What are hopes, what are plans?
–Johann Christof Friedrich von Schiller
Man, if you gotta ask you’ll never know.
As you can see, I’ve located the copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations that eluded me the other day. It was right in front of me, on a bookshelf full of many familiar baseball titles, as well as works by Bill Bryson, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and other personal favorites.
I couldn’t have found the book without Cory Luebke’s help. Is there anything he can’t do?
Luebke, of course, makes his big-league debut tonight against the Rockies as the Padres cling to a three-game lead in the National League West and seek to snap an ill-timed seven-game losing streak. People have been asking about him, and I thought I’d better have something to say.
A quick check of the blog archives reveals two items of note. The first, a transmission from April 27, 2009, is terse and dismissive: “Cory Luebke starts for the Storm and gets pounded.” This probably helps explain my lack of enthusiasm for the young man… first impressions and all that.
The other item comes from March 1, 2010: “Almost everyone likes Luebke more than I do. I see a poor-man’s Wade LeBlanc, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I happen to like LeBlanc more than most folks.” The wit overwhelms.
So I go to grab my Ducksnorts Annuals off the shelf and, lo and behold, there is my copy of Bartlett’s right next to them. It was sitting there the whole time. But I never would have seen it had I not been looking for Luebke.
Funny how that works.
Back to our new favorite southpaw… From the Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual:
What can we divine from fewer than 60 professional innings? Not much. Looks like Luebke has pretty good command, which is consistent with what the Padres seem to like in their pitchers. Luebke draws praise for his clean mechanics and good off-speed stuff. He’s also young enough that he may add velocity. On paper, Luebke looks a lot like the other lefties in the system, but I have a feeling (and that’s all it is) that he may emerge from the pack next year.
Luebke didn’t emerge from the pack. He made 15 starts at Lake Elsinore in 2008 and sported a 6.84 ERA before being demoted to Fort Wayne. Not the sort of progression you want to see from a 23-year-old pitcher.
From the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual (you may notice a subtle shift in tone):
This is the downside of taking “polished” college pitchers early in the draft. Luebke started the season at Lake Elsinore and got pounded. He pitched well after being demoted to Fort Wayne, but now he’s a 24-year-old who hasn’t mastered High-A ball. There is still time for Luebke to turn his career around, but the window won’t stay open forever. The Padres need to promote him more aggressively than the numbers merit, and he needs to respond in a big way.
First off, I like the word “pounded”; I don’t know what that says about me, but it’s good to know.
Second, the Padres did promote Luebke aggressively, and he did respond. Since I uttered those mean and nasty (or at least vaguely ominous) words about him, he has done this:
Level IP ERA H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 A+ 88.1 2.34 7.44 0.31 1.73 8.15 AA 97.2 2.95 7.28 0.46 2.49 7.00 AAA 57.2 2.97 6.55 0.94 2.65 6.87
I claim no responsibility for Luebke’s turnaround, but damn. Sure, the peripherals get weaker as he moves up levels… We shouldn’t expect otherwise, nor should we expect Luebke to dominate at the big-league level right away… or maybe even ever.
Then again, we’re not looking for domination; we’re looking for someone to stop the bleeding, to be more effective than Kevin Correia. The bar is pretty low, even if the stakes are high.
We have hopes that Luebke can help guide his team to a much-needed victory. We have plans to watch the Padres play in October.
And if that doesn’t pan out, at least I’ll be able to comfort myself with pithy quotes.