Jays' Buck Stops Here
The pending Blue Jays' one-year, $2 million contract offer to catcher John Buck reached mere hours after the 29-year-old was non-tendered by the Kansas City Royals may have been helped along considerably by a four-game series that the righthanded hitter had against Toronto at the end of April in the presence of then assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos at Kauffman Stadium. Having yourself influenced by what you see in a small sample size is not always a good idea in baseball acquisitions.
Buck, against the Jays in that April series, had three hits in 10 at-bats, with a double, two triples (yikes) five RBIs and a 1.133 OPS. As was often the case, A.A. was representing his boss J.P. Ricciardi, with some pitching roster promotions and demotions being made after the disastrous series for the Jays. Memories of Buck's temporary greatness may have lingered with Anthopoulos, but it's only sometimes a great notion to then turn around and sign guys like that. Example?
I remember the sad case of Jorge Roque with the Expos back in 1972-73. Roque was a 22-year-old Puerto Rican outfielder with maybe two-and-a-half tools (out of five). But on September 13, 1972, as a member of the Cardinals, Roque stepped to the plate at Jarry Park and slammed a two-out 11th inning pinch hit home run off Expos' reliever John Strohmayer, winning the game 5-4. In need of a good young outfielder to go with Pepe Mangual and Bombo Rivera, GM Jim Fanning, two months later traded catcher Tim McCarver to acquire the young Roque. There was no other reason than that homer at Jarry Park.
The youngster, installed as the starting right fielder, began the '73 season 2-for-24. He then ran off a 6-for-12 streak in three games then went 2-for-24. He was sent back to the minors on May 18 and never wore a major-league uniform again. Buck has a better track record, of course, but you get the point.
Hopefully, with Raul Chavez in reserve with a minor-league deal, Anthopoulos considers Buck this year's version of Michael Barrett and hopefully the Jays are still in serious search for a No. 1 catcher, perhaps as part of the package in return for Roy Halladay. Buck has had his games played drop or stay the same every year since 2005, while the opponents' stolen-base percentage has risen each year over that stretch. Last season, Buck threw out 16.3-percent of steal attempts, while his catcher ERA stood at 5.18. One thing he did well in '09 was his .347 average with runners in scoring position. Hey Vernon!!