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Baseball Issues
By Adam Conn

I agree, guys. I think Piazza would have been much better off as a DH in the American League, possibly with the Angels or Rangers. He might have been a good acquisition for the Yankees, but they really don’t need another bat. He’s never proven he can play 1B so I’m a bit skeptical about him seeing a lot of at-bats there. And if he catches a lot, he will wear down.

Issue #2: Which is the team to beat in 2006?

I will go out on a huge limb here, but I think a team that may be a contender this year are the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They are a team loaded from top to bottom with great offensive talent who are young and hungry to change their reputation as perennial losers. Their key element will be to find a replacement for their All Star closer Danys Baez, who has been the one shining spot in their otherwise dark and generally dismal bullpen. - Forum user “Maldonado40”

The D- Rays are a year or two away, but with the off-season moves and the talent on its way up, they should be a good team by late 2007 and make a run at fading Yankees and Boston teams in 2008. - Troy in New Jersey

The White Sox are the world champs, and actually look better. The Cards are always in there. And whoever signs [Roger] Clemens will be in pretty good shape. - Forum user “BGood26”

The Devil Rays are, indeed, a team on the rise, as are the Toronto Blue Jays. But neither is ready to unseat the Yankees or Red Sox in 2006. By returning virtually their entire championship roster while also adding Javier Vazquez and Jim Thome, I think the White Sox have to be the team to beat in the American League. In the National League, the Cardinals will always be competitive, the Mets might finally unseat the Braves, and the Brewers are the team on the rise. The most interesting team, however, could be the San Francisco Giants. They are deep, talented, and old. They will, therefore, either be right there at the end in October or get hurt and fall well short.

Issue #3: What team made the single best move this offseason?

The Mets trading for [Carlos] Delgado. In pure baseball terms, they gave up a pitching prospect (always the shakiest type of prospect) in [Yusmeiro] Petit and a low upside prospect in Mike Jacobs for one of the best hitters in baseball. Not to mention that the upgrade is from [Doug] Mientkiewicz to Delgado, basically one of the worst [offensive] first basemen for one of the best. A lineup with a core of Beltran, Delgado, Floyd, and Wright should make the Mets competitive in 2006. - Troy in New Jersey

Right on, Troy. No team needed a left-handed bopper as much as the Mets did, and they were able to get the best one available. Whether they gave up too much we won’t know for several years, but this single move stabilizes their lineup and makes it a whole lot scarier for opposing teams.

3) Penalties For Positive Amphetamines Tests

Players testing positive for banned amphetamines will face the following discipline: mandatory follow-up testing for a first offense, 25 game suspension for a second positive, 80 game suspension for a third positive, and a punishment at the Commissioner’s discretion (up to a lifetime ban) for a fourth offense. Again, a player suspended for life has the right to a review.

4) Penalties for Amphetamines Convictions

Players convicted of possession of illegal amphetamines will serve the following penalties: 15-30 game suspension for the first offense, 30-90 games for the second offense, one year for a third conviction, and a penalty imposed by the Commissioner for a fourth. Distribution convictions carry a 60-90 game suspension for the first time, two years for a second conviction, and a Commissioner’s penalty for a third.

5) Testing Schedule

Every player will be subject to a pre-season test in connection with Spring Training physicals as well as a second unannounced test during the season on a randomly selected date. In addition, random tests will be conducted throughout the year, including the off-season, and players are subject to them regardless of how many previous times he has been tested.