It’s no secret that John Buck isn’t really in the New York Mets‘ future plans, but boy, he’s not making it easy for the team to move on.
Unfortunately for the Mets, that’s not to be taken a positive manner either. It probably could have been said as a compliment months ago at the beginning of the season when Buck was the surprise on the baseball world, hitting home run after home run and posting a 1.000-plus OPS in the middle of April, but I think it’s probably fair to say that any goodwill from that nine-homer month has been all but erased by now.
Instead, what’s been left for the Mets faithful to watch is … well, John Buck — the streaky, strikeout-prone, Mendoza-line challenging backstop who entered the season as the seat-warmer to the heir-apparent, Travis d’Arnaud.
That’d be the same d’Arnaud, by the way, who is getting close enough in his rehab process for his broken foot that a September call-up is in sight. It’s not expected that the Mets will put him in a timeshare situation once he’s ready, which is to say that there is essentially no chance that Buck will be re-signed by New York as a free agent after 2013, unless he’s willing to take a massive pay cut from his $6 million salary this season.
It’d almost be a perfect situation for the team to try and parlay a veteran trade chip for future assets … that is, if Buck wasn’t so busy dragging his own value down.
Now, to the backstop’s credit, it’s not as though he’s a total loss or anything. Thanks to his defense being 2.1 fielding runs above average to this point of the season, Buck is currently a 1.3 fWAR player for the Mets, good for fourth of the team.
You’d have to think that his 14 home runs and 44 RBIs have a fair bit to do with that, but given that he’s hit just five of those long balls after April, it’s not hard to see that this is a trade chip that’s trending downwards.
Coming off a full month of June in which he was essentially a non-factor at the plate (.167/.226/.269 triple-slash with two home runs), Buck is ‘warming up’ over the first week of July, finding himself in the middle of a three-game hitting streak that includes a double and his 14th homer, good enough for … a .217/.357/.391 line over 23 PA for the month.
Yeah, even when he impresses, he’s not all that impressive.
That won’t help the Mets, who really have no shot at contending this season and thus have no reason to keep the 33-year-old around through the final months of 2013. If Buck doesn’t start rediscovering that power stroke soon, however, trying to move him for anything other than cash and the good ol’ PTBNL might be much easier said than done.