It's reasonably safe to assume the Nationals' bullpen makeover is done at this point -- I'm making that bold claim based on nothing more than the fact that I have a hard time seeing who else they can add -- so let's look at what they'll likely be heading into the season with, compared to what they had last year.
Last year, you'll remember, was when Jim Bowden decided to take his chances on kids who'd burnished their resumes in September 2008. The Nationals entered the season hoping the likes of Joel Hanrahan, Steven Shell and Mike Hinckley would get them by; and as soon as he replaced Bowden, Rizzo began signing veterans to alleviate what he saw as a big problem, throwing as many figurative sandbags on the riverbank as he could before the flood came.
The Nationals entered the season with the following group, a mix of young guys and spring acquisitions:
Closer: Joel Hanrahan
Setup man: Joe Beimel
Late-inning relievers: Steven Shell, Saul Rivera
Lefty specialists: Mike Hinckley, Wil Ledezma
Long reliever/mop-up: Julian Tavarez
None of those players are still with the organization.
Here's what the Nationals will likely start with this year:
Closer: Matt Capps
Setup man: Brian Bruney
Late-inning relievers: Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett
Lefty specialist: Eddie Guardado
Long reliever/mop-up: Jason Bergmann, Tyler Walker
There's a configuration of this bullpen that could include Drew Storen instead of somebody like Guardado, too, but the point remains the same: The transformation of the Nationals' bullpen has been a long, expensive and detailed process. None of the players they acquired are definite solutions, and a couple of them could be on the downside of their careers.
But it's an upgrade over how they began the season last year, and it's striking to look at how many moves have been made in hopes of alleviating 2009's problem.