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Pittsburgh Pirates

Players to Watch    Scouting Report | By the Numbers | Projected Roster

The X-Factor

Here is what we know about Jon Lieber: His wife's name is Jessica. He is from Iowa. He wears a chain. He throws righthanded. He is a pretty boring guy, which is perfect for the pretty boring Pirates. Oh, yeah, and he's also the game's most anonymous ace. Lieber, 27, went 11-14 last season, but he struck out 160 and walked only 51 in 188 1/3 innings, his second straight solid showing for Pittsburgh. If Lieber's name appears in more than eight national stories not about the Pirates, you can figure the guy's on track to win 20 games and is helping his team stay close ... to .500.

Off-Season Moves

What They Needed: A 200-inning starter. Two or three players capable of producing 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. An owner with a lot of money he wants to spend on baseball players.

What They Got: Veteran infielder Doug Strange and young pitchers Jeff McCurry, Jeff Tabaka, Mike Williams and Terry Burrows.

What it All Means: Strange puts this team on his back and carries it to the top of the NL Central. Just kidding. The Pirates competed for much of last season, but that was a fluke—the players are young, and the new ownership has limited resources, so costly veterans Shawon Dunston, Kevin Elster and Dale Sveum were shown the door.

Scouting Report | By the Numbers | Players To Watch | Projected Roster

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