John Buck came to the Mets last winter as a throw-in to the trade featuring R.A. Dickey, Travis d'Arnaud, and Noah Syndergaard. As the older and wiser part of the catching contingent coming to Queens, Buck was expected to start the season as New York's number one catcher before transitioning into a mentor role when d'Arnaud was ready for the big leagues.
Buck did indeed begin the season as the Mets' starting catcher, but we ended up seeing a lot more of him than we expected because of a foot injury suffered by d'Arnaud at Triple-A Las Vegas. d'Arnaud didn't end up making his MLB debut until August, and that ended up being a big disappointment, but off the bat many fans were just fine having Buck behind the plate.
That's because the veteran catcher hit nine home runs in April to go with 25 RBI and a ghastly .269 on-base percentage. The latter was shockingly a more accurate sign of things to come than the "sexy" power numbers, as Buck faded into oblivion while spring turned to summer. He hit .212/.302/.306 in May and .167/.226/.269 in June before finally rebounding for a .730 OPS in July.
After d'Arnaud was called up in August, Buck was chucked to the Pirates as part of the Marlon Byrd trade that brought interesting infield prospect Dilson Herrera and useful bullpen arm Vic Black to New York. It appeared that the Buccos had need of Buck's veteran leadership or grission for their playoff run, but he played sparingly in September and didn't have even one at-bat in the postseason.
Overall, Buck hit .222/.288/.365 in 2013. His .648 OPS was 50 points lower than the average MLB catcher. d'Arnaud didn't hit much better after his call-up, but at least the youngster was more effective at framing pitches.
Desired 2014 role: As a catcher on another team because he's really not any better than Anthony Recker.
Projected 2014 role: As a backup catcher on an MLB team that is not the Mets.