If you go to your team page and click on "Tue, Mar 25," you'll find the following message immediately to the right of any Boston players:
@OAK 3:05 am
Except for Curt Schilling. The only thing to his right is, like, Ann Coulter.
If you live in Tokyo, where the season's first official game will take place, you'll see this message on Tuesday's page:
@OAK 7:05 pm
So wherever you live and whoever you drafted … game on.
Week 1 of the head-to-head fantasy season will actually last two full calendar weeks, from March 24 to April 6. There's an obvious advantage to picking up Red Sox and A's starters today and inserting them into your Tuesday and Wednesday lineups. If you're going to be a competitive fantasy owner, you'll need to reserve a small number of bench spots for opportunistic adds like this.
Tomorrow's opener is technically a home game for Oakland, which means that the season's first pitch will be thrown by A's starter Joe Blanton. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia should get the first plate appearance. Both players are owned in over 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues, however, so there really isn't much that fantasy owners can do with that information.
You'll need to dig somewhat deeper into the player universe to find useful adds. Here are the projected starting lineups for Tuesday and Wednesday, with Yahoo! percent-ownership:
1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, 99.2 percent owned
2. Kevin Youkilis, 1B, 99.5
3. David Ortiz, DH, 100.0
4. Manny Ramirez, LF, 100.0
5. Mike Lowell, 3B, 100.0
6. J.D. Drew, RF, 57.8
7. Jason Varitek, C, 97.4
8. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, 99.3
9. Julio Lugo, SS, 78.6
1. Travis Buck, RF, 1.0
2. Mark Ellis, 2B, 19.2
3. Jack Cust, DH, 28.6
4. Emil Brown, LF, 0.1
5. Bobby Crosby, SS, 5.6
6. Daric Barton, 1B, 3.7
7. Kurt Suzuki, C, 4.3
8. Jack Hannahan, 3B, 0.1
9. Chris Denorfia, CF, 0.1 or Ryan Sweeney, CF, 0.03
Joe Blanton, Tuesday's SP, 99.5
Rich Harden, Wednesday's SP, 99.1
If you ever needed proof that fantasy baseball markets are wildly inefficient and driven by sentiment, there it is. The guy batting ninth for the Red Sox, a 32-year-old shortstop who hit .237 last season, is owned in nearly 80 percent of leagues; the guy leading off for the A's, a 24-year-old outfielder who hit .288 while demonstrating power and speed, is only owned in one percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Coco Crisp isn't likely to start for Boston, yet he's more heavily-owned (12.7 percent) than all but two Oakland regulars. Jack Cust had a .912 OPS and 26 home runs in 507 plate appearances last season, but he's somehow less than 30 percent owned. That's slightly crazy. Cust will actually be playing in the only game that counts tomorrow.
Monday's list of the ten most popular adds should pretty much be Boston's Drew and nine A's. Instead, it's Drew and, inexplicably, a bunch of Royals (I'll give you Billy Butler. But Jose Guillen? Gil Meche? Really?). The fantasy season is here, everyone. Behave appropriately.
You'll notice that Josh Beckett and Eric Chavez are conspicuously absent from the lineups above. Both are sidelined with back issues, but Chavez's injury is substantially more worrisome. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland has "shut him down for the time being." Beckett is likely to be active in Week 2 of the fantasy season.
- Red Sox