According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com “the Red Sox are expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of free-agent catcher John Buck” if Victor Martinez signs elsewhere.
On one hand that makes sense, as both Martinez and Jason Varitek are free agents and Buck is generally considered the second-best catcher on the market this offseason.
On the other hand, Buck hardly seems like a typical Red Sox target. Boston’s lineup has ranked among the league’s top three in walks drawn every year since 2003 because the front office places a premium on players with good plate discipline and high on-base percentages. Not only doesn’t Buck fit those bills, he’s among the least-disciplined hitters in baseball.
This season he drew a grand total of just 16 walks and struck out 111 times in 437 plate appearances. His strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked dead last in baseball among the 205 players who batted at least 400 times and his walk rate was third-worst ahead of only Pedro Feliz and A.J. Pierzynski.
And while Buck was able to succeed despite a horrible 111/16 K/BB ratio this season, hitting .281 with 20 homers and an .802 OPS, his previous track record is far less impressive. Prior to this season he hit .235 with a .298 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage in 584 career games, averaging 31 walks and 103 strikeouts per 437 plate appearances.
Buck is coming off a career-year and has always had good power for a catcher, but I’d be surprised if the Red Sox are truly prepared to get into any bidding wars over someone with a .301 career on-base percentage.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.