Building my dream team, Atlanta's bright future and more
These are exactly the kinds of questions that are great fodder for discussion. I would guess that if you asked every general manager in baseball this question, you'd get at least 10 different answers. So with that in mind, and no desire to try and limit it to just one player total, I thought I would try and take a player at every position that I would want to build my team around. The first thing I would do is emphasize youth, since I would want players that'd be around for the long haul. I also would want high-character guys, two qualifications that eliminate
I think you mean luxury tax, since baseball does not have a hard salary cap like other sports do. Again, I think that's unlikely. Teams are not going to be punished for any mistakes their players made in the pre-testing era, and now that there is testing, the 50-game ban of any player who tests positive would seem a sufficient penalty to the team as well as the player. Selig reiterated recently that the testing regimen is working, but if the testing and suspensions were ever to prove ineffective, I'm sure MLB will look at various ways it can be changed to increase the disincentive of using PEDs.
This might be the most interesting division race to watch this year, for the very reasons you mentioned. With the Phillies and Mets, the NL East was going to be worth paying attention to all year anyway (and let's face it, the Nats are always good for some comic relief). But if those teams need to make a push at season's end, they'll likely have to do it via trade, which means sacrificing talent either already on the roster or in the farm system. The Braves, on the other hand, have excellent talent waiting to come up in Hanson and Heyward, and a proven big league ace in Hudson waiting to come off the disabled list. It might not be enough to win the division, but it will certainly make the Braves a better team and a more consistent threat than they have been the past few years.
Major league baseball wants as many people to vote as possible because it gives them another chance to tout the health of the game by pointing out how many ballots are cast, and I don't think they really care where those votes come from. As long as there's no repeat of the 1957 controversy, when Cincinnati Reds fans voted seven Reds into the starting lineup, forcing fans to lose the vote for several years, nothing will -- or should -- change. Fans in Boston and New York get a lot of grief, but there's no denying their passion, and they should be able to express that passion at the ballot box as often as they like.
Those players will undoubtedly earn bonus points in the minds of many writers who will reward a clean performance in a dirty era. The problem, of course, will be determining which players were clean and for how long. That's an issue that may never be fully solved, but players like Mussina who have never been tainted by steroids will benefit from that lack of association.