If you play in a fantasy baseball league that has weekly rosters, you’d be wise to load up on Red Sox and Athletics players for week one. That’s because Boston and Oakland will be the only two teams playing this week as the two clubs open up the MLB season in the Japan Series with two games on March 25-26 at the Tokyo Dome.
Both teams will play exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and the famed Yomiuri Giants. Both teams won close games in their initial exhibitions. The A’s beat Yomiuri 4-3 on Rob Bowen’s two out double in the ninth inning. Shortstop Bobby Crosby and third baseman Jack Hanrahan homered. The Red Sox beat Hanshin 6-5 as JD Drew and David Ortiz homered.
This is the third time in MLB history that the season has started in the Land of the Rising Sun. Both games will be televised by the Deuce–ESPN2. You’ll have to get up early to watch, however, as the opener starts at 6:05 am Eastern time.
The Japan Series represents a unique situation for fantasy baseball managers. If your draft is this weekend, you may want to pick up a Boston or Oakland player with one of your late round draft picks. Then, you can dump him next week in favor of a player you may want for the entire season. It also makes a statement about your intentions to be an active manager for your fantasy baseball league.
But, don’t pick up the players who are questionable or definitely out for the series. Red Sox’s Josh Beckett did not make the trip to Japan and is preparing to make his first start April 1-2 against Oakland. Of course, Curt Shilling has a serious shoulder injury and is on the 60-day DL, not expecting to return until late July. Outfielder Coco Crisp and veteran relief pitcher Mike Timlin are listed as questionable. For Oakland, relief pitcher Kiko Calero, third baseman Eric Chavez, starting pitcher Chad Gaudin, and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez are out.
Initially, it was thought that Daisuke Matsuzaka would not be making the trip as his wife was expecting their second child, but Matsuzaka became a father last week, thus clearing him to make the trip. Matsuzaka will be the opening day starter on Tuesday against the Athletics’ Joe Blanton. On Wednesday, southpaw Jon Lester will face Rich Harden.
If you’re wondering about Jack Cust, the left-handed hitting Cust is scheduled to play against Lester on Wednesday. Cust was beaned and suffered a mild concussion this spring when he was hit in the head by Cubs’ lefty Sean Marshall.