When the A’s opted against calling up Travis Buck from Triple-A in September the writing was on the wall for his departure from Oakland, and sure enough the former first-round pick was non-tendered a few weeks ago.
Buck made it to the majors less than two years after the A’s picked him in the first round out of Arizona State and hit .288 with an .850 OPS in 82 games as a 23-year-old rookie in 2007, but he’s spent more time on the disabled list than the field since then while hitting .215 in a grand total of just 88 games in the past three seasons.
Buck will try to resurrect his career in Cleveland after signing a minor-league contract with the Indians and at 27 years old there’s still plenty of time for him to turn things around, but his numbers at Triple-A haven’t even been particularly impressive during the past two seasons and Buck’s lack of power figured to keep him from becoming a star even before all the injuries did him in.
Ryan Garko spent 2007-2009 as a starting first baseman for the Indians and Giants, but played most of this season at Triple-A after being claimed off waivers by the Rangers.
And now he’s headed to Korea.
Apparently unable to land a major-league deal as even a part-time player, Garko has signed with the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization. According to the Korea Herald he’ll make a base salary of $250,000 and also gets a $50,000 signing bonus, so Garko will make about 75 percent of the MLB minimum.
Garko is a 29-year-old career .274/.347/.434 hitter who has always fared well against left-handed pitching, but when you’re a defensively challenged first baseman without a ton of power the jobs dry up in a hurry.
Dropped by the Indians last month, one-time elite prospect Andy Marte has signed a minor-league contract with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.
Managing only a minor-league deal without a 40-man roster spot shows just how far Marte’s stock has plummeted since he ranked among Baseball America‘s top 15 prospects in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but Pittsburgh is as good a place as any to attempt a career resurrection for the 27-year-old.
After all, the Pirates just dropped a former top third base prospect of their own in Andy LaRoche. LaRoche has been a huge bust, but Marte has been one of the biggest busts of the past decade.
Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller has been hospitalized with pneumonia stemming from complications following his treatment for leukemia.
Feller, who turned 92 years old this month, has dealt with multiple health problems recently, but “is said to be getting stronger” according to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.
Here’s more from Castrovince:
It has been a difficult run of poor health for Feller, who, prior to this summer, had an indefatigable spirit and energy that belied his age. In August, Feller was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a form of cancer in which abnormal white blood cells interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Feller had to have about two quarts of blood infused into his system and began receiving chemotherapy treatments. In September, Feller had a pacemaker installed to combat a heart ailment and also had a bout with vertigo.
Feller debuted with the Indians as a 17-year-old in 1936 and won 266 games over 18 seasons despite missing much of his peak while serving in the military. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1962 as part of the same class as Jackie Robinson.
In news that is suddenly a lot more noteworthy given today’s bombings, the South Korean government has officially granted Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo a military exemption.
Choo, like all South Korean men, was obligated to serve two years in the military prior to age 30, but the 28-year-old will not have to fulfill that requirement after leading South Korea to the gold medal at the Asian Games last week.
Choo batted .571 with three homers and 11 RBIs in the five-game tournament, collecting two hits in the championship game.