The Season’s Crossroads Have Come For John Buck

Everybody out of the pool!

That’s the cry from the Mets’ fan base, directed at their training facility in Port St. Lucie. That’s where Travis d’Arnaud is running in water, strengthening his rehabbing foot and balky knee. That’s because John Buck has reverted to his regular old self. That’s not good for the team, the front office or the fans.

April was a beautiful month for John Buck. In the first 23 games of this season, he blasted nine home runs in 90 at-bats. It seemed every time a big blow was required, Buck was THE man, inspiring confidence and t-shirts among the fans. When d’Arnaud broke his foot twelve games into his AAA season, there was a twinge, but not an anguished wail. “Let him take all the time he needs to recover: we have Buck,” we said. Buck’s presence and “clutchiness” even drove your intrepid columnist to wax enthusiastic about Buck’s value to the team over the long haul. Aaaah, the beauty of the miniscule sample size: that was two games into the season! It also caused the wiser of us urge a trade while his value was at an all-time high. That never happened – to be fair, d’Arnaud’s injury had something to do with that – and pretty much all of us regret it, in hindsight.

When reality starts paying attention, its retribution is cruel and swift. Since April 29, Buck has seen his OPS plummet from a high of 1.246 on April 12 to its current depths, .653. Strikeouts have been his main enemy. Over those first 23 games, he struck out only 20 times – only twice having as many as three in a single game — a rate of 0.8696 K/game. Over his next 46 games – including last night’s (7/1) three-K performance – he has struck out 53 times, a per-game rate of 1.152. This has caused his overall strikeout-per-game rate to soar to 1.058, which means that over the course of a 162-game season, he would total roughly 172 strikeouts. These numbers would be generally acceptable if your name is Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson or even Dave Kingman or Adam Dunn – players who can be counted on to homer at healthy rates, thus offsetting their high strikeout binges. John Buck ain’t one of them. In fact it seems as if most of his strikeouts have come at the worst possible times in games: rally-killers with runners in scoring position, either none or two outs. This was certainly the case last night. Worst of all, it now seems to be affecting other aspects of his game. How else would you explain one of the most boneheaded plays of all-time, getting nailed trying to put a meaningless run into scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. For John Buck to have any value for Mets going forward he’s going to need to get his head together and cut down on the whiffs.

At least until Travis d’Arnaud can get toweled off.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

11 comments for “The Season’s Crossroads Have Come For John Buck

  1. July 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    You can also thank Terry Collins for playing him every single night/day. Anthony Recker has a long way to go just to get his backup catcher’s union papers in order, but he needs to play more, if just to see if Buck doesn’t suck so much when he isn’t catching six days per week. Recker did catch the ballyhooed debut of Zack Wheeler and did a pretty good job and crushed the home run that allowed him to get the win. Maybe when Zack starts again, Buck can take up the pom poms in the dugout next to his buddy JV1.

  2. Jerry Grote
    July 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    What we’ve been seeing … across the board … is that there is absolutely NO SENSE to playing someone hitting under .200. None. I don’t care if the next warm bodied human being is playing in Savannah, St. Lucie or on a San Juan high school ballfield. You don’t need to have pitchers with ERAs that look like PPG by your point guard.

    Find someone … anyone else in the organization and give him a mitt. Satin>Davis. Lagares>Cowgill. Q>Tejada. And you know what? Leathersich>Lyon. My youngest son>Carson.

    Getting better doesn’t require monumental moves … for an OPS to go from .495 or .425 to .840. You can simply start by going from .495 to .625. BUT HECK NO! TC tells us there will be no reduced role for a 32 YEAR OLD CATCHER that has PLAYED MORE GAMES THAN NEARLY EVERYONE ELSE.

    AAAHHH. It took Josh Satin hitting nearly .400 to move John Buck from one of the top 5 spots in the order. Honestly. I mean, what the heck are we watching here?

    You don’t have to great, to not actually *take away wins with your suckitude*.

  3. Jerry Grote
    July 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    someone previously asked … what it would be if the best player in the Dickey trade turned out to be Buck.

    What would it be like if the best player in the Dickey trade wound up never playing for either the Mets or the Jays?

  4. steevy
    July 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    One quibble,Mantle didn’t strike out anywhere near as often as the other players you named.D’Arnaud’s injury history concerned me when the deal was made and it concerns me more now.Buck needs to play less,no doubt.Just one more reason they need to ……Fire Terry Collins!

    • July 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Mantle retired with 1,710 strikeouts — which at the time was the all-time lead. He also led the AL in K’s twice and led BOTH Leagues 3 times. I don’t think his inclusion is unwarranted.

      • steevy
        July 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        I know,he’s still a piker compared to the other guys named.115 K’s per 162 games(117 walks).Jackson 149 K’s per 162.Kingman 152.Adam Dunn a whopping 192!

        • steevy
          July 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm

          I forgot to add…Fire Terry Collins!

  5. Jim OMalley
    July 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Good article…do we have anyone that can step in for a while until D’Arnaud is ready?

    • Jerry Grote
      July 3, 2013 at 12:18 am

      Tonight is just another example of “get out of the way”.

      Anthony Recker’s been waiting on the bench all along.

  6. Metsense
    July 3, 2013 at 8:38 am

    “That is because John Buck has reverted to his regular old self” is exactly what should and probably was expected when the trade was made. The average NL catcher in 2013 has 9 HR and a .695 OPS while Buck has 13 HR and .653 OPS. The Mets are ranked 9th in catching in the NL. That is an upgrade over Thole’s 2012 of 1 HR and .584 OPS and Shoppach’s 3 HR and .618 as a Met. Buck also is a better defensive catcher than either of them. Buck came in as a place holder, not a starter. The unfortunate injury to d’Arnaud has gummed up the works. TC over playing Buck and not giving the unproven AAA older player (sounds like a broken record) a chance is also a problem. (Recker AAA 2011 16 HR .889 OPS : 2012 10 HR .789 OPS)
    Buck will be a free agent next year and although he won’t see 6M a year again, he will probably see around $2M. Catching is at a premium. If the Mets could afford a 2M backup, then I would keep him. As for Recker, he isn’t elgible for arb until 2016 so that should be a no brainer, a good man for team catching depth.
    Buck has exceeded the realistic expectations and he is good for this team, the front office, and this fan.

    • Jerry Grote
      July 3, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Metsense … this is a classic example of organizational failure to communicate. Why in God’s good green earth do you continue to water dead plants, when next year’s crop are dying of thirst?

      Run Buck directly into the ground. Meanwhile you have a backup that – at worst – is going to be no worse than as bad as Buck is playing. And you control the backup for three years, while the 32 year old is out the door no later than October 5th, if not August.

      John Buck’s reversion to who he actually is, is no surprise. But Collins’ mismanagement of the roster is bordering on criminal. There is no supporting John Buck starting *more games* than nearly the entire NL …
      *when you know he won’t be here next year
      *when you have a reasonable alternative, that will be
      *when he’s 32
      *when he’s suffering through a 60 day slump.


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