For the Toronto Blue Jays, the Buck Stops Here: John Buck or Rod Barajas?
Upon reading the title, one may immediately say that Rod Barajas is the hands down favorite, but a further look at the numbers and the intangibles may show that new addition John Buck is in fact the better catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays.
I don't want to base such an analysis on intangibles, but they need to mentioned. Although Rod Barajas did have to deal with a largely inexperienced pitching staff, especially in terms of starters, and an even more inexperienced set of back-up catchers, it is no comparison to what Buck must face. Buck's most experienced starter was three-year starter Shaun Marcum: Buck is the perfect man for the job.
Buck comes from a Kansas City team in which he caught the newest AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke; Buck was also integral in Greinke's development as a pitcher. Plus, playing in the Royals organization gave Buck nothing but experience in dealing with young pitchers, catchers, and losing teams—something Barajas may not have been able to deal with for another year.
Aside from experience, the numbers tell the rest of the story. If Buck's numbers are averaged out to a 120-game season, as he only played 59 games last year, the advantage goes to Buck.
Buck would have posted 24 doubles, 16 home runs, 73 RBI, 26 walks, and a .247 average. What do the numbers mean? Well, each category is superior to Barajas, with the exception of home runs (Barajas belted 19 last season). Barajas also played 125 games rather than the 120 games I projected for Buck's numbers.
On top of the numbers and the intangibles, Buck has speed, at least compared to Barajas. In fact, Buck hit four triples in 59 games last year (meaning eight in a full season) compared to Barajas' zero.
However, the work Buck can do with the pitchers this season cannot be overstated, as Buck is not a long-term solution. That is the main reason why Buck is a better fit: he is a plug for the temporary hole to be fixed by prospect J.P Arencibia. The commitment to the staff has already been shown by Buck, who immediately requested tape on all Blue Jays' pitchers as soon as his deal was finalized and studied it throughout the Winter, according to Bluejays.com.
In short, Buck's commitment is there. The rental player mentality does not apply here, and that, combined with his work with young pitchers, saves the Jays not only a half a million dollars, but also saves the debilitation of an up-and-coming pitching staff.
However, whether or not Buck can live up to his projected numbers is yet to be seen.
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