Mets To Sign Willie Harris

According to ESPN-NY’s Adam Rubin, the Mets are on the verge of announcing the signing of Willie Harris to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

The 32-year-old Harris has been a thorn in the side of Mets fans for his dramatic outfield catches in late innings against the Mets over the past few years. Otherwise, though, there isn’t much to say about Harris, who hit .183 for the Nationals last year and is a career .239 hitter. He’s an average to slightly above-average corner outfielder, and average defensively in center. He can also play second base adequately, and fill in at short and third in a pinch. Once a speedster, he’s still faster than average and won’t make many mistakes on the basepaths.

It’s good to have him around for depth, particularly considering the injury histories of Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan, but I’m not sure Harris is any better overall than Jason Pridie. I suspect Harris’ MLB experience is valued by the Mets braintrust, as well as his ability to play second base. Similar to Harris is Russ Adams, who also hits from the left side but is primarily a middle infielder who can play some outfield when needed (whereas Harris is primarily an outfielder who can play some infield when needed).

I know this is strictly a depth acquisition, but if the Mets are going to be insistent upon having an experienced MLBer competing for the fourth outfielder spot, I’d be more excited about a return to New York by Lastings Milledge or Ryan Church, or the signing of Andruw Jones. Though, I’m sure none of those three make sense for one reason or another — even if all three can play centerfield as well or better than Harris and almost certainly will provide more offense. Most likely, it’s a money thing, in which case, I wonder if Delwyn Young is on the Mets radar? Young is a 28-year-old switch-hitter who, like Willie Harris, is an outfielder who can also play second base adequately. Young doesn’t have much (if any) experience in center field, but is pretty much the same player as Harris — except four years younger.

You may be wondering why I even care to quibble over the differences between Willie Harris and Delwyn Young but this is how the Mets fans’ winter is going … so, please, don’t shoot the messenger.

If nothing else, Harris has always been a fan favorite in his previous big league stops. You can read a very nice interview with him on MLBlogs. Harris may not be a tremendous performer, but he’s hard not to like. Nothing wrong with this signing, but nothing exciting about it, either.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Rob January 17, 2011 at 1:24 am
    Joe: This is the perfect example of that old adage, if you can’t beat ’em…

    Perhaps his hard playing attitude will rub off on the rest of the Mets. I like the signing…even if it doesn’t inspire visions of a World Series appearance. Frankly, at this point, if they only play hard and with attitude, I’ll be happy.

    Only thirty days until pitchers and catchers! And 42 days until my son tries out for the junior varsity baseball team. I’m more excited about the latter, but I’m still excited about the former…every year…because hope springs anew…or something like that.

    I’ll look forward to your “count”-down of sorts. Keep up the great work!

    All the best,

  2. Walnutz15 January 17, 2011 at 9:30 am
    The Phils actually signed Delwyn Young to a minor league deal, earlier on in the month — I remember reading a blurb on it.
  3. CatchDog January 17, 2011 at 10:03 am
    All things considered, I believe Sandy and company did a good job adding to the roster with the chump change he was allotted. Below is my optimistic review :

    Although Barajas was white hot for the first couple of months last year and Blanco was a defensive stud, the much younger tandem of Thole and Paulino will provide better offense and more durability behind the dish.

    Willie Harris makes for an inexpensive defensive 4th outfielder, while allowing Lucas Duda the opportunity to get reps in Buffalo. I look forward to GKR updating us nightly on Duda’s “fifth homer in five games” streaks.

    Any combination of Emaus, Turner and Murphy at second will be a major upgrade offensively at second. Not to mention, Castillo will be gone from the roster before opening day.

    The trade for Hu will enable young Rubes Tejada the ability to better his game in AAA.

    The opening of the “wounded wing club” brings low risk and possible good returns to the pitching staff. Adding Capuano (and soon Young) to the front five, along with Boof Bonser, Bucholtz, Tankersly, Carrasco and Beato to the pen could surprise quite a few. After all, the Mets are due a season or three where things go their way… right?

    Nobody is calling for a Championship this season. But a nice step in the right direction could very well happen. I’m in.