It’s hard to blame the Dodgers for letting Joel Hanrahan get away. Although he was long one of their top pitching prospects, the key word there is “long.” He was in the organization for seven seasons, spending at least parts of three of them in Triple-A, and yet he was never quite able to make the jump to the majors. He also seemed to backslide in 2005, the year after he spent the entire season at Las Vegas and went 7-7 with a decent-for-the-PCL 5.05 ERA. But he backslid in 2005, started the season in high Single-A after coming back from an injury, then never got above Double-A the rest of the year. He split 2006 between Jacksonville and Las Vegas, but no one could blame him when he left after that season for minor-league free agency, something he had earned the right to do after accruing so much time in the minors. When the Nationals signed him to a major-league contract two winters ago — he still began the season in Triple-A — no one could have imagined that he would eventually become their closer. It was even more difficult to imagine that he would post saves on back-to-back nights against his old club. But as critical as I have been of Nats GM Jim Bowden — see my previous post — you have to give Jimbo credit for finding this one. And you have to give Hanrahan credit for establishing a niche, and a foothold, in the majors after all those years in the minors with the Dodgers.