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Where's Lueke?

The Mariners had a bad enough season to send out an e-mail to all fans on whatever list that gets you regular e-mails (I know at some point I signed up for updates, but can't tell you exactly how or why). Though just one e-mail, there were a couple messages, one from Howard Lincoln, and the other from Jack Zduriencik.

Nothing was all that earth-shattering. At first, I thought the coolest thing in the whole e-mail was Jack Zduriencik's signature. Seriously, look at how neat it is, and how cool it looks (it's the signature on the right).

I also find it really amusing that the signature was sent as an image, so it was easy to save to my desktop.

While I found it thoughtful and nice of the Mariners to send out a couple messages, basically to say "our bad, but stick with us," the messages weren't all that stunning. However, one thing I hold true to my analysis is that sometimes what isn't said is just as telling as what is said. In that spirit, I re-read the messages, and the following paragraph jumped off the page:
We've got a flock of top-rated prospects on their way to the big club. These include position players Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Carlos Peguero, Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, Johermyn Chavez, Greg Halman and Matt Mangini, along with hard-throwing pitchers like Michael Pineda, Blake Beavan, Dan Cortes, Mauricio Robles, Maikel Cleto and Anthony Varvaro. Many of our best prospects are headed for winter ball and the fall instructional league - they're driven to improve and play at the next level.
What is mentioned is nice, but hardly surprising. The Mariners have good prospects. Hooray! It's good to have good prospects when you promise to build from within, as Jack Zduriencik has.

Somebody is missing from the list though - Josh Lueke.

Now, to be fair, Lueke isn't the only guy not mentioned in the paragraph. For instance, Jack also didn't mention Rich Poythress, who was voted the 2010 M's minor league position player of the year. Why he didn't get mentioned and Kyle Seager did is beyond me. Not that Seager didn't deserve a shout out, but Poythress was drafted a little earlier in the same year, they both played at High Desert all year, and only one of them is the player of the year.

However, Lueke's omission is just way too glaring. Zduriencik specifically calls the pitchers "hard-throwing," and then lists a bunch of guys that can throw in the mid-90s. Lueke tops out around 97 or 98 miles an hour. Additionally, ALL of the pitchers Z mentioned (with the exception of Cleto) were promoted from AA to AAA during the season. Lueke was in the middle of those promotions too. Lastly, Zduriencik highlights that many of the M's top prospects will play somewhere in the fall and winter. Lueke is in this group, as he will play in the Arizona Fall League.

Clearly, Josh Lueke fits in the cookie cutter that Jack Zduriencik used in his paragraph about the M's future pitchers. Lueke also is very close to the majors, if not ready right now. As a prospect, he has been treated exactly like the guys that Zduriencik mentioned, and he should be in the majors shortly.

Yet, when it comes time to mention prospects, Josh Lueke is conspicuously absent.

I get why Josh Lueke was left off an e-mail largely written for public relations purposes. His no contest plea to a sodomy charge makes him a bit of a controversial figure, to say the least. What really bothers me about how the Mariners are handling him is that they are trying to have it both ways. On one hand, they treat Lueke like any of their other promising prospects. However, when they shine the spotlight on their system, they cover up Lueke as if he is not there.

Either Lueke is part of the Mariners organization, or he is not. The organization seems to play whichever side is advantageous for the context they are in, and that isn't right in my book. At the very least, it perpetuates an awkward situation.

Personally, I think the Mariners are obligated to support Josh Lueke at this point, given that they acquired him. To me, acquiring a player is an acknowledgement that the organization wants that player, and on some level promises to support that player. That is not to say that any organization should condone a player's actions, and maybe it doesn't even mean a player should always be forgiven. Still, in the case of Josh Lueke, the Mariners know about his past, and he is still around. That says something, even though the organization continues to say nothing. If Lueke was that big of a problem, and the Mariners didn't want to develop and support him, then he should have been gone a while back.

So there is my stand. I am sure many strongly disagree with me, and feel Lueke should go. I don't mind that view, because folks in that boat would have traded Josh back to Texas the first chance they got, and that would take care of this tenuous situation. The only stance I have no tolerance for is the non-stance, which is where the Mariners fall right now.

Is Josh Lueke in or out? There should already be an answer to this question, but there really better be one by spring training. If Lueke isn't going to be allowed to compete for a spot in the 2011 bullpen, then he needs to go. It really is that simple.