So, as we found out last night, Josh Lueke is not among the' call-ups from Tacoma. The Rainiers finished their season yesterday, meaning all those players are free to do whatever, so Lueke's absence is most certainly conspicuous. The immediate response? This is all based on PR, and the Mariners may have no intentions of ever seeing Lueke in Seattle. But I see four possibilities.
1) Legal hoops. Notes Baker:
As for Lueke, his status as a convicted felon on probation through the 2012 season means the Mariners would have needed to apply for permission to have him travel across the border into Canada for the Toronto series and you can't just do that on a whim. Has to be done well in advance.
2) Rest. After throwing just 7.2 innings in 2009, Lueke made more than 50 appearances in 2010 and will be reporting to the Arizona Fall League, so it's possible the team wanted to give him a bit of a break, much as they're doing with Dustin Ackley. Not that they couldn't still call him up and just not use him.
3) Lueke has no place here. This whole organizational tailspin wouldn't have happened the way it's happened were it not for the Lueke acquisition, and just because we haven't seen much negativity to Lueke on the internet doesn't mean it doesn't exist among the broader fanbase. A lot of fans don't like the idea of supporting Josh Lueke. A lot of players don't like the idea of playing with Josh Lueke. It's entirely possible that the organization has decided that Lueke's pluses aren't worth the drawbacks. Which isn't an entirely unreasonable position, given that he's a reliever.
4) Lueke has no place here right now. I know it's football season, and people aren't really paying much attention to the Mariners anymore, but Lueke is still a fresh story, in that people haven't forgotten what they've read. We're still not very far removed from the height of things. Maybe, instead of deciding they don't ever want him, the Mariners have decided they don't want him up for these final two weeks. Lueke isn't the sort of player you just thrust into everyone's reality. You prepare. For the fans, maybe the Mariners have Lueke make appearances and participate in volunteer programs over the offseason. For the players, maybe the Mariners would rather have Lueke meet them in spring training so the air can be cleared away from the field. The team may just need time to figure out how it ought to proceed.
We'll see about possibility #1 shortly, as the M's return to the states on Thursday. I do not think #2 is very likely, since, again, the M's could always call Lueke up and just have him hang out if they're that concerned about getting him rest. Possibilities #3 and #4 strike me as the strongest, and you know what? I don't think the M's even know for sure what they're going to do. I don't think they've closed the door on Lueke's future in Seattle, but I also doubt they're committed to it 100%. I think they'll have to see. They'll have to monitor how fans respond. They'll have to have conversations and see how potential teammates and coaches respond. They have to figure out if Lueke is worth the trouble. What is the financial impact of having a player with his background on the team? What is the clubhouse or on-field impact of having a player with his background on the team? How good is he now, and how good could he be later? These are complicated questions to which the organization will have to find some kind of answer.
We'll see. I don't even know where I stand. I like talented players, but ultimately, I want what's best for the team, and if the organization determines that promoting Josh Lueke isn't what's best for the team, then that's significant, as they're in a better position to figure that out than I am. What I will say is that, should they decide that Lueke isn't worth it, they're not going to get much back. No other organization is going to surrender much talent to relieve the M's of their problem. What this might as well boil down to is talent + trouble versus nothing at all.