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 54 plate appearances for the Rivercats, Buck is hitting .386 with a .463 on base percentage. Not only that, but Buck is slugging .591, 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.