Blog Entry

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:03 am
Edited on: June 23, 2009 3:38 am
 

A's Young Outfielder Proving to Management He Belongs



Travis Buck is angry. He's let it be known that he's not happy with A's management, nor manager Bob Geren.

And I don't blame him.

After returning from the 15 day disabled list on June 14th, the A's optioned Buck to AAA-Sacramento.

At the time, it was thought that Buck was sent down to get work in while the A's played 9 straight interleague games in NL parks. After all, the A's had to get their everday DH and home run leader, Jack Cust, into the lineup. But now that the A's are back in American League ballparks for the rest of the way, that never seemed to be the case as Buck is still stuck in AAA.

Buck was upset about being placed on the disabled list on May 30th, a day after refusing to play in the second game of a double header against the Texas Rangers on May 29th due to a strained oblique muscle. Even though Buck supplied almost all of the A's offense in the first game, it must of made both Bob Geren and Billy Beane mad that Buck said he was pain free the next day. 
Even though the A's front office would never admit to it, it's really the only explanation that makes sense. After all, Buck has hit .323 in his last 31 at bats with the team. Most of which have come sparingly due to Bob Geren platooning Buck for the entire season.

But then that got this A's fan thinking....

Could Billy Beane's ego be that big that he would sacrifice putting a better product on the field to make a statement to a player? Or was it Bob Geren, the man that has refused to give Buck regular at bats since the beginning of the season, that wanted Buck off the roster?

The A's as a team were hitting just .242 at the time Buck was placed on the disabled list and it seems odd the team wouldn't want one of their hottest hitters in the lineup. The team batting average has since dropped to .235 through Sunday, which is worst in the majors. 

However, Buck isn't letting the demotion affect him.

So far in 46 plate appearances for the Rivercats, Buck is hitting .405 with a .478 on base percentage. Not only that, but Buck is slugging .649, with 6 doubles and 1 home run in just 11 games. He clearly is sending management a message of his own.

A message like "You made a big mistake".

A rookie in 2007, Buck played very well for the A's as he went on to hit .288 with 7 home runs in just 285 at bats. Inspired by his performance and work ethic, the A's decided to trade their oft injured star in Milton Bradley in order to secure everday playing time for him.

However, after starting out 0 for his first 20 at bats in 2008, the A's sent Travis to AAA to fix his swing rather than letting him work out his problems with the big league club.

After a few weeks, Buck had fixed his swing, but the A's found that they didn't have a roster spot for him as they had brought back Frank Thomas to fill a void in the lineup.

Buck continued to hit in the minors and finished the year batting .326 for Sacramento. In the final two weeks of September, Buck was called back up to the A's and hit .367 with four home runs and 12 RBI in that time frame. 

At the outset of spring training in 2009, Buck came into camp told that he would be battling for the starting right field job. At the conclusion, Buck put all the critics to rest hitting for a .300, a .402 on base percentage and led the team in home runs and RBI. Naturally, it was assumed that Buck would be playing everday for the A's in right field.

However, manager Bob Geren was never a member of the Travis Buck fan club.

Geren decided initially to platoon Buck, only starting him against right handers. The logic never made sense though.

Usually, when a player is to be platooned against left handed pitchers, they are platooned with a player that can hit those lefties better. Buck's platoon partner, outfielder Rajai Davis, wasn't any better at hitting lefties than Buck himself. Buck's career average against left handers was two points higher than Davis. Also, he isn't considered a core piece of the future of the Oakland A's, so it seemed odd to give him the at bats. Up until this point, it seemed as if Travis Buck was one of those players. Now, I'm not so sure....Only because A's management won't let him be.

Buck needs to be up with the major league roster and he needs to be playing everday. He is doing everything in his power to prove he belongs. Whatever the case may be, whether it's Beane or manager Bob Geren, the conflict needs to be resolved and the egos need to be checked. Travis Buck has earned his right to play everday.

If Buck can't force Beane to call him back up, then perhaps his play in Sacramento will force Billy to trade him. Either way, it's a no win situation for Oakland with Buck off of the 25 man roster.




Comments

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: June 23, 2009 6:47 pm
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

Frankly, over the last 4 years the A's have done a pisspoor job of developing position players. Really what players have come up through the system recently that you would say have realized their potential? I agree completely. The only position player I can think of that panned out is Kurt Suzuki and that's it....The situation with Buck here, I think rests on Bob Geren's ego and Billy Beane's stupid decision to go along with it. Normally, I'd look to GM's first when a player gets demoted, but it has been obvious since the beginning of the season that Bob Geren has had no faith in Travis Buck from the start.






Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: June 23, 2009 6:14 pm
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

Travis Buck should be the A's full time RF. No ifs ands or buts. Frankly, over the last 4 years the A's have done a pisspoor job of developing position players. Really what players have come up through the system recently that you would say have realized their potential? Rajai Davis should not be playing full time. Ditto for Jack Hannahan. Bobby Crosby? Daric Barton? Ryan Sweeney (injured)? Carlos Gonzalez (traded)? Perhaps it isn't fair to look at it in that light. Andre Ethier has developed but that was after getting a chance to play fulltime with the Dodgers. Perhaps the A's scouting department needs to step up their performance, or maybe they need to take a good look at their batting instructors and such all through out their system.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: June 23, 2009 4:13 pm
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

He had an OBP under 300 in 150 ABs last year.  That's extensive enough given his performance.
Half those at bats that you talk of, came in the first two weeks of the season. Since June 1st of last season, Buck hit .280 with a .366 OBP and slugged .573. Those numbers, though slightly improved in the slugging area, are almost identical to his numbers he put up in his solid rookie season....He has no business being in Triple-A, nor does he have any business being platooned.



Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:58 pm
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

He had an OBP under 300 in 150 ABs last year.  That's extensive enough given his performance.  Fair enough on the Hanrahan and Barton comments (neither of those have ever showed promise minus a quick flash in the pan his first season from Barton) but I still don't think Buck's played well in his time with the majors.  Again, I'm not rooting against him but I also don't support the team continuing to let him struggle.  I still think he'll be called up again soon and when he does we'll finally get to see what he's truly made of.  But he's had three seasons in the league and he hasn't done much except for a good rookie season.  He's dominated the minors so I agree with you that the A's serve no purpose leaving him there.  I'm not saying he has no future in Oakland, but if I'm the jury, the jury's still out on him until he otherwise proves that he can be a consistently good bat in the lineup.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:39 pm
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

They can't just continue to sit and watch him struggle in the majors. yet they still have Jack Hannahan and Daric Barton on the roster. At least Buck shows that he owns AAA. Neither of those two could hit in Sacramento, let alone Oakland.





Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:31 pm
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

but the A's did the same thing with Bobby Crosby and just now are learning their lesson. I think it's completely different. I NEVER valued Bobby Crosby as a player with a lot of potential. Even when he won the Rookie of the Year award, his batting average was still something like .239. In addition, the main problem with Crosby was that he kept getting injured. The A's couldn't tell how good he was going to be early in his career.

So far, his production the last two seasons has not matched his potential. Since his first season though, he hasn't been given regular at bats. He struggled at the start of 2008, and instead of letting him work through it, they immediately demoted him and didn't call him back up. Given regular at bats, Buck can strive for this team. Just look at the end of last year when he was our leadoff man. I didn't mention it in my post, but he ended last year with 5 straight multihit games batting in our leadoff spot. He just needs the opportunity to play. We just saw him starting to catch fire again this season when the A's placed him on the DL this season (which Buck insists he shouldn't have been on).

Rajai Davis doesn't hit much but he at least brings speed.  He hits for, roughly, the same percentage as Buck but brings speed to the game. Okay, but Davis never draws a walk. He's useless if he can't get on base and he has far less potential. There is no reason we should be playing him over Buck. You mention Davis' speed, but he's been thrown out 33% of the time this year. That's terrible.

but he got an extensive look last season and was pretty bad. Extensive look? He was on the roster for the first two weeks of the season and then demoted. How is 2 weeks an extensive look?




Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:03 pm
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

So far, his production the last two seasons has not matched his potential.  He showed a lot of promise his first year in the bigs and that's what everyone's holding onto, but the A's did the same thing with Bobby Crosby and just now are learning their lesson.  I don't have a problem with the team valuing production over potential.  Now that Sweeney is back and Cust is DHing, they don't really need Buck in the everyday lineup.  I would bring him up so that they could pinch hit him and he could sporadically start, but he hasn't shown to the A's the last two years that he can be a good everyday player so I wouldn't be so quick to feel sorry for him.

Rajai Davis doesn't hit much but he at least brings speed.  He hits for, roughly, the same percentage as Buck but brings speed to the game. 

I like Travis Buck and wish that he could play as well as he does in the minors, but he got an extensive look last season and was pretty bad.  They can't just continue to sit and watch him struggle in the majors.  I'm sure he'll get another chance with the A's soon enough and it will be on him to deliver when he's brought up.

Although we both agree that Bob Geren couldn't manage a McDonalds let alone a professional baseball club.


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