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Reviewing the Jarrod Washburn/Luke French/Mauricio Robles Trade

Somewhere around a year ago, I ripped into Chuck Armstrong. I mean, I really ripped into him. The Mariners and Twins had agreed on a Jarrod Washburn trade that, for whatever reason, Armstrong saw fit to nix, and in the midst of a disaster of a season, that was enough to set me off. I can't remember the last time I so vividly felt the cold elixir of fury coursing through my veins. That was a bad day to know Jeff.

Now, I'm not going to apologize. I meant everything I said, and it was an unforgivable decision that hurt both our talent level in the future and our financial flexibility in 2009. Had we been able to spend the Washburn money elsewhere over this past offseason, there's no telling what the team would look like or where it would be in the standings.

But what I will say is that I never, never in my wildest dreams, could've imagined the whole situation going on to still work out as well as it did. Had I known that the potential for this sort of move would exist down the road, I doubt I would've flipped out to the egregious extent that I did.

Jack Zduriencik killed it. Leading up to the deadline, there'd been rumblings that we'd have to settle for a weak package if we moved Washburn, and that there was a chance we wouldn't even move him at all. Between those rumors and the Jack Wilson/Ian Snell maneuver, I think a lot of people were preparing themselves to be less than ecstatic. So to wake up to something like this - something so out-and-out wonderful - I don't think anyone ever lost faith in the Zduriencik front office, but it's hard not to feel like they just redeemed themselves. For what? I don't know. But their stock just keeps rising.

For his part, I'd like to thank Jarrod Washburn for his efforts. Obviously there's no hiding the fact that I've never been a fan, but his improvement this year played a big part in keeping the Mariners in the hunt for so long, and even when he wasn't getting good results, he's always been an honest person and an excellent interview. I'm thrilled that he's gone, but I do wish him well in Detroit. They'll be happy to have him, and in a league where LAnaheim, Boston, and New York look like virtual postseason sure things, there's a good chance I'm not yet done rooting for Jarrod to succeed.

As for the return...well, what a return. We'll start with Luke French. French never really impressed a whole lot early on in his professional career, but this year something changed and his numbers took off. Facing the highest levels of competition he's ever seen, French chopped his walk rate and started to strike some batters out, turning him from generic lefty prospect to prospect with upside. No, his ceiling isn't very high. Lefties who top out around 91 without any extraordinary secondary offerings don't turn into big league stoppers very often. But what French gives us is a lefty who throws more strikes and misses more bats than Jarrod Washburn right now, and he's under cheap team control for another six years. Six years! For all those people who wanted to see Washburn get an extension - he kind of just did, for six years and little money, with the only catch being that he also becomes more than a decade younger.

French - like Jason Vargas - is the sort of young player the league seems to be underrating right now, that being a guy with little upside but a good deal of certainty. He's perfectly capable of giving us a bunch of cheap years of #3/4-level performance, and that gives us an advantage. This is a team that, barring something unforeseen, won't have to worry about paying money to fill out the back of its rotation. We're pretty much set, which will allow Zduriencik to turn his attention towards fixing the lineup.

High-80s heater, low-80s change, high-70s slider, balls in the air - we've seen this package work before, and now we'll get to see it try to work again, for next to nothing. That's terrific.

I would've been more than happy to trade Washburn for French alone. The fact that we got Mauricio Robles as well just takes this from good trade to beer-at-12-on-a-Friday worthy. Robles is a 20 year old kid who's striking out more than a batter an inning against high-A competition. I'd describe him as a live arm with a good fastball and developing secondary stuff, but while that sounds like the scouting report of pretty much any Latino pitcher in the low minors, what makes Robles more notable is the fact that he's having success at what is, for a guy his age, an advanced level. Yes, he has yet to perfect his curve. Yes, his change has a long way to go before it's a weapon. But Robles has taken it up a notch in 2009, and when you see a kid suddenly improve his strikeout rate by 33% and succeed against higher competition, you get excited. Robles may not go anywhere, but he's already made excellent progress, and he has it in him to turn into a power starter or high-leverage reliever down the road. He's a better arm than any we gave away to Pittsburgh.

When I went to bed last night, I wasn't sure what to expect from Zduriencik with regards to the whole Washburn situation. Turns out that had little to do with the M's wanting to keep Washburn around and everything to do with our front office just not letting anything slip. To the critique that they overplayed their hand, Zduriencik and company just issued a most delicious rebuttal.

We are in excellent hands.