Finder of Books, Keeper of Dreams

What are hopes, what are plans?
–Johann Christof Friedrich von Schiller

Man, if you gotta ask you’ll never know.
–Louis Armstrong

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.

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7 Responses »

  1. Isn’t it a red flag when there is minor league success without the peripheral stats?

    A lot of luck seems to go away in the transition from the MiLB -> MLB.

  2. Hi Geoff,

    I enjoy reading your blog.

    If the Padres don’t make the playoffs this year, what would you think about the year and the team?

  3. So the walks didn’t hurt Luebke, but the triple and 2 HRs did.

    If the Padres don’t come back and win this game, the 6th inning is typical of failure in situational hitting. Bases loaded one out (Cook had just thrown 8 balls in 9 pitches), Headley, who’d grounded out to second twice, hit the first offering for a ground out to first, and Venable (who’d only seen 5 pitches up to this point) took a strike and then popped out to second. Within three pitches, the threat went away with the Padres scoring one measly run.

    Granted, it was a great defensive play by Giambi to get Headley out at first; still my point stands in that Cook was laboring to throw strikes, so why not make him work some more?

    And, btw, Ludwick has wOBA of .295 with the Padres; he shouldn’t be hitting 4th in the lineup.

  4. There’s nothing to see here, it’s merely regression.

    Btw, Luebke retired the last 9 batters he faced and the bullpen didn’t give up any hit from the 3rd inning on.

    Winning starting today! Go Padres!

  5. Nice link, Didi; thanks.

  6. OK, I think this is more than a rough stretch now. When does it become a collapse? :-(

  7. I still think we’re going to pull this out. We’re still ahead.

    Today is a new day. :)