On a Major League team, Willie Harris just started as DH vs. the Indians. His numbers are still terrible, and he shouldn't be in the league to begin with, let alone starting for a first place team.
We'll start with the fact that for Scott Rolen's day off, Dusty needed to choose between a washed up guy who was below average in his prime, and your best Major League ready prospect in the infield to fill that spot. Any guesses?
That's right, Dusty went with his boy - .088 batting Willie Harris, while Todd Frazier picked up another splinter on the bench. This scenario is a common dustration for fans, so we'll move on to the more unique moves Dusty made late in the game.
The Reds didn't hit for 8 innings, and thankfully in the 9th the hapless Cubs brought in Marmol, who couldn't throw a strike. He walked Willie Harris, which is when you know you have problems, and walked 2 other guys. Ultimately the Reds tied the game 3 to 3, and had a man on third with 2 outs. Valdez, who had started to give Cozart a day off, was scheduled to hit. Dusty makes the decision to let the light hitting Valdez stay in, rather than pinch hitting Cozart which seemed like a good idea. I'll just give him the benefit of the doubt on that one...
Needless to say Valdez makes an out and we go to the 10th. In the top of the 10th, Dusty now decides to put Cozart in for Valdez as a defensive replacement. This is where not pinch hitting with Cozart with a chance to win goes from questionable, to unbelievable.
Thankfully for the Reds, the Cubs didn't score and the Reds pushed one across in the 10th to win it. Ironically Cozart led off the inning with a hit, which in theory would have ended the game in the 9th if he were given the chance.
When the Reds win a game like this, you are labeled a bitter fan for pointing out the Dustrating decisions, but I am convinced these things add up. It wouldn't have been a shock for Dusty to let Valdez hit, leaving Cozart on the shelf, and then the Cubs score a couple in the 10th and the Reds lose.
You are down 2 - 1 in the 7th, runners on second and third with no outs. You need a pinch hitter and you have Chris Heisey, Zack Cozart, and Willie Harris on your bench. One guy has been your best pinch hitter for 2 years, another has arguably been your most consistent hitter on the team so far, and the third guy is batting south of .100 with a .240 average over 12 seasons. Who are you going with?
Dusty's answer? Obviously player #3, Willie Harris. You need a veteran in critical moments like this. Willie promptly pops out to the infield. As the inning played on, Valdez ended up hitting the sac fly they needed and then the go ahead run scored on a wild pitch. So for many fans, the most recent dustrating decision was quickly forgotten. However, this type of thing happens all the time. Sometimes it costs them, other times Dusty gets bailed out. Either way, the local media seems scared to ask him the tough questions when he makes a decision that defies logic.
Dusty made the decision last week to move Drew Stubbs to second in the batting order. Because of his struggles, that seemed questionable but the thought was hitting in front of Votto would get him better pitches to hit. Credit Dusty - so far that has worked well.
However, today is just another example of Dusty being Dusty. 26 year old Cozart needs his rest, so we are giving him a day off. In the Reds recent surge, Cozart has been leading off, so the seemingly logical choice is to plug his replacement into the lead off spot for the night. This is the least disruptive move to a team that seems to be finding themselves offensively.
I think we lost Dusty at "seemingly logical". Rather than do that, he has bumped Stubbs back to lead off and put Valdez in the 2 hole. Stubbs is 10 - 26 batting second, and looks good at the plate for the first time in awhile. One might ask, why mess with him? Answer - because Dusty just can't help himself. #dustrating
Sunday in Chicago, the quest to get Willie going continued. Willie Harris started at second base, and played another terrible game. He was 0 - 3, caught stealing, and made an error. Of course when the Reds win the game, which I am glad they did, this nonsense generally gets swept under the rug.
Meanwhile - Todd Frazier, who came up as a short stop, is a top prospect, and lead the team offensively in the spring got another splinter sitting on the bench. I'll make a bold prediction that if the Reds cut Willie Harris, he probably wouldn't find another Major League roster to land on this year. If he did, I feel very confident in saying he wouldn't consistentl
In one of the recent extra inning games, the Reds got a lead-off double late in the game. Willie Harris, who shouldn't be on the team, was up next in an obvious sacrifice situation. Dusty decided to put in Cozart to pinch hit, who has been one of their hot hitters. One would assume that Dusty wants him to swing away, but instead asks him to bunt, and he doesn't move the runner.
The question is, if Willie Harris can't bunt (we know he can't hit), why is he on the team? So we waste a player in an extra inning game and ask him to come in and lay down a bunt? Dustrating.
One item that irked many Reds fans, was the demotion of Todd Frazier, who has long been on of the team's top prospects, in favor of journeyman Willie Harris. 34 year old Harris is a career .240 hitter, and would probably be at home on the couch if he weren't playing ahead of our top prospect, who plays the same positions, and lead the team in homers and RBIs in the spring. Dusty doesn't see it this way, he said "We need to get Willie going. We need Willie," Baker said before Friday's contest. "He's always done well. He's probably trying too hard. Hopefully he'll relax and beat his old team."
Baker also spoke to utility infielder Miguel Cairo about Harris. During his first year with the Reds in 2010, Cairo started out 2-for-20 (.100) and drew the ire of fans immediately. Cairo didn't really kick it into gear until May.
"Now they love him," Baker said. "I told Cairo to talk to Willie about what happened to him. I've always said it takes older players a little longer to get their act together, especially when they're not playing. But when they get their act together, they keep it longer than younger players."
Got all that? This .240 hitter with virtually no power "has always done well." One might ask, how do you define getting a .240 hitter going? Get him going up to .240?
Secondly we learn that once older players get it going, they keep it going longer. This explains why names like Bako, Lewis, Patterson, and Renteria saw significant playing time here - we had to get 'em going.