Washington Nationals: Monday At The Winter Meetings.

According to The Bill James Handbook 2010 Pitcher Projections, if Brian Bruney finds a role in the Nationals' bullpen, be it as a closer or somewhere in set-up or middle relief, DC fans can expect the 27-going-on-28-year-old right-hander to throw about 50.0 innings and allow 45 hits and 5 HR's, while walking 34, striking out around 48 and posting a (3-3) record with a 4.88 ERA. The year 2000 D-Backs' draft pick, (when DC GM Mike Rizzo was out there), who was released by Arizona in '06, signed by New York shortly thereafter and then today traded to Washington, D.C. told Washington Post writer Chico Harlan (in a welcome return) in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Bruney wants the chance to close", that, (and get this, cause it's all kinds of backwards):

"'I felt like New York was a good stepping stone with lots of pressure-filled situations. But to be honest, I had talked to my agent and I said, 'I can't wait to get to the place where I can try and close somewhere.'"

Whether or not he imagined Washington as that hypothetical "somewhere" Mr. Bruney does not say. Nationals' Skipper Jim Riggleman does, however, offer his opinion on his late-game options to Mr. Harlan, who quotes the full-time manager stating that, "As we sit here right now it's undetermined who would be our closer." That's got to be good news to Mike MacDougal and Drew Storen who no doubt have designs on the closer's role...

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• Garland Is A Target.

• Riggleman On The Radio.

BACKPAGE: 

• Garland Is A Target.

I mentioned yesterday that ESPN.com's Peter Gammons was reporting on the fact that Washington was talking to free agent pitcher Jon Garland's agent, Craig Landis and also noted that only a few days earlier DC GM Mike Rizzo had told MLB.com's Bill Ladson just a few days earlier in an article entitled, "PItching is a focus for Nats at Meetings", that he didn't see the Nationals, "...going after that super free agent like Matt Holliday or Jon Garland." Luckily things were cleared up this afternoon, as Bill Ladson sent out two Tweets from the Meetings which read:

"General manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals have interest in right-hander Jon Garland."

"The news comes a week after Mike Rizzo told MLB.com that he didn't see the Nats going after Jon Garland."

In MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article on the the Nationals' now-clearly-stated-interest in Garland entitled, "Nats eye free agents Garland, Ausmus", Mr. Rizzo tells Mr. Ladson:

"We have interest in Jon Garland. We have the whole time," Rizzo said. "He is one of the 10 names we have talked about the whole winter."

Well at least we know the list that Washington Post writer Chico Harlan published in his Nationals Journal post entitled, "Reading Material, Shopping Lists" was fairly accurate:

"Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf, John Lackey, Cliff Lee, Jon Garland, Kevin Millwood, Tim Hudson, Brad Penny, Joel Piñeiro, Braden Looper, Jarrod Washburn, Brandon Webb, Brett Myers, John Smoltz and more."

(ed. note - "If you aren't following MLB.com's Bill Ladson (twitter.com/washingnats), the NatsTownNews, (twitter.com/NatsTownNews) or the Washington Times' writers Ben Goessling and Mark Zuckerman, (twitter.com/washtimesbb), you're really missing out, they had the Bruney trade out to fans a good 30-40 minutes before it was reported anywhere else...Well, actually I think the New York Post's Joel Sherman (twitter.com/nyp_joelsherman), had it first, but I doubt they're will be any more deals with NY teams...Do not trade the Hammer to the Mets, Rizzo...") 

• Riggleman On The Radio.

• DC Manager Jim Riggleman appeared on XM's Inside Pitch with Casey Stern and Buck Martinez, where he told the two announcers that he knew the Washington had their, "...work cut out for them," in 2010, but the team, "...had a good draft last year, we hope to have another good draft this year, and just keep accumulating talent," in the hope that, "...that talent will manifest itself eventually in a lot of wins. We owe it to our fans, they've been great, they've been very supportive, very enthusiastic in Washington, so we want to get them some wins."

• Mr. Riggleman says it was important to get the time in as the interim manager that he did at the end of the '09 campaign because he was able to see, "...parts of our ballclub come up, you know, those September call-ups, prospect-type guys, I got to see them, I got to see our regulars. I got to see guys in different positions...move some people around. Guys hitting in different parts of the lineup, what makes guys tick, you get to know the players, and you know, just the moods of the players, the ebbs and flow, and all that was huge, cause a lot of things they got to learn about me are out of the way also..."

• Buck Martinez asks Mr. Riggleman what the future holds for Jesus Flores? In Mr. Riggleman's opinion, "...that's a huge point," because Flores, "...is important part to our lineup. He's a good catcher, our pitchers like throwing to him, he's a leader behind the plate, but he's a big part of our lineup offensively. So, he's a question mark. Physically, we hear that he may be ready mid-Spring-Training...but you know how that is...as a manager you have to live by Murphy's Law a little bit, so we have to operate in a manner of, well maybe he won't be ready. So, we've probably got to try to fortify our catching a little bit here, you know, during the meetings."

Ian Desmond? Buck Martinez says that Desmond looked like he was, "...made to play in the big leagues." Riggleman's impression of the potential starting shortstop? "Ian really played well for us in September. Tim Foli was his manager in Triple-A, and Tim said, 'You know the guy can make all the plays.' He's really, after the '08 season, for whatever reason, I think there was an injury involved, in '08, '08 was a little bit lost year for him, so in '09 the expectations were not as high, but he came out of nowhere, reestablished himself as maybe our best position prospect...came to the big leagues and played very well, hit some balls out of the ballpark, displayed a great arm, good hands, good range, he's just got to settle down a little bit, make the routine play a little more consistently, but you would be willing to live with the few mistakes that he might make because he's an extraordinary athlete."

• How important is adding experienced players like Brian Bruney to the Nationals' locker room? "That's always important," according to Mr. Riggleman, "...if you can get those guys, that's big. And as you said, Bruney has been in some big ballgames, I don't think that we're going to be able to put him in a situation that's going to intimidate him after where he's pitched, but, you know, we had that last year, a guy like Ronnie Villone, was a great presence on our ballclub. Ronnie pitched in big ballgames throughout his career, and any time you can get those kind of guys to mentor some of your other players it's huge, and we'll always welcome those kind of guys in our clubhouse."

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