Luke French

Dave · July 31, 2009 at 11:57 am · Filed Under Mariners 

It’s no secret that we wanted Washburn traded and had little to no interest in retaining him for 2010. So, if the M’s moved him, we were going to be happy, even if the guys they got back weren’t much to write home about. But should you be excited about Luke French?

Depends on your expectations. He has extremely low ceiling for a 23-year-old – as a guy with an 87 MPH fastball who pitches up in the zone and depends on his breaking ball to get outs, he’s not that much different than Garrett Olson in terms of raw stuff. And I know that most of you are sick and tired of watching Garrett Olson take the mound, so that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

However, there’s a pretty big difference between the two – French can actually get right-handed hitters out. Olson’s problem as a starter is that he gets destroyed by RHBs, and opposing managers can just stack the line-up with them when he’s in the rotation. French, however, uses his change-up effectively to keep RHBs off balance – he actually ran a better BB/9 and K/9 against righties than lefties in Triple-A this year.

That won’t continue in the majors (and it hasn’t during his first few appearances), but he’s not totally hopeless against RHBs. As an exteme flyball lefty, he’s going to get the same bump from Safeco and the outfield defense that Washburn did, and while he doesn’t have as varied of an arsenal, there are reasons to expect French and Washburn to be near equals going forward.

Between French, Rowland-Smith, Vargas, and Olson, the M’s now have four LHPs who all take advantage of the cavernous left field area in Safeco Field. Odds are they’ll be able to get two quality starters out of that group, and with Felix/Snell/Morrow around, the team has options for the front of the rotation as well.

French will probably never be an all-star, but as more depth for the back-end of the rotation, and a guy who should benefit greatly from the context he’s coming to, you should be quite happy with the return.


94 Responses to “Luke French”

  1. curveballlee on July 31st, 2009 2:59 pm

    No, not Bavasi. I just like quality. And Washburn is a quality pitcher. Remember he rarely got run support in Seattle. Also, you win pennant races with quality, and unfortunately one has to pay dollars for it, and then hope the minor league system produces a few gems. Name one of the pitchers the M’s have picked up lately that will out pitch Washburn the next two seasons. (assuming health etc.) You’re buying into more of the same mediocrity. M’s will always be around 500 unless they go out and get selective proven talent.

    I tell you. It’s the same old story, just different characters. We’ll see what Jaack does next year. If he gets a bat or two, which is what we really need, then we’ll see.

  2. aaron c. on July 31st, 2009 3:05 pm

    M’s have picked up lately that will out pitch Washburn the next two seasons. (assuming health etc.)

    Luke French

  3. The Ancient Mariner on July 31st, 2009 3:05 pm

    The fact that Washburn never got run support is irrelevant to our opinion of him as a pitcher, because we’re not judging him as a pitcher on the basis of his won-lost record. We’re judging him on things like his ability to strike batters out (poor) and his batted-ball profile (not good), and the fact that his success this season is far more due to his home park, the good fielders that Zduriencik and Wakamatsu have put behind him, and luck than it is to his own ability.

    No, he’s not a “quality pitcher” — he’s a mediocre guy pitching over his head. Nothing to get excited about — and, when you consider how much he costs, nobody to build on going forward, either.

  4. curveballlee on July 31st, 2009 3:06 pm


  5. jephdood on July 31st, 2009 3:08 pm

    curveballlee.. The M’s are NOT making the playoffs this year, with or without Washburn. Therefore, his last two months to US is essentially worthless. So we traded two months of nothing for an excellent prospect in Robles, and a near clone (style-wise) of the guy you gave up. Except he is only 23 and under team control on the CHEAP for the next 6 years. AND, you can sign Washburn as a FA (if you want) next year, when this team will actually have a legitimate chance to compete for the division.

    I do not see why ANYONE could think of this trade as anything but a complete success.

  6. curveballlee on July 31st, 2009 3:09 pm

    You’re wrong on Washburn’s quality. Just ask the Tigers, a quality franchise.

  7. joser on July 31st, 2009 3:10 pm

    You know what’s the same old story? The same tired demand for “proven” (ie old and overpriced) talent. The same obsession with big bats. The same demand to spend top dollars. The Yankees have been spending top dollars, and what has that bought them? The closest thing Tampa Bay had to “proven talent” was Erick Hinske, and somehow they managed to get to the World Series.

    There are lots of ways to win, and going out and spending big bucks on “proven talent” is not the only way to do it (and it’s not guaranteed to work, either). But it is definitely the most expensive, least efficient way to attempt it.

  8. scott19 on July 31st, 2009 3:10 pm

    A team to even make it to the playoffs and survive needs veterans.

    Although the Rockies sure seemed to get some decent mileage out of rookies like Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales during their ’07 pennant stretch.

  9. Alex on July 31st, 2009 3:12 pm

    curveballlee: So you are saying it would be better to NOT have Jeff French (reasonable 4th-5th starter for cheap for 6 years?), and a solid A prospect, than to have them? Because thats basically the decision here.

    In 2 months, Washburn is a free agent. We get nothing. We cant offer him arbitration because then we’d have to pay him $12 million+ for a year. We could keep him and try to re-sign him next year, but we’d have to pay him what he is worth, the money could go to Washburn or to some other equivalent pitcher.

    The choice is: Keep washburn and have him for 2 months of a season where we are essentially out of it, or trade him to a contender and build our future. Nothing vs Prospects…you take prospects.

  10. naviomelo on July 31st, 2009 3:13 pm

    You’re wrong on Washburn’s quality. Just ask the Tigers, a quality franchise.

    What is it about jephdood’s explanation that is so difficult to understand?

  11. mw3 on July 31st, 2009 3:14 pm

    There are better bats to be had this offseason in FA than pitchers. And remember our offense would look alot better had Beltre not missed the last month.

  12. rfhansen1123 on July 31st, 2009 3:17 pm

    Seems like we have alot of candidates for the back end of the rotation

  13. curveballlee on July 31st, 2009 3:19 pm


    I’m aware of your point. But still you pay the “cheap” chances are you get the “cheap”. Also, Robles will probably never see a major league roster. There are few 5’10” 170lb starters in MLB. Mostly because of physics. You figure it out.

    Luke French may work out. But you can’t compare him at this point to Washburn. He hasn’t pitched enough on the big stage.

  14. scott19 on July 31st, 2009 3:19 pm

    @curveballlee –

    Most of those guys were Bavasi’s moves…though not Cirillo. He came in under Gillick’s watch.

  15. curveballlee on July 31st, 2009 3:21 pm

    How many championships do the yankees have? Now Seattle?

  16. SunDevil1 on July 31st, 2009 3:21 pm

    I like the trade for many of the reasons stated here. I also like what was visibile from the FO. Dave mentioned the lack of leaks from management, Baker and others commented on the poker-table skills (calculated leaks?). I think it all points to a professionally-run organization. Not everyone is going to like everything that’s done, or not done, and we’ll debate those things, but I think the people actually pulling the trigger on things are thinking about the right things. Real change. And Z makes a lot of sense talking on the radio.

  17. Alex on July 31st, 2009 3:22 pm

    Even if Washburn were legitiately an Ace, and completely deserving of his shiny ERA, you still have to trade him because youre not making the playoffs and you lose control of him at the end of the year, so you need to get value.
    In reality, he isnt an Ace, he is a decent pitcher who is aided by a great defense, large left field, and lucky home run rate on flyballs, which make him look great instead of average.

  18. mw3 on July 31st, 2009 3:23 pm

    Possible starters next year;

    RH Felix
    Gabby Hernandez

    LH Hyphen

    The depth Jack Z is putting together cannot be questioned and we have the true ace in Felix thats needed to advance in the playoffs. If the first nine months of the Z administration is going to be the norm the M’s are in good hands for years to come.

  19. tgf on July 31st, 2009 3:24 pm

    You’re wrong on Washburn’s quality. Just ask the Tigers, a quality franchise.

    Quite a convincing argument. You’ve really turned me around on this issue.

  20. joser on July 31st, 2009 3:24 pm

    Ragardless of how “quality” you think Washburn is (and he’s not), he most definitely is old. He’s having a good year and also (as predicted here in the offseason) benefiting from his outfield defense. For a team making a playoff run with a cavernous home park and a good outfield defense, he’s fine — that describes Detroit, and it described Seattle until last weekend. He’s an innings eater, but nobody — not even Detroit — mistakes him for an ace (which would be my definition of “quality”). So he’s fine for a team in Detroit’s position, especially if — as is apparently the case there — you overvalue “experience” and want that for the postseason.

    But he’s a rental, and there’s no certainty he’s even going to be back next year. Detroit won’t be getting any draft picks for him, and probably won’t re-sign him. They gave up a couple of very cheap guys with upside to get him. They want to win now, so that’s a fair deal for them; Seattle wasn’t going to the playoffs, so getting some future upside for a guy that was going to be gone at the end of the year (and was almost gone for nothing last year) is a good deal for Seattle.

    Washburn’s “quality” wasn’t going to make any difference to Seattle this year, and was evaporating after that, so turning him into prospects is a smart move — and very much atypical of the Mariners until this year. This is not the same old Mariners. At all.

  21. JJD on July 31st, 2009 3:24 pm

    Drayer tweets: Snell to start sunday for the ms

  22. mw3 on July 31st, 2009 3:26 pm

    curveballleee I can think of two starters who have a simillar body type to Robles, Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum but they shouldn’t amount to much judging by their stature.

  23. fwbrodie on July 31st, 2009 3:27 pm

    I kinda wish Snell’s first start was in Seattle or at least not Texas, but his bullpen session must have gone well.

  24. EricL on July 31st, 2009 3:32 pm

    Looks like French couldn’t get there in time, then. Sunday would have been his normal rotation.

  25. payday0023 on July 31st, 2009 3:37 pm

    Also, you win pennant races with quality, and unfortunately one has to pay dollars for it

    Like Bedard?
    Even worse, we paid an awesome CF and the newly aqcuired set-up man for power house Dodgers and a handful of other young talent for a guy who has gotten us to the playoffs zero times.

  26. Mike Snow on July 31st, 2009 3:54 pm

    Looks like French couldn’t get there in time, then. Sunday would have been his normal rotation.

    Partly that, but arguably you would rather use Snell in the Arlington bandbox anyway.

  27. joser on July 31st, 2009 3:55 pm

    Snell may turn out to be a “quality” pitcher that didn’t require top dollars because Zduriencik picked him up at the nadir of his value.

    Every time I write “quality” I wish everybody would just go (re-)read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” so we can just stop with that word.

    On another note: Did anybody catch Calabro’s interview with Zduriencik around 3:10? Salk was promoting it earlier, but I wasn’t able to listen.

  28. Luc on July 31st, 2009 3:56 pm

    Question: [off topic]

  29. Paul B on July 31st, 2009 3:58 pm

    But still you pay the “cheap” chances are you get the “cheap”.

    I read this twice, and I think maybe I understand what it is trying to say.

    If I’m right, I disagree.

    You get cheap talent anywhere you can get it, then you will have osme money left over to add or extend a more expensive veteran.

  30. Paul B on July 31st, 2009 4:01 pm

    Question: Is there a buyout option on Silva’s contract? What are our options with him to free up some market funds in the offseason? Somebody explain the Silva situation.



  31. scott19 on July 31st, 2009 4:03 pm

    I’m still wondering if the M’s can trade Silva to a Les Schwab store for a set of new tires and a side of beef.

  32. JMHawkins on July 31st, 2009 4:10 pm

    I sense a new resident in the mod queue soon.

    Looks like French couldn’t get there in time, then. Sunday would have been his normal rotation.

    Snell is probably the better pitcher, plus he’s been here long enough to pitch in front of the M’s on a normal throw day. And if you go by Salk’s opinion of Wak (aka The Dog Whisperer), getting a guy going through some head issues under Wak’s wing might be a really good idea.

    But I would bet on French taking Olson’s spot on, what, Tuesday?

  33. rsrobinson on July 31st, 2009 4:11 pm

    On another note: Did anybody catch Calabro’s interview with Zduriencik around 3:10? Salk was promoting it earlier, but I wasn’t able to listen.

    I just heard Zduriencik interviewed on the MLB Network. Nothing really groundbreaking other than saying he liked what he saw in French and that Robles was a promising prospect. When asked what his philosophy was he said “obtaining talent.”

  34. mw3 on July 31st, 2009 4:18 pm

    “Obtaining talent”

    I think it is safe to say that Jack Z is head and shoulders above any GM the M’s have had. The trades he has made from Betancourt on have amazed me and I’m more enthusiastic about the Mariners than anytime since the Griffey, Martinez, Buhner and Johnson nucleus was in it’s heyday.

  35. JMHawkins on July 31st, 2009 4:19 pm

    Lots of talk about how, after Felix, we just have a bunch of prospects for the rest of the rotation (Snell, French, RRS, Olson, Vargas, Morrow). It made me think about the following. Over the last few years, the M’s have acquired, either through expensive FA contracts or trades costing very good players, four experienced starting pitchers: Washburn, Batista, Silva and Bedard.

    Bedard has spent half his time on the DL. Batista gave us one decent season then fell apart and is in the bullpen reminded us of guys named Ayala and Slocumb. Silva gave us one good month and then, well, best not to speak of what came next. Washburn is having a good year, but to get that good year we first had to go through three years of mediocre-at-best performance paid for at ace pitcher rates.

    Starting Pitchers have high attrition rates. Prospects, vetrans, journeymen, they all have high attrition rates. Stacking up a bunch of “maybe” guys seems like a good strategy. Some will flame out, some will come through, but by getting them cheap, we can afford to get enough of them that the odds are we’ll get some quality arms in the rotation.

  36. joser on July 31st, 2009 4:23 pm

    Silva can be bought out for about $31M, ie the remaining value of his contract. He would then be free to go and pitch elsewhere (and the M’s would get about $400K off for each year that he does). Though it’s hard to believe, I’m sure some team would give him a shot if it just cost them the pro-rated league minimum.

    When asked what his philosophy was he said “obtaining talent.”

    I started to laugh at the amusing obviousness of that and then stopped when I realized how much trouble Bavasi had with it.

    Does it seem like this trade deadline was more active than past years? I’m not just talking about he M’s, which was obviously spectacularly active vs some other summers, but just all around the league — you have a Cy Young winner switching teams, the Pirates selling off everybody (and the Indians coming close), Boston flipping backup first base men and acquiring a catcher, a lot of interesting moves by teams as diverse as the Dodgers and the Twins.

  37. Scottdids on July 31st, 2009 4:24 pm

    I think Silva already ate the side of beef.

  38. lokiforever on July 31st, 2009 4:29 pm

    JMHawkins – you can add to that list Jeff Weaver and Horatio Rameriz – Experienced, previously successful pitchers that cost a lot in $’s or players or both to acquire.

  39. msb on July 31st, 2009 4:44 pm

    He’s an innings eater, but nobody — not even Detroit — mistakes him for an ace

    Lynn Herring from Detroit said much the same things as Joser above; that Wash is the classic rental; Detroit got him just so they didn’t have to rely heavily on French & Porcello in the last months, and that they’ll have no interest in re-signing him, as next year they will have better, cheaper options for the rotation.

  40. TranquilPsychosis on July 31st, 2009 6:04 pm

    And I know that most of you are sick and tired of watching Garrett Olson take the mound

    I’ve started referring to him as “the hemorrhage” as he seem to hemorrhage runs every time he takes the mound.

    Here’s hoping that French isn’t quite as bad.

  41. jmb13 on August 1st, 2009 12:06 am

    The old teenage me would have been pissed off we traded Wash, and still graspng onto the hopes of making the playoff this season. The current 21 year old me couldn’t be happier we at least got something in return. We definitely aren’t contending this year and probably won’t next year, but the minor and young major league talent and depth Jack has acquired in his first months here is extraordinary. I won’t speak for everyone, but some people seem, even while realizing the progress the new admin has made, that it has taken an extremely short time to make a huge amount of progress. While some of these moves won’t pay dividends, the ones that do will be worth “giving up” on this year and having to possibly endure another (re-) building season next year.

    And a side note, I’ve always wanted the Mariners to field one of those teams like the old Marlins and ’07 Rays that were full of a bunch of unknown names (to the casual fan) that then goes on to shock the baseball world. Those teams prove that names aren’t what matters, it’s talent and baseball business acumen. We seem to be quickly building up on both.

    And please will one of the admins tell everyone to punctuate quotes like this: .” and not this: “. Don’t know if that bothers anyone else…

  42. jmb13 on August 1st, 2009 12:09 am

    ^typos due to it being difficult to revise on the new iPhone interface.

  43. joser on August 1st, 2009 2:34 pm

    Yeah, the difference between fans and a (good) GM is the difference between hot-blooded, never-say-die optimism and cold-hearted, eye-on-the-numbers realism.

    You’re not much of a fan if you don’t think the team still has a chance almost until the end; you’re not much of a GM if act as if that was true. One operates in spite of the evidence, the other operates in light of it.

  44. hbobrien on August 3rd, 2009 1:09 am

    How many championships do the yankees have?

    In the 21st century? Just as many as Seattle — zero.

    They do have a rich history, though. They’ve lost the World Series an MLB-leading 13 times.

    Or, put another way: You can come up with a list of “The Ten Best World Series EVER!!!” — and in every single one, the Yankees lose.

    (…and I’m not sure that’d be factually incorrect.)

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