Archive: January 16th, 2011

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.


30 Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report

It’s about one month before pitchers and catchers report, and it would seem that the Mets are still in the market for free agents to plug a few holes. Perhaps a reserve outfielder who can handle centerfield, for one (though they appear to have come to an agreement with the great Willie Harris), and hopefully a few more arms for the pitching staff.

Though, it’s possible the Mets don’t sign anyone of significance in the next 30 days, meaning there won’t be much to complain talk about. Let’s be serious — if the Mets “big” signings this winter are Ronny Paulino, Chris Capuano, D.J. Carrasco, and Boof Bonser, it’s unlikely they’ll acquire more exciting than that group in the final month before pitchers and catchers report. First, because there simply aren’t many interesting players available, and second, because Sandy Alderson has no threads left in his shoestring budget.

That said, what we’ll do from here on in is count down the days to spring training by remembering random players from the past who wore the uniform number of the current count. This idea was 100% inspired by reading the book Mets By The Numbers (as well as the MBTN website). So for example, today is 30, so we can remember Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Cliff Floyd, Dennis Ribant, Aaron Sele, or one of the many other once-Mets who wore uniform #30. But which one should we focus on?

Ryan and Scott represent painful memories — the two aces that “got away”. Granted, at the time he was dealt for Jim “friggin” Fregosi, Ryan had issues with blisters and bases on balls, the Mets were loaded with young pitching, but light on offense, so there was a tiny hint of logic in the move. Had Ryan stayed, the Mets’ rotation of Seaver, Koosman, Ryan, and Matlack would have compared to the 2011 Phillies’ — but for all we know, it would have simply resulted in more 2-1 losses and the same amount of third-place finishes; their offense was THAT bad.

Scott stunk as a Met — he was so bad, getting Danny Heep in return seemed like a steal. It wasn’t until Roger Craig taught Scott how to scuff the ball for more movement throw a split-fingered fastball that he became dominant.

Aaron Sele holds a special place in the Mets bullpen; for all we know, he’s still sitting down there, right now, playing cards and waiting for Willie Randolph to call him into a game.

Ribant might be a good player to focus on, since he was the very first Mets starter to finish a season with a winning record (11-9 in 1966). Such a feat represents hope.

And it is spring training that hopes eternal … er … or something, right? So for me, the perfect former #30 to focus on right now is


What I’m Reading: Mets By The Numbers

As mentioned a few weeks ago, the winter (a.k.a., “not the baseball season”) is unbearably long for me. In an effort to fill the hole where baseball usually is, I’ve immersed myself in reading about baseball.

This week, I’m reading Mets by the Numbers: A Complete Team History of the Amazin’ Mets by Uniform Number, a wonderful book by Jon Springer and Matt Silverman — who, not coincidentally, also run the Mets By The Numbers website.

Each chapter of the book is devoted to a specific uniform number, headlined by the Met who is most memorable for wearing that number, and also detailing other notable players who wore it. For me, it brings back plenty of vivid memories. Also, since I’m someone who has a hard time reading a book straight through, I especially like the fact that I can jump in anywhere in the book and read a chapter.