Oh good morning, Mr. Stammen. Going....down? (No not like this. Like this!)
Craig Stammen might have made this a moot point yesterday but the question remains - with Strasburg coming up, someone has to go down. The question is who? It's pretty easy to narrow down the suspects since there are only 5 men currently in the rotation so let's take a look at each of them from most likely to least likely. Thoroughness is the name of the game.
Positives (to kicking him out of the rotation): As nominally the 5th starter - it's his spot in the rotation Strasburg would be technically jumping into. Fancy stats say he's cruisin' for a bruisin' (xFIP of 5.75). Does not have great stuff (21BB and 16K in 44 innings) and has shown no real dominance even in best games. Only one call-up so far, has plenty of options.
Negatives: #1 round talent (at least according to where he was drafted). 4 out of last 5 starts, and 6 out of 8 were good. Fancy stats have been saying the same thing about Lannan for years.
Positives: Worst results of anyone currently on staff (5.88 ERA only one win). Seemingly puts up a stinker every other time on the mound. Had 19 starts last year and is only seemingly worse in 2010 - could be time to cut cord.
Negatives: Might have best stuff of anyone currently on staff (30K and only 16BB in almost 60 IP). Fancy stats say he's going to get better (xFIP 4.15) His best games are better than the best games of the other guys.
Positives: Last one up, first one down, right? Least disruptive move. If they thought highly of him would have been up already. Oldest and least "prospect-like". Another low K who has to rely on low walk rates.
Negatives: Pitched well in AAA this year and last. Pitched decent in the majors last year. Shouldn't the team reward performance?
Positives: Fancy stats don't look at him kindly either (xFIP 5.14). Given his age, contract, and track record of success could bring back something nice in a deal (since sending him down really isn't an option). Had a minor injury earlier in the year and you know how Nats are with injuries.
Negatives: Fancy stats have never looked at him kindly, hasn't stopped him so far. Given his age, contract, and track record, he's kind of the type of guy you want on this team - at the very least to provide stability and innings.
Positives: The Nats would be striking while the iron was superheated to the point where not a single degree more could be transferred to the iron without it immediately transforming to a gaseous state. Livan is cheap and a known commodity with a decent track record, a deal for him as he's pitching now could also bring in something nice.
Negatives: He's LIVAN! You don't get rid of Livan! Trading him and fans might think you are "giving up" on this season. Given Lannan's arm issues, Livan may be the only sure thing to eat up innings on the staff.
What do I think? While a trade is super-intriguing, I would send down Stammen. I know he's got the best stuff but that's not saying much and I'm not a stuff person - I'm a results person. Thirty starts into his major league career Stammen has shown poor results. His AAA career is also not encouraging. He did have a 1.80 ERA in his last stint, but it was probably not coincidently when he had his lowest K rate. Prior to that he had a decent K-rate but an ERA over 8.00 across 2 years. This seems to suggest he can't have success utilizing the raw talent he may possess. If he has to be a Lannan or Atilano or JD Martin to maybe succeed in the majors, well the Nats already have a Lannan, Atilano and Martin in the majors doing ok. At 26 with Olsen and Marquis and Zimmermann and Wang and whoever else waiting in the wings, there's only so much time you can get to translate talent into results.