Closing the Book on Buck, A's

February 5, 2010, 12:14 am
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Feb. 4, 2010A'S PAGE

This likely sets a record for words and time spent dealing with a backup outfielder who hasnt batted higher than .230 or played in more than 40 games two years running, but heres one last blast about Travis Buck of the As.Ive gotten an avalanche of e-mails on the topic since my piece on Buck was published Monday, and some legitimate questions were raised. In closing the book on the subject -- at least untilunless it rears its head in Arizona -- Ill answer three that pull back the curtain, so to speak.Q: Why write about such a player in the first place?
A: Because its an interesting story. This is a former first-round draft pick who rocketed through the minors, essentially skipped Triple-A ball, became a fan favorite during a strong rookie year, and appeared to be a future cornerstone of the franchise. His swift fall from grace, and the various reasons and theories as to why hes fallen, is compelling. Extremely. Q: Shouldnt Buck keep his mouth shut and just play better?
A: Thats a tricky one. In theory, yeah. This would be a non-story, or at least a very different story, if Buck had lived up to the expectations that his own talent created. Thus far, he hasnt. Hes kind of been the outfield version of Bobby Crosby -- great start to the career, but oft-injured and largely unproductive thereafter.At the same time, Buck didnt interview himself for my piece. I contacted him, and because we have a good relationship and hes a cooperative kid, he opened up. He didnt exactly bash the As, but he did shed some light on his perception of the situation and vented a little. He was fine with the piece when he read it, too, and he understands that some people will think hes whining. He also understands that he needs to play better baseball, and by doing that, hell win everybody -- Bob Geren included -- over again.Q: What does Billy Beane think about all of this?
A: I spoke with Billy about it yesterday, and while he wasnt thrilled with the suggestion that anyone in his organization would mistreat a player, hes certainly not upset with Buck. Not even disappointed in him. In fact, its quite the opposite. I love Travis, Beane told me. I really do. I think hes a great kid, and I still think he has the potential to be a great hitter in the big leagues.Thats part of why Beane is in no hurry to trade Buck; he sees a 26-year-old with a ton of talent and drive who has suffered through some injuries and -- to Bucks admission -- occasional crises of confidence. Theres still a considerable upside to Buck, but his value is at an all-time low, and if you know anything about Beane, hes not one to sell low. In other words, Buck is going to get his chance to shine in green and gold. He simply needs to do what Eric Patterson did with his chance last September and October make the most of it, once and for all.-- Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.