Love Lost For Willie

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, June 25, 2010 | , , , | 1 comments »

Willie Harris is in tonight's lineup, in left field, while Josh Willingham is at designated hitter.  Michael Morse is in the lineup as well, playing right.  That means Roger Bernadina sits.

Bernadina is hitting .284/.344/.432 this season with four homers and six steals in 164 plate appearances.  Not exactly tearing it up, but he's been fairly useful, though horrible miscast as a right fielder.  And it's good to see Morse getting a chance, especially with a righty on the hill for the Orioles tonight.

But this post is about Harris.

Harris used to be a fan favorite.  He's made a series of highlight reel catches for this team the last three seasons and his willingness to play wherever the manager asks him to endeared him to the fans of the organization.

Lately though, Washington Nationals fans have been tearing up message boards, comment pages, and game threads ripping Harris' lack of production, and rightly so.  He's been one of the least effective hitters the Nats have had this season.

Those same fans who used to love Harris are now calling for him to be released and replaced by someone from the minors who can be more productive.  Those calls are not wholly without merit.

In 122 plate appearances, Harris is hitting .151/.240/.321.  He hasn't had a hit since June 3, going 0-for-20 with a sacrifice fly.

Manager Jim Riggleman has been insistant about inserting Harris as a pinch-hitter against right-handed relievers, and when the team played on the road in Cleveland, and Detroit he got three starts at DH and LF.

If Riggleman really, truly thinks that Harris is an integral part of the Nats lineup, he has a duty to give him at bats to get him "back on track". 

But Harris is now a 32-year old pinch-hitter with a lifetime .241/.327/.350 slash line.  It's not a stretch to think that this mught be it for the player.

Besides, Harris is superfluous on this team.  They already have two left-handed, slap-hitting outfielders in Nyjer Morgan and Bernadina.  And if it's Willie's versatility that you like, D.C. has four middle infielders on the roster as well.

If this season is all about production, as GM Mike Rizzo said earlier this season -- and demostrated by sending Opening Day starter John Lannan down to AA to fix what's troubling him -- he should take the decision out of Riggleman's hands and make a roster change.

Washington could really use another right-handed hitting outfielder on the bench.  Maybe one with a little bit of pop, some speed, and plays good defense in any of the three spots.

Wonder where they could find one of those?

1 comments

  1. Kevin Trainor // June 26, 2010 at 1:08 PM  

    Nice to see I'm not the only one who thinks JMax ought to be filling the roster spot currently wasted on Harris. :)

    Linked at Beltway Baseball.