NO REASON TO FREAK ON FUKUDOME
Seems that Kosuke Fukudome is everyone’s favorite whipping boy these days. How about some samples?
Lou Piniella said there was no sense in playing him anymore in the NLDS. Then he proceeded to play him again.
Bruce Miles from the Daily Herald: “Now, the Cubs have a major problem…at 31, he may be entering the downside of his career.”
Paul Sullivan in today’s Tribune: “It doesn’t matter how much money he’s owed. Kosuke Fukudome should not wear a major-league uniform if he can’t hit major-league pitching. He’s not tradeable, and his financial advisers (along with the players’ union) probably would not allow him to “retire” from the majors to go back to playing in Japan. Iowa, unfortunately, appears to be the only viable option to see if he can get on track.”
I like Sullivan but that has got to be the most stupid thing he’s ever put on paper. Here’s the truth about Fukudome–he still has a lot of value, even if he hits .260 next year. Here’s why.
Guess who led the Cubs in walks? Fukudome did with 81. Even with his miserable second half, he still finished with an OBP of .359. Despite the power bats, the Cubs still need a player like Fukudome. He also led the Cubs in pitches per plate appearance with a 4.29 average. There is a lot of value in all 3 of those stats. He works pitchers, he draws walks and he gets on-base. The Cubs have not had a player like that since I can’t remember.
With the possible exception of Aramis Ramirez, Fukudome is the best defensive player the Cubs have, and certainly the best defender of all the outfielders. He has great range, a great arm and he makes wise decisions when the ball comes to him with runners on base. And if the Cubs can run Edmonds out there in center, I know Fukudome can play there too–much more than the 12 games he played there this year.
For a team that kicked around the ball too much during the playoffs, there is tremendous value in having a solid defender like Fukudome.
Finally, he is allowed to make adjustments during the offseason. The talk about being on the downside of his career or going to AAA is absurd. The league figured out his holes. He can seal them. He’s not going to just lay down and die. Guys Like Hideki Matsui and Kaz Matsui had to make adjustments too. And they played better in year 2 than they did in year 1. He might not hit .300 next year but he won’t hit .260 either. I’ll bet his power goes up too.
So quit freaking out on the guy. He came from Japan, had all the Cubbie hoopla, made the All-Star team and then was expected to help win the World Series. Maybe it all turned out to be a bit too overwhelming for him. How would that make him different from any other Cub?
[tags]Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella, Kosuke Fukodome, MLB[/tags]