Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck caused quite a stir this weekend with some comments he made about Cardinals outfield prospect Oscar Taveras in the wake of a trade that send outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher John Lackey.
In the interest of providing context and accuracy, I went in search of the full dialogue during that segment. Timothy Burke of Deadspin has provided me with the full transcript of Buck, Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds discussing the move.
Here it is:
Buck: The Cardinals part of it is really intriguing. As Bogaerts checks his swing on a pitch that was down. And the count goes to 3-1. As you said, the Cardinals made the decision to force Oscar Taveras into their lineup, a rookie outfielder. While the front office may like the potential of Oscar Taveras, guys on the team have been not impressed at all with his work ethic. And that’s what rankelled a lot of those players when that trade was made to get rid of Craig. That’s strike two. And trade a 26-year-old hard-throwing right-hander, good athlete in Joe Kelly, here to Boston. Allen Craig, a run-producing machine the past two years. The question is, is he healthy? Had the Lisfranc situation in his left foot last year and has not hit like they expected so far this season. Runner goes on a foul at the plate by Bogaerts.
Tom Verducci: What you said about Taveras and the Cardinals, that’s why if you’re a GM, you better understand the pulse of your clubhouse. Because you can’t fool your teammates. If you’re not a worker, you have any kind of insecurities, any kind of red flag, your teammates will know that. Getting back to Billy Beane, I think we all applaud what he’s done with that roster. A few years ago, Eric Chavez, Giambi, say, I got a shot at getting this guy, what do you think? How does he fit? I admired that about Billy Beane, that he understood the game from the ground up and not the front office down.
Harold Reynolds: That’s huge. I think in St. Louis, as far as Taveras is concerned, you have to have a guy who will get in his face and say, you got to work. You can’t say, the game’s going to humble you or it’s not. You gotta work.
Buck: Nava was running last pitch. Isn’t here. A line drive into right will send the right fielder Martin Prado back and he grabs it for out number one. Prado, as Tom said, had only played a couple of games prior to today in right. He made that play look easy on a line drive, One away. Jackie Bradley, Jr., will be the hitter. That guy, by the way, for the Cardinals, would have been Albert Pujols.
Buck: Taveras would not come up, take early BP and not do some of the work that the veterans expected him to do with the Cardinals, with Albert Pujols in that clubhouse, on his watch. Check on the runner at first. Back easily is Daniel Nava.
Reynolds: And I’m wondering, who is that guy in St. Louis now? Matt Carpenter? It seems like the pitchers have been the vocal ones. Wainwright and Chris Carpenter through the years, but the position players haven’t had that guy. Maybe Molina will be that guy they have to lean on. He doesn’t seem like that’s his personality.
Buck: Yeah, he’s pretty quiet.
Reynolds: I don’t know.
Buck: They liked him, Allen Craig. Tom, if he comes back and he turns into that run producer again, that’s just an absolute throttling in a trade, in my opinion, for the Red Sox.
Verducci: Especially because Joe Kelly, by himself, I thought was great value. 25-year-old pitcher with mid-90s fastball. David Ortiz said seeing him in the World Series, we were really impressed with his stuff. He can only get better. There are some questions about Craig and his ability to stay healthy. Is he healthy now? No question, up until this season, he’s been a premiere run producer.
Buck: Here’s a 2-0 pitch. Bradley grounds one right side. Sliding is Drew, makes a nice play.
Reynolds: Beautiful play. That’s the athleticism of Stephen Drew.
Buck: And then he just gave a look into that Red Sox dugout after crossing the first base line, just flipping it, Harold, right out of his glove.
Reynolds: He thinks the pitcher’s going to get it. He’s got to bounce back and get it. And that’s a beautiful play. But I like the finish of the play, go to the dugout and talk a little trash. I love it.
Buck: He’s a different personality than J.D. whose nickname is dirt. And he’s got a little more fire to him. J.D. would tell you that, his older brother who played here as well. Here’s Christian Vazquez, runner at second, hitting .250. strike one.
There’s a lot here.
The key point here is that guys on the team have not been impressed with Taveras’ work ethic. This idea isn’t exactly new, as Taveras has gotten that reputation during his time in minor leagues. But it still begs the question as to where Buck got this?
Did he get this from John Mozeliak, or one of the guys on the team? Either he’s exaggerating to an extent, or someone on the team is throwing a rookie under the bus. Neither are ideal scenarios.
Also, is Verducci insinuating that Mozeliak, whose organization has won “Best Organization in Baseball” in 2013 and 2011, doesn’t understand the pulse of his clubhouse? Also, it sounds as if they’re implying that no one has provided any sort of leadership to the young Taveras, which is something I’d be willing to bet isn’t true.
As I noted in my post the other day, there doesn’t seem to be any proof of disdain when the team is on the field. There seems to be a good cohesiveness with the new guys, and that was on full display in Tuesday’s win over the Red Sox.
If any of this is true, though, it might shed some light as to why Taveras is still hitting so low in the lineup. If this truly is about players and managers thinking he needs to earn his keep, it’s easy to understand why Taveras — who is arguably the most prototypical two-hole hitter on the team — is still hitting seventh in Mike Matheny’s lineup.
You can reach Cole Claybourn at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @HighSock_Sunday.