Thursday, September 2, 2010
M's still facing questions about prospect
Mariners prospect Josh Lueke has some crazy strikeout numbers in the minors. He's also got some crazy baggage, and a lot of people are still trying to figure out what the Mariners knew before they traded for him, and when they knew it. Geoff Baker (with a great deal of fantastic reporting):
The Mariners knew all about Josh Lueke's 96-mph fastball when they acquired him from the Texas Rangers in the Cliff Lee deal.
But Mariners executives insisted they knew nothing before the July 9 trade about the 25-year-old minor-leaguer facing felony charges in a rape and sodomy case in which he later pleaded no contest to a lesser charge.
However, new information appears to contradict the Mariners' original version of events. Former Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair said he told general manager Jack Zduriencik about Lueke's troubles well before the deal.
And contrary to Mariners claims that there was nothing they could do after the trade, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he made a standing offer that night to take Lueke back.Feel free to read all the grisly details of the case that landed Lueke in jail for 42 days (plus three years' felony probation).
What's striking to me, reading all the quotes from the various parties involved, is that I essentially believe everyone. Or rather, that I believe everyone believes they're telling the truth. When Lueke says he's a "good person," I believe that he believes that. When Zduriencik says he performed all his due diligence -- except for the failure to Google -- I believe he believes that. When Rick Adair says he told Zduriencik all about Lueke, I believe he believes that.
Words are slippery and memories are slippier, and I challenge you to read the whole piece and conclude that anyone's guilty of outright dissembling. Fudging a little bit? Sure. Shading the "facts" to make themselves look a little better? Of course. That's just human nature, and even the most honest among us occasionally leave out the little damning details.
Bottom line here ... Does Lueke deserve a chance to continue his career? I believe that he does. Does Zduriencik deserve to lose his job because he didn't ask the right people the right questions or spend two minutes looking at a list of search results on somebody's laptop? I don't believe that he does.
Which isn't to say anyone gets a free pass. If Lueke does anything remotely like this again, he won't get another chance. The Mariners' performance this season is one blot on Zduriencik's record. The confusion about Lueke's criminal record is another.