Washington Nationals: Winter News, Links.

In a recent video on FOXSports.com, former DC GM Jim Bowden has the Nationals tied with their Mid-Atlantic rivals in Baltimore as the teams that have done the 5th best job of improving their roster so far this offseason on the strength of Washington's ability to sign a front line free agent starting pitcher as well as a potential closer that the Nationals hope the Pittsburgh Pirates gave up on too soon. Here's Mr. Bowden's take on his old team's improvements:

"As far as the Nationals go...I think Jason Marquis was a coup for the Nationals, tough to get him in a small market like Washington, he's one of only four pitchers in baseball to win at least 11 games and pitch 167.0 innings in each of the last six years, and they signed the best non-tender available on the free agent market, that was closer Matt Capps, who at age 26, already has 67 career saves and 29 holds, that should help solve the backend of their bullpen..."

I wrote yesterday about the three pitchers who'll be competing for the closer's role in DC come Spring Training, but according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's blog post entitled, "Guardado hopes to have impact with Nationals", veteran left-hander "Everday" Eddie Guardado would like to throw his hat in the ring as a fourth potential late-inning option. Mr. Ladson writes that, "Guardado knows what his main role," with the Nationals will be, serving as, "...a mentor to all the young relievers," but the 39-year-old lefty, "...would like to close games like he did with the Twins and Mariners, but...will most likely become a setup man." Mr. Guardado's reasons for joining Washington, as he tells Mr. Ladson:

"'The Nationals came at me like they really wanted me,' Guardado said. "They respect what I've done in the game and they respect me as a person. They are giving me a chance to get in there late in the game, getting my inning that I like -- either pitch the seventh through the ninth.

"'The Nationals came to me with open arms and I really respect that. I said, 'You know what: I kind of like that idea. They are giving me a chance to close again. I still have the heart to play. That's the biggest thing."

So make that four pitchers who are heading into the Washington Nationals' 2010 Spring Training with hopes of winning the closer's role...Brian Bruney, Matt Capps, Drew Storen and Eddie Guardado...

I know a few Pirates fans came over to Federal Baseball yesterday to join in the conversation about the players who have moved back and forth between PIttsburgh and Washington in the last year, here's what those that didn't join in the discussion here had to say about the interview I did with the SB Nation's Pirates blog: Bucs Dugout - "Washington Nationals vs Pittsburg Pirates."

• With Mark DeRosa reportedly agreeing to a deal with the San Francisco Giants and Kelly Johnson close to a deal with the Diamondbacks, the Washington Nationals' search for a middle infielder must be narrowing down some...If they're looking to the free agent ranks to provide for them, as of now it's Ronnie Belliard, Orlando Hudson, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Nick Green, Mark Loretta, Pablo Ozuna and Juan Uribe available as options at second, according to MLBTraderumors.com's Tim Dierkes' free agent list and Alfredo Amezaga, Orlando Cabrera, Chris Gomez, Khalil Greene and Miguel Tejada the shortstops who still remain on the market...(ed. note - "No, I'm not going to consider Felipe Lopez as an option.")...or is Eric Bruntlett the middle infielder Washington was looking for to back up both Cristian Guzman and Ian Desmond?

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