Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Healthy perspective helps Stammen

US Presswire photo
Craig Stammen posted an 0.87 ERA in seven big-league appearances last season.
VIERA, Fla. -- It's easy to forget now, because of the emergence of Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann and the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson, but Craig Stammen was the Nationals' No. 3 starter only two years ago.

Yep, look it up. On April 8, 2010, Stammen started the Nationals' third game of the season, behind John Lannan and Jason Marquis. He went on to start 19 games that year (third-most on the club behind Livan Hernandez and Lannan) duplicating the number of times he took the mound as a rookie in 2009.

At times, Stammen has been quite effective; he's allowed three earned runs or fewer in 23 of 38 career starts. At times, he's been quite hittable; he failed to go more than five innings in 13 of those 38 starts.

Stammen's inconsistencies, coupled with the arrivals of several starters with loftier pedigrees, forced him to the bullpen last season. But he responded with perhaps his best (and most consistent) performance to date: In seven relief appearances for the Nationals, he posted a sparkling 0.87 ERA.

Which should at least put the 27-year-old right-hander in an advantageous position this spring, given a strong shot to crack the club's Opening Day bullpen.

Except the Nationals are overstocked with qualified relievers, leaving Stammen as something of an odd man out. In all likelihood, he'll open the season as a starter at Class AAA Syracuse. But in all likelihood, the Nationals will need him to pitch out of the bullpen in the big leagues at some point in 2012.

The whole situation leaves Stammen with somewhat mixed feelings. On one hand, he's happy the organization has improved so much since he debuted during a brutal, 103-loss season in 2009. On the other hand, he wishes he was being given more of an opportunity to help this suddenly competitive-looking club.

"I'm a competitive person," he said this morning. "I always want to show them what I can do. But I think the players we've gotten have proven they can pitch in the big leagues. And I don't think I've necessarily been able to do that, or been given the chance to do that. So I can't really complain or feel like I'm slighted or anything. All I can do is be happy with the opportunity I get and take advantage of it."

What opportunity will Stammen get this spring to prove his worth? Well, it's hard to know for sure. He's one of 10 starting pitchers in camp who need to be stretched out over the next month, but he's way down the depth chart and thus will be used exclusively out of the bullpen.

For now, Stammen is slated to follow John Lannan Monday night against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, probably getting two or three innings of work. After that, it's anybody's guess.

"I'm pretty sure they have a plan," he said. "They just haven't told us."

Is that a difficult spot to be in, not knowing whether you need to prepare to be a starter or reliever, or whether you're likely to open the year in the big leagues or in Syracuse?

"Nah, not really," he said. "I can't control how many innings they let me pitch. What I can control is how well I do in those innings. I mean, I'm used to it. I've done this the last couple of spring trainings, where I didn't know if I was going to be a starter or in the bullpen. Last year, I was a bullpen guy the whole spring training. And then with 10 days left, I was a starter going back to Triple-A, and I had to build up my arm to be able to pitch five innings in 10 days. It is what it is."

That about best sums up Stammen's personality. A 12th-round pick in the 2005 draft out of the University of Dayton, he's a bit of an overachiever. He came out of nowhere in 2009 to crack the Nationals' rotation following a slew of injuries, and he's always seemed to have a healthy perspective on his situation.

That positive attitude and perspective probably makes Stammen even more valuable to the organization. Others in his situation might grumble about their uncertain role or complain about being the guy on the staff most likely to spend his summer bouncing back and forth between the majors and minors.

Stammen, though, seems to appreciate the spot he's in. And he's more than willing to do whatever the Nationals want, as long as it includes another opportunity to make his mark on the game's biggest stage.

"I think I have a good understanding of the privilege it is to be a Major League Baseball player," he said. "Not necessarily that I'm just happy to be here and I'm satisfied with just being on the team. Because I want to do well and I want to win a World Series for this team.

"But I think you have to have a level of humility to fully appreciate what's going on here, so years from now you can fully appreciate how much work you put in and how well you did and how much effort it takes to play at this level."

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

We had an interesting day in Viera today looking for 2/3 of the Washington Nationals team. We drove 2000 miles for Spring Training and hustled over to Space Coast from Kissimmee for the workouts. We will see 15 games and will have a great time. The only point I am making is that it would not be too difficult to let people know that only 1/3 will be practicing outside Space Coast Stadium as well as the accelerated group at the Quads.Oh yes none of the staff around seemed to know what the scoop was either. A little PR would have satisfied the group circling looking for someone who had a name they recognized. Have not seen that in my 5 years visiting ST. I will be able to find them starting on Friday right Mark!

Anonymous said...

if any nats fan do not know what they inverted w is,just look at that picture of stammen,the inverted w makes your forarm get vertical late,causing increased and more violent exteral rotation of the arm,causing injuries.pitchers like halladay,maddux,lee,sabathia,randy johnson have forarms vertical at footplant,science has proven this prevents arm injuries.thats why pitchers come in all shapes and sizes.

Ztown17 said...

Anon is right, the inverted w is dangerous because it puts so much pressure on the throwing elbow/shoulder to get in the correct arm slot that the arm has to violently whip all the way around for each pitch. I'd say looking at a picture of roy halladay is the perfect model for what a healthy pitcher's arm action should look like. This is something coaches should be pointing out to their pitchers-otherwise stammen will probably need tommy john down the road. sad.

JaneB said...

Thanks for the pitching arm tutorial. I'm grateful to know about it.

MicheleS said...

For those of you that need some fun video, hit Mark's link above on Beast Mode! He just cracks me up.

Mark.. tell Kelly thanks for the Viera posts!

Anonymous said...

For those of you that need some fun video, hit Mark's link above on Beast Mode! He just cracks me up.
-------

I tried 3 times. The commercial plays fine (as always) but then the video itself cuts out after 2 seconds. I'm not going to keep watching the commercial to get to the video.

sm13 said...

On topic, I hope Stamen gets some time in DC this year to prove himself. He did pitch well out of the pen last year. His sinker is absolutely major league caliber. And, he seem like really nice guy.

baseballswami said...

I got the video to play - keep trying, it's worth it!

SweetBlues said...

On another topic-- does anyone know when we get the NI code for single game tix?

SweetBlues said...

On another topic-- does anyone know when we get the NI code for single game tix?

SweetBlues said...

On another topic-- does anyone know when we get the NI code for single game tix?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

SweetBlues Echo ...
(great name for a rock band, btw)

You should have gotten an email more or less right away.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Assuming you're talking about the Phillies games, that is.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Also, Anon 7:14, thanks for drawing attention to the picture of Stammen and the -- why don't they just call it an M? -- inverted W.

For some reason, that's the first illustration and explanation that was clear to me.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Several posts back,Sunderland said...
Sec 3, what's the deal with the shuffling avatar picture thingys? I hate to ask to have things explained and force you to make me feel like a moron, but I'll take that risk for both of us.
FWIW - I miss the typing monkey.
FYI - I killed my logo picture thing in a paranoid attempt to keep Google from controlling my every thought.
February 29, 2012 4:30 PM



You know Google made you delete that, don't you?

I just switch them out for fun sometimes. The typing bonobo (not a monkey--and nevermind what a bonobo would be typing about--he makes a living, is the point) is an icon I've used for a long time, almost a family tradition. I switched as a half-in-jest/fully-in-earnest response to the complaint from some that using pseudonyms is the same as being anonymous, which is demonstrably false, but nevermind that for now. As Drew among others noted, there is a theme there, which the current image continues. The TBird was just me playing around, one more way to make a metacomment. It's faster to switch pics than to post a comment this long, or any comment using the ill-considered double-captcha.

And no one can make you feel like a moron without your cooperation. If you're being run out of town, go to the front and make like it's a parade. You play this game with fear and arrogance.

SweetBlues said...

Evidently- I messed up something-
registered (again) with NI weeks ago.

SweetBlues said...

For clarification- on the Nats website- the link for the tix takes you to an MLB site.. I signed up there
& then linked to NI Facebook... ??
I missed a step?
Man, I hate that all this web stuff has me messing up getting tix. Aurgh. Stoopid Google.

Anonymous said...

The internet is a wonderful thing. I read the comment at the top about Stammen and the inverted W. And I thought, why "inverted W," why not just "M?" Well, sure enough, there is a whole Web page specifically dedicated to explaining the origin of the term "inverted w." too bad the explanation is too difficult for me to quickly summarize here, or else I'd do it.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Ok. I see what you did there. : )

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Did a quick google myself. I do hope you weren't referring to this:

"Some people have asked why it isn't called an inverted 'M'. This is not just a font-based issue. The key here is not the 'W,' it is the inverted position of the arm. The 'W' is just a method of describing the inversion. Simply calling this an 'M' does not do justice to the inversion of the arm in this and similar positions."
www.texasleaguers.com/inverted-w

Wally said...

I've always liked Stammen. I feel that he has had some bad luck when he has had a chance. To give some teeth to that comment, the advanced stats like him better than the traditional ones. In about 240 career innings, his ERA is just under 5, but his FIP and xFIP are almost a full run better. And he is credited with about 2.5 WAR over those innings. Not world beating stats, certainly, but also not someone expected to spend the year in AAA.

But he doesn't have much of a role with us, and he might have more trade value to a team which relies more on sabremetric analysis than us, like Theo or the Pods or LAA. He could maybe bring back a platoon player or back up MI, like Byrd or Izturis.

Anonymous said...

No - I was referring to this: http://www.drivelinebaseball.com/2011/09/08/why-its-called-the-inverted-w-and-not-the-m/

Doc said...

An interview with Storen might help clarify some of the issues with the 'inverted W'. He's been working with a small foot mechanism on the mound that helps keep the body back, and frees the arm from the arm stress that we see in Stammen's motion.

It'll be interesting to watch SS and JZim this year to see if they've made adjustments in their delivery. This TJ stuff can be avoided with the correct training and coaching support.

Anonymous said...

Has the code for presale been released yet. I have been a NI for years, however haven't received an email with any information. If its already out there, can someone share it with me. Thanks.

NukeinBeantown said...

Right. Fear and ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Presale password = insider

NatsNut said...

hey 1a, loved the Brandon McCarthy article. Good catch.

natsfan1a said...

Glad you enjoyed it, NatsNut. Interesting how, after he'd embraced sabermetrics, he wound up with the A's.

Anonymous said...

If Stammen doesn't make it as a pitcher he might pull an Ankiel. I remember him as a very competent bunter and hitter

Anonymous said...

About the inverted W - If it really was "proven by science" that it causes injuries, no pitcher in this age of pitch counts and innings limits would ever be allowed on a mound with that action.

What "science" proves this?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

@Anon 10:38 -- thanks, that is very useful.

And apparently the science isn't all that settled, at least not according to this particular expert:

"We can debate and discuss whether or not Paul’s findings and/or teachings through SETPRO led to destroyed arms (I used to think that his teachings were harmful; today I believe that pitching mechanics aren’t that simple to understand) but the reality is that there’s really not enough research to even come to a reasonable conclusion. There are research studies showing that a more extended elbow at foot contact leads to lower humeral torques, but mechanical tweaks like this can cause kinks in the sequencing of body parts in an efficient kinetic chain."

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