Jesus Sucre vs John Buck
Here y'go Señor Sugar: a set of steak knives


Q.  Do you suppose he was Kelly Shoppach'ed?

A.  That was Dr. D's assumption as it was Tacoma Rain's.  That Shoppach got into a yelling match over his playing time, and was told if he didn't like it he could hit the road.  Fill in your own $#*"#@#% response to that.

But the Times article has it that the whole clubhouse was ticked out of its mind.  Buck was happy, McClendon was happy, Zunino was happy, everybody was happy.

We just did a piece, on the fact that (1) Willie Bloomquist, (2) John Buck and (3) Endy Chavez are part of what makes the 9-to-make-5 magic happen.  Buck was helping make it happen.

Now Zduriencik ... on the surface, totally oblivious to McClendon's love-fest ... pole-axes one of the vets who had so cheerfully sacrificed his PT to carry org spears.  All over a couple of blocked pitches.  So much for 9-to-make-5 magic.

Or is it?


Q.  Could Zduriencik possibly believe that, in 1-2 games a week, Jesus Sucre is going to add any WAR over John Buck?

A.  Here is a detailed piece on Jesus Sucre from last year, me writing it.  It's pinched from Gordon circa 2011, but you think I'm going to worry about that?  What you are worried about is that Jesus Sucre can catch the stuffing out of a baseball.  The kid's gifted.

As far as hitting, McClendon specifically states that "he has turned the corner" at the plate.  Sho' nuff he has slugged .575 his last 10 games, and he hit .345 with a .500 SLG in June.  The scouts tell you the kid can hit now, at age 26, and the stats bear them out.


Also, here is Spectator's stylistic analysis of Sucre's bat, taken pre-spring-training.  Jim actually does put his own fingerprints on his projections, and he points out that Sucre can be almost Altuve-like in his ability to put the ball in play.  What "sorprendido" means, Dr. D hasn't a clue, though Spanish be his third language.  (First is "neoshtick-ian.")


If you let WAR blot out the sun, you would conclude that no bench move ever meant anything (especially when the guy leaving has 0.1 WAR off the bench).  What say we step around that little affectation.  Chiquitita, you were always sure of yourself.  Now I see you've broken a feather.


Q.  Maybe Jesus Sucre is going to stage a clubhouse coup and take Mike Zunino's job?

A. ....

The 9-to-make-5 "magic" is probably a non-issue, in this specific case.  Sucre gets a chance to build something.  He'll be smiling like Jay Leno selling a weak joke.


Q.  Look at all Charlie did for them, and then look how they treated him.

A.  If I'd been Zduriencik, I wouldn't have had the guts.  I really wouldn't have.  And don't think Dr. D doesn't have bigger problems than where John Buck's next million is coming from.

From a leadership standpoint, it was either fearless or brazen.  Who knows whether the correct annotation is "!" or "?".


Q.  What's the upside?

A.  Thusly:

(1) Jesus Sucre fits this elite pitching staff like a snip of bacon perched on top of a forkful of buttermilk pancakes.  (Not everybody reading is aware that "sucre" is Spanish for "a clamshell frame of Chris Young's high fastball.")

2) You have to develop players, too.  With respect to Sucre, and also, Buck leaving clears a 40-man slot.  They have this 40-man rule thingy.  And Sucre had done everything you'd asked him to, correct?

3)  Remember Jose Canseco complaining bitterly about Billy Beane, "all they care about is winning there."  Moves like this have the potential to establish the idea that excellence is expected.

Bring in the big bat, and maybe we'll all buy that.  Sit on your cash again, in the face of the big Shark matchup this Friday, and ... well, it's easy to ask others to make the sacrifices, now ain't it.   First prize, new Cadillac.  Second prize, set of steak knives.  Third prize, a DFA.  Meanwhile, the boss has got to go do some stuff.  Office pool going, as to what.


Q.  Does SSI think this will work?

A.  It's all too easy to visualize Sucre outplaying John Buck by a good bit over the second half, especially those mouthwatering frames of Chris Young's high pitches.  And the glove-moving-up snags when WBC-san throws one four inches under the knees.  (Now of course Sucre will catch nobody but Felix and Elias for about two months....)

As you know, we live to serve.  Let's get you two articles for one:  This hyperlink might change your life.  We're quite serious about that.  Especially if you get to noodling around inside Elliott's brain.  Elliott has 4 of the 5 "levels of strength" nailed.  Check Silentpadna for the fifth.

Slap me silly, *I'm* going to miss John Buck.  If Zduriencik is an inspirer, rather than a motivator, maybe we're in for a Seahawk-type ride coming up here.

Or not,

Dr D




.300 lifetime in the minors, and is OPSing over .900 against them this season. Could be useful off the bench in that regard, you know, pinch hitting for Dustin Ackley (ever think you'd hear someone say that plausibly about Sucre?).


1.  In the Times' article, McClendon didn't seem to be too perturbed.  I couldn't read that through the lines at all.  Iwould have a hard time believing that Z would pull this trigger, with the season shaping as it is, w/o somebuy in from his field boss.
2.  It may well mean that Zunino sees more DH time, on his "days off."
3. The 40-Man point is a good one?  Are we finalizing a trade, perhaps? 
OK, a 4th bonus thing. I like Buck. I'm pretty sure I would like him as a teammate.


And I mean a GREAT clubhouse guy, and Zunino sure had wonderful things to say about him to Dreyer. But I wonder if the Mariners believe that Sucre would have handled Sunday better, in particular the wild pitch that lost it for us. Divish suggested on the radio this morning management wanted better movement behind the plate, and he used the word "mechanical" to describe Buck back there. He suggested Buck and Medina in particular weren't meshing well. I imagine after a day of watching Sucre, the team will understand why the change was made.

GLS's picture

Nothing against John Buck. I think everyone agrees he's a great guy, but the Mariners are good enough now to be in the hunt for the wildcard and possibly even the division (though that looks less likely now after the big move the A's just made), which means that 1 win could mean the difference between postseason play vs. going home.
Now, if a gifted defensive catcher can get 3-5 extra strikes per game through effective pitch framing AND throws out more baserunners (or simply shut down the running game) AND allows fewer passed balls AND calls a good game, how likely is it that over the course of 20-30 starts the rest of the season, that these skills will make the difference in at least one W or L? My instinct is that you will get at least one more win over the course of those 20-30 starts than you otherwise would have.
Something else to consider: we're going into August pretty soon, which is where players start to wear down, and Mike Zunino is probably more vulnerable to that than most. For that reason, I would expect to see the backup catcher start more games the rest of the way than Buck did in the first half.


In 2012 Jack went to AA Jackson for an extended trip to see the "Big Three" pitch (all three were healthy back then).  Sucre was the main catcher.
I recall when he came back that in almost every interview he would bring up Sucre unprompted and just rave about his catching ability.  So I think Z has planned for Sucre to be his backup catcher for a long time.


This move allows more rest for Zunino, as you point out, without sacrificing defense at the catcher position. For a team relying on run prevention, rather than run production, to stay in contention, this could be critical. I like the move too, although the timiing is a little puzzling (why not wait a few days until the ASB?).


We are in a whale of a lot of 1-run games, and the lineup is stacked lefty.  Sucre can apparently make consistent contact -- let's say with Miller on 1B and James Jones subbing out -- so let's hope that Lloyd McClendon is willing to do that.


As I certainly would in his shoes.
It would be very, VERY odd for me (in McClendon's place) to cultivate John Buck's role on the team, and then lop his head off over a couple of blocked pitches.  They knew John Buck was a 300-lb. 30-something catcher.
But you are probably right Moe.  It bears discussion, and I'd like to hear what the reality is here.


As I certainly would in his shoes.  Give me an MLB manager's paycheck and I'll sell the GM's moves like Herman Mitchell backing Lee Trevino :- )
It would be very, VERY odd for me (in McClendon's place) to cultivate John Buck's role on the team, and then lop his head off over a couple of blocked pitches.  They knew John Buck was a 300-lb. 30-something catcher.
But you are probably right Moe.  It bears discussion, and I'd like to hear what the reality is here.


Buck is built like Michael Bennett, he's an older guy, and was he EVER here because of his feet behind the plate?  Why'd you bring him in, if you were going to cut him for not being 25 years old and 205 lbs.?
But yeah.  Maybe he just surprised them with his defense, fell below critical mass.  Certainly it has been ugly a couple of times, the failure to block pitches.  :: shakes head :: I can't ever think of a time when an org-guy benchie was cut for something like that.


We presume that if you spend your life looking for X and Y, and here is Jesus Sucre doing them so well it brings tears to your eyes, well ....  If you're not going to invest in that, why are you doing what you're doing?
Not trying to be snarky.  Jesus Sucre is a fascinating player.  I don't blame them for their affection.  Maybe Sucre will win us over too.  Wouldn't doubt it.


Didn't the Seahawks cut a true organizational guy who was playing backup fullback last season (was it Coleman?) I remember Seahawk fans being real stunned about it, but understood the numbers game.
I know Jack really likes Sucre, based on interviews I've heard. Perhaps the bat has finally come around, a bat that still looked just too anemic in March. But if John fixed the clubhouse, it was a pretty callow thing to do, although not unheard of in competitive sports.


Why is the evaluation of Buck so public?
The organization that prides itself on doing everything behind closed doors, and have absolutely no leaks to anyone, and always try to say the right thing and never offend a player.... we have this story with this detail???
Is this being done to humiliate Buck... or Zunino for sticking up for Buck?
There is NO reason that the world needed to hear Mariner management criticize Buck's defensive liabilities...


It seems like someone in the organization ran their mouth off to Divish and said some things that they shouldn't have.  "There had been growing concerns about Buck's defense and receiving and blocking from the Mariners crew of hard throwers."
Your right that this is the sort of team dirty laundry that shouldn't be aired on the front of mlbtraderumors.  There is a sports code that players should not denigrate or criticize their team mates.  It reminds of the time that Jared Washburn was publicly criticizing Kenji Johjima before he left.
The Divish quote makes it sound like his sources might have been from the bullpenners themselves and not from the front office, which couldexplain the unprofessionalism.  McClendon said everything right, and Zduriencik remained silent on the issue, so far as we know.


When Buck paired with E-Ram, Walker, Elias...the results got worse...there were more shake-offs, more problems with command, more miscues.
I am wondering whether Buck was cut when he was because on Sunday, he caught Walker and Walker was uncomfortable with his calls all night and said so.


Pointing out at the bullpen after a base hit, both hands, big clap, a "We're not worthy" gusto attached?  Now it's the bullpen that forced him out?  Tough to buy into that one.
Couldn't agree more.  Buck, from our camera angle, handled his role beautifully and got kicked in the man region pretty good there.  I can't believe that the media people are jumping onto the pile.  JOHN BUCK?!
As a side issue, Bob Dutton is getting better as the season goes along -- recently he shouldered into the key with a Baker-like "put up or shut up" dribble-drive on the trade deadline, while the rest of the blog-o-sphere gets .... more "different" in the NPB sense of the word.  
One blog just had the secondary blogger "interview" the main blogger for definitive answers to all things Mariner, as though somebody had interviewed John Clayton, or as if I'd had Moe deferentially Q-and-A me on my own blog.**  The Times' recent Q-and-A on the trade deadline was even odder, in my humble opinion.  Meanwhile, Dutton directs his attention to things that edify (at least) me, for what that's worth.
You think any of the people with access badges could jump into this site and rally from the baseline, like Baker could?  (Um, ya, take me up on that, if you're so inclined.)  Hope that doesn't come off as mean, but I have no idea what's going on around this city any more.
Kinda missing Geoffy yet?
Seattle is definitely a distinctive town :- )
**If anybody Q-and-A's me, it will be me, thank you very much.


Although my own impression was that John Buck knew quite a bit more about AL hitters than Erasmo Ramirez or Roenis Elias.  I thoroughly enjoyed his comedy routine, postgame, about pitches Farquhar wanted and Buck kidding, Um, no, I'm not callin' that.  Let's go with something that stays in the park.  ... Krueger backing John Buck from the word Go.
But yeah.  That Walker game wasn't pretty.  Probably did cost Buck his job.... with the Mariners, that is.


He seems to have cultivated a lot of good Mariners leads in a very short amount of time.  My fave reporter is Shannon Drayer.  First, she has the mixed media thing down: It reminds me of a scene in Kung Fu:  Caine: "Some have mastered the crane technique, some the tiger, some the dragon style of Kung Fu.  It can take a lifetime to learn each style".  Pupil: "What is your style?" "I have mastered them all." With Drayer, its pretty rare to have a reporter who can effectively do a radio show, TV show, blog and tweet, all at the same time, and all on a daily basis.  Also, the team is a lot less guarded with Drayer than with other reporters.  
I liked reading Baker's stuff, but at some point, it seemed like he pushed the Mariners too hard and  management stopped working with him.  Quotes from Zduriencik to the Times seemed short and canned.  Meanwhile, at ESPN 710, Zduriencik and crew will do 20 minute radio shows whenever asked to.  
Incidentally, the Jemanji Q & A with Doctor Detecto is a fave SSI feature.  It would be terrible if it went away because Doc merged his personality or developed some modesty or something.  :)


...with this interpretation of events. This is outside observation and analysis by the professional media paid to do just that, nothing more.

tjm's picture

Could the timing have to do with the 40-man roster spot, which they're going to need when Paxton comes back. Does a guy who is DFA'd still hold the spot until he's gone? I don't know, but in any event they're going to need it soon. And if Buck is going at some point, might as well do it sooner than later.

Merrilie Davidson 's picture

That is exactly what I was thinking. He would be a perfect bullman coach. He is loved by his teammates and the younger pitchers look up to and listen to what he tells them. I think the poor play the last 2 games has some connection to the way Buck was dumped. What a terrible thing to do to a guy on his birthday, and it came at them out of the blue. That is not the sole reason of course but I think played into it.

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