M's turn 2 months into 12 years?

July, 31, 2009
7/31/09
1:08
PM ET
That sweet smell coming from the Pacific Northwest? That's the smell that comes from trading two months of a 34-year-old pitcher for (potentially) 12 years of two pitchers in their early 20s ...
    The Mariners have traded left-handed pitcher Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers for rookie left-hander Luke French and pitching prospect Mauricio Robles.

    --snip--

    Washburn has turned around his career this season. After three lackluster years in Seattle, the left-hander is 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA this season. He had won four consecutive starts before taking a no-decision Tuesday against Toronto. In that stretch, the veteran allowed only three earned runs in 36 2/3 innings.

I wouldn't say that Washburn has turned his career around, simply because we don't know yet if he has. This might be just a blip, as 34-year-old baseball players rarely turn their careers around.

What's more common is 23-year-old baseball players turning their careers around, and that might be exactly what Luke French has done. Before this season, he didn't even make the list of Detroit's top 30 prospects. An eighth-round draft pick five years ago, French spent last season in Double-A -- not bad for a 22-year-old -- but his 1.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio left him far down the organizational depth chart.

But the Tigers bumped him up to Triple-A this spring anyway, and he responded with the best numbers of his professional career: 2.98 ERA, 3.46 K/BB ratio.

I can't say exactly how he's doing, though there's a brief mention here of an "improved slider."

French has already reached the majors, and in his second start he beat the Royals (and Zack Greinke) 3-1.

Robles is a long way from the majors, but if nothing else he sure is interesting. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Robles has struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings this season in the low-A Midwest League. He's also walked 4.3 batters per nine innings, which is why he's still in the low-A Midwest League.

Recent history doesn't have many encouraging words about short right-handed pitchers, but Robles obviously has talent and he just turned 20 this spring.

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