2008 Preview - Kosuke Fukudome
I've been beating the drums for this guy since October.
Even though I am still not convinced that your 2008 Cubs are going to do a darned thing to remember them by without a decent leadoff hitter, and even though Uncle Lou's Grand Master Plan has this guy in the wrong place in the Batting Order at this time...my faith in Cuba Libre will be born out, and Kosuke Fukudome (aka Fooky, FukU, Fu Ku, Ko Fu, F-Dome.....) will be in his rightful place in the world, batting second and playing right field for us.
Let us review, once again, what a right fielder should be for the Cubs: a fearless fielder, with a plus arm. Must have to deal with sun, so must be able to get to the ball quickly in order to accordingly arrange glove/visor/shades. Must be smart, and remember that the wall juts out, the wind blows ball around in mysterious ways, and that there is about 18 inches of room between the foul line and the side wall in deep RF. Must be a good hitter, power desirable but not strictly necessary.
This guy fills the bill in all ways. Plus he is proving to be a fine teammate, who ingratiates himself with his peers, and who turned down more money to play for us. I am always thrown off watching him. Not because he is Japanese, but because it is odd for me to actually watch a patient batter wearing a Cubs uniform. He wants to run, and he seems to know HOW to run, which is a wonderful thing, based on telling stats from the Other Fifteen today, who quantified that the Cubs are one of the worst baserunning teams in history, certainly amongst division winners.
And, of course, if you live in the gutter as I do, you've noticed the man is a nickname MACHINE! Cultural differences can be wonderful, dontcha think? What is an obviously proud surname in Japan can be twisted and stretched into all sorts of Anglo fun! God help him if he ever breaks bad on us. I can see it spiraling completely out of control, "Fuku-this" and "Fuku-that".
I have a feeling, though, that both of us, me and the plural YOU, will be frustrated with him before all is said and done, and it isn't really gonna be his fault, on either count.
As I have already pointed out, barring the extremely logical and anticipated Roberts trade, the lineup is going to look like this:
- Pitcher duJour
He isn't gonna be the best fifth hitter in Cubs history.
Have I mentioned that Fukudome has the best bat control and most patience on the team? Maybe he should bat leadoff? Out of this bunch, sure, perhaps. But remember my rant the other day, how this team needs to be foolproof? All the perfect pieces must be in place for this team to win it all?
Well, assuming we had the perfect leadoff man, who milked pitchcounts, got on base, and created havoc, wouldn't it be great to have a bat wizard hitting 2nd? Someone who can protect runners, hit to the other side, hit behind runners, hit-and-run, makes contact, doesn't strike out much, draw walks and set things up nicely for 3-4-5?
Well, here's your man. Right here.
I have a feeling though that he is going to need to adjust to this league. I can see him hitting about .250 this year, I really can, which may lead at least one of you to shout out loud that Jacque Jones hits better than that! Ah, yes, but did Jones throw guys out? Did Jones know how to hit a cutoff man? Did he know how to move runners along? Did he know how to work a count? Did he have a .360 OBP? Did he know how to situationally hit, to try for a single when a single was needed?
Nah, Jones don't know any of those things. Fukudome knows them all. He WILL do the things to help us win. Roberts be damned, THIS is the singlemost important thing Hendry had to do this off-season, get this guy, and now the F-dome is in the house. Kon-ichi-wa.