Ernie Harwell: 1918-2010

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Harwell broadcasting.jpgI knew this day was coming since September. It actually came later than I thought it would, based on all we heard about his diagnosis. But neither its inevitability nor its delay softens my sorrow. Ernie Harwell has died at the age of 92

I wrote this back in September, but it bears repeating: I was a nervous kid, afraid of the dark and afraid of going to sleep
myself. My parents let me turn on the radio at night as I went to bed
and the talk, rather than the music, made me feel better. The voice
that gave me the most comfort was Ernie Harwell’s voice on WJR, which I
latched onto before I even truly realized it was describing a baseball
game.

Ernie put me to sleep most spring and summer nights for several years,
teaching me about baseball in the process. He also taught me that I
could enjoy it just as much if I could not actually see it, which I
can’t help but think is the reason why I enjoy writing up the “And That
Happened” recaps every day. I see very few of the games I
describe, but just because I don’t see them doesn’t mean that there
isn’t a story to be told. Information and flavor to be teased out.

Maybe you always have a thing for your first love, but I think I’m being
objective when I say that I have never encountered a better baseball
broadcaster than Ernie Harwell. How lucky that I had him putting me to
sleep when I was four years old as opposed to someone else. Would I
have even been a baseball fan if it was someone else’s voice on the
radio? I kinda doubt it.

Farwell, Ernie. Your like or equal will never be seen again. 

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.