July 31, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Lynn Henning: Analysis

Losing Robles in Washburn deal could be costly for Tigers

Tigers fans should delight in the Jarrod Washburn trade.

For the next two months.

After that, prepare to take a long, anguished bite on a lead bullet, because Mauricio Robles has a chance at being for Seattle what Jair Jurrjens has been for the Atlanta Braves.

Robles, a left-hander, is that good.

Fans don't pay much attention to the minor leagues, particularly to the lower rungs, but they should -- and for this reason.

Robles is 20 years old. He was promoted earlier this year from Single A West Michigan to Single A Lakeland. That's a big step for a kid who can't yet buy a drink.

And yet he has flourished. He has 40 strikeouts in 35 innings and only 14 walks. He had a 4-2 record and a 3.60 earned-run average.

He would have been pitching next year at Double A Erie and probably a year or so later in Detroit, barring injury.

That's why the Mariners happily sent Washburn to Detroit rather than bite on any of the other drooling suitors who wanted to pry away Washburn for the remainder of this season (he becomes a free agent this autumn).

The Mariners wanted Robles. Luke French, the other pitcher the Tigers included in today's deal, is a solid, light-tossing finesse pitcher who has a role in the big leagues, probably in long relief.

But it was Robles that made today's deal possible. And it will be Robles that Tigers fans may dread having lost in the years ahead.