Tag:John Buck
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:33 pm
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Spring primer: Miami Marlins



By Matt Snyder


All of a sudden, in just one offseason, the Miami Marlins have undergone a complete makeover. They have a new name, logo and stadium. New, more colorful uniforms are part of the deal as well. Still, that's all window-dressing if the on-field product resembles the 72-90 one from 2011. And it doesn't. Not only did the Marlins bring in three highly-coveted and high-priced free agents, but they traded for fiery Carlos Zambrano and brought in one of the most outspoken -- and, at times, effective -- managers in baseball. How Ozzie Guillen's new-look troops fare in the 2012 season remains to be seen, but two things are certain: More people will be in attendance to find out and it's not going to be boring.

Major additions: SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Wade LeBlanc
Major departures: RHP Javier Vazquez, C John Baker, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Chris Volstad

Probable lineup
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (a.k.a. Mike Stanton)
5. Logan Morrison, LF
6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
7. John Buck, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Josh Johnson
2. Mark Buehrle
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Ricky Nolasco
5. Carlos Zambrano

Wade LeBlanc is the injury replacement.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Heath Bell
Set-up: Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn

Important bench players

C Brett Hayes, IF Greg Dobbs, OF Scott Cousins, OF Bryan Petersen

Prospect to watch
For this year, there really aren't many guys on the radar ready to jump in and immediately help. Third base prospect Matt Dominguez is in Triple-A, but he's now blocked by one of the team leaders in Hanley Ramirez. All the other highly-ranked Marlins prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors. So we'll go with Dominguez here for this reason: Should he have a big first three months in Triple-A while the Marlins are in the thick of the pennant race, he makes for good trade bait at the deadline. Maybe they could use him to upgrade the bridge to Heath Bell or even as part of a package to landing a really good center fielder.

Fantasy breakout: Logan Morrison
"Morrison's track record suggests both his walk rate and BABIP should rebound, and in fact, his .268 BABIP from a year ago looks like the result of some horrendously bad luck. He is a strong bet to improve on his OBP and, at worst, maintain the home run power he displayed in 2011. Add in some improvement and subtract out his minor league demotion and DL time from last season, and Morrison suddenly profiles as a No. 3 mixed league OF." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bounce-back: Hanley Ramirez
"Ramirez had a miserable first half last season, and just when he started to get untracked, he suffered a shoulder injury that led to season-ending surgery. As the season progressed, Ramirez adjusted and started hitting more line drives and flyballs, and his batting average and power numbers rose accordingly. Even though his overall stats were pale compared to his norms, a good sign for Ramirez was that his home run per flyball rate was not much lower than usual." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Everyone behaves, Ramirez and Johnson stay healthy and have big seasons while the youngsters (Stanton, Morrison) develop into stars. Especially now that there are two wild cards, the Marlins have a great shot at the playoffs with this group. And once you get there, anything can happen, so I'd say an optimistic outlook has them winning the third World Series in franchise history. If you look at the upside in the offense and rotation in particular, it's hard to argue against a best-case scenario being a championship. Then again ...

Pessimistic outlook
Utter disaster. The club doesn't respond to Guillen, Johnson injures his arm again, Zambrano melts down, Morrison quibbles with management over Twitter, Ramirez starts slow and demands a trade due to wanting to play shortstop again ... you get it. I can't think of another club with such high-peak and low-valley potential entering the 2012 season. This group of personalities could be the new Bronx Zoo champion or a catastrophic mix on the field that finishes last. Almost literally, anything could happen. As I said in the intro, it certainly won't be boring. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:56 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Oakland Athletics



By Matt Snyder

What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

"Moneyball" hit movie theaters everywhere late this past summer and Brad Pitt-as-Billy Beane told us the A's have to be creative to compete in an unfair baseball landscape. There are haves and have-nots, the protagonist would tell us. And we all know the Oakland Athletics are have-nots in the salary-capless land of Major League Baseball. So what if the A's could afford to keep all their own guys? Surely they'd be much better, right? Uh ...

Lineup

1. Jemile Weeks, 2B
2. Nick Swisher, CF
3. Andre Ethier, RF
4. Jason Giambi, 1B
5. Ryan Ludwick, LF
6. Kurt Suzuki, C
7. Ramon Hernandez, DH
8. Mark Teahen, 3B
9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Tim Hudson
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Dallas Braden
4. Tyson Ross
5. Joe Blanton

Yes, Braden was out for the season in real life, but we've got Rich Harden waiting in the wings. Oh, and yes, Harden is hurt all the time. So then we'd turn to Barry Zito.

Bullpen

Closer - Andrew Bailey
Set up - Huston Street, Santiago Casilla, Henry Rodriguez, Joel Peralta, Sam Demel
Long - Harden, Zito

Notable Bench Players

Miguel Olivo, John Baker, Gerald Laird -- yes, those three are all catchers, just like our DH -- Eric Chavez and Travis Buck.

What's Good?

Hey, at least we'd never run out of catchers with this group. There are four major-league caliber starters, even if some are lower-tier, and one quality backup in Laird. So the Athletics churn out catchers. Really, though, the strength of this team is unsurprisingly the pitching. The starting rotation is good, but not great. Hudson is steady and Cahill was very good in 2010. Blanton was good in 2009 but has battled injuries and ineffectiveness since then. Ross did show great promise before his injury last season, though. The bullpen is pretty good, too. Bailey is a solid closer and Street would be a fine eighth-inning man with Casilla and fireballer Rodriguez also setting the table.

What's Not?

Giambi and Ludwick in the middle of the order isn't near as potent nowadays as it would have been a handful of years ago. Plus, could Giambi even play everyday anymore? If not, our next option is playing a catcher, Chavez or Buck at first base. That's weak. In fact, at this point in time, there aren't many spots where the hitter is well above average for his slot. Swisher and Ethier are good, but they aren't elite second or third hitters. Weeks could prove an elite leadoff hitter as soon as 2012, but we don't have a large enough sample yet to declare that. Ramon Hernandez had a good past two offensive seasons, but take him out of the NL Central and Great American Ball Park and put him in the AL West in Oakland. That's a big difference. So while the offense isn't atrocious, it's not very good either -- and there is no bench depth anywhere but catcher. Also, Swisher's out of position in center, but, again, we don't have any other options.

Comparison to real 2011

While the rotation and bullpen are good, they are far from great, and the position players here just aren't enough. This team would be below average, an 85-90 loss ballclub. The real-life A's went 74-88, so I'd say it's just about the same result.

And we can now see the biggest problem. Of course it's tough to compete as a small-market team in a football stadium, but the A's haven't been drafting very well. They've made some good trades, sure, but also some pretty bad ones. For example, they spun Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith for Matt Holliday back in 2008, but then dealt Holliday at the next trade deadline for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson. So, yes, one reason the A's can't compete anymore in the AL West is because they don't have the money to retain or sign new expensive veterans. But another reason is they just aren't churning out draft picks like the Rays, for example, are. 

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:14 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Houston Astros



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

The most interesting thing about our latest installment in this series is that I believe this would have been one of the better teams in the majors had we done the exercise three or four years ago. How good would a Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Freddy Garcia top three in the rotation have been a handful of years ago -- along with Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence and Bobby Abreu leading the offense? Alas, we're doing it now and some of that sounds far less enticing. Still, let's check it out.

Lineup

1. Hunter Pence, CF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Ben Zobrist, RF
4. Lance Berkman, LF
5. Bobby Abreu, 1B
6. Chris Johnson, 3B
7. John Buck, C
8. Aaron Miles, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Johan Santana
2. Roy Oswalt
3. Wandy Rodriguez
4. Bud Norris
5. Jordan Lyles

Bullpen

Closer - Brad Lidge
Set up - Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Fernando Abad,
Long - Felipe Paulino, Freddy Garcia

Notable Bench Players

Ramon Castro, Carlos Guillen, Drew Sutton, Brooks Conrad, Brian Bogusevic

What's Good?

The trio of Pence, Zobrist and Berkman makes the front part of the offense look really attractive and Abreu offers decent protection for the Puma. Fitting in that two-hole would also do wonders for the development of the young Altuve. Can we assume health in this exercise, considering it's for fun? Sure, I will. So the starting rotation looks pretty good -- albeit not dominant anymore -- with Johan as the ace and Oswalt a good number two (remember, back issues hampered him last year). If Lyles isn't ready yet, we can plug in Garcia or Paulino as the five.

What's Not?

Lidge and Qualls aren't bad, but there is nothing in front of them worth much except two starting pitchers -- and, again, we may need one of the two in the rotation. The bottom part of the batting order isn't very good either and the bench is thin. But let's focus on what is really bad: The defense. I fought back and forth with whether to put Abreu or Berkman in LF, but either one is a bad choice. I just feel like Berkman can move better at this point. I also had to shift Pence to center, even though he's better suited in right. Miles is much better used at second base and he's not even really good there.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, the 2011 Astros were the worst team in the majors and in franchise history. This team isn't particularly good, but it's better than that. With that rotation, a decent back-end of the bullpen and some offense, these Astros should be able to work close to the 75-win range. One thing is for sure, they wouldn't be the worst team in the NL Central. I also feel like the best news for Astros fans is there would actually be some name players here to root for, after having seen the likes of Oswalt, Berkman, Pence and Michael Bourn traded over the past two real seasons. Still, you can't help but think that there are enough pieces here that the Astros could have properly built a real-life team that was still in contention in 2011 -- had they made the right moves.

Next: Los Angeles Dodgers

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Hero of the day: Marlins catcher John Buck

By Matt Snyder

We have to write about players for bad reasons -- suspensions for failing drug tests, arrests, etc. -- so it's fun when there is a reason to write something glowing about a player's off-field activity. And we have a great nugget on this Monday afternoon. Marlins catcher John Buck helped rescue two elderly women from an overturned vehicle late last week.

Buck reportedly arrived at the site of a car accident one minute after it happened near the Sawgrass Mall in Sunrise, Florida. He ran to the overturned car to help two others pull the two women from the car. From palmbeachpost.com:
“It wasn’t that serious,’’ he said. “But the car upside down and the way it landed, the two older ladies were pretty lucky.’’

Buck didn’t stick around too long – he was on his way to pick up his son from school.

“I pulled them out, then the police came, I gave my report and was like, ‘Guess my job’s over.’ So I took off.’’
Whether Buck thought it was serious or not is irrelevant. He rushed over to help a pair of elderly ladies who had just been in a car accident. Kudos to him for being a Good Samaritan and then staying humble about it afterward.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:39 am
 

Reyes rounds out an impressive Marlins lineup

Jose Reyes Hanley Ramierez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings haven't officially started and the Marlins already seem to have locked up the Hot Stove League title with the signings of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell -- and they could add more.

So what does this mean to the product on the field come April? Well, the rotation may still need some tinkering, but the lineup -- assuming everyone is healthy -- appears stout.

With Reyes, let's look at the new-look Miami Marlins lineup:

Jose Reyes1. Jose Reyes, SS

When healthy, Reyes is the best leadoff hitter in the game, and one of the few real difference-makers in the top spot of the lineup. Reyes has a career .341 OBP and 370 stolen bases -- good for eighth among active players, with only one of the other players ahead of him on the list in his 20s, like the 28-year-old Reyes. Reyes is coming off his first career batting title, hitting .337/.384/.493 in 2011 and also led the league in triples (16) for the fourth time in his career. The knock on Reyes, though, is his ability to stay on the field. After playing in at least 153 games from 2005-2008, he played in just 36 games in 2009, 133 in 2010 and 126 last season. But when healthy, few in the game are as good as he is.

Omar Infante2. Omar Infante, 2B

While Infante didn't return to his All-Star form from a year before in 2011, he's a steady second baseman, if not exactly Dan Uggla. Infante hit .276/.315/.382 and led the league with 17 sacrifices if you're into that kind of thing. He has a career .318 OBP, but had a .353 OBP from 2008-2010 with the Braves. He's a solid No. 2 batter, especially sandwiched between Reyes and Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B

Ramirez will have to move to third to make room for Reyes, something he's been reluctant to do -- but it's probably best for him and the Marlins. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he's physically more of a third baseman than a shortstop and the team's defense should benefit from the switch. The Marlins had been in the market for a third baseman and all of a sudden they have one with a .306/.380/.506 career split with 134 home runs in six seasons -- and will be just 28 when the season starts. With Reyes and Ramirez, the Marlins now have batting champs from two of the last three seasons in their lineup.

Mike Stanton4. Mike Stanton, RF

Perhaps the most exciting young player in the game, Stanton hit 34 home runs last season in his first full season, while hitting an impressive .262/.356/.537 overall. In an era where there seems to be fewer young power hitters, Stanton has it in spades. He's also proven to be an outstanding defensive outfielder and is under team control for several more years.

Logan Morrison5. Logan Morrison, LF

Morrison, 24 had a disappointing sophomore season, even finding himself sent to Triple-A in August. Even with the trip to the minors, he put up a .247/.330/.468 line with 23 home runs and 72 RBI. That's not ideal, but it's not bad for a 23-year-old in his second season in the majors, especially one that put up a .283/.390/.447 line as a rookie. He was also much better in the first half, hitting .267/.343/.489. The talent is there and he should get better.

Gaby Sanchez6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

Sanchez was lost in the monster National League rookie class of 2010, but still put together a solid rookie season and pretty much equaled it in his second season, hitting .266/.352/.427 with 19 home runs in 2011. Sanchez is 28, the same age as Reyes and Ramirez, but with much less experience.

Emilio Bonifacio7. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

A switch-hitter, the speedy Bonifacio played all three outfield spots, as well as second, shortstop and third last season for the Marlins, but the team's biggest need now is center field, and he can stick there now that he doesn't need to fill in at any point for Ramirez at short. Bonifacio put up a .296/.360/.393 line last season and stole 40 bases. The team also has former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, who started 64 games in center last season, but struggled, hitting just .230/.296/.368 and is expected to start next season in Triple-A.

John Buck8. John Buck, C

The oldest player in this lineup, Buck is just 31. While not an offensive superstar, he's a solid catcher and did put up a .316 OBP last season and hit 16 home runs. He also hit 20 homers in 2010 for the Blue Jays.

That's a pretty good lineup, and also a young one -- only Buck and Infante will be 30 or older at the start of next season. That said, the Marlins may not be done. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports Miami is expected to make "an aggressive run" at Albert Pujols. As good as the Marlins' lineup looks now, that could push it into a different stratosphere. Even without Pujols, that thing in center field could get a workout at the Marlins' new park.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Wright

By Evan Brunell

Over the past week, Eye on Baseball has taken a look at the AL Gold Glove award winners, along with the deserving NL candidates. In addition, the AL's worst defenders were scoured, and now comes the senior circuit's recipients of tin gloves...

Catcher: John Buck, Marlins -- One of the most important things a catcher can do is to throw out baserunners. To be sure, it's a total package -- calling pitches, acting as the general on the field, blocking pitches, framing pitches... but that pesky baserunner problem is also an issue, and Buck scores very low here. Out of 95 would-be basestealers, Buck only caught 17 of them, or 17.9 percent. Of all catchers who qualify for the batting title in the game -- not just the NL -- Buck's posted the worst caught-stealing rate. His reputation in all other aspects of catching are muted at best.

First base: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- Fielder looks as if he should easily clear $150 million in a new contract this offseason and $200 million is not out of reach given the right motivated bidder. Whoever is acquiring him, though, will be doing so for his home-run bat as opposed his defense, which has been consistently awful. This is a player who would have been shoved into the DH spot in the AL had he come up with an American League team, but the Brewers have had to live with his glove at first. Fielder offers nothing at first beyond a human blob that can block the occasional grounder.

Second base: Dan Uggla, Braves -- Uggla battled Jeff Keppinger for this honor, but Uggla takes the cake here by leading all NL second basemen in errors with 15, flashing both awful range and stone hands. It's surprising the Marlins didn't move him to third a while ago, and the Braves will certainly try to shift Uggla to third base once Chipper Jones retires. Until then, Atlanta's going to have to hope that Freddie Freeman at first and their shortstop can cover enough ground for Uggla to make his mark with the bat.

Third base: David Wright, Mets -- If David Wright's .929 fielding percentage holds, it will be the lowest mark by a third baseman since  2007, excluding Mark Reynolds who has "bested" Wright's fielding percentage twice in 2011 and 2008. In 2007, Ryan Braun tallied a .895 fielding percentage and was moved to left, which was always inevitable. Before that, you have to go to Edwin Encarnacion in 2006. Errors aren't always an indication of how good a fielder is, but in Wright's case, he's making them in such copious amounts without the benefit of superlative range.

Shortstop: Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers -- Was there any doubt? The Brewers knew that they would have a horrendous left side of the infield, but the club could only hope that Betancourt and third baseman Casey McGehee's offensive production outstripped what they lost on defense. That hasn't been the case, and Betancourt remains the worst shortstop by a mile in the game. Really, there's no excuse for his still being considered a shortstop.

Left field: Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- There isn't much that left fielders are asked to do. Stand out there with a glove, catch the balls coming your way and smash lots of home runs. Well, Ibanez hasn't quite delivered on these fronts, especially defensively where he combines a noodle of an arm with a lack of speed or quickness, making him a statue. He's fortunate he doesn't play for the Cubs, otherwise the ivy on the outfield walls would already have overtaken him.

Canter field: Angel Pagan, Mets -- Pagan came out of nowhere to be a solid contributor to the Mets the last two seasons, but things have fallen apart this year. He leads all NL center fielders in erorrs and while he has good reaction time, his hands just aren't soft enough and his arm is a wash, too. Pagan may well have lost any shot at starting again after the year he's had.

Right field: Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- As I keep bringing up, a right fielder's arm is more valuable than a left fielder or center fielder. Thus, a player's defense in right should be judged with a bit more notice as to the player's arm. Well, one of the worst arms in the league belongs to Berkman, playing right consistently for the first time in his career. The verdict? The Cardinal has a lousy arm and lousy range. Maybe Berkman should stick to first base.

Pitcher: Matt Garza, Cubs -- A pitcher's job on defense basically comes down to this: field the grounders back to you and act as an irrelevant fly-ball pointer-outer. So when you make seven errors in just 191 innings for a fielding percentage of .774, you aren't doing too well. That's Garza, who has made five throwing errors while muffing two grounders. Garza's only made 10 putouts and 14 assists, so 22.5 percent of his involvement in fielding plays have resulted in an error. That's not good.

You'll notice no NL West players landed on the list. That's not surprising. With San Diego and Los Angeles playing in pitcher's parks and San Francisco's stadium rather spacious as well, defense is at a premium. Colorado also needs to emphasize defense as well to take away hits and patrol Coors Fields' cavernous gaps.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:15 pm
 

Cardinals may face Brewers without Molina

Yadier MolinaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals may be without one of their most important players when they host the division-leading Brewers for three games starting on Monday, as catcher Yadier Molina is out of the team's lineup for the second straight day on Sunday and may not be ready to face Milwaukee.

"Hopeful is the best way to put it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Molina's availability for the Brewers series (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

Molina was suffering from soreness in his left calf muscle and told his teammates Saturday that he wouldn't miss Sunday's game. But when La Russa filled out the lineup for the last game of the series against the Reds, Gerald Laird was penciled in to catch Edwin Jackson.

The Cardinals also said they wouldn't promote Tony Cruz from Triple-A Memphis before the Redbirds' season ends on Monday because of the moves that would have to be made throughout the rest of the organization to make sure every team had a catcher.

Molina's hitting .294/.333/.451 with 12 homers, but his worth isn't best measured by any of those numbers or even WAR or any advanced stats, instead, it's best shown by 111 -- the number of games he's started behind the plate in the Cardinals' 139 games. Only Florida's John Buck (113) and Arizona's Miguel Montero (112) have started more games behind the plate this season than the three-time Gold Glover. Molina also has the reputation as one of the best catchers in the majors at handling pitchers.

Laird, 31, is hitting .235/.305/.365 with one homer this season and has started 20 games for the Cardinals this season behind the plate, including Saturday's victory. 

St. Louis enters Sunday's game 8 1/2 behind the Brewers in the National League Central and with 23 games remaining, would likely need another sweep of the Brewers to keep any hopes at the playoffs alive. The Cardinals swept the Brewers in Milwaukee last week.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 1:27 pm
 

Marlins' Buck a NuttyBuddy believer

By C. Trent Rosecrans

You've seen the video… and if you haven't, well, you must:

The NuttyBuddy may be able to take a direct shot from a pitching machine, but Marlins catcher John Buck says he's broken two this year alone. That said, a broken piece of plastic is better than a broken... well, a ball to the... OK, you know... 

Saturday night, Chris Carpenter fouled off a bunt attempt in the sixth inning of the Cardinals' 2-1 victory that bounced off the ground and straight up into Buck's… NuttyBuddy.

 

"I felt like I was gonna throw up," Buck told Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. "That hurt really bad."

Yeah. I bet.

Buck didn't realize the cup cracked until he was talking to reporters before Sunday's game and noticed a crack.

"Broken cup number two," he said.

He also broke a cup in May in Cincinnati when he was hit by a Josh Johnson fastball -- Johnson signed the cup and Buck put it in his trophy room.

Buck stayed in the game Saturday, but is getting a regularly scheduled day off Sunday.

After May's incident, Buck was still a fan of the NuttyBuddy -- "I think it saved me [in May]," Buck told Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post days after the first incident. He said after he got his cup broken last year when a member of the Blue Jays, their clubhouse guy said Rod Barajas used the NuttyBuddy and suggested Buck try it.

Now Buck's a believer. And a survivor.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com