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Dear RotoRob: Spring Training, Japanese Style

February 12, 2007 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters manager Trey Hillman is back for a fifth year.
Trey Hillman, the 2006 FSAJ Sportsman of the Year who was mentioned in almost every MLB managerial search this offseason, is back to help Hokkaido defeat the dark forces of ham.

Dear RotoRob,

With spring training starting on February 1 in Japan, Wayne Graczyk provides us with a very nice summary on a team-by-team basis of the imports to the NPB for ’07.’There are some interesting names for sure on this list, and I like Aaron Guiel’s chances of being successful over there.’Luis Gonzalez heading east was a bit of a surprise to me.’The guy I’d most like to see return would have to be Marc Kroon.’Those 100 mph flame throwers always hold a soft spot in my heart, and a solid spot in my fantasy team’s rotation.’Hope you enjoy.


The full article is available here (note that registration is required).

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the heads up! So that’s where Jason Johnson wound up. Jeez, I guess I better scratch him off my draft list!

Dear RotoRob,

I am in need of some more help please.’I am doing a Roto baseball league and I am joining in on an existing keeper league and get to choose the players that are left.’I can choose three players and the six that I have narrowed it down to are Vladimir Guerrero, Alfonso Soriano, Travis Hafner, Carl Crawford, Jason Bay and Lance Berkman.’I was going to go with three hitters because the only two pitchers taken so far are Johan Santana and Jake Peavy, so I figured there are plenty of pitchers out there to choose from in the draft.’Please advise and any help on how to win a Roto league would be greatly appreciated.’Also, thanks a lot for all the help your web site does for me, and I tell my friends just not the ones I’m in the same league as so I can have all the updated info.



Hi Jeremiah,

Of the six that you have identified, I’d go with: Vladdy, Crawford and Berkman. For the third, you wouldn’t go wrong choosing Soriano (especially for the next couple of years because of his speed), but long term, I just see Berkman retaining his value longer. I might opt for Hafner if he had any defensive eligibility, but I think you’re best with the Vladdy, Crawford and Soriano/Berkman.

How to win a Roto league? Oh man. This is a novel you’re asking for. Quick advice: find sources of fantasy content you trust and read them regularly; don’t make offers you wouldn’t accept (an easy way to lose out on the number of people who will trade with you); learn the tendencies of your league mates so you can deal with them easier; use the waiver wire effectively ‘ leagues are not won or lost on draft day; don’t overmanage your team (look at the big picture and established trends, i.e., don’t panic if your stud hitter is an 0-for-8 skid); try to temper your win-it-now approach with a build-for-the-future mentality (while it’s not always possible, try to gauge the merits of every move both from a short-term and long-term perspective); always remember this is supposed to be for fun, so if you have an irrational appeal for a weaker player, fine, just keep him. You have to be able to enjoy your team; finally, if you have a chance to win it all, you have to forget about holding back for the future and you must go for it, regardless of how lopsided a deal may be for you long-term.

Anyways, glad you’re enjoying the site and spreading the word’.thanks, man!

Dear RotoRob,

Any thoughts on Jeremy Hermida?


Hi Larry,

I am a big fan of Hermida’s pure skill set. He seems a bit frail, and many have soured on him after he failed last year when he was a pre-season favourite for ROY.

The fact is he’s still very much an impressive offensive prospect who just turned 23. I’d expect him to have a decent BA this year, show some speed and approach 20 homers. He could be had for under value on draft day and has to be considered a sleeper as everyone will be focusing on the next big thing while Hermida is very capable of being exactly that ‘ especially in keeper leagues.

Next up, we received lots of e-mail about our Red Sox closer column.

As always, all things Bosox tend to spark controversy. Beyond the notes below, Japanese baseball guru Tim admonished us for failing to mention Hideki Okajima. My belief is that he tops out as the lefty specialist and that his main role is to help Daisuke Matsuzaka adapt to North American ball.

Dear RotoRob,

I like reading most of your stuff. But I think you’ve missed the boat on this one.

Brendan Donnelly will be the closer.

He has the fastball and experience. He has great control as well.

His stats from last year are misleading, and I think the Bosox management (and the cream of the Roto heads) has acknowledged this from the moment they acquired him.

The guy has had a lot of freaky things happen to him. A broken nose from a stray batting-practice ball, an immediate suspension for having long laces on his glove, a suspension without ever recording a pitch…

If you remove four of his worst days (two of which were surrounded by strange circumstances and two that were attributable to J.C. Romero’s IRAs), his stats are awesome.

No doubt in my mind.

And if you are not even slightly convinced, take a look at Donnelly’s 2006 Spring stats…he had an amazing Spring. He always does.

And that’s what it’ll take to be named closer…

Take care.


Hi Matt,

I agree that Donnelly’s numbers were misleading last year, and I think he’s a fantastic addition to the Bosox bullpen. But I stand by my assertion that he’d be best served providing the Sox with steady set-up work. In fact, he could be the most significant piece of the bullpen without being the main man for saves, if that makes sense at all.

I don’t tend to pay a lot of attention to Spring stats for veterans, but I will say this: as a Red Sox fan, I’d be more than happy to have missed the boat here. In fact, I hope I’m still standing on the shore’s edge while Donnelly closes the final game of the World Series.

I just don’t see it happening, but it will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

Dear RotoRob,

You missed Bryce Cox.’He’s in the pitch-off as well.


Carroll Ann ‘

Hi Carroll Ann,

We actually talked about Cox briefly in the Podcast, but honestly, I don’t expect to see him on the team until mid-season. Let’s hope the Bosox have straightened out this situation by then!

Dear RotoRob,

I’m in a keeper league and I can only keep two of these four players. Who would you keep?

Rocco Baldelli, Cole Hamels, Jered Weaver, Ryan Zimmerman.

All four are the same price. It’s an auction league.


Hey Gregg,

Let me qualify my answer by saying that I don’t dabble in auctions, so they are pretty low on my list of specialties.

I’d keep Zimmerman and Baldelli. I’m very high on both of them.

I think Zimmerman has massive room for improvement considering he did most of his damage at home last year even though he was stuck in a pitcher’s park. Baldelli, meanwhile is poised for a major bounce back.

The other side of the coin is that Baldelli could fly under the radar slightly, so you may want to risk tossing him back and keeping Weaver over him, especially since Weaver will be so highly sought after.

Best of luck.

Dear RotoRob,

I have a keeper question. I’m in a league where we use the previous season’s salaries to come up with our keepers for the next year. Our keeper salary cap is $15 million.

I have the following guys slated to protect for this upcoming season: Alfonso Soriano – $3.16 M; David Wright – $2.48 M; Travis Hafner – $2.68 M; Miguel Cabrera – $2.76 M; Roy Halladay – $2.48 M; Justin Verlander – $1 M = $14.56 Million.

The other guys to consider are: Lance Berkman – $2.86 M; King Felix – $1.65 M; Chris Carpenter – $3.14 M.

Since I have Wright at 3B, should I cut Cabrera and keep Carpenter or Berkman, or should I try to trade him at the draft for another hitter like Jason Bay or Jose Reyes for example?

We have another stipulation in our league where you can only keep a player for three years and this is my third year with Cabrera.

I’d like to keep Felix but I think I can get him or Berkman back in the draft. My pick would be seventh or eighth in the first round in a 10-team league.

I’d appreciate your opinion. Thanks for your time.


Hi Jason,

Once again, the usual caveat about salary leagues apply here.

This is a nasty situation. Cutting Cabrera seems ludicrous, considering how big a stud he is, but I understand the dilemma you’re in here. My advice would be to try to peddle him at the draft. Someone will bite…he’s too valuable not to.

If a team tries to lowball you on Cabrera because this is the last year you can keep him, then hang on to him and deal Wright instead. Then you can try to flip Cabrera at the deadline if you’re not in the race, or worst case scenario is you’ll get one more full season out of the one of the NL’s top hitters.

Best of luck with this one.

Dear RotoRob,

Due to some keeper rules in our league, I’m stuck having to make some difficult decisions with respect to this year’s keepers.’We can keep up to eight players from our previous roster.

I play in a 10-team, NL, 5×5 rotisserie league.’My definite keepers include: 1B – Ryan Howard $7; 3B – David Wright $8; SS – Jose Reyes $9; SP – Roy Oswalt $11;

Because of league rules, I have to keep: CL – Bob Wickman $15; SP – David Wells $6.

That leaves two spots from the following players: C – Russell Martin $6; C – Brian McCann $16; OF – Jeff Francoeur $7.

I hate to lose someone of this value without getting something in return, so I have been pursuing various trades.’I believe I have an owner willing to make the following deal: Andruw Jones ($16) for Wells and one of Martin, McCann or Francoeur.

I don’t have a firm grip on Wells’ value right now, as none of the magazines I have looked at had him on the Padres and I haven’t purchased an online source yet. Assuming Wells has a projected value of $5, then my roster without the trade and keeping Francoeur and McCann would have $44 of value over salary.

If I make the trade, I’m leaning toward giving up McCann to add Jones.’Since their salaries are the same and Martin’s salary would be the same as Well’s, then my value over salary would increase to $57, nearly a 30 per cent increase.’

The drawbacks are numerous.’Will Jones be traded to the AL before the trading deadline?’Will Wells earn more than $5 in value?’Is giving up the No. 1 NL catcher, regardless of salary, a wise choice?’Is Francoeur the real deal or will his strikeout rate finally catch up with him?

So I have two questions:

1. Assuming I keep Wells, which two of the following should be my final keepers:’Martin, McCann, Francoeur?

2. Assuming I trade Wells for Jones, which of the following players would it make the most sense to give up: Martin, McCann, Francoeur?

Thanks in advance for your help in this matter.


Bloomington, Il.

Hi Michael,

Salary leagues are not exactly my forte, but I’ll do my best here.

This is very a tough situation for you.

If you don’t deal Wells away, I don’t see how you can possibly throw McCann back. You have to keep him. Like you said, and I agree: No. 1 catcher in the NL. And assuming you opt for McCann, Martin becomes the expendable one, meaning you have to keep Francouer with your last slot.

But if you do trade Wells for Jones, given your salary situation, you’d be better off parting with McCann. While Martin is no McCann, I think he’s a very capable catcher and you’ll be alright with him.

Here’s a question for you, my Illinois-based friend: why do my beloved Blackhawks suck so bad?

Best of luck with this one.

Dear RotoRob,

I’m currently in a 12-team fantasy baseball keeper league.’We are allowed to keep five or six players with teams keeping five going into an optional draft before the real draft to fill out the sixth roster spot. It is a forever keeper league and you just pick six guys to keep for the next year.’I currently have acquired Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Miguel Tejada, Derrek Lee, Jermaine Dye, Roy Halladay and Nick Swisher.’Obviously Dunn, Tejada, Crawford and Lee are getting kept.’

My quandry lies within the fact that to acquire Crawford, Tejada and Dunn I had to give up all my draft picks until round six when I have the seventh pick in that round.’I was wondering if you thought it would be wise to just keep six and cut one guy loose or should I try and move Halladay and Dye/Swisher for picks and keep five and try and get Daisuke Matsuzaka in the optional draft?’Also, who do you think I should keep if I am unable to move any of the seven for picks?



Hi Jerry,

It’s time to crumple up Nick and go ‘Swish’ into the trash can. Getting Matsuzaka would be nice, but do you absolutely believe he’d outperform Halladay this year? That’s a lot of trouble to go through when you’ve already got one of the best in the biz. Keep Halladay, keep Dye, skip the draft and spend the time reading


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