Employing the sort of due diligence not seen since the Arizona Diamonbacks (briefly) made Wally Backman their manager, Seattle sent Cliff Lee to the Rangers on Friday for a quartet of minor leaguers, one of whom, P Josh Lueke, has an interesting item on his resume. From the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory) :
Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said he was “not aware” beforehand that a Class AA pitcher obtained in the Cliff Lee deal pleaded no contest last year to a charge of false imprisonment with violence against a woman.
“I was not aware of that before we acquired him,” Armstrong said. “And it is going to be addressed.”
Both Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln, who was standing beside Armstrong as he spoke, insisted they had no idea before the trade with Texas was made that Lueke had made a no-contest plea and been given a 40-day sentence. Pleading no contest carries the same weight as a guilty plea but can often result in speedier and lighter sentences.
Lueke was initially accused of rape and sodomy stemming from the May 2008 incident. He spent several months behind bars awaiting trial, then was set free with time served after pleading to the lesser charge.
Much as I’d love to sympathize with Armstrong, a cursory glance at ultra-obscure search engine Google reveals courtroom photos of Lueke, much like the one above, pop up pretty quickly, as does an item from a Bakersfield, CA newspaper describing the charges against the former Rangers prospect. As for Lueke’s own take on things, his Twitter feed reveals a Coheed and Cambria fan, an Android phone enthusiast and a ballplayer given to quoting proverbs.