April 23, 2014

What (the) Buck Are You Talking About?

According to this Jordan Bastain tweet, the Indians signed Travis Buck to a minor league contract today with an invite to Big League camp

I know what you’re thinking: Who

But I actually like this deal quite a bit for reasons I’ll delve into below, even though it probably won’t end up meaning all that much in the long-run.  Let’s explore.

First though, I should be clear: Travis Buck hasn’t been very good in professional baseball so far, and that’s not even accounting for the multiple injuries with which he’s struggled.  Throughout parts of the last four seasons, Buck has put up a .250/.330/.424  line (.331 wOBA/.754 OPS) as a corner OF for the Oakland A’s.  During that time, he’s bounced around the minor leagues and the DL, resulting in only 669 Major League plate appearances–about as many as Matt LaPorta has.  He’s struggled so much recently that Oakland refused to call him up last September and decided to non-tender him this off-season, allowing the Indians to offer him a minor league contract.

OK.  Enough with the Debbie-Downer spiel.  Here’s why I like the deal:

  • It’s a minor league contract, meaning not only does it not cost the team much money, but it doesn’t cost us a roster spot.  This is crucial for a team like the Indians who must be judicious in apportioning major league plate appearances in 2011 (so that we can find out about guys like Brantley and Donald).
  • Travis Buck has been good.  He was drafted in the first round out of Arizona State and made it to the majors in less than two years.  In his rookie season, he put up a .288/.377/.474 line (.850 OPS).
  • He’s still fairly young, at only 27.  For comparison’s sake, Casey Blake had played in exactly 40 MLB games TOTAL by the time he finished his age-27 season; since he turned 30 he’s averaged over 135 games per season.  In other words, there’s still time for Buck to develop into a viable major leaguer.
  • It allowed me to write a funny sounding title.
  • Yes, I’m an optimist.  But consider this: Buck has better numbers than Matt LaPorta, and is not that much older.  The likelihood of Buck “figuring things out” and living up to his draft pedigree isn’t all that much lower than LaPorta developing into a viable offensive threat.  I’m all for giving these guys chances–especially when the pricetag is so low.
  • I know you don’t want to think about it (or maybe you do?), but we’re not going to have our current outfield forever: at least one, and maybe two of these guys won’t be here in a few years.  As Mike Holmgren would say, there’s nothing wrong with adding to “the pile.”

All in all, I love this deal.  No risk, high reward.  And even if Buck never makes it to the majors again, I’ll still believe it was a good move.

  • Clown Baby

    Those golden, flowing locks make up for the baseball deficiencies in my book. BRADY QUINN WHO?!

  • Mark

    BUT WILL HE PUT ASSES IN THE SEATS? NO!!! CLEARLY THIS IS A TERRIBLE SIGNING! DOLAN NEEDS TO SELL THE TEAM!

    /Shakes head & walks away.

  • CLESportsFan

    Will we lead the league in Travis’ (Travi?) on one team??

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    Travis > Joe

  • http://twitter.com/boxoflewine Eli

    Gilbert Gottfried doing play by play > Joe Buck

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    The hits to dreaminess quotient just sky rocketed with this signing.

  • MrCleaveland

    Ay, Mr. Kotter, up yer nose wit’ a rubba hose.

    /yuks it up and punches Epstein on the arm

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Jon

    “I apologize to you for an absolutely DISGRACEFUL ACT by Randy Moss!”

    Always good to be reminded of Joe Buck’s greatest hits.

    Travis > Joe, indeed.

  • Harv 21

    I have seen the future, and his name is Travis Buck.

    Much love to the Dolans, who have finally deep-sixed the obsolete John Hart/Multiyear Contracts for Young Stars template. Stick Travis and Grady in the same outfield and estrogen will be rocking the sold-out Prog like a Jonas Brothers concert.

    Well done, gentlemen. ALCS, here we come.

  • NJ

    Sure, we may not compete for the central, but at least our players aren’t a bunch of freakish looking ghouls.

  • Mike E

    MrCleveland nice reference

  • Jason

    Tough to get excited about these deals, and it won’t put fans in the seats right now, but it’s reality as a smaller market team. You have a window open every 5 years or so when you draft and obtain the right young players still on their first contract (2005-2007 Indians, 2008-2010 Rays, etc). Some luck is involved as well. The 2007 Indians had all this.

    However, that window closes quickly when they start becoming free agents and the big market teams buy them. Then you have to start over, wait 5 years. If we have a window opening, it’ll be 2011 or 2012 at the earliest, with some luck…..

  • mgbode

    “Buck has better numbers than Matt LaPorta”

    as do you and I Jon, as do you and I :)

    I do agree with you though. as long as Buck isn’t blocking the progress of another OF in AAA (where he likely starts off), then this is a good deal.

    And I know what you are saying about our current OF, we can’t just resign Austin Kearns every year and trade him midseason. We need to develop our own 4th OF, right? ;)

  • 216in614

    @1 yeah, jon missed the hair in the positives.

  • Tommy

    It’s funny how much more optimistic we are about players that have struggled for other franchises in the past rather than our own. I don’t have the time to check Pittsburgh Pirate blogs, but if I did, I’d bet I’d find a similar article written about Andy Marte.

  • Jon

    I think you’re probably right Tommy: Grass is always greener type stuff. We’re all guilty of that.

    On the other hand, I’m optimistic about LaPorta and Brantley and Santana and Carrasco and Masterson as well. I have some major problems, but I don’t think that “a consistently optimistic attitude” is one of them.

  • crazycav

    As Mike Holmgren would say, there’s nothing wrong with adding to “the pile.”
    Are we adding this to the pile of dung catagory?

  • Tommy

    @Jon

    Haha definitely not a problem. In fact, if I wasn’t guilty of having a “consistently optimistic attitude” myself, I probably would be absolutely miserable as an Indians fan. But conveniently, I share your optimism and find this type of signing very smart as well.

    I only made that comment as a general one after looking over Buck’s career numbers. The splotches of encouraging production in AAA followed by disappointments in Oakland reminded me of Andy Marte, and I’m guessing Oakland probably felt similar about Buck as we did about Marte.

    But back to optimism:
    Maybe Buck will find his groove in Cleveland where there isn’t so much damn foul territory!

  • REEPJP

    Speaking of eternal optimism…..I was one friend saying “Joe, remember, it’s Cleveland” from betting way too much money on the over (73) on the Indians win total last year….thank god for my glass half empty friends.