As previously discussed, Beckett’s 2007 preview magazine did a poor job in explaining why it picked the Sox to win the AL East, the AL championship and lose to the Dodgers in the World Series. What little explanation it did provide was shallow.
"Shallow" is not usually the word used to describe Street & Smith’s annual preview mag. It’s universally considered one of the best — if not the best — in the business. Having bought it Friday, let’s take a look at the YFSF-related content.
First of all, the mag has a LOT more than Beckett’s did. It has 14 pages of fantasy coverage, which includes projections for the MLB Top 30 at each position. It also covers college and high school baseball and features much more comprehensive coverage of reachable milestones and 2006 stats (not that that’s important anymore with the advent of Baseball Reference, Fan Graphs, Hardball Times and ESPN.com splits). It also includes many mor stories — about such things as the paucity of 20-game winners, the surge of over-40 pitchers, the arrival of Daisuke Matsuzaka (of course), catch-up pieces with Jim Abbott and Andy Van Slyke, an interview with Tommy John about the surgery that made him a household name and more.
In the team profiles, it doesn’t just include the usual 2006 recap and projected roster/stats. It also profiles the team’s top rookie, lists its Top 10 prospects, interviews an anonymous rival scout about a specific player and the team overall and adds several interetsing charts and graphs. Each team also gets a list of its top three all-time shortstops.
- As mentioned, Matsuzaka gets his own staff-written story. Nothing new, except a quote from Epstein saying the Sox first scouted him during the 2000 Olympics and were hoping he pitched somewhat poorly in the WBC so that his profile would not rise to the extent that it did.
- The Fantasy Report first ranks the top 250 overall players and puts Alfonso Soriano at No.1, which makes a little — but not enough — sense. S&S seems to overvalue speed, as it puts Jose Reyes third and Carl Crawford fourth, while putting Coco Crisp ahead of Manny Ramirez. Yeah, right.
- More interesting are the projections, although by only giving three stats apiece (W-L. ERA, Ks; BA, HR, RBI) and no methodology, it’s hard to take them as anything more than educated guesses, which I guess is what all projections are anyway.
- Among Top 40 pitchers, Daisuke Matsuzaka is ranked eighth — 16-8, 3.46. 215; Curt Schilling is 18th — 15-9, 3.81, 181; Mike Mussina is 25th — 14-8, 3.86, 158; Andy Pettitte is 30th — 15-7, 3.57, 135; Josh Beckett is 38th — 15-11, 4.30, 176; Jonathan Papelbon is 39th — 9-5, 3.48, 130; Roger Clemens is 40th — 7-5, 2.95, 110. Chien-Ming Wang is pretty useless to fantasy players looking for the big K numbers, so he gets penalized here. Again, everyone seems to be projected conservatively on wins (Santana and Oswalt with 17, Carpenter with 18).
- On outfielders, Crisp is projected to rebound nicely — with essentially the same offensive stats as Damon, but with twice the stolen bases. They expect more of the same from Manny and solid year from Abreu and Matsui. Apparently, they don’t like Drew so much. He’s outside the Top 40.
- S&S expects a bounceback from Varitek and more of the same from Youkilis, which I think underrates Youk a bit. Posada is projected well. It likes Cano a lot (No. 3 second baseman) and is iffy on Pedroia. It turns Jeter into a power threat, which I think is a mistake, and calls for a .300 average from Lugo. It calls for A-Rod and Lowell to essentially duplicate their 2006 seasons and gives Papi 47 home runs for 2007.
- In all, S&S gives the Sox the AL East, the AL crown and the World Series championship over the Dodgers. "If everyonody’s healthy and pitches to their capabilities, the Red Sox will have a leg up on the Yankees and everybody else in the East in the vital area of starting pitching."
- S&S likes the Sox’ rotation. A lot. It also likes the bullpen additions, and predicates the No. 1 selsection on the assumption that someone will be able to close games. Overall, the Sox get a final grade of 93, best in the AL. "If they do end up with a big-league closer, the Red Sox could be the clear favorites in the division. That’s because, while their offense lacks the 1-9 potency of the Yankees’ batting order, it’s got plenty of firepower."
- The Yankees are picked to win the Wild Card. "Yes, they will hit. … Their main issue will be keeping opponents’ runs off the board. Everybody in the starting rotation comes with question marks, of varying significance. … The bullpen … has Mariano Rivera and, well, even more question marks than the starting rotation." Final grade: 88.
- Tigers and Angels also make the playoffs in the AL; Phillies, Cards and Dodgers win their divisions, with the Mets taking the Wild Card in the NL.
S&S rates each aspect of each team on a five-point scale:
- Rotation: Sox 5, Yanks 3
- Infield: Yanks 4, Sox 3
- Catching: Yanks 4, Sox 3
- Defense: Sox 4, Yanks 1
- Bullpen: Sox 3, Yanks 3
- Outfield: Yanks 5, Sox 4
- Bench: Sox 3, Yanks 3
- Management: Sox 5, Yanks 4
It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly better reasoned than Beckett’s was. At least there’s something to disagree with — or agree wholeheartedly with, as the case may be. Now I just have to figure out whether to be excited or nervous about the preseason love for the Sox.