John Buck’s Impact On The Mets’ Future

In the early season, all of two games old, the Mets have had more than a few pleasant surprises. On Opening Day, there was Collin Cowgill and his home run hustle, there was Jonathon Niese acting like an ace, there was Scott Rice arriving – finally! – on a big league stage. In game two, Matt Harvey emphatically announced his arrival, Ike Davis found a slump-buster – psst…It’s Clayton Richard – and Lucas Duda discovered his power stroke. These are most of the ingredients for a tasty opening to the season.

Not to be overlooked is the contribution John Buck has made to the effort. Buck arrived in Queens as one of the many components of the trade of R.A. Dickey, basically a place-holder at catcher until Travis d’Arnaud is ready for his Citi premier. The Mets sent their two MLB catchers – if you want to call them that – along with Dickey, mainly because both Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas had experience handling his pesky knuckler. As Casey Stengel so aptly told us in the days of ’62, “Ya gotta have a catcher or you’ll end up over here with a lotta passed balls.” Buck fit the bill as well as anybody, a perfectly acceptable seat-warmer for d’Arnaud. It was only when he arrived in Port St. Lucie two months ago that anybody realized he’d be so much more than that.

First of all, he’s a veteran of ten big league seasons, logging time in Kansas City, Toronto and Miami, so he’s got “the book:” detailed knowledge of most of the veteran hitters in both Leagues. With a pitching staff as young as the Mets’ – Johan Santana has ridden off into the sunset, so Niese is now the senior man among the starters, with all of three seasons of at least 150 IP under his belt – this is invaluable. In fact, Niese acknowledged that he never had to shake Buck off even once during the opener, resulting in a load of missed bats. Number two on the list has been his offense. While never a robust hitter – his career high OPS+ is a slightly-better-than-average 114, achieved with the Blue Jays in 2010, when he was an All-Star – his past two seasons in Florida were nothing short of dreadful, especially in the power department where he posted back-to-back SLUGs of .367 and .347 respectively. In his first two games as a Met, however, he’s looking to give lie to that reputation, going 4-for-9 with a line-shot homer to his credit. He only needs eleven more to match his 2012 total. If he can continue his offensive renaissance, the Mets will be set at catcher like they haven’t been since the heyday of Paul LoDuca.

And there is where Buck’s true value lies: the longer John Buck thrives, the less the urgency to elevate Travis d’Arnaud to the major leagues. Super Two status for d’Arnaud may become a non-issue. He can get all his reps in at Vegas, he can get his balky knee strengthened, he can hone his defense, while Buck holds the fort in Flushing. For an organization that’s all about the future, that future will get a big boost if Buck can continue apace.

Like everything else about the 2013 Mets, here’s hoping.

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10 comments for “John Buck’s Impact On The Mets’ Future

  1. April 4, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I was worried when Buck chose #44 but I guess there’s a lot of hits in that number since Jason Bay used so few up while he wore it…

  2. Jon
    April 4, 2013 at 11:27 am

    I dunno about leadership, but the threat of right-handed power where Thole’s lefthanded noodly singles bat used to be brings a whole new profile to the offense everyday. And by the time Buck turns into Barajas, there’s the new kid to plug in. Big change!

    • Chris F
      April 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

      Agreed. I like the cut of Buck, sort of like what I hoped Shoppach might be. Thole and Nickeas…wow, they were really our catchers?

  3. Name
    April 4, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Unfortuntly, i haven’t been able to watch Buck yet, but looks like the pitchers are really gelling with him, which is my number 1 priority with a catcher. Any offense (above an arbitrary number i have in my head) is just purely a bonus.

  4. Metsense
    April 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Catcher was the weakest offensive position on the Mets in 2012 so it goes without saying that Buck is an upgrade offensively and defensively over Thole. I agree that if Buck continues his resurgence then Travis can be held back from Super 2 BUT that should not be a priority. The priority should be to turn Buck’s success into an OF (in some sort of package deal) and begin the next phase of the team building. Buck is 32 and makes 6M so this winter if he has a successful season, he will look to go elsewhere for reasonable money (not back up money) and a starting job. The Mets need to move Buck before July 31st.

    • April 5, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Good point. Buck produces until mid-June, Sandy ducks the Super Two issue for d’Arnaud, and the Mets get a decent OF for the rest of the year. Win/win/win!

  5. JimO
    April 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Buck will be a vital part of any Mets success this year and next. I hope he embraces the roll and the Mets embrace what his years of savy knowledge gathering represents.

  6. RADeva43
    April 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Wouldn’t it be something if Buck turns out to be gem of the Dickey trade?

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