Five Hot Stove lessons

As Aoki showed, Japanese players can be a bargain. AP Photo/Tom Gannam

We all have lots to be thankful for this week, and hopefully baseball is only a minor part of that list. But throughout the game, teams are thankful for decisions they made this year that turned out just as well, or perhaps even better, than they thought they would.

As we move deeper into Hot Stove season, we can benefit from looking back on some of those decisions, and how they may apply this winter.

Don't ignore Japan: Marquee Japanese players like Yu Darvish still create a good old-fashioned media circus, but other Japanese players tend to get overlooked, and that can be perilous. Certainly not all Japanese players have succeeded, but this past year two Japanese players -- Norichika Aoki and Hisashi Iwakuma -- made successful debuts, and starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda enjoyed a resurgent year with the New York Yankees.