View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



July 2011



Fukudome is an Indian

Written by , Posted in General

The height of Kosuke Fukudome’s popularity in Chicago might just be Opening Day, 2008, his very first game as a Cub. Down 3-0 in the bottom of the 9th, Fukudome comes up with two men on base and blasts his first career home run. The Cubs would go on to lose that game, but for Fukudome, it was a 3 for 3 day and the first of 37 home runs for the rightfielder, described as a cross between Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Unfortunately, those 37 home runs would be his career total, and with him being traded to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, that comes out to about $1.3 million per home run.

His strength is his ability to take a walk, but teams don’t pay rightfielders $48 million to take a walk. Teams don’t pay rightfielders $5 million to take a walk. They need to hit and, ideally, hit for power. Because of this there weren’t many suitors for his services. But being a free agent with a good OBP, he’ll make a good injury replacement in Cleveland’s lineup and give them a modest improvement over what they have now, at basically no cost to them.

In return, the Cubs get a relief pitcher in Carlton Smith and an outfielder in Abner Abreu.

Smith is a 25 year old in his second AAA season. He’s got a low 90’s fastball and a slider but is only useful against right handed hitters. He’ll probably get a cup of coffee but won’t be much more than a 10th or 11th man in the pen unless his uptick in strikeouts this year is for real.

Abreu is, in the words of Keith Law, the lottery ticket. He’s got a great arm in a corner outfield spot and good bat speed, but his approach is Cub-like. He doesn’t walk, he strikes out a lot, but he’s got some power and he’s got some speed (19 of 22 stolen bases this year). Sounds similar to January’s trade of Tom Gorzelanny where they received Michael Burgess in return (that trade is looking mighty bad, by the way).

The reaction will probably be “what a terrible trade”. But this is what Fukudome is worth. He’s been on the market since last offseason, the 29 other GM’s all knew Fukudome was available, and it just so happened that none would part with anything more than this.

“So why make the trade?!” you may ask. “Why NOT make the trade” is my answer. What were the Cubs going to get by keeping him? Zilch. The “prospects” might not be much, but they’re under team control for 6 years each. You may as well take the chance that they’ll contribute SOMETHING more in that time than Fukudome would contribute in the next two months.

  • Buddy

    Agreed that trading Fukudome by himself couldn’t have brought back much in return in any scenario. I was hoping Fukudome would be part of a package that included a pitcher and maybe Marlon Byrd. Perhaps that combo would have produced some useful young talent instead of the bag of crap the Indians just sent our way.

    • Norm

      I think you have to be an ‘impact’ player for that Buddy. Adding quantity doesn’t really do the trick.
      I think Ramirez is the only guy the Cubs have that would bring a top 75 guy back.

      • Buddy

        I think if the Cubs would have added Marshall or Dempster (assuming he’d approve a trade) to what I mentioned above, the return haul could have been very promising. I know the Tigers are looking for pitching and OF help. D’backs too.

      • Norm

        Well, yeah, but you’re talking about two guys that won’t be traded.
        I think most of us agree that Marshall should go, but realistically, that’s not happening.

  • Jedi

    Don’t forget the cash we sent with Kosuke, almost $4 mil – another Jim Hendry special.

    • Seymour Butts

      Getting anything back is a plus for Hendry. Sometimes when you bargain from a position of weakness your success is measured in how much you lose vs how much you could have lost. Avoiding any of Kosuke’s salary is a good thing, he was not going to help the Cubs into the post season. The players in return are, as always, a crap shoot.
      This was not something to deride Hendry for, he did well under the circumstances.

      • chet

        Those “circumstances” you mention were created by Jim Hendry himself.

        So basically he did well to undo his own mess?

      • Seymour Butts

        Yeah..basically…. when a big boy poops his pants, he cleans it up.

      • Jeremiah Johnson

        Seymour–I like the analogy. But would it be too much to ask for a GM who is already potty-trained?

      • chet

        good analogy, but he just paid millions to clean up his own mess….sounds like our government.

  • chet

    Two beefs with the fook trade….

    1) we got 2 players that we already have about 7 versions of in our minor league system….most of them won’t pan out either.

    2) We paid almost all of his salary to get these two players. I think we saved a million dollars and while I would love to have $1 million, it means little in the grand scheme of things. We basically paid $4 million to open an outfield spot.

    Nice work Trader Jim…..another one of your signings that you tried to repair with a trade years later that actually ended up making the original signing look even worse!

    I wonder how much money we have paid out to “contenders” over the years in order to trade our guys?

    The worst part of this trade is yet to unfold…..wait until Jim forces these players down the throat of whomever is managing in the future. Whether they are ready or not he will demand they see the big league team so he can showcase their value and his decision making, only to learn that they are the next flop, or over-rated piece of crap.

    I hate this team and it all starts at the top.


    • Jedi

      Chet – it’s even worse than that; we “saved” only $775k and that’s before we account for having to pay the two prospects. Couldn’t agree more with your fears on our future trades.

    • Jeremiah Johnson

      Right you are, Chet. And according to ESPN, it’s closer to $775K that the Cubs saved–so it’s even slightly worse than you described.

  • chet

    tried to feel better by saying 1 mill…..but you are correct….it is much worse.

    Anybody want to make bets that the pitcher we got sees the major league roster in September whether he is any good or not?

  • Buddy

    Had the Cubs kept Fukudome through the end of this season, what kind of pick would they have received when he signs with another team?

    • Jedi

      Probably a guitar pick.

      • Buddy

        Hey hey!

      • Jedi

        In reality though Buddy – Fukudome MIGHT become a Type B free agent…I’m not holding my breath. And that’s assuming that you want to offer him arbitration (ala the Rich Harden fiasco).

      • Jedi

        By the way, I see differing opinions as to whether Fukudome is even eligible to be offered arbitration. It might be a non-issue.

      • Buddy

        I wasn’t sure. Just asking.

      • Jedi

        Buddy, I finally found the answer for us…Fukudome is NOT eligible for arbitration, but if he WERE he would no longer warrant even Type B consideration. Before the trade, he was right on the cusp of Type B in the NL.

  • So long Kosuke. You were good here, not great.
    I remember the excitement when the Cubs went after you. I think it boiled down to the Padres or us and I was so happy when we got you. Never quite panned out how I hoped. Good luck.

  • PackerCubBull

    Here’s to Fukudome helping keep the White Sox out of the playoffs