John Buck’s knowledge of hitters makes him valuable for the Mets

John Buck 1 polaroidIn a report for the Star Ledger, Jorge Castillo says while it’s unlikely John Buck will be the team’s catcher beyond 2013, Travis d’Arnaud cannot, “provide the encyclopedic knowledge of opposing hitters” that Buck can.

“Being a catcher, that’s a valuable tool to be able to know exactly what type of approach the hitter has and being able to match it up with your pitcher’s stuff, his pluses and minuses,” Buck said to Castillo. “It’s obviously a huge part of it because that’s how they score runs. If you’re able to prevent that and not let them pitch their weaknesses, that’s always the name of the game.”

Despite Buck’s value behind the plate, Castillo says Buck could also provide a significant offensive upgrade from the catcher position this season.

Buck is in the final year of a three-year, $18 million contract he signed before the 2011 season.

Michael Baron, Contributor

After Monday’s win, Jon Niese credited much of his success to Buck and his game calling. In fact, he said he didn’t shake off Buck once during his outing.

As exciting as d’Arnaud’s arrival will be — whenever that is — it’s clear Buck is more than just a placeholder and mentor for d’Arnaud. For the first time in a while, the Mets have a catcher in Buck with experience not just in the big leagues, but in the National League East. This allowed Buck to accrue knowledge of opposing hitters, as well as the Mets pitchers. In talking with him and the other pitchers on the staff, Buck’s value could ultimately be defined by that knowledge and his ability to work with the pitchers on their approach, mechanics and pitch selection against the opposition. Players are often rated solely on their production, but Buck’s presence behind the plate and ability to work with pitchers — especially for a young and evolving pitching staff — can prove to be his most valuable and recognized asset not just for 2013, but for the future, for these pitchers.