Monday, June 29, 2009

More Moves

Scott Olsen in, Shairon Martis to Syracuse

It was inevitable that Scott Olsen was going to take someone's spot. The assumption was that it should be Jesus Colome's spot, moving Stammen to the bullpen, and that made sense based on Colome's numbers. However, Stammen is just beginning to get comfortable as a starter. He is still prone to the big inning, but is striking batters out at a reasonable rate and getting to the seventh inning occasionally. Stammen will be removed from the rotation at some point, but more likely to be shut down for the season.

Martis, on the other hand, has been laboring mightily since his shutout of the Cardinals May 2nd. He has basically been the right-handed Barry Zito. He isn't striking anyone out, he's walking too many, and he is throwing too many pitches per inning. His stuff is not unacceptable; he has just gotten into the habit of nibbling and isn't consistently hitting his spots. The demotion will give him a chance to pitch more aggressively without the fear of getting pounded by the likes of Raul Ibanez.

The key here, believe it or not, is keeping Colome on the roster. He is more or less scrap heap, so he has no trade value and the Nats don't really have a stake in whether or not they abuse him. Joel Hanrahan, on the other hand, has some potential and trade value. He is still young, and if he can get his slider/changeup worked out (right now they are the same pitch), his fastball will not be pounded. Whether or not Hanrahan is hurting is irrelevant (though his workload last year is daunting); the Nationals do not want him to be perceived as a AAAA pitcher, especially since he cannot be demoted to AAA to work on his stuff. In the meantime, the Nats will want to work him into low leverage situations and limit his innings. Having Colome around will allow them to do that.

Odds are, Hanrahan will be back to his 2008 form sometime before next season. Martis will find his way back to the rotation soon enough, whether it's because Hanrahan gets moved, Colome get demoted, somebody gets hurt, etc. He is a baby by starting pitcher standards and the time on the farm will be better for his long term health.

I give this move a B+, actually. They had no choice bringing Olsen back, and showed some decent foresight protecting two of their better assets.

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