Inventory. The word of the year.
Who knows if Brian Bruney will ever pan out as the Nats' closer. His track record warrants no certainties. Now mind you, Bruney hasn't closed games with any regularity since 2005, so these numbers might be of limited usefulness... but I present them anyway, more to force a comparison and a memory. Lifetime, Bruney is 13 for 22 in save opportunities. Lifetime, Joel Hanrahan is 14 for 23. And in a way, Bruney's addition is a savvy one because of the lessons left behind by Hanrahan's struggles in '09.
There's no need to rehash the ugly details of Washington's closer spot last year. The problem wasn't so much Hanrahan; it was that the Nats had no fall-back options -- a stunning oversight, given Hanrahan's thin track record.
I have a little file folder of old interviews, and after today's Bruney acquisition, I dug up something that Manny Acta, then the Nats manager, said on Feb. 15 of this year. He sounds like a weatherman, setting up on a beach that's several hours shy of getting hit by a hurricane.
"It was a luxury for this ballclub these last few years coming into camp having Cordero, Rauch and Ayala and the discovery of Saul a couple years ago, too. Despite our shortcomings, very few teams had a bullpen like we had. And now, three of those guys on the backend are gone and the kids that pitched well last year, it was their first time around and you still don't know. That will be the toughest challenge here to put together a quality bullpen."
And as for Hanrahan deserving the closer's job?
"Ready or not, he's getting it. We liked what we saw last year. Joel made big strides going back to two years ago, and we like him. He's got the stuff. He's gonna get that opportunity here. He is our closer right now."
And if Hanrahan fails?
"Well, you know, we'd have to mix and match. But you know what, right now, it's too premature."
So, Bruney is another option for this year's ballclub. He might be option 1A, or maybe 1B, or maybe 2. Maybe he's just an eighth inning guy. But either way, he's a better option for the final three outs than Ron Villone, Kip Wells or Julian Tavarez.
"Well, you know, the lessons from last year -- you have to go into spring training with a full complement, an inventory of pitching," Mike Rizzo said today. "You can never have enough pitching. You can never have enough good power arms."
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