Washington Nationals: 2010 Closer Competition. Capps vs Bruney vs Storen.

"I would prefer to close," Washington Nationals' reliever Brian Bruney tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson in a new interview entitled, "Bruney eager for challenge with Nats", in which Bruney talks about not only turning the franchise's fortunes around, but also earning the role as the Nationals' ninth inning option, which the 27-year-old right-hander with the mid-to-high 90's fastball says is, "...the ultimate goal," for any reliever:

"'I think if you are not a starter, the closer is the coolest job. That's what I did from Day 1, when I got drafted. I'm sure that's what Mike Rizzo knows me as. At the end of the day, that what I feel like. I understand that Capps is a tremendous talent. I'm glad we have him. Whatever they decide to do, there will be no hard feelings about it. Whoever they choose, it's best for the team. That's what we'll do.'"

Asked why he accepted the Nationals' 1-year/$3.5 million dollar offer, free agent reliever Matt Capps told MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in another article entitled, "Capps, Nats agree to one-year deal", that there were several reasons why he decided on DC as his home, citing the DC GM Mike Rizzo's approach to signing him, and the opportunity the Nationals would offer the 26-year-old hard-throwing right-hander:

"'They are giving me an opportunity to close out the ballgame, which was important to me,' Capps added. 'I feel that is an opportunity I'm going to have. It's going to be a lot of fun in Washington. I'm looking forward to 2010 and beyond. ... If I pitch the way I know I can pitch and the team has the success they should have, it's going to be a lot of fun.'"

Uh-oh...And then there's Drew Storen...

The Washington Nationals drafted the then-21-year-old right-hander Drew Storen with their second 1st Round pick in 2009, with Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin writing in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "And With The 10th Overall Pick, the Nationals Select...", that the second-year Stanford Cardinal closer, who'd just completed a (7-1) sophomore season in which he'd walked just 8 batters (1.7 BB/9) in 42.2 IP over which he collected 66 K's (13.9 K/9) and 7 saves was, "...widely viewed as the top relief pitcher in the draft." Asked in an article by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan entitled, "More on Storen", shortly after he became the first draft pick in the majors to sign, why it was that he gravitated toward the closer's role, Storen responded:

"'I like being the guy on the mound, I like being the big winner and the big loser. I like being the guy who's responsible for what happens, and it's something I really enjoyed doing at Stanford. I'm really happy I'm going to be able to carry that on.'"

Matt Capps closed for parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh, but he struggled last season and eventually found himself non-tendered by the Pirates just two weeks back. Brian Bruney clearly views himself as a closer, but he's saved just 13 games in his six MLB seasons, with 12 of the 13 coming back in 2005 with Arizona. In his first taste of pro ball, Drew Storen tore up the Nationals' system, posting a (2-1) record with a 1.95 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 11 saves in 28 games and 37.0 IP in which he walked 8 (1.9 BB/9) and struck out 48 (11.9 K/9). 

Flatten your brims and bring your fastballs to Florida. There's going to be a fight for the closer's role.

(ed. note - "Each and every one of these players will, of course, say that they'll do what's best for the team, and I in no way think them disingenuous, but I also think each of them wants to close.")

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