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Some suggested reading to prep for '07 baseball

7 March 2007

Are you looking for something to read to help you get a feel for off-season trades, free agent signings, coming off injuries and young guns on the mound at the plate for baseball 2007?

Sure, you should be following spring training action to see which arms are back from rehab and such. But it's also important to see who's up from the minors, who's trying to squeeze out another year or is over the hill and who the sleepers are before the linemakers sharpen their pencils on teams who have momentum or who weren't expected to surprise.

A quick introduction to it all is through a variety of baseball annuals. From them you'll get schedules; ball park modification essentials and √íprojections√ď (opinions) on who'll win divisions, league championships and eventually, the Series.

Let's look at four of the top magazines. You may not need them all, but some offer more than others:

Street & Smith's Baseball (200 pages, $6.99) tells you who is shooting for an all-time record at bat or on the mound. Example: Barry Bonds is 20 homers from tying Hank Aaron's 755 lifetime mark. They have an interesting piece on why 20-game winners are rarer than ever these days and another why pitchers over the age of 40 can still cut it in modern day play.

Fantasy League players will find good reference material with player ratings and money value for each, by position.

The magazine examines each division, with team strengths and weaknesses; then moves to individual teams with projected lineups; pitching rotation and bullpens.

A short chart shows the past five years for wins, and showing for example, the Red Sox ranging from 86 to 98 wins during that period.

Who are the off-season acquisitions and losses? What are the birthdates of each roster player; place of birth; uniform number and who are the top prospects; rated, with their chance of making the team? If you want it, this one has it.

There's an eight page section of college baseball, with teams and players analyzed; followed by a six-page section on top high school teams and individual standouts.

A final 10-page section offers team and individual statistics for the 2006 baseball season, plus a postseason recap (playoffs and World Series) in case you missed it all.

The Sporting News Baseball magazine (208 pages, $7.99) analyzes more than 750 major leaguers with five pages of questions and predictions for 2007 including picks for MVP and Cy Young. For each team you'll see a complete season schedule, showing home and away games, the All-Star break; a scouting report on each team's top pitchers and hitters; projected lineup; a list of hot prospects; minor league affiliates; what the 40-man roster may look like; fantasy tips on who to buy or sell and who's a sleeper.

Athlon Sports Baseball magazine (176 pages, $6.99) examines who gets paid top dollar this season in salary and who's really worth it; then focuses on each team with a look at rotation; bullpen; middle infield; corners; outfield; catching; bench; management and offers a final analysis.

Their fantasy section tells you who the best buy and sell people are; what the potential lineup might be for each team; the potential full-team roster with date of birth; home town; uniform number and last year's numbers offensively and on the mound. There's an alert to the best in the farm system also. One page looks at the top 100 Fantasy Baseball names in ranked order followed by a dozen pages looking at players by position with comments about each player's strong points or cloudy future.

A final section reviews individual and team statistics for the 2007 season.

Lindy's Baseball Preview (184 pages, $6.99) offers features on Detroit's revival; a feature on the Phillies' Ryan Howard, then examines each team by pitching (projected starters and relievers; catchers; infield; outfield and designated hitter plus a quick summary of each team's organization and management skills.

Each team's schedule is listed along with a projected 40-man roster with birthdates and uniform numbers. The team's top prospects and what they might contribute are lusted for each team as well. Four pages are devoted to the top 25 major league prospects; three pages to top college players and one page to the top 10 high school phenoms.

If you're saying So -- which one's the best of the four in your opinion? I'd have to give an easy nod to Street & Smith's 66th annual effort, for depth of information, statistics, ease of reading, layout and because their Fantasy League coverage has more depth than the others.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com