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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 31, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Here’s the skinny on 6-4, 220-pound Luke French


Snap judgment: Good deal for Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners. They get a pitcher for their rotation, and they get a minor-leaguer with upside, for a guy that will be a free agent after the season. Once you conclude that the Mariners are out of playoff contention — and it would take a miracle for them to make the postseason this year — it was prudent to deal Washburn. And this is a good haul.

Washburn is scheduled to start for the Tigers against Baltimore on Tuesday at Comerica Park. I wish Washburn well — he was a stand-up guy, always good to deal with (even when he was mad at me for including him on a list of the 10 worst free-agent signings in Mariners’ history.). That story was written in June of 2007. I’ll say this, Jarrod: If I wrote it now, you would not be on it. His transformation this year has been nothing short of amazing, and I give him full credit for re-inventing himself at age 34 (he turns 35 on Aug. 13).

Since Luke French is the guy we’re going to see first — I saw him last week in Detroit and remember being impressed; he seemed to have poise and good stuff — I’ll concentrate on him

  • says: “Big-bodied, durable left-hander with fringe stuff across three pitch arsenal.” That doesn’t exactly make him sound like Randy Johnson, but I’ve heard better appraisals than that.

  • Here are his minor-league stats.

  • Keith Law of ESPN seems lukewarm: Seattle traded Washburn for a modest return, although it’s not unreasonable for just two months of a pitcher who has been hit-lucky and has no track record of pitching at this level for any extended period of time. French, who was eligible but unselected in December’s Rule 5 Draft, has a fringe-average fastball/slider combo with a chance for an average changeup and has become an extreme fly-ball pitcher since coming to the majors. That might work in a big ballpark with a good defensive outfield like Detroit or Seattle, although I wouldn’t be wild about having him if I were the White Sox or Rangers. Mauricio Robles is a short left-hander with an above-average fastball but no comparable secondary pitch. He’s got plus control, but there aren’t many 160-pound starters in the majors, and from his height (about 5-foot-10), he has a hard time working down in the zone to avoid fly balls.

  • Here’s something from the Booth Newspapers.

  • Here’s a story in the Detroit Free Press about French out-dueling Zach Greinke for his first major-league win.

  • Bleacher Reports chimes in: Luke French does not fire the hardest fastball, have the sharpest break, or possess Greg Maddux-type pinpoint control.

    He simply takes care of business more often than not.

    But the same article concludes: French is more likely to rest in the same one-hit wonder category as the 1990’s band Spacehog, rather than achieve a legendary status like Metallica.

  • Here’s the Detroit Free Press story on the trade.

  • Former Mariner Rod Allen’s assessment of French (Allen is now a Tiger broadcaster): I think it’s always an advantage for the pitcher when the opposing team is seeing him for the first time. But after that, good big league hitters will make adjustments, and French will have to do the same. I think one of the things that has helped him is the fact that he changes speeds and he keeps the ball out of the middle of the plate. I think the combination of him being new and his ability to throw a breaking ball or a change-up when he’s behind in the count has helped him tremendously. It’s also a major advantage having a veteran catcher like Gerald Laird to help lead French every step of the way.

    Now he has Rob Johnson and Kenji Johjima to lead him.

  • Sporting News weighs in.

  • I found this story on Lexis-Nexis, from the Dec. 19, 2008 Leicester Mercury in the UK. Obviously, not the same Luke French. In fact, after reading this entire story, which appears to be written in English, I’m not even sure what sport they’re talking about. Soccer, I suppose:

    Tudor turned the tables in stunning style on Barcabullona in the MR Sports Premier Division to avenge a 9-1 defeat three weeks ago.

    A double from Fitzgerald and goals from Bedford and Edwards secured a 4-2 away victory.

    Only five Hinckley Sunday League teams survive in this season’s County Cup competitions.

    Three late goals in the last 10 minutes put paid to Prince of Wales’ hopes in the Premier Cup as they were beaten 6-2 at home to Anstey Swifts.

    In the Junior Cup, a brace from Hodgkinson helped Robinson Garage into the next round as they beat Wigston United 5-1 at home.

    In the Shield, Gilmorton just missed out by the odd goal at Birstall Stamford, losing 4-3, despite being gifted two own goals to add to Rowe’s strike.

    In the Trophy, Galaxy All Stars could have no complaints, crashing 8-1 at home to Exeter Arms.

    In the Vase, Balloonatics had to rely on a penalty shoot-out before going through. All square at 1-1 after full-time and with no goals in extra-time, Balloonatics kept their nerve to win 6-5 on spot-kicks against Guthlaxton Old Boys.

    In the same competition, Plough Inn Bruntingthorpe lost 3-1 at Sileby, with Pratt scoring a late consolation.

    All the County Cup matches postponed last weekend have been re-scheduled for Sunday.

    There were lots of goals in the PWS Distribution of Leicester Division Three.

    Top scorers were Enderby Social who hammered JCC Baracuda 12-0 at home, with Tom Martin (5) and Lee Taylor (3) leading the spree.

    Hat-tricks from Luke French and Wykes steered Swan and Hove to a 10-0 win at Dunton and Broughton.

    (Photo by McClatchy newspapers)

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