The Mets have announced the minor signing of veteran outfielder Willie Harris, marking the latest low-cost annoyance signed by an NL East squad.
The signing of Harris, 32, didn't exactly crash the Metsblog.com servers today, but he caught the attention of Beerleaguer on a slow news day. The veteran outfielder hit just .183/.291/.362 in 262 plate appearances with the Nats last season, but he's needled the Phillies from the left side over the years, posting a .858 career OPS against them, including a .400/.571/.720 opposing slash line in 2009. Last season he hit just .191 against the hometown nine, but mashed a pair of homers. On a related front, the Nationals have just acquired journeyman lefty Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs for three prospects. Gorzelanny, 28, went 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA (106 ERA+) in 29 games (23 starts) for a lousy Cubs team. Once seen as a poor-man's ace in Pittsburgh, he should give the Nats a nice, veteran inning eater and a proven lefty at the bottom of their rotation. Lifetime, he's held the Phillies to a .239 average in three starts. In addition to Gorzelanny, and of course Jayson Werth, the Nationals also inked veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche last week. LaRoche, who hit .261/.320/.468 with 26 homers for Arizona, has dusted Phillies pitching over the years, hitting .304/.375/.525 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 243 plate appearances. Elsewhere in the division, the Marlins are hoping that cavernous Sun Life Stadium and the low pressure of pitching in Miami helps Javier Vazquez regain his form, particularly against the Phils, who he's faced more than any other team (185 1-3 innings). Vazquez joins a very poised Florida staff that should be one of the best in the league (although still a step behind the Phillies).
Nobody argues the hometown nine hold the upper hand in the division, but value signings like these, emerging talents and other divisional improvements will mean the Phillies will have their hands full this summer.