The Lueke Situation

Dave · September 13, 2010 at 11:09 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I generally prefer to stay away from gossip. I’m not an investigative journalist, and we’re not here to try and dig stuff up. But, given what has come out in the last few weeks, and given Carmen Fusco’s firing today, this is something I feel compelled to write about. And yet, I don’t necessarily feel qualified to do so. I generally write from a place where I believe I have some steady ground to stand on. I like the evidence to be on my side, and I like to be able to point to facts to support my opinions. On this issue, those are unfortunately few and far between. Here is a timeline of what we know to be factually true about the Josh Lueke acquisition.

July 10th – The Mariners traded Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matt Lawson.

That’s it. That’s the entirety of what we know. We don’t know what happened leading up to the deal being completed, and we don’t know what happened after the trade was completed.

What we do have are public comments from people, all of whom have their own agendas, that we can choose to place degrees of trust in or not. I’m going to try not to tell you who to trust and who not to trust, because I don’t know who is telling the truth. Neither do you. We can make guesses, but that’s all they are, and we need to realize that. Among the quotes that we can choose to put stock in, we have the following, all courtesy of Geoff Baker:

July 11th

Chuck Armstrong tells The Seattle Times that he was “not aware” of Lueke’s legal problems before the trade was completed.

In the same article, Jack Zduriencik says: “We had a degree of information and we have flown Josh in for a face-to-face. We were satisfied with the interview and it’s an issue that’s behind us”

September 1st

Rick Adair tells The Seattle Times that he told Jack Zduriencik everything he knew from his time in Texas: “”I told him everything I knew about every prospect I was asked about, including Lueke, including any court case.”

Chuck Armstrong, on whether he ordered Zduriencik to send Lueke back to Texas: “We tried that on Friday night, but then, on Saturday morning, the Rangers said, ‘No, we’ve already notified the players. The deal stands as is.’ ”

Jon Daniels, on whether that statement is true: “We offered several times to reacquire Lueke in a separate transaction — an offer originally made the same night the deal was announced. That offer stands.”

Jack Zduriencik, on Lueke’s future in Seattle: “He’s part of our organization, he understands our policies, he understands that there’s a short leash … and believe me, we do not take it lightly. I think he understands that from us and here we are. We’re moving forward and he’s pitching for us.”

Obviously, some of those statements are mutually exclusive. You can’t believe everyone is telling the truth, since their statements conflict. There are half-truths and potentially even outright lies in there somewhere. How do we identify which statements to believe? There’s no magic formula – we can’t sick Jack Bauer on these guys and extract a confession. The best thing we can do is use common sense and understand the limitations of our knowledge, refraining from drawing conclusions that outstrip what we can know.

Let’s put the story that has gained traction in the last few weeks to the common sense test first.

The Mariners didn’t know about Josh Lueke’s past issues and found out about the true extent only after the deal was completed. At that point, the Rangers wouldn’t take Lueke back as the deal was done.

That wouldn’t be how they would phrase it, of course, but that’s essentially the story that is most often repeated, and it’s somewhat pushed forward by the company line that is being peddled by the organization. Does any of that make sense logically, though? In order to believe that story, you’d have to believe that the Mariners knew less about a player that they were trading for than I did. Forget the ridiculous “they didn’t google him” thing that has somehow become part of the narrative – there was no googling required. Josh Lueke’s history was, as Rick Adair stated, common knowledge among anyone who followed the Texas Rangers or the minor leagues with any kind of diligence. Jay Yencich, in his post reviewing the prospects the Mariners received – this was published on our blog within an hour of the deal being finalized, by the way – talked about Lueke’s history.

It would take a ridiculous leap that is beyond reason to believe that the Mariners were unaware of Lueke’s past. Did they know everything about the situation and what happened? Maybe, maybe not. Did the people who knew communicate well enough to the upper management? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know the full extent of what they knew and when, but it is outside of the realm of common sense to believe that the front office – one that had been negotiating with Texas for several weeks – did not know about Josh Lueke’s past. I think we can essentially reject the notion of ignorance as just overly implausible.

So, why does the company line push forward this notion? It could be because its the one that someone in the organization decided would appease sponsors and allow the team to try to treat it as a finished story and one that they could move on from, with Josh Lueke remaining in the organization. Both of Jack’s quotes above, as well as the fact that the Mariners haven’t taken the Rangers up on their public standing offer to take Lueke back (assuming that Daniels is telling the truth on that), point to the Mariners wanting Lueke in the organization. Somewhere, the decision was apparently made that they would rather have Lueke than not, baggage and all. There is nothing forcing them to keep him around. If he was seen by the management of this club as a bigger liability than an asset, he wouldn’t be closing for the Tacoma Rainiers in the PCL championship series.

I don’t know who made that call, when it happened, or who all was involved in the conversation. But, I think we can look at fact that they traded for Lueke, and that he’s still in the organization, and make some assumptions about how the organization views the respective costs and benefits of employing him. And, since those calculations have been made, it doesn’t take much of a leap to believe that those calculations were probably made before the deal was consummated. Do we know that? No, but it makes the most sense, right? Could I be wrong? Of course. But, gun to my head, that’s my interpretation, based on what appears to be common sense to me.

So, that brings us to yesterday, and Carmen Fusco’s firing. How does that fit into all of this? We don’t really have any additional facts to go off of. It certainly seems suspicious that Fusco loses his job a few weeks after the Times story comes out. As Larry Stone noted today, Jack and Carmen go back a long, long way, and their friendship extends outside of the game. The safe assumption is that Jack did not fire his long time friend. I have a hard time buying any explanation of the move other than upper management deciding that someone had to get fired because of how this has played out, and Carmen Fusco was the unlucky fall guy. I don’t know that to be true, but it’s the only explanation that makes sense to me. If you want to punish the GM for how this was handled without actually firing him, making Fusco the fall guy is probably the most severe action they could have taken.

There’s no doubt that this situation has been handled poorly all the way around. The M’s screwed up, plain and simple, and they’ve perpetuated the mistake with public comments that could best be described as cryptic and unsatisfying. The organization deserves to take heat for the debacle that this has become. I would guess that, given a chance for a do-over, they’d go back and take the Yankees package. Acquiring Lueke set off a series of events that they didn’t see coming (presumably – if they knew this would happen and went through with it anyway, they’re insane), and they should have seen a good deal of this coming. You can’t acquire a guy with who plead no contest to a terrible crime and hope no one notices.

We can argue about whether they should have been willing to acquire Lueke in the first place. I don’t know where I stand on that, honestly. And, really, that’s another issue, even though its connected to this one. This story is about what the M’s knew and what they’re being honest about. The organization’s lack of transparency has been disappointing, and it’s a big black mark on everyone involved. This whole thing is, quite simply, an organizational failure. It probably cost Carmen Fusco his job. It might cost more people their jobs before this thing is over with. It might cost Jack Zduriencik his job. He’s done a lot of good things since he’s gotten here, but this is clearly not one of them. I think he’d admit that. Mistakes were made. Pretty big ones, at that.

But, at the end of the day, we don’t really know what exactly went on. We weren’t there, and the only thing we have are statements made in self interest. So, we can speculate, but we have to acknowledge that’s all it is. Beware of conclusive statements – there simply isn’t enough in the public arena to build a foundation that would support dogmatic claims. It’s up to you who and what you want to believe. It’s up to you whether you want to root for Josh Lueke, or an organization that employs him. You can make your own choices about who is credible and what statements pass the smell test. I’ve got my theories, but that’s all they are. That’s all any of us have.

Comments

92 Responses to “The Lueke Situation”

  1. matthew on September 13th, 2010 11:24 pm

    I hope that it doesn’t cost Jack his job. I would hate for him to go, the Mariners hire another Bavasi, who in turn trades all of what Jack has been building for… well, you get the idea…

    I was disheartened to hear of Fusco being let go. That worries me. Who is next? Who will be spared when all is said and done?

  2. stevenboise on September 13th, 2010 11:30 pm

    My issue with all this doesn’t lie with Lueke. My issue lies with the front office.

    Lueke did a terrible thing. He went to jail and made a deal, with the agreement of the prosecution. The legal issue with him is settled, right or wrong.

    This just adds to my suspicion that this front office is not honest with what they say. With this topic or any other topic. Their credibility has waned with me. When they say they want to win, I question that. Do they really want to? Or do they want to string me out for more money like they did tonight and will do again on Wednesday. I bought these tickets in March (along with many others) on a premise that this front office wanted to win. Now I feel they are lying to me about that too.

    I have no desire to come all the way to Seattle from Boise for a lie. I don’t think I will be buying many tickets in March next year for 2011. I’m tired of being treated like a sucker.

  3. Seattleken on September 13th, 2010 11:51 pm

    I think your conclusion makes sense although I still don’t think its enough to cause Fusco’s firing.

    To me the scouting department failed Jack this year.

    Here’s some examples that fall to the scouting department.

    1B Kotchman – clearly our scouts had an outdated view of him, and should have known he wasn’t a comeback candidate as his bat speed is quite poor.

    2B – Figgans – his ability to play defense at secondbase was far worse then expected, even though the angels identified this years ago.

    OF – Bradley – Scouts said he could no longer handle quality fastballs in 2009. Fusco missed this and thought he was getting the 2008 Texas Bradley who had the bat speed to hit fastballs.

    SP – Morrow would never have the control or stamina to be a starting pitcher.

    Smaller errors that add up.

    Smoak – His defense was not what was advertised. When Fusco and his team scouted him this year they should have picked up on this.

    So even without the Lueke due diligence the info and advice Jack was getting from Fusco and his team was not very good.

    So I see that he got fired because he did a very poor job of scouting at the MLB level and the team has paid the price.

  4. wanderinginsodo on September 14th, 2010 12:10 am

    Thank you Dave. I feel like you addressed the topic as fairly as possible because we will never have video, audio or probably e-mail that makes the issue black and white.

    In the midst of a terrible, non-exciting season, it comes across to me that there are people at the Seattle Times who are mostly concerned about the amount of hits their blogs/websites are getting. This story does add spark to season, but not in a way that benefits anyone long term. People’s livelihood and jobs are at stake.

    Ultimately, I hope this situation will lead to a lot of lessons that will not be repeated. I want to see the FO and the Mariners succeed and get away from this garbage, so they be fun to follow again.

  5. wanderinginsodo on September 14th, 2010 12:22 am

    Oh, and while I always thought his video blogs were nothing short of dreadfully annoying, I lost too much respect for Baker and will not go to his blog as a result. There are much better options to read. I guess there is a reason Baker’s blog hasn’t been linked from this site for a while…

  6. Zorganak on September 14th, 2010 12:55 am

    This had better not lose Jack his job.

    Yes… Lueke did a terrible thing, but he’s a talented pitcher and the front office should not be punished for acquiring a talented ball player. (Many) fans will forget if he helps the team win.

    People still root for Michael Vick.
    People still root for Kobe Bryant.
    People still root for Ben Roethlisberger.

    These are 3 names much bigger than Josh Lueke and nobody on the business side of teams lost their jobs because they kept employing them. I think it’s dumb that ANYONE lost their job over this and it had better stop with Fusco.

    It’s clear (to me) that Jack wants a winning team and if Armstong is more concerned with bringing back aged/broken superstars and keeping out troubled, talented possible superstars then the Mariners are not a team to root for. I’d rather root for a team that wins games than a team that will read me a bed time story and tuck me in at night.

  7. maqman on September 14th, 2010 1:50 am

    Thanks for the cogent review Dave. I agree with your views. It’s all made this bad season a little worse, which is no small accomplishment.

  8. f2aler on September 14th, 2010 2:54 am

    The real problem from all of this is the “we didn’t know” excuse. Whenever an organization is hiring a new person, it is imperative to be aware of the relevant factors. In this case, there is absolutely no reason why the Mariners should not have been aware of Lueke’s past legal problems. The fact a potential employee was charged with a felony, and plead to a lesser felony is always relevant to those decisions.

    In my mind, failure to “know” about this is seriously negligent and probably grounds for dismissal for those involved. If “i didn’t know” is a acceptable excuse, is there a difference between “i didn’t know Lueke couldn’t throw strikes” versus “i didn’t know Lueke had plead to a felony”? I think not. The bottom line is the General Manager’s office needs to be on top of all the relevant data, and if it isn’t they should.

  9. egreenlaw9 on September 14th, 2010 3:30 am

    Has it occurred to anyone yet that Geoff Baker may in fact be a (if not THE) problem? Not just as a pain in the *ss, but also as a reporter?

    Perhaps… was HE the cancer that helped inflict the M’s clubhouse in ’08 and beyond?…

    Regardless… he needs to go. More Stone, more Divish, less Kelley and Baker… We’d all love that, right?

  10. tgf on September 14th, 2010 3:46 am

    If Armstrong wants a fall guy, he should pick himself to fire. That the Mariners executives can be so clueless of what was, as you state, common knowledge hints that they aren’t able or willing to give the necessary effort to succeed at their jobs. I’m sure they can get on just fine on the golf course without mismanaging the M’s (rather than getting on just fine, also apparently on the golf course, while tasked with making the M’s a winning franchise).

  11. snapper on September 14th, 2010 5:36 am

    One thing that can be said is the Mariners can not, in good conscience, fire Fusco for acquiring Lueke and still continue to employ Lueke.

    That’s just announcing to the world “We don’t actually care if you’re a rapist )if you have a live arm) but we hate being embarassed in the media”.

    Horrible, horrible management.

  12. Dave on September 14th, 2010 5:53 am

    Of course, that’s not really a reasonable interpretation of events, so thankfully, your paraphrase of their “announcement” doesn’t mean anything.

  13. bongo on September 14th, 2010 5:59 am

    What bothers me most about all of this is the process questions it raises. Within an organization there are a set of people who own putting a deal together, a set of people who review the deal, and a (presumably small) set who are authorized to approve it.

    Adair claims he provided input on prospects that was not made available to the approvers. Armstrong indicates that the Mariners considered that information important enough that they attempted to undo the deal after it was announced.

    What process and systems do the Mariners use to gather and store information on prospects, and what deal information do they circulate for review and approval? Is there a standard set of information that is gathered and circulated on each individual in a deal?

    Does the process make it possible for those in the organization who have relevant information on prospects to provide their input, and make that input available to the approvers? Is there some mechanism by which the set of information considered relevant is gathered on prospects and becomes part of the institutional knowledge base? Do the approvers have access to the information that is required for them to pass judgment on deals?

    Based on what happened, it is hard for me to see how the answers to those questions could be satisfactory. If that’s true, this is indicative of an institutional failure that goes way beyond Carmen Fusco.

  14. biancalana on September 14th, 2010 6:26 am

    bongo hit on the key issue when it comes to Lueke. People need to look past the actual actions of Lueke himself — as difficult as that is.

    Regardless of industry, company ownership must seriously question its management team when that team cannot run its operations anymore effectively than the Mariners have regarding this trade. At best, it points to a lack of management controls. At worst, it indicates a serious lack of managerial ethics. Either are fireable offenses for leadership in a real-world company … which is what the Seattle Mariners Baseball Club is.

    It’s one thing to be a lousy baseball team. The owners needs to ask themselves if they’re comfortable being a sub-standard member of our business and social community. That, to me, is what’s at stake, and it’s a far greater issue than fielding a poorly qualified baseball team.

  15. melmac013 on September 14th, 2010 6:41 am

    You guys do know that Geoff Baker is a reporter. Suprisingly enough it is his job to report on things. Just because you would like to be oblivious to the things that go on doesn’t mean that he is horrible. Geoff just does his job and does it well.

  16. Bremerton guy on September 14th, 2010 6:59 am

    Blaming Geoff Baker for what’s happened with this is ridiculous. Talk about shooting the messenger. I know that Baker is now persona non grata here, but why should the Mariners get a free pass for their ***-ups? Would it have been better if Lueke’s history had just been shoved under the rug like the Mariners wanted in the first place?

  17. New England Fan on September 14th, 2010 7:49 am

    To me, the whole thing would have been handled properly in the following way

    1. Acknowledge Leuke’s past
    2. Denounce what he did
    3. Indicate that the team is taking a chance on him with full awareness of the issues, and that if he even hiccups he will be done. (Obligatory phrase about young man making a mistake…)

    Admit what you know and go forward. I think the guy is a bum, but this is all about the way the Ms handled the issue.

    ( If the Lakers can sell Kobe Bryant as a model citizen and team leader, and the Ravens can sell Ray Lewis in the same way, the Ms’ PR machine should be able to handle this guy)

  18. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 7:56 am

    To me, the whole thing would have been handled properly in the following way

    Agreed.

    And if someone needed to be “accountable”, they could have been let go in the offseason.

    This behavior by the Mariner brass seems kinda passive aggressive to me, and more than a bit mealy mouthed and hypocritical. It just seems like it gives the message that baseball and winning isn’t the number one priority.

  19. Statsfreak on September 14th, 2010 7:56 am

    As always, nice job Dave. A troubling topic from many perspectives. Is it just me or does it seem Jack Z has been silenced or has reversed commmunication field? Seems starting around the Figgins fiasco, continuing through the Wak firing and now this trainwreck, Jack has been mysterily quiet and vague. In my mind this leads to less fan trust and overall negativity. Before it seemed Jack was out in front on the good and bad.

  20. smb on September 14th, 2010 8:01 am

    I’m just amazed the club found something uglier to have the fans’ attention on than their record and their play. If it involved anything other than rape or murder I’d think they’d welcome the distraction from the product they put on the field in 2010. That’s the heinous crime that’s still in progress.

    While I don’t at all blame Baker for this mess, I am sick of his muckraking and wish the Times could find someone to cover our team who grew up going to games in the Kingdome, like the rest of us did. Instead we get someone with…what, a vast knowledge of the Grey Cup?

    Deport Baker.

  21. jpit on September 14th, 2010 8:16 am

    The one thing you don’t mention is that the Mariners asked the Rangers why Lueke had played so few games in 2008. Any answer they received should have led to further investigation.

  22. Sports on a Schtick on September 14th, 2010 8:19 am

    Are people really complaining about Baker on this? He’s the person getting on the record quotes about this massive fuck up so we can figure out who the hell is lying.

  23. Dennisss on September 14th, 2010 8:21 am

    I just don’t see how acquiring Leuke could get someone fired. As Dave points out, his past was known, and the whole organization obviously decided they could live with that. And now you’re going to fire someone over it?

    The Smoak-Montero decision, and maybe not realizing that Smoak is not a good defender, that could get someone fired. That was a huge opportunity and a trade that will make a difference for years to come, and management may be having doubts.

    I have to wonder if people aren’t chasing the wrong story.

  24. DC on September 14th, 2010 8:23 am

    Idiotic decisions made by a “THICK” skinned CEO and team President. Yeah right? Give us a break and go away Lincoln and Armstrong.

  25. Ironone on September 14th, 2010 8:30 am

    Very well reasoned article. My personal view is that I don’t want Lueke as a Mariner. Others may differ. I would trade him for anything I could get regardless. It’s not like he is the key to this club reaching the playoffs. I have followed the M’s from Portland since 1980 and have been a Blazer fan from the beginning. The “Jail Blazer” era began one player at a time…..each situation being viewed in a talent potential vs. baggage analysis, with “potential” winning the debate. It all went wrong in the end. The Mariners need not go down that road.

  26. smb on September 14th, 2010 8:40 am

    Newsflash, everyone but Adair is lying. I don’t need Baker’s quotes to figure that out.

  27. wanderinginsodo on September 14th, 2010 8:45 am

    smb? How do you know that? You don’t. He has a vendetta and no proof too.

  28. smb on September 14th, 2010 8:48 am

    I also think people would be surprised and disgusted if they knew what the character of many of the players they’ve rooted for in the past have been…lost in the idolatry is that even the ones you think are “good guys” probably have some ugly skeletons in the closet. If you’d stop watching the M’s because we traded for Lueke, who’s been jailed and has served his punishment for a sex crime of opportunity, you probably should stop following pro sports altogether.

  29. smb on September 14th, 2010 8:50 am

    Really? Usually when guys want to find a new job in the sport, they don’t go out of their way to trash their past employers. Also, I know Adair well enough to know he’s not a liar. I’m done, we all have strong opinions.

  30. firova2 on September 14th, 2010 8:51 am

    Or . . . everyone is telling the truth as they understand it, Rashomon-fashion.

    Baker is a repetitive, hectoring, irritating blog writer in desperate need of an editor, but a very good beat reporter. Remember that he replaced Pocket Lint (Bob Finnigan, perceived to be “in the pocket” of the team).

  31. JMHawkins on September 14th, 2010 9:05 am

    Although I’d like to lean towards “it was more than Lueke” with SeattleKen and Dennisss, I don’t think that fits the other facts. Yes, the scouting department failed the M’s about Smoak. I’m not sure about SeattleKen’s other examples.

    Bradley was a swap of problem contracts and while the M’s were undoubtedly hoping for a better version of Milton, I doubt they were expecting it. Figgins problems haven’t been in the field, they’ve been at the plate, and a mystery to all. Kotchman, eh, he wasn’t their first choice anyway. Morrow was a player development problem, not a scouting one. And firing someone over all of those issues would be pretty much all Zduriencik’s call, and I doubt he would handle firing a good friend in quite such a crappy manner on his own. This really seems like a directive from over his head, and HowChuck probably don’t realy care that much about Casey Kotchman being a dissapointment. A PR problem is more up their alley.

    Dave’s point about this being how they punish Zduriencik without firing him seems the best explanation.

    As for the contradictory quotes, well, they do all come “courtesy of Geoff Baker” and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised some day to learn Baker’s reporting has something in common with Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass. He is a muckraker who specializes in soap-operatic sensationalism, and I flat out don’t trust anything he writes.

    Bottom line is that I’ve never been much of a “HowChuck have to go” guy, but I’m drifting more into that camp because this particular screwup does seem to land at their doorstep. And what a screwup, the M’s have exacerbated the problems with Leuke’s past by turning it into such a damned calliope-driven clown show. And even though I suspect Baker may have been the guy playing the tune, the M’s didn’t need to caper to it.

  32. eponymous coward on September 14th, 2010 9:09 am

    Baker is a repetitive, hectoring, irritating blog writer in desperate need of an editor, but a very good beat reporter.

    This. Baker’s a horrible analyst (I flipped his bozo bit on his commentary long ago), but that’s not incompatible with being a good beat writer. Blaming him for the problems that have been exposed in the front office in this deal is just shoot-the-messenger silly.

    Also, I still think Lueke will get packaged in a deal this offseason, and will never pitch in a Mariners uniform. That way, the cover story of “well, we couldn’t trade him back to the Rangers” is never exposed for the lie that it probably is, and the problem goes away. I strongly, STRONGLY suspect Zduriencik’s going to be under orders to do this.

    Finally… the points by Seattleken are interesting. Hadn’t thought of it that way, but it makes a certain amount of sense that the Lueke deal might have simply been the straw that broke the camel’s back as opposed to the sole cause of Fusco’s firing.

  33. JMHawkins on September 14th, 2010 9:16 am

    Finally… the points by Seattleken are interesting. Hadn’t thought of it that way, but it makes a certain amount of sense that the Lueke deal might have simply been the straw that broke the camel’s back as opposed to the sole cause of Fusco’s firing.

    But EC, there’s simply no way to blame Lueke on the scouting department. Even if all the contradictory quotes above are made-up BS, it’s still not plausible that the M’s didn’t know about Lueke’s past. Dave covered that in the post. Clearly they knew, and whoever was the decision maker thought it was okay and pulled the trigger on the deal.

    Then the muck started getting raked, and someone had second thoughts. The “blame” such as there is goes to the guy who said “okay, he’s got a black mark on his resume, but we still want him.”

    That almost certainly wasn’t Fusco.

  34. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 9:22 am

    Finally… the points by Seattleken are interesting. Hadn’t thought of it that way, but it makes a certain amount of sense that the Lueke deal might have simply been the straw that broke the camel’s back as opposed to the sole cause of Fusco’s firing.

    Yes, that makes sense–I think those are things that quite properly go into an evaluation. On the other hand, a lot of these things were known to be gambles such as Kotchman. Others were truly a problem, such as not noting Bradley’s loss of bat speed. Some, like Figgins, seem to be a year to year variance. All told, though, it doesn’t add up to a justifiable firing over an admittedly bad year.

  35. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 9:27 am

    Then the muck started getting raked, and someone had second thoughts. The “blame” such as there is goes to the guy who said “okay, he’s got a black mark on his resume, but we still want him.”

    Hrm. More like blame goes to the guy who said, “he’s got a black mark, we still want him, BUT we need to punish someone for getting him.”

    And that’s not Fusco. And that’s not Zduriencik.

    Still seems to me there’s a confusion of missions here. And a sign of poor corporate management.

  36. samregens on September 14th, 2010 9:38 am

    The poster defending Baker is way off base. Baker didn’t “out” Lueke’s past that the Mariner’s were trying to “hide under the rug”. He wasn’t performing any civil service to bring information of Lueke’s past to the public.
    Baker just tried to stir up trouble by aggressively extracting conflicting quotes which (I believe) caused Carmen Fusco to lose his job.

    I do think there is a very good point to the view that Baker tries to create and exacerbate problems to the huge detriment of the team and to get himself more attention and more hits.

    His actions speak loudly of that of a muckraker and it can’t be denied that he was an instigator and saboteur in 2008, the season from hell.

    2009, the first day Ichiro arrived in Spring Training, Baker tried to stir up his garbage again but Griffey had Ichiro’s back. Say what you will about Junior’s on field performance and 2010 but he did perform a good function in the clubhouse in 2009, that is of policing the clubhouse from Baker’s crap and making sure Baker couldn’t stir up trouble among the players. I remember Divish or Larue being bemused that Carlos Silva said that he wouldn’t speak to no reporters because they posted lies (or something like that). I think we know who Silva meant.

    If the Mariner team knew what what was good for them, they would shut out Baker from the clubhouse. In my opinion, Baker’s not a journalist, he acts like an attention starved saboteur.

  37. eponymous coward on September 14th, 2010 9:58 am

    Baker just tried to stir up trouble by aggressively extracting conflicting quotes which (I believe) caused Carmen Fusco to lose his job.

    Someone else who wants to shoot the messenger. Don’t the people quoted have responsibility for their own quotes?

    His actions speak loudly of that of a muckraker

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muckraker

    A muckraker is, primarily, a reporter or writer who investigates and publishes truthful reports involving a host of social issues, broadly including crime and corruption and often involving elected officials, political leaders and influential members of business and industry.

    Sports journalists don’t work for the team. They have no responsibility to make the team look good- that would be the job of the M’s PR flacks. Blaming Baker for the problems the Mariners have had over the past few years is counterproductive, unless your argument is the Mariners can’t win unless the local sports press is reduced to USSR-era Pravda, and writing stories about how Glorious Leader Lincoln will institute a new Five Year Plan.

  38. Rboyle0628 on September 14th, 2010 10:02 am

    Chuck and Howard remind me of terrible parents. The kind of parents that just have a kid for the extra welfare money.

    Jack has been mysterily quiet and vague. In my mind this leads to less fan trust and overall negativity. Before it seemed Jack was out in front on the good and bad.

    I was thinking the same thing Statsfreak, although it is a losing season and the first time we get to see how Jack Z responds during a losing season he has been oddly quiet. I think Chuck and Howard have their hands in this one and are pulling the strings. I also agree that the firing of Carmen Fusco was a warning shot to Jack Z. The thing that I can’t figure out is why though? If they approved the trade, why? Unless, they just approved it cause they saw “Justin Smoak” written on the paper and didn’t read any further. I think this is Chuck and Howard trying to cover up their screw up by a lack of due-diligence.

  39. kennyb on September 14th, 2010 10:08 am

    Baker (as much as I dislike him) is not the problem here. The information he got out there is called reporting. It isn’t his job to make up your mind, it is his job to get the facts out there, and he did that.
    Not one single person involved in all of this has said that he was mis-quoted. Baker got the facts out there and it is up to each of us to make up our own mind.
    As far as who knew what, I can easily imagine Howard and Chuck not knowing about Lueke’s past. That isn’t their job. It is quite feasible that they didn’t know anything about it before the trade. Should they have? Probably. But in many organizations it isn’t unheard of for the workers to know more about the details than the bosses.

  40. eponymous coward on September 14th, 2010 10:08 am

    But EC, there’s simply no way to blame Lueke on the scouting department. Even if all the contradictory quotes above are made-up BS, it’s still not plausible that the M’s didn’t know about Lueke’s past.

    The Mariner front office isn’t a hive mind. Dave’s point here:

    Did the people who knew communicate well enough to the upper management? Maybe, maybe not.

    could easily be true, and that being added on to other things.

    That being said, yeah, I do think there’s scapegoating going on here. This is an organization that’s fired two managers (Melvin and Wakamatsu), as well as a number of coaches in-season where it wasn’t particularly clear that it was for any reason other than “we suck, time to rearrange the deck chairs” (yes, I know what Zduriencik said, but given the past history of firings, I think a little bit of skepticism is warranted).

  41. Jay Yencich on September 14th, 2010 10:17 am

    It seems like everyone’s weighing in now. Here’s what Jim Callis said:

    The Mariners fired director of pro scouting Carmen Fusco yesterday. The move reportedly came because he didn’t inform the club that minor league righthander Josh Lueke, part of the Cliff Lee trade with the Rangers, had been charged with rape and sodomy in a May 2008 incident in which he eventually plead no contest to a charge of false imprisonment with violence. Lueke’s acquisition led to controversy in Seattle, where the team has worked with groups opposing violence toward women.

    Multiple sources have disputed Mariners general manager Jack Zdureiencik’s contention that he didn’t know the extent of Lueke’s legal troubles when he made the trade. (Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times did an exhaustive story on the subject, which can be found here.) Yet Fusco took the fall for the move.

    Which begs the question: If Lueke is so toxic that his acquisition necessitated that someone get fired, why is Seattle holding on to him? The answer, apparently, is that he has an upper-90s fastball. The Mariners couldn’t look any more hypocritical.

  42. CrashDavidson on September 14th, 2010 10:27 am

    The Rangers GM Jon Daniels is not getting enough blame in this Lueke situation.

    Let’s remember how the Cliff Lee trade went down. It was looking like the Yankees until the last minute, then Texas went “all in” with a great package. I think Leuke was probably thrown in at the end, and Jack has stated he didn’t know all the details about his past. So Jack asked his counterpart about it.

    Daniels is quoted as telling Jack that “There was some incident in a bar” and “he was acquitted.” This is a flat-out deception. This lie is at the root of the situation.

    Jack, being an honorable and trustworthy guy, expects implicitly that his counterpart will act in the same manner. He believes the Rangers GM, and doesn’t investigate further. According to the quotes we have, he passed that info to Armstrong, telling him the Leuke situation was “No big deal.”

    Perhaps other people below him know more about the crime, but they hear that Jack and Chuck have decide it is “no big deal.” Maybe they’re shocked, disgusted, but the word is, higher-ups have decided to ignore the problem. So they shut up, swallow their objections, perhaps they disagree and think Jack’s making a mistake, but they shut up.

    Anyone who’s worked in a corporate environment has seen this kind of misunderstanding and miscommunication happen all the time.

    Now as to the Daniels offering to take Lueke back in a seperate transaction? Look at his deceptive quotes about the Lueke in the first place. Now ask yourself, what is he NOT telling us now? He’s not telling us what we’d get in return for Lueke if we trading him back. I’m betting it’s a case of Bud Light.

  43. TherzAlwaysHope on September 14th, 2010 10:28 am

    I’m with Seattleken. There is too much evidence that the scouting itself has been the problem.

  44. Evoxx on September 14th, 2010 10:38 am

    Armstrong is a joke and everything he touches lately needs a clown music soundtrack. This organization will not move forward until he resigns. His record in the role speaks for itself.

    He runs the Mariners from a purely off-the-field marketing approach, which is why having a talented closer prospect whose past might offend some special interest groups (who normally ignore baseball) is devastating to him. Yet it did not concern Chuck enough to learn how to use Google search before he made a public mockery of his organization’s communication. This clearly falls on him, none of the scapegoats he keeps sacrificing.

    Instead of designing the bobbleheads for next year, Chuck Armstrong needs to drive off into the sunset tonight and let more capable baseball people (yes, Lincoln this means you should hire some consultants) assist in the search for his replacement.

    Seahawks are headed towards having a great organization again. The Mariners will be left behind if they don’t find a competent President soon.

  45. Diehard on September 14th, 2010 10:46 am

    [blaming the crime victim]

  46. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 10:48 am

    He runs the Mariners from a purely off-the-field marketing approach, which is why having a talented closer prospect whose past might offend some special interest groups (who normally ignore baseball) is devastating to him.

    Don’t minimize the accusation. Rape and sodomy is a serious issue. That’s offensive to EVERYBODY, don’t you think?

    That said, you’re correct that the response to Leuke has been ham-handed, unsubtle and unlikely to do anything except hurt the organization, as well as being stupidly hypocritical (if Leuke is such a cancer, just get rid of him). I firmly think that there are alternative responses that could have accomplished the same thing without being so clumsy and hypocritical.

  47. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 10:49 am

    [removed text replied to]

    Let’s not start blaming the victim, either.

  48. diderot on September 14th, 2010 10:50 am

    I cringe every time I see this topic brought up. Not because the nature of Lueke’s crime, but because it’s an open invitation for every yahoo to come up with a pet theory to prove his own little internal drama.
    At the same time, both Dave and Jeff are to be commended for repeatedly saying, in effect, ‘we don’t know at all what happened…it’s all conjecture…so believe what you want’.

    However, some of the things ‘believed’ don’t make any sense. Early in this thread, someone again brought up the issue of whether the front office ‘wants to win’. Well, the decision to acquire and retain Lueke seems like pretty indisputable evidence they’re putting winning ahead of any abstract value–even one they’ve espoused for years. They’re either giving precedence to providing a ‘quality family experience’…or they’re putting winning above all else. When the two become mutually exclusive–as in this case–you can’t make both claims. You can despise them for one or the other–but not both.

    But most interesting in this thread is the introduction of the performance of Baker, and the Times, in this matter. This spins back to the big dust up last week over the leaked memo. Everyone took Lincoln’s comments as delusional because they said he had no clue what sports reporting was like in a ‘real town’…a New York or Philadelphia.
    But that was the dead wrong comparison to make. What Lincoln and Armstrong have complained about over the years is that the ‘unfairness’ comes in how the Times treats the Mariners versus other local teams.
    Right now, the Seahawks are coached by a man who ran one of the most corrupt programs in the history of college football. Before him, Neuheisel brought in the same baggage. Yes, the Clay Bennett fiasco did raise the local media ire for obvious reasons. But even the current media darlings, the Sounders, have questions to answer–what did they do about Freddy Montero’s similar run in with a charge involving sexual transgression? How was their signing of Freddy Ljunberg not synonymous with the Griffey fiasco?
    The Times has two sets of standards, and the Mariners suffer because of it. And like the Lueke situation, it raises questions for higher management in that organization.

  49. dw on September 14th, 2010 10:58 am

    I’m still trying to understand what the problem here is. I don’t think it’s that Lueke pled no contest to a lesser crime in a rape case. Luis Polonia was convicted of having sex with a 15 year old girl and served jail time. He then went on to play another decade in MLB and the Mexican League (with a .732 career OPS and leading the league in caught stealing three times — talk about low value).

    There have been many, many other cases like this throughout sports. Mind you, Ben Roethlisberger can get away with it and a minor leaguer can’t because Roethlisberger is a star and a minor leaguer is a nobody playing in the Texas League, but if that minor leaguer is talented, well, certain things can be looked over. And so it’s gone.

    If Lueke were a marginal prospect, the Rangers would have drop kicked him out of Frisco. But he has talent. And a past. But talent. The M’s traded for him because he has talent. They saw the numbers and didn’t care about the past. Should they have? Yes.

    The problem comes with the reaction to what happened. I agree with the above — had the M’s not gone into spin mode and just said, hey, this kid throws 97 and we think he could be our closer, and yes, he has a past, we told him if he even breathes on someone the wrong way we’re handing him a bus ticket back to whatever hell hole he came from, this probably wouldn’t even be an issue.

    The mistake, I think, was that Jack Z and Co. didn’t tell Lincoln and Armstrong. And that’s not good, especially with two extreme micromanagers like them. And now they’re going to meddle in the process. Of course, the failure of 2010 probably meant that as well, but when Lincoln is on his back heel “defending” himself in internal e-mails, you know that he’s going to come raging in to make sure he controls everything so no one calls him about rapist prospects ever again.

    But the truth is this — Lueke has a fastball and a conviction. And in baseball, having the latter isn’t a problem if you have the former. For Callis to say the M’s are hypocrites suggests that Callis needs to spend more time reading his Baseball Encyclopedia.

    The real problem is that Lincoln and Armstrong want to run the club, and Jack Z has been trying to hide everything from them to keep them from running it. It doesn’t matter than Lincoln couldn’t run a taffy stand and Jack Z is the Greatest Baseball Mind Until The Colorado Rockies Appoint A Lenovo BigBaseball R-700 supercomputer As GM In 2038. What does matter is that the management on all levels is dysfunctional.

    Jack Z is doomed to fail, because the organization at its heart is doomed to fail. Lueke — and the media firestorm that resulted — is merely a symptom.

    I will tell you this, though — if the M’s dump Lueke for a bag of used baseballs in the offseason and Lueke becomes the serviceable reliever he projects to be, every time he comes out of the A’s or Pirates or whatever bullpen and snuffs out a rally you’ll hear a lot of the same people screaming about trading for Lueke scream about trading Lueke away for nothing.

  50. Tek Jansen on September 14th, 2010 11:03 am

    Listen, we all know that when things go wrong with the Mariners, there is only one person whom we should blame and hold responsible for the whole mess: Ichiro. If he would have volunteered bat third, none of this would have happened.

  51. Westside guy on September 14th, 2010 11:26 am

    I can’t believe some people are trying to pin this on Geoff Baker! That’s ludicrous – it makes about as much sense as those folks who blamed Abu Graib not on the guards but on the reporters who broke the story. (No, the “crime” isn’t remotely comparable but the lack of logic certainly is)

    Baker is doing his job. Whether or not you hate his take on the team, on what they need to do to fix the team, etc. – he’s doing what he’s paid to do, and frankly I think he’s doing a good job with regard to this story.

    The Mariners ownership, over the years, (I think) has shown a strong interest in the character of its players. It’s especially tried to stand against violence against women, which unfortunately is an issue that comes up too frequently with many young, talented, yet immature (or socially mal-developed) professional athletes. I don’t know what the truth is regarding this particular story, but as others are saying it’s pretty obvious the end issue is the team sees Lueke as a special talent, and unfortunately he’s also been a person of problematic character (an understatement) – and the team can’t figure out how to handle this dichotomy, especially given that he’s met the legal requirement regarding punishment for his crime.

    Unfortunately I can’t make up my mind which way I think on this issue. I’d need to know more regarding what’s happened with Lueke post-crime – does he seem remorseful? Has he been in counseling? Etc. etc…

  52. ivan on September 14th, 2010 11:27 am

    Am I the only one here who *wants* to see Lueke pitch for the Mariners? In the two TV games I saw him pitch for Tacoma, he was outstanding. I compare him to J.J. Putz when he pitched for Tacoma, except that Lueke has a better breaking ball, with more separation in velocity from the fastball.

    The fastball is 95-97, with plenty of movement, and small sample size notwithstanding, Lueke threw about 5-1 strikes to balls in the one- and two-inning stints I watched.

    I don’t minimize what he did, but I also remember that this is the team (and yes, Armstrong was here then) that traded for Al Martin, whose history with women wasn’t exemplary either.

    I applaud that Jack Z. will take a chance on players with less than squeaky-clean pasts (Ian Snell, Milton Bradley), and I’d like to see this guy get a chance, too. The history of major league baseball is replete with offenders who got a second chance and made the most of it.

  53. Shanfan on September 14th, 2010 11:29 am

    Tek, thanks for the laugh.

    I’m still waiting for an explanation on why Chone Figgins was never disciplined. Here’s some food for thought from an October 25th, 2008 Larry Stone article in the Seattle Times (via Wikipedia) quoting Jack Zduriencik:

    “I’d love to have guys with good makeup and good character, committed to the city and the ballclub. But when all is said and done, talent wins.”

  54. GripS on September 14th, 2010 11:32 am

    I believe the M’s knew about and looked past the issue with Lueke. They saw a guy who could slide right in Mark Lowe’s spot. He has been and continues to be lights out at the minor league level.

    It’s not an excuse and doesn’t make it right but I think they thought his potential outweighed the risk of the bad PR.

    One thing we know is….this FO remains incompetent.

  55. bellacaramella on September 14th, 2010 11:38 am

    It’s a case of “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” coming back to nip Jack in the rear.

    I think the guy spent weeks orchestrating the best possible baseball deal for an asset everyone knew would be traded—suffering the Griffey fallout all the while—and didn’t want Chuck Armstrong’s non-baseball sensibilities to get in the way. Jack either downplayed the information he had or was ignorant about its significance.

    (Funny thing, though. As long as Jack and Lueke are employed by the Mariners, “forgiveness” is still on the table.)

    That’s my theory. Although the Ichiro thing sounds plausible.

  56. lubin_cuban23 on September 14th, 2010 11:40 am

    ivan,

    I totally agree. I want to see him pitch in a Mariner uniform. He has electric stuff and can really help the bullpen for the next few years.

    The unfortunate part is after this mess, and a rebuilding year next year, I am willing to bet they let Z go by 2012, just when it will get interesting and all the talent he acquired is MLB ready.

  57. greski4job on September 14th, 2010 11:43 am

    A very frustrating situation to a very frustrating year. In a year when many of us had such high hopes this is just some more salt in the wound. I would be quite upset if Z looses his job after the season even though I think he didn’t handle this situation very well.

    I don’t know how transparent baseball front offices are throughout the rest of the league, but I too wish that this FO was more transparent in how things were run this year. From Griffey to Figgins to Wak to this, it seems that the fans were simply expected to believe in the club without much to go with.

    A while back after Wak was fired, Buster Olney stated that many people in the M’s scouting were looking to jump ship because they didn’t like the direction of the club. Do you think this was in anyway related?

  58. ventricular buzzword on September 14th, 2010 11:54 am

    Except for a catastrophic injury to one core guys, this has really been the worst case scenario for the team this year. It cannot end fast enough.

  59. lubin_cuban23 on September 14th, 2010 11:57 am

    greski,

    I don’t see it related. I think this is mainly about the Leuke situation and that they needed a fall guy. Case closed. (No Aardsma jokes please)

  60. Chris_From_Bothell on September 14th, 2010 12:00 pm

    Is it time to change “In Z We Trust” to “In Z We Trusted”?

    One could completely believe that the GM in this case was Bavasi and not Jack.

  61. spankystout on September 14th, 2010 12:08 pm

    First off, Geoff Baker is doing exactly what he gets paid to do. A big story falls right into his lap, is he supposed to ignore it? Baker wrote that article a few days after Rick Adair made his public comments. So Baker wasn’t just bringing this up for the sake of blog hits, he had new information that contradicted the original story of the M’s.

    [let's not go there]

    This isn’t excusing, in any way Luekes’ actions, merely saying he deserves a second chance. He faced the justice system, even pled “no-contest” and served his short sentence. He should be allowed to resume his life, and career.

  62. lubin_cuban23 on September 14th, 2010 12:47 pm

    Yes, Baker is doing what he is supposed to do. He is doing his job. But don’t get it twisted. He is definitely a trouble maker and starting all of this. You cannot deny that.

  63. spankystout on September 14th, 2010 1:19 pm

    Lubin_cubin

    I don’t particularly like Geoff Baker, but to say Baker started all of this is wrong and delusional. Lueke started this with his actions. Jack Z perpetuated the problem with insufficient research, and/or transparency. Baker compiled conflicting public statements and posted it online. Exactly where did Baker start the problem when he had no part in the court case, or in acquiring Lueke without due diligence?

  64. Pete Livengood on September 14th, 2010 1:20 pm

    Good post, Dave, and one that echoes many of my thoughts on this. Random observations/reactions to the thread:

    * The quotes have enough wiggle room between the lines so that everybody could be telling a mostly true version of their “truth.” Most telling is that Armstrong talks about the deal being done, and Jon Daniels has only ever talked about being willing to do a *separate* transaction, and never says what Texas has offered or would be willing to offer. Of course, this puts the Mariners’ credibility on domestic abuse issues squarely in the crosshairs, as their reaction to (what I presume would be) a lowball offer from Daniels will surely be viewed as valuing baseball talent over their public pronouncements on issues of abuse towards women.

    I’m not sure I disagree with them, though. Mistakes were certainly made, but once made, are we supposed to just give a talented player away for a bag of balls? What would those who say the Mariners value issues of character and PR over winning say then (and how would they be wrong)? Like spankystout, I also do not want to be an apologist for rapists and those who do stupid, abusive things, but this is a young man who has by all accounts been accountable (legally) for what he did and has behaved well since. I also know enough about the legal system to know that we shouldn’t assume we know everything about Lueke’s culpability, either. There’s a long way between what he was charged with and what he pleaded no contest to for there NOT to have been some significant problems with the case against him. We should all be more circumspect about judging ALL of the actors in this drama.

    I am willing to give him a second chance – I just wish the Mariners would say that is what they are doing, and take the chance to spin this story in a *somewhat* positive direction instead of letting it spin hopeless out of control, much to the detriment of not only the team but the chances for Josh Lueke to ever move on and try to right himself.

    * Even though it is possible that everybody is telling a version of the truth, I don’t see how that excuses anybody for messing this up. Chuck Armstrong’s job is to know this stuff (as it is Jack’s, but I think to a lesser extent – his responsibility is more the baseball side of the equation), and if even what Chuck says Jack *did* tell him is true, that should have raised enough of a red flag that he should have done some of his own research.

    * I agree with those who say there may be reasons unrelated to Lueke that contributed to Fusco’s firing, but in the end, Dave’s scenario about Fusco being sacrificed as a way of punishing Jack short of firing him over this Lueke fiasco makes sense to me as the most logical, primary factor.

    * Like Ivan, I am anxious to see Lueke pitch here. He will pitch in the Majors for somebody – he’s pretty damn good. I am under no illusions that the players I root for are all saints.

    * I really don’t understand those who want to blame Baker for doing his job. Frankly, his front-page expose struck me as a bit of old news, but the fact we’re all still talking about the issue tells me that’s more about how little I know about journalism.

    The best thing the Mariners could do is to forthrightly address this issue, admit their mistakes in not doing more homework, and then say that they think it is best for both the team and the young man involved to move forward. Announce that he will be involved (continue?) with counseling to make sure things like what he got involved with don’t happen again. If they go forward with the program they were pitching for the Pepsi thing, have Lueke be involved in that, as a way to explain how he could have gotten involved in a bad situation and what he has learned to avoid repeating those mistakes. Try to give the kid a chance to be something OTHER than the demon in this story – even if his actions are certainly worth demonizing.

  65. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 1:20 pm

    He is definitely a trouble maker and starting all of this. You cannot deny that.

    Yes, I can.

    He’s doing his job; the pieces were pretty much out in the open for anyone to pick up.

  66. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 1:27 pm

    I am willing to give him a second chance – I just wish the Mariners would say that is what they are doing, and take the chance to spin this story in a *somewhat* positive direction instead of letting it spin hopeless out of control, much to the detriment of not only the team but the chances for Josh Lueke to ever move on and try to right himself.

    Yeah, that’s what irritates me about this. It’s terible management behavior which reinforces the appearance of a micromanaging upper brass who are not that good at either baseball or corporate business practices. I could think of a couple alternate behaviors that are more effective at both baseball and corporate values. And provided a positive spin for the player involved (this behavior is letting Lueke twist in the wind as well).

  67. lubin_cuban23 on September 14th, 2010 1:34 pm

    Yes, I can.

    He’s doing his job; the pieces were pretty much out in the open for anyone to pick up.

    Yes but what I think people are arguing is he is all about turmoil and wants negative stories about the Mariners. That is my point.

  68. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 1:41 pm

    Yes but what I think people are arguing is he is all about turmoil and wants negative stories about the Mariners.

    What’s newsworthy? What is PROVEN that people want to read about or see on TV? Turmoil and negative stories. Everyone says they want to see positive stories, but NOBODY actually watches or reads them.

    Ergo, Baker is doing his job. He is not a troublemaker.

    (And, moreover, if the Mariner management had the common sense of a wet noodle, they STILL could have defused the whole situation after Baker published his piece).

  69. just a fan on September 14th, 2010 1:43 pm

    Lueke definitely deserves a second chance, although he does need to walk a tight line.

    You look throughout sports, and what do you see? A number of 20-something males making stupid, reprehensible decisions, and then receiving second and third tries.

    Ben Roethlisberger, who has been accused of sexual misconduct twice.

    Josh Hamilton, a one-time heroin addict.

    Michael Vick, who killed dogs for shits, giggles and cash.

    Lueke can be reclaimed. He’s going to have a job in somebody’s bullpen. If he can behave, then he learned his lesson and deserves a second chance, then why doesn’t he deserve that second chance with the Mariners?

    The team employs 20-something males. What do they expect?

  70. spankystout on September 14th, 2010 1:45 pm

    I think most people on USSM realize Baker isn’t the best reporter. He does write a lot
    of garbage meant to create buzz. But he hasn’t done that in this case. Always remember lubin_Cuban “don’t shoot the messenger.”

  71. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 1:48 pm

    Lueke can be reclaimed. He’s going to have a job in somebody’s bullpen. If he can behave, then he learned his lesson and deserves a second chance,

    My question is…why is this inconsistent with the Mariners’ work in preventing domestic violence?

  72. lubin_cuban23 on September 14th, 2010 2:00 pm

    If they get rid of Jack Z, I would be willing to bet our attendance takes a hit.

  73. G-Man on September 14th, 2010 2:35 pm

    The mistake, I think, was that Jack Z and Co. didn’t tell Lincoln and Armstrong. And that’s not good, especially with two extreme micromanagers like them. And now they’re going to meddle in the process.

    I agree, this was most likely the problem. Whether JZ withheld info intentionally or didn’t pass on the weighty details only because he didn’t realize how big a deal it would be to his superiors, I think that was the communications issue. Additionally, perhaps Adair wasn’t as explicit as he thinks he was. Lastly, JZ might not listen well when told of character issues.

    As for the kid and his crime, I detest what he did, but I tend to want to give him a second chance, albeit on a short leash.

  74. Pete Livengood on September 14th, 2010 2:47 pm

    G-Man, obviously there were communications issues enough to go around (two or three times), but isn’t it one of the known bits of reporting that Jack told Armstrong essentially what Daniels (misleadingly) told him? That there had been an incident with a woman in a bar, and that he had been “acquitted” or exonerated, or something like that?

    Jack’s job is to get the best baseball deal he can. Chuck’s job is to deal with the community, and to set policy (as he did in the wake of Julio Mateo’s domestic violence arrest), and to make sure the team is comfortable that the baseball deals brought to them to approve are consistent with their stated policies. If you were in Chuck’s shoes, and Jack said what he reportedly said to Chuck to you, wouldn’t you check it out more thoroughly, or at least ask Jack to very specifically do A,B,C and report back to you before approving the deal?

    It is hard for me to see how Armstrong is not equally, if not more, culpable than GMZ for not checking into Lueke’s background more than he did.

  75. spankystout on September 14th, 2010 2:56 pm

    Its hard for me to believe the M’s didn’t fully research Lueke. Didn’t the Yankee Montero deal fall apart because a sprained ankle to the 3rd or 4th piece in the deal? If the M’s researched a sprained ankle so much that an elite bat was turned down– you would think they would follow up on an arrest, and 40 days in prison with equal scrutiny, and effort.

  76. spankystout on September 14th, 2010 3:01 pm

    Maybe Jon Daniels called Jack Z and said “I will give you Smoak and….” Jack Z didn’t bother hearing the rest? :)

  77. littlesongs on September 14th, 2010 3:06 pm

    What we do have are public comments from people, all of whom have their own agendas, that we can choose to place degrees of trust in or not. I’m going to try not to tell you who to trust and who not to trust, because I don’t know who is telling the truth. Neither do you. We can make guesses, but that’s all they are, and we need to realize that.

    Thank you Dave.

    From a publicity standpoint, Lueke was a time bomb, but I am not entirely convinced that he was acquired as a keeper.

    After keeping his nose clean in the Seattle organization and pitching well, Lueke may have regained much of the baseball value that was lost in the wake of the crime. If this short term risk paid off, a troubled kid could have a shot at redemption in another organization, and our farm system would be rewarded with a good prospect in return.

    Instead of that being a possible outcome in a low key way, the front office has a huge fallout that gets solid baseball folks like Carmen Fusco fired.

    Chuck Armstrong showed his true colors at the outset. “Not aware” is a threadbare cliche from the old plausible deniability school of management.

    Perhaps the top brass were exhausted by weeks of rumors, speculation and near deals for Cliff Lee? Were they dozing in meetings and signing off on things without reading them all the way through? I think that the information about Lueke was shared all the way to the top. Whether anyone was actually paying attention is the million dollar question.

    I still trust Jack Zduriencik, but my doubts about his bosses cannot be measured.

  78. Mike Snow on September 14th, 2010 3:10 pm

    Frankly, his front-page expose struck me as a bit of old news, but the fact we’re all still talking about the issue tells me that’s more about how little I know about journalism.

    I think that fact mostly says that you, like most readers of this blog, will usually be ahead of the general public on Mariner news of any kind. And it presents issues that average newspaper readers will see as new or have rarely encountered before, whereas most of us are more familiar with the situations that have tainted the character of other prospects before. We already know how we feel about the scenario, or can more easily work it out for ourselves. (That also makes us more set in our views, and may contribute to some of the occasional intransigence expressed as well.)

  79. just a fan on September 14th, 2010 3:17 pm

    Why don’t we just let Lueke close next year, he’ll get 35 saves, and then some dumb team that overvalues saves can trade us an elite switch-hitting catching prospect for him?

  80. zackr on September 14th, 2010 3:35 pm

    The big issue here is the timing of the firing. Even if it is due to a confluence of events, paired with the leaked (written in bush league, petty language) letter to the staff, it looks reactionary and makes the management seem like basket cases. This kind of thing blows over, everyone knows it but the people running the Mariners.

    At this point, how can we believe that when it comes to PR, management is anything but obsessive over-reactors. Seriously, they need to go work for Disney. Thick skin? Yeah, right.

    I hope they don’t sacrifice the positive progression of the team due to this screw-up.

  81. Breadbaker on September 14th, 2010 4:32 pm

    I have a number of questions.

    First, I don’t know if it’s the Commissioner’s office or the Rangers organization that had the opportunity at the time, but was there baseball discipline of Lueke above and beyond his criminal sentence? I can’t see how the Mariners could possibly impose discipline on him for something that happened when he was in someone else’s employ, but I’d like to know if there was something done at the time (and if not, why not?).

    Second, I think it’s entirely hypocritical to allow him to pitch in a Diamond Jaxx or a Rainiers uniform and somehow think that doesn’t have the same impact on the organization as if he pitched in a Mariners uniform. He represents the organization in any of those capacities. So the bird has flown the coop on this one.

    Third, I am with those who believe in giving a second chance to persons who work to earn it. I’ve been critical of NFL Commissioner Goodell lowering the penalties for Ben Roethlisberger after a couple months of not raping anyone, as though that indicated any form of contrition or meaningfully changed behavior, but Lueke is far enough from his crime, and has served his sentence, so that the idea of taking away his livelihood over it for good seems wrong. His leash should be short for the rest of his career, indeed his life, but he can do things that demonstrate remorse, learning and maturity. That doesn’t mean he will–I know nothing about his personality–but I don’t think employing someone who committed such a crime, when appropriately punished and appropriately chastened, is inconsistent with the M’s stand on domestic violence. People who have been through something can be appropriate spokespeople to help others avoid their mistakes. That doesn’t mean that’s that’s the right thing for Lueke (again, I have no idea about him personally) or the Mariners, but it’s a potential way to make this better.

    Firing Carmen Fusco, before the season is over, apparently because the news leaked, is another sign of meaningless moves and lack of direction this team has had since they fired Alan Cockrell. Firing Rick Adair at the same time as Wak was another instance. Their problems go far deeper than whatever happened in the trade that included Lueke.

  82. Liam on September 14th, 2010 4:42 pm

    Chuck Armstrong, on whether he ordered Zduriencik to send Lueke back to Texas: “We tried that on Friday night, but then, on Saturday morning, the Rangers said, ‘No, we’ve already notified the players. The deal stands as is.’

    Jon Daniels, on whether that statement is true: “We offered several times to reacquire Lueke in a separate transaction — an offer originally made the same night the deal was announced. That offer stands.””

    There’s no reason the Mariners couldn’t have then shopped Lueke to any other team if they wanted to.

  83. samregens on September 14th, 2010 4:54 pm

    Blaming Baker for the problems the Mariners have had over the past few years is counterproductive, unless your argument is the Mariners can’t win unless the local sports press is reduced to USSR-era Pravda, and writing stories about how Glorious Leader Lincoln will institute a new Five Year Plan.

    Wow, thanks for going way overboard and misrepresenting my point.

    My problem with Baker is not that he “reports news”. It’s that he obviously often tries to create bad news and exacerbate problems in the clubhouse. His actions are that of an instigator, a troublemaker, not a reporter.

    And although I think you went overboard with the Glorious Leader stuff, you are right that I think Baker is one of the problems the Mariners have had the past few years.

    Do you wonder why the Mariners seem to be one of the most dysfunctional teams in MLB these past few years? (Except in 2009 when Griffey effectively policed Baker’s crap).

    I think it’s at least in part because we are stuck with an “insider” in the clubhouse, actively trying to play people against each other and make trouble.

    I want more reporters like Larry Stone or Divish, and no more Baker, please. They are not rah rah and they report interesting things, yet they don’t peddle or try to create crap like Baker does.

  84. gwangung on September 14th, 2010 4:56 pm

    My problem with Baker is not that he “reports news”. It’s that he obviously often tries to create bad news and exacerbate problems in the clubhouse. His actions are that of an instigator, a troublemaker, not a reporter.

    Y’all don’t know a damn thing about reporting.

    Oh, also..

    And although I think you went overboard with the Glorious Leader stuff, you are right that I think Baker is one of the problems the Mariners have had the past few years.

    That’s the single most ridiculous thing I’ve seen on this site. It beats protection proponents and “RBIs are king” people.

  85. eponymous coward on September 14th, 2010 6:34 pm

    Blaming a reporter for poor player performance is beyond foolish.

    So, does Baltimore suck because of bad reporting? Pittsburgh?

  86. TomC on September 14th, 2010 6:57 pm

    Blaming a reporter for poor player performance is beyond foolish.

    So, does Baltimore suck because of bad reporting? Pittsburgh?

    On the flip side the New York media is brutal. If you have any doubt go on line and read what they say about A-Rod sometimes (or K-Rod now). It seems the New York Yankees somehow are able to cope with a non-cheerleading press corps.

    Baker should be commended for doing what not enough ‘reporters’ do around here: report the truth even if it makes powerful interests uncomfortable.

    I have a lap dog who wags her tail when I come home, I don’t need or want one writing for the newspaper.

  87. Duncan Idaho on September 14th, 2010 11:14 pm

    Lueke obviously used poor judgement and made a life altering mistake. Having said that, in the absence of other deviant behavior I say give the kid a second chance.

    As far as the front office is concerned I’d say that the PR department needs to stop worrying about slogans and commercials and start repairing the image of the organization.

    The only question I have left (I don’t expect to get an answer) is if Howchuck fired Fusco because they knew his 35 year friendship with Z would send a big message or if Z himself asked his decades old friend to fall on his sword to start to put an end to this mess?

  88. samregens on September 15th, 2010 3:06 am

    Y’all don’t know a damn thing about reporting.

    Yes, I think you’re right about that. And if you’re claiming that Baker is an exemplar representative of the craft, I don’t want to know about “reporting”.

    I think you guys are backing the wrong boat.
    Baker seems to have displaced himself in your minds as a beacon of free speech. Ask yourselves if he’s really worthy. I can’t stand reading rah rah reporters, myself (and hate “lap dogs” as you say). I’m saying that Baker seems to be trying to “create” bad news rather than just “report” it accurately.
    But then again, if you’re claiming that Baker is an exemplar representative of the craft, I must say know little of “reporting” amd don’t really want to know about it.

  89. Brantid on September 15th, 2010 4:12 am

    I found reading all of this oddly therapeutic. I think I am done worrying about Josh Lueke. Unless he starts dating someone that I know.

    I sure hope there is more to the Fusco firing than Lueke. It does seem, as noted above, like our pro scouting wasn’t great this year, that there are issues within the scouting department and sometimes “friends that go way back” have “baggage that goes way back.”

  90. Mike Snow on September 15th, 2010 9:48 am

    I’m saying that Baker seems to be trying to “create” bad news rather than just “report” it accurately. But then again, if you’re claiming that Baker is an exemplar representative of the craft, I must say know little of “reporting” amd don’t really want to know about it.

    You may not want to know, but I think some people might benefit from understanding a little better. Baker has his strengths and weaknesses, both as a reporter and an analyst, but if something is newsworthy and he’s got sources to back it up, it’s his job to report it, not stop to ask whether this is going to help the Mariners or create trouble for them. One of the reasons this is fairly impressive as far as reporting goes is that he has verbatim quotes on the record from multiple named sources on such a sensitive subject. If you compare that to stuff attributed to anonymous clubhouse sources or couched as general observations without an explicit source (consider Larry LaRue’s report about Griffey sleeping in the clubhouse, or Baker’s own reporting about the turmoil surrounding Ichiro in 2008), it’s impressive and adds to the credibility of the reporting, even if that doesn’t solve the problem of how to evaluate the credibility of the parties being quoted. But nobody doubts the general accuracy of Baker’s story, not in the same way that people questioned whether Griffey was really asleep or whether the rumors of a toxic clubhouse really had any substance to them.

  91. bloodydavid on September 15th, 2010 12:06 pm

    Geoff Baker, Jerry Brewer, and Larry Stone are the best sports writers in the Sound. All else pales. They tell it like it is, or at least as they see it and do a great job as reporters and bloggers. All the put-downs read on this site, like the opinion of Baker’s that Wak would be fired, were just one-up-man-ship, and it came true.
    I am compelled to read the Times many times a day, and barely go to the USS Mariner because of the pettiness of the writers. Just do what you do well and forget the 3rd grade crap. Remember the “I hate Sweeney” headline, he’s now with a playoff team. Looking forward to any improvement you can do to upgrade your site…

  92. JMHawkins on September 15th, 2010 3:00 pm

    Baker isn’t the reason the M’s are struggling to win games. He isn’t the cause of the M’s bungling the Josh Lueke matter.

    He may, for what it’s worth, be a not-insignficant contributor to whatever clubhouse turmoil the team has had in recent years, because of his style of reporting. I do not consider him a “great” reporter. I have never particularly liked his reporting, and like it less the more of it I read (which isn’t much these days). Mostly it’s the subjects he reports on, and partly the style with which he does it. If I enjoyed the subjects he reports on, I would schedule my Tivo to record Days of Our Lives and General Hospital during the day and watch that instead of FSN at night. Well, actually, I’m not watching FSN much anymore either, the M’s are mostly unwatchable if Felix isn’t pitching. But I don’t watch Soap Operas either, and that’s what Baker’s reporting feels like to me.

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