will win the World Series, then argue about it in the comments section! It’s fun, and it sure beats a number of other things you could be doing, like working or going to school. Besides, Diddy wants you to. You’re not going to say no to Diddy are you? I didn’t think so.

One more day until the season starts!

From bar to bigs: Wilhelmsen lands spot in M’s bullpen

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I had the opportunity to do a story on Tom Wilhelmsen this spring as part of a seven-part series on players chasing their big-league dreams.

In case you’re still not familiar with his story, the 6-foot-6 pitcher quit the game in 2004 after being suspended for a second failed test for marijuana. He traveled the world and became a bartender, and generally gave up on his childhood dream.

But he eventually decided to get back into the sport, and spent last season in the Seattle Mariners system, topping out a mid-level Class-A ball.

Today the word came down: Seven years after quitting baseball, Wilhelmsen was going to the major leagues, landing a spot in the Mariners bullpen. The Mariners coaches admired the 27-year-old’s poise on the mound, and his 97-mph fastball didn’t hurt, either.

Geoff Baker has a nice story on Wilhelmsen’s big moment over at the Seattle Times, including an emotional interview with Wilhelmsen’s father, John.

“I’m so relieved as a father, because I didn’t want him to be 35 and saying, ‘I shoulda,’ ” his father said. “I didn’t want him to live his life like that. I wanted him to know for himself that, whatever happened, he gave it 100 percent. After that, whatever happens, happens.”

Wilhelmsen made it to the majors, but what about the other players I featured this spring? Let’s take a look:

Hunter and Lewis are, of course, established big leaguers who shared stories of their past struggles. Ackley is a rising star who was chosen No. 2 overall in the 2009 draft. Of the others, only Wilhelmsen is likely to stick in the majors this season, and his cause was aided by playing for a team in transition that entered spring with lots of bullpen questions.

It all just illustrates how difficult it is to play this wonderful game.

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

Brian Wilson ‘less than 50-50’ to start season with Giants

San Francisco Giants Victory Parade
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The odds of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson being ready for the start of the regular season aren’t looking good.
From Chris Haft of

“I’ll be honest — I think it’s less than 50-50,” (manager Bruce) Bochy said when asked about Wilson’s chances of being on the active roster when the Giants open their defense of their World Series championship Thursday at Los Angeles. “But we’re not going to rule him out completely.”

As Haft points out, missing the start of the season isn’t necessarily a huge deal. If they put Wilson on the DL, he could be eligible to play by April 5. They will take their time bringing him back, not wanting his oblique injury to linger during the season.

If Wilson is unable to go, Bochy can call on a deep bullpen that includes two pitchers with some closing experience from last season in Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla.

The manager says he has already made a decision on what he will do with the closer’s role if Wilson is sidelined, but said he wasn’t “prepared to announce which way we’re going to go.”

Wilson saved 48 regular season games in 2010, and six more in the postseason as the Giants won their first championship since 1954.

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.