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Remember Josh Lueke? The Mariners should beware of creating a double standard

Jan 19, 2011, 8:09 AM EDT

Josh Leuke

Earlier this morning I talked about whether the Mariners will try to void Milton Bradley’s deal.  As reader Sean Boulton noted on Twitter last night, however, they wouldn’t even consider it if they keep true to form. Heck, they wouldn’t even cut him.

Remember the Josh Lueke controversy? He was one of the players sent from Texas to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal. In 2008 Lueke faced rape and sodomy charges in California, pleaded no contest after the cops figured out he was lying his butt off to them about the incident and was sentenced to 40 days in jail.  While some front office types in Seattle claimed they didn’t know about it at the time of the trade, former Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair said he told GM Jack Zduriencik about Lueke’s troubles “well before the deal.”

The Mariners were so embarrassed about it all that someone in the organization felt it necessary to lie and/or dissemble about it. And of course, Lueke and his 96 m.p.h fastball are still on the team.

If I’m Milton Bradley, and the Mariners try to do something to me on character and citizenship grounds after I have only been accused of a crime — and the crime is less serious than the one for which Leuke was convicted — I get pretty damn huffy. And if I’m the Mariners and I want to do something about Bradley at this point, I prepare myself to answer a hell of a lot of questions about double standards when it comes to violence and the threat thereof.

Not that they don’t already have one. As Geoff Baker has noted in the past, the Mariners have been out front in the community supporting groups and initiatives aimed at putting a stop to violence against women. This has led to a zero-tolerance policy on the part of the team which has in turn led to players being sent out of town on a rail before. A policy that was apparently ignored in Lueke’s case.

My guess: the Mariners do nothing to Bradley.

  1. Panda Claus - Jan 19, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Another option exists: Bradley might become available for a really, really good price. Not that the demand would be all that high for him.

  2. Paul White - Jan 19, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    I suspect the Mariners will argue, not completely unreasonably, that unlike Bradley, Lueke hasn’t done anything as a member of the Mariners organization that would warrant releasing him. Lueke’s transgressions occurred while he was in the Texas organization, and he has kept his nose clean since joining the Mariners. His offense was certainly worse than anything Bradley has been accused of, but if it occurred before his current employer employed him, and it was nothing he hid from them when he was acquired, what grounds would they have to cut him loose? FWIW – I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not arguing that the Mariners wouldn’t have the legal right to release a minor league pitcher who had legal trouble in his past. Certainly they would. But his past legal trouble is unchanged in his time with the Mariners, so if it wasn’t enough to stop them from acquiring him in the first place (through oversight or otherwise), it would be a pretty hard sell to claim that he now needs to be released after nearly three subsequent years with a clean record.

    Bradley, on the other hand, has now had multiple incidents in his time as a Mariner, not to mention a far longer and more varied history of past problems than Lueke. I think the Mariners have decent grounds to treat him differently than Lueke (or Dan Cortes, for that matter, who also has a checkered past but no problems since joining Seattle).

  3. easports82 - Jan 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    One could argue there’s a difference in the Lueke case from the other players that the M’s have sent away because of violence: the others did it in Mariner uniforms. Lueke’s acts occurred nearly 3 years ago while in the Rangers’ system and he has served a penance as prescribed by the law. Granted, if he threw 85, he never would’ve been on anyone’s radar anyways.

  4. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 19, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    I’ll grant you both the “he did it before he was a Mariner” point, but the Mariners made a big deal a couple of years ago about having a zero tolerance policy and, at the time of the trade, they made a silly show of saying that they didn’t know about his history when they clearly did (or at least should have). Suggests to me that at least some people in the M’s organization felt that their existing policies made getting Leuke a problem for them.

  5. Patrick - Jan 19, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Craig,

    You mentioned the rape and sodomy charges, and then talk about Lueke being convicted. If memory serves, Lueke plead no contest to the charges of false imprisionment with violence because the young women didn’t want to relive the experience on the stand. In reading your post, it seems Lueke was convicted of rape and sodomy charges when he was not. I think it is safe to infer that Lueke is indeed guilty of the rape and sodomy claims, but he was found guilty (is that correct in a plea of no contest?) of a lesser charge.

  6. joshv02 - Jan 19, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Isn’t the major difference b/w the two that Bradley makes $12mm, and isn’t that a good reason to see a difference? It isn’t JUST moral indignation – its moral indignation coupled with having to pay $12mm. I don’t see why that isn’t a good enough reason to treat them differently.

    Note: I agree that they won’t do anything. But not because they don’t want to create a double standard. There is a major difference b/w voiding a player in his 30s being paid millions, and keeping a player in his 20s being paid nothing.

  7. fribnit - Jan 19, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    My guess is the mariners will hang their hat on Milton Bradley’s past history of problems if they decide to ry to void the contract.

  8. jaolson28 - Jan 19, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Patrick:
    You’re on the right track Patrick but it’s still more complicated than that. The DA didn’t exactly have an air tight case against Lueke. The woman was actually so drunk that she can’t remember what happened, while Lueke claimed it was consensual. With the woman not able to remember anything, the state was going to have a hard time proving rape.

    From Lueke’s perspective, he still might get convicted if it went to trial and could face jail time in addition to having to register as a sex offender. Even if he didn’t commit the crime it was clearly in his interests to strike a deal with the DA, and get on with his career.

    Craig:
    You really need to correct this article. The way it’s written clearly implies that Lueke was pled no contest to something that he didn’t. He was not convicted of rape and sodomy.

    As to the broader point you are making, I’m not sure I see the parellel. Lueke’s incident happened before he became a Mariner, was his only offense, and by all accounts has been a model citizen since. Bradley has an ongoing history of issues, and this latest one happened while he’s wearing Mariner blue.

  9. jaolson28 - Jan 19, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    I should add that when Bradley came to the Mariners they undoubtedly informed him that if he messed up again he was probably done.

    And I know for a fact that the Mariners told Lueke that this IS his second chance. If he messes up again, he knows he’s gone.

    Bradley messed up again, and Lueke hasn’t. Not sure how releasing Bradley in this instance could be seen as a double standard.

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