Walking the Street

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.

29 comments… add one
  • S&S was always my favorite sports magazine (including it’s Football issue). So much of what I loved about it has been superseded by resources available on the web, but I still think it is the best of the print publications.
    I’m surprised that they gave the edge to the Sox in management, as Tito does not get the love that Torre usually does (deservedly so). and Cashman and Theo are usually viewed as co-equals. I also would have assumed an edge to the Yanks in the bullpen. It makes me nervous, just as it does Paul, to see the preseason love for the Sox….

    VicSF February 25, 2007, 5:03 pm
  • I have a few issues with the rankings myself…
    While i agree that the Sox Defense is overall better, a 1 for the yankees is just crazy, Arod had his problems last year but he was almost a gold glover the year before. Jeter is at the least avg, and Minky at 1b is a major upgrade. Posada has become among the better defensive catchers in the AL and the OF is at least average but id say better. I think a 3 would be more in line here.
    My other disagreement would be the IF. If the yanks dont get a 5 im not sure who would. Jeter, Cano, Arod are all in the top 3-4 at their positions in the MLB. I think their combined production is more than slightly better than the sox IF.
    I also dont think that Cashman and Theo are at the same level at all. Cashman has a much longer track record and more success to his credit. This isnt to say Theo still has to prove himself in the long term and i think will largely be defined by the moves he made this offseason.
    Also, JD Drew isnt a top 40 OF? Thats just a joke….

    sam YF February 25, 2007, 5:22 pm
  • I’ll third that “nervous” sentiment.
    S&S isn’t the first outlet to rave about the Sox rotation. It does have a great upside, but still…it seems a bit premature to be making sure claims. That kind of talk also makes me think of the proverbial “jinx” and that with our luck, everyone will get hurt again like last year. [Sigh]

    mouse - SF February 25, 2007, 5:24 pm
  • Bullpen even? WTF?!
    BTW Paul, now tell the truth. Did you page through the mag in the store quickly to see who they picked to win it all before you bought it? Heh.

    Whatever February 25, 2007, 5:33 pm
  • What strikes me is how similar the teams are. Both can hit a ton, both have a lot of starting pitching (but many questions about the age/experience/health of that pitching), stocked bullpens, and intelligent management on the field and in the front office. Watching how it all shakes out is going to be a great deal of fun. The arguments, at this point, are niggling. “Our infield gets a 3!?!” I know I’m curious to see how the Yankee rotation shakes out, and my biggest single fear is the health of Jorge Posada.

    YF February 25, 2007, 5:34 pm
  • There was a lot of preseason love for the Sox among the pundits last year with predictions of an AL East title after the acquisition of Beckett.
    Be nervous, Paul, be nervous.

    Whatever February 25, 2007, 5:41 pm
  • We’re doomed…
    I can’t WAIT!!!

    SF February 25, 2007, 5:55 pm
  • WE, Actually, I recall the preseason mags picked the Sox to finish third, generally, partly because they were published too early to get the Coco Crisp trade. Anyway, I don’t recall much preseason love for the Sox last season, certainly not to the extent there is this season.
    I did pick Beckett’s because I paged through and saw they liked the Sox. Figured if I was only gonna buy one, might as well get one I liked. When I saw that Street and Smith’s was out, I bought it without looking at the prediction, wanting to be surprised when I brought it home.

    Paul SF February 25, 2007, 5:57 pm
  • Paul,
    I used to buy 3 or 4 of those mags every year, back in the day before there was so much more up to date, more relevant info available on the net. I would take a peek before I would purchase, and naturally, would gravitate towards the ones that liked the Yanks, thus my question. And I did like the S&S mag.
    I don’t know what the preseason mags said about the Sox last year, but I do remember quite clearly a lot of people liked the Sox to win the AL East on the sports sites and blogs on the net.

    Whatever February 25, 2007, 6:19 pm
  • “Were doomed…”
    For a second there, I thought I was back in the old Boston.com live chat reading something posted by Costanza. Those were the days.

    Whatever February 25, 2007, 6:33 pm
  • God. Don’t you guys realize that optimism is the Red Sox version of kryptonite?
    Watch us finish 10 games behind the D-Rays.

    Kazz February 25, 2007, 6:36 pm
  • I don’t think we’re doomed because they’re the Sox, I think we’re doomed because these magazines almost never get it right. Something like 2 of 40 “experts” picked the correct Super Bowl matchup before the season started. The idea that there’s a universal belief that the Sox will win the Series means that they probably won’t. Not because they can’t, but because the statistical chance of these magazines being correct is very, very low.
    So yeah, we’re doomed. But I still can’t wait to see it all play out. Street and Smiths has to be right once, no?

    SF February 25, 2007, 6:59 pm
  • Wait, does this active thread here mean that we won’t be getting a “Helen Mirren Fan vs. Meryl Streep Fan” post for the evening??

    just working February 25, 2007, 7:05 pm
  • The bigger surprise to me is that both Beckett’s and S&S like the Dodgers to make the world series. What happened to the Mets? There’s a number of former Sox on the team of course. I’m sensing a RSN-infiltrating the sports media conspiracy!

    Nick-YF February 25, 2007, 7:06 pm
  • I think it has more to do with the Mets’ starting rotation, or lack thereof.

    mouse - SF February 25, 2007, 7:13 pm
  • “Helen Mirren Fan vs. Meryl Streep Fan”
    I just watched Hellen Mirren being interviewed on the Red Carpet and she looked fabulous dahling, simply fabulous. Look for her to win the Best Actress Oscar for The Queen.

    Whatever February 25, 2007, 7:16 pm
  • Hmm…didn’t see any of the movies involved in the Best Actress bid. I will say that if Forrest Whittaker doesn’t get the Best Actor nod I will be fairly upset. Even more so if Will Smith or DiCaprio win it instead.
    Oh, and ‘Children of Men’ best win the Cinematography and Editing awards. For anyone who hasn’t seen that flick…absolutely incredible camerawork.

    desturbd1 February 25, 2007, 7:19 pm
  • Should I put up an Oscar thread? It’s not quite as lowbrow as Top Chef, which gives me pause. I am torn…

    SF February 25, 2007, 7:27 pm
  • I was working on one myself, SF, but then I thought I have nothing really to write on the subject. It starts: The Oscar Goes To…
    Martin Scorcese for one of the worst films of his career.
    And that’s basically my opinion of the Oscars in a nutshell.

    Nick-YF February 25, 2007, 7:33 pm
  • Put it up, Nick. Spare me the guilt…

    SF February 25, 2007, 7:36 pm
  • Why, again, did Goodfellas not win?
    Oh, that’s right: DANCES WITH WOLVES. The Academy owes Marty one, this might as well be it. And no, I haven’t seen the film. Such is life with a two year old and a pregnant wife for the better part of the year.

    SF February 25, 2007, 7:38 pm
  • Tch, The Departed was great. Probably not Goodfellas, but it was still a cool flick. Keep in mind that he was trying to keep it pretty close to the original…I haven’t seen Infernal Affairs, but it’s supposed to be very similar.

    desturbd1 February 25, 2007, 7:40 pm
  • Just as a point of fact, I will be referring to all nominees by not only their first name, but their nicknames. Helly-poo, Marty, and EMurph, we’ve got your back.

    SF February 25, 2007, 7:46 pm
  • So, Paul, in the begining of the post you say the Red Sox lose the World Series to the Dodgers, then later on you say they beat the Dodgers. Which is it? (Not that it matters, I’m just curious)

    mattymatty February 25, 2007, 11:09 pm
  • Athlon Sports picked the Yanks over the Dodgers for the WS; go figure. I put about 15% stock into these preseason picks; but hey, ya never know. All I know is that the Sox were favored by a lot of pundits preseason last year, and the greatest pleasure I derived last season was the slow, steady, disinterest of many Soxfans after the Boston Massacre II; let’s hope we see such a collapse part deux. =).

    bloodyank78 February 25, 2007, 11:14 pm
  • MM, Beckett says Sox lose to LA. S&S picks the Sox over the Dodgers.

    Paul SF February 25, 2007, 11:19 pm
  • paul, thanks for all that detail…you’re an animal with the data, and it’s appreciated…
    so, are the dodgers really supposed to be that good this year, or is the nl still expected to still be “down” relative to the al, and they’re the best of a bad lot?…
    even as a rabid yf, i understand the sox being projected ahead of the yanks overall, but you could argue some of the details and rationale…the teams weren’t that far apart last year [despite the finish], and it appears the sox did more to improve themselves…

    dc February 26, 2007, 8:51 am
  • The Sox rotation is a 5? That means Dice-K is everything the Sox think he is and he has no problems with the transition to the US (obviously a possibility), an older Schilling does fall off, Beckett and Wake rebound. Are all four going to happen? And who will step forward if there are injuries to the staff?
    Of course the Yanks questions may be bigger: it’s hard to say Pavano, Moose and Pettitte will all do well, and who knows how our Japanese import will do? It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hughes come up, and no one can predict his stats.
    I think the Sheff trade was a good one, because we needed some more young arms, and I’m afraid Sheff is on his way down. He can still hit the ball hard, but can he keep from breaking down? And he wasn’t going to move Abreu.

    john February 26, 2007, 10:23 am
  • make that Schilling does NOT fall off

    john February 26, 2007, 10:24 am

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