MLB Speculation: Will Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds Be Sent to the Minors?

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MLB Speculation: Will Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds Be Sent to the Minors?
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
May 3, 2011: Mike Leake delivers a pitch in Cincinnati. Since his arrest on alleged theft charges, his image needs deliverance.

How high has the stock in American Rags T-shirts gone since Reds pitcher Mike Leake’s shocking arrest for allegedly stealing low-priced shirts? 

I’m not sure, but probably not as low as Leake’s.

This is a follow-up to a related article I published regarding Mike Leake’s alleged theft from a Macy’s. The news of his arrest was first reported on Monday, Apr. 18, 2011.

He was being booked in Hamilton County while his teammates were showing up to play the Pittsburgh Pirates. Leake was in the dugout for the game after he was booked, but Pittsburgh shellacked the Reds and dropped Cincy to 9-7 on the season. 

To make matters worse, the Cardinals definitely were right on the Reds’ heels. St. Louis owned them last year and in years prior, and the Redbirds took over first place this season during a head-to-head matchup over Easter weekend. 

After he’d won on Saturday night against the Pirates, 11-2, he apparently had too much time on his hands. 

I’m not sure what Leake was thinking—evidently not about Easter egg hunts. 

Maybe he was going to open a men’s clothing store in the clubhouse. He’d accept charge cards, I’d imagine.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Manager Dusty Baker keeps his eyes on Leake during his last start. The Astros pounded his young star in 3.2 innings Tuesday night.

He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and got community service. Upon completing the diversion program, his record will be wiped clean.

Ah, the wiles of youth. He’s not the first athlete still living in Cincinnati to drum up controversy—the Cincy Bengals may have cornered the market—but some of his teammates also have less-than-stellar records with the police.

Is Leake out of the woods, though? I’m not so sure after his performance on Tuesday night in Houston. The Reds hurler sent the home crowd scampering for the exits by the seventh inning.

Before reaching his maximum number of innings pitched, he was 8-4 with a 4.23 ERA last season for the NL Central champion Reds. This season, he was 3-0 with a 4.40 ERA. 

He may not be leading the team in ERA, but he leads in steals—allegedly. Memo to Leake: Steal Cardinals signs, not shirts. I’m kidding. We’re all innocent until proven guilty—or until we strike a plea deal.

His big deal in MLB is being—since 1965—the 21st player to skip the minor leagues and go straight to the majors after being drafted. Leake was the first pitcher to do it since Jim Abbott did it in the 1989 season.

Abbott was born without a right hand.  Leake was born—some might say in jest—without a right brain.  Abbot played from 1989-1999 with the Angels, Yankees, White Sox and Brewers.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
June 2, 1996: Jim Abbot stands on the mound in Anaheim. He was an Angel before they moved to L.A.

No brewskis were involved with the Leake case—allegedly.  No word if he was given a sobriety test.  Maybe the Reds should hire Abbot.  Leake would do well to have a talk with him.

In his rookie year, Abbott was 12-12 with a 3.92 ERA.  He was two years removed from being named the nation’s best amateur athlete in 1987—the James E. Sullivan Award.  In 1989, Abbott finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

Abbott is now a motivational speaker. Maybe he can provide some inspiration for Leake. Mike is not a kid anymore. At 23 years old, he’s young, but he’s a grown man.

With the Yankees, Abbott pitched a no-hitter on Sept. 4, 1993 against the Cleveland Indians. While he struggled later in his career, he won many accolades.

In 1992, he received the annual Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming obstacles and adversities through attributes of the spirit, determination and courage.

Here’s my advice to Leake: Cut down on stolen bases you allow and don’t steal from the clothing racks anymore—allegedly. The merchandise was worth a reported $59, or the cost of a hamburger at the stadium. 

He was facing a maximum of 180 days behind bars. 

He’s not claiming kleptomaniac status. Ridiculed like he was Lindsay Lohan, maybe he thought it was a good way to meet Lindsay. She’ll turn 25 years old in July and he’s not far behind in age.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
March 31, 2011: Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty discuss things in Cincy. They have a lot to discuss these days.

While Leake apologized to the entire Reds organization for the distraction, media director Rob Butcher looked thrilled, didn’t he? Um, no.

In a statement released by the Reds through their internal public relations office, “...wholly inconsistent with the principles of this organization and our community” is how Butcher labeled Leake’s behavior. 

Get the video of Butcher reading the statement—if the Reds still have it. They may have archived it for public relations' sake to help their guy out.

Mike’s been a good boy on the mound for most of his career. After he won his first start after being arrested, manager Dusty Baker said his team and the city needed Leake’s performance.

Dusty’s tone was suggestive of a man who was contemplating whether or not his young pitcher needed a stint in the minors to get away from things. 

I can’t see the Reds using Leake out of the bullpen. 

I say the minors because the Reds have other young arms in the minors and on the disabled list.  Leake could get his work in down on the farm and be ready for the stretch run. 

The Cardinals are playing good ball this season, though, and there may not be a stretch run. When the young arms are ready to come back, then someone has to go down—simple as that. 

I don’t envy general manager Walt Jocketty or Dusty Baker right now. They’ve been put in the unenviable position of having to manage a wayward youth with outstanding potential.

Can their wayward baseball son carry the team on his back? I don’t see it for a while. The real question is can he carry them through four innings on his next start?

In his latest start of the season—last night—he was blasted for seven runs in only 3.2 innings pitched.  He struck out five and walked only one. The Reds slipped below .500 with the loss.

Baseball is one thing; I just hope he doesn’t strike out in life because he was allowed to walk so easily after being arrested.

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