The Forgotten Man: Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher John Buck
John Buck has been overlooked since the day the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him from the New York Mets. He was considered a “throw-in” in what will be forever known as the Marlon Byrd trade. The Pirates sent prospects Dilson Herrera and Vic Black to the Mets in exchange for Byrd and Buck.
At the time of the trade, Buck had hit for a .215/.285/.367 slash line with 15 home runs. In his very, very brief stint with the Pirates, Buck hit for a .292/.292/.292 slash line with two RBIs in just 24 plate appearances. Buck only played in nine games with the Bucs.
Buck, 33, was given the opportunity to be on the postseason roster with the Bucs. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle decided to go with the veteran presence, Buck, rather than the younger and more talented Tony Sanchez in the playoffs. He would only make one appearance in the postseason, but did not receive an at-bat.
Sure, Byrd deserved to get the majority of attention; he did hit for a .318/.357/.486 line with three home runs and 17 RBIs in just 115 plate appearances with the Bucs. He also hit a huge home run in the Wild Card game for the Pirates off of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto.
Everyone knows that Byrd is a free agent, but how many people realize that Buck is also a free agent? It’s true. All these people wondering if the Pirates will bring Byrd back for another season, what about Buck? Obviously, the Pirates have less of a need for an average backup catcher with Sanchez and Russell Martin already there, but come on, Buck has literally had no attention since being acquired.
For as bad as people seemed to think Buck’s time with the Pirates was, the fact is that it wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t good, but it was average for sure. He had very limited playing time, but he did hit .292, good enough for a catcher that played once a week. So, yes, the Byrd trade happened and the Pirates did make the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years, but don’t forget Buck was a part of both of those occurrences.
It must stink to be the forgotten man.