Jon "Donut-Eater" Lieber and Aaron "Fence-Face" Rowand have been in rumors throughout the entire offseason and still during spring training. I truly have no idea what Pat Gillick plans to do with either of these guys. What I do know is that a package headlined by Lieber will not land us Alex Rios from the Blue Jays. Nor will Lieber net us Akinori Otsuka from the Rangers, no matter how much he whines about his role in their bullpen. The White Sox want Rowand back and have supposedly offered a package with Boone Logan being the central piece...no thanks! Mike MacDougal and/or Matt Thornton could also be in the package, but that just doesn't seem like enough to me. Another rumor concerning Rowand is the much ballyhooed story of the Padres swapping Scott Linebrink for him, leaving us with a dearth in the outfield. Of course the newest rumor is that we don't need Rowand, because we can plug Shane Victorino into CF with a platoon of Jayson Werth and Greg Dobbs in RF (this is based on Dobbs blazing hot spring thus far).
As mentioned above, Greg Dobbs is on an unbelievable tear in the Grapefruit League. He's batting a lofty .500 (12-24) with a 1.500 OPS, 11 runs, 3 homers, and 9 rbi. With that type of success we should be trying to find Dobbs a place to start on the diamond...not quite. Yes, it is refreshing to have a waiver-wire pickup produce, but lets not go pitching tent over this guy. I'm cool with giving him a spot on the bench and allowing him to see innings at 3rd and corner outfield, but lets not kid ourselves into thinking we've found some unearthed gem. Getting too excited about spring stats is a common pitfall for fans (myself included), but we need to keep in mind that pitchers are working on mechanics, many scrubs play in these games, and even a blind David Bell has a shrunken nut (wait that's not how the saying goes). Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer each have 7.20 ERA's and we're not working up a sweaty lather over those stats, so no use becoming overly stimulated by Karim Garcia's .320 average.
Consider this the return of the Drama Queen. Our bullpen is about as stable as the San Andreas Fault. Flash Gordon is fragile (must be Italian), Matt Smith is unproven and having a brutal spring (30.86 ERA), Ryan Madson is a middling reliever, and Gas Can Geary still has the ability to live up to his nickname and spread fires. Antonio Alfonseca may have 6 fingers, but he does not have my faith. Rule 5 picks Jim Ed Warden and Alfredo Simon are showing why they were left unprotected...they suck. Clay Condrey is pitching well, but this is spring training "well" and it doesn't count. The organization keeps pushing the name of Joe Bisenius, but I doubt he breaks camp with the team. Our Model Dictator, Fabio Castro, is a hero of this blog, but realistically can't be depended on at this point in his career. Brian Sanches is a wannabe Hispanic and a wannabe pitcher. Basically, we need help (cue Lieber trade rumor).
The Pirates are trying to best utilize what they have and are switching-up players' positions like crazy. 2006 NL batting champ Freddy Sanchez is trying out 2nd base with Jose Castillo moving to 3rd. Catching prospect Neil Walker is being tried at 3rd, has-been prospect Ryan Doumit is being auditioned in the outfield and 1st base, and all-or-nothing slugger/strikeout king Brad Eldred is being shifted to outfield. I haven't seen this many changes since puberty. What's next, Zach Duke to shortstop or Shawn Chacon to center field?