No, not Josh Beckett. Beckett Baseball, which features Daisuke Matsuzaka on the cover of what you could consider its first issue of the 2007 baseball and card-collecting season. Sister publication Beckett Preview, which is one of about four or five annual baseball preview mags out there, also likes the Sox -- quite a bit.
Some highlights and lowlights for the Sox and Yanks:
- Matsuzaka is the No. 2 of five rookies who will "impact the 2007 season." (Alex Gordon is first).
- Philip Hughes is No. 5.
- Retaining Joe Torre as manager was the No. 1 best move of the offseason.
- Signing Matsuzaka was No. 2. "After addressing their biggest area of weakness, the Sox have returned to the ranks of the elite teams in the American League."
- Not trading Manny Ramirez was the sixth-best move of the offseason.
- Trading Sheffield for Humberto Sanchez and two other prospects was No. 10. "On the surface, it looks like the Yankees will prosper more from the long-term benefits of this deal than the Tigers."
- Neither team had a move on Beckett's 10 worst list -- The Gaints' signing of Zito was No. 1. Beckett also dumps on the Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews Jr., Juan Pierre, Alfonso Soriano and Jason Marquis signings. Can't argue there. To me, the most remarkable thing about the offseason wasn't how much money was spent -- but how much money was spent on mediocre to bad players.
- Beckett on the Red Sox: "A third-place finish sends Boston into a wallet-busting spending spree to bring in Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo. Pencil in the Sox as AL East champs."
- The 3 Keys to Win feature two "duh" moments and a "huh?" moment -- 1. Matsuzaka needs to pitch well, the Sox need to find a closer, and Manny needs to stop "being Manny."
- Beckett's prediction for the Yanks: Second place in the East, out of the playoffs (Indians capture the Wild Card).
- The Yanks' 3 Keys to Win: 1. A-Rod must stop being a distraction, 2. Wang must continue to pitch well, 3. Igawa must be serviceable as a starter.
- Beckett predicts the 2007 World Series will be Boston vs. Los Angeles, with the Dodgers becoming the eighth different team to win the championship in eight years.
The mag also has summaries of each team's top (or near-top) prospect, fun memorabilia tidbits with each team, and a baseball card summary (number of cards for that team, total value and value per team). The Yankees, of course, are No. 1 in all three categories. The Sox are No. 2 in number of cards (52,373), third in total value ($530,237), and sixth in value per card ($13.82). I would have liked more projections or analysis as to why they picked each team where. The description of each team's infield, outfield, rotation, etc. was pretty basic -- certainly nothing everyone here hasn't discussed at length on this blog.
I'll try to do a different preview-magazine summary each week as we head toward Opening Day.