Bill James projection: 520 ABs, 138 H, 76 R, 13 HR, 61 RBI, .265/.365/.792
What we think: sounds about right. This is what $10 million buys you in MLB, 2010? The very essence of Mehdiocre? Yes, he is going back to right field, and we will benefit from that, alone. Byrd in CF and Fukudome in RF will be better than Fukudome in CF and Bradley in RF. We are halfway through the Fukudome era in Chicago, and although the first two years seemed far different in trajectory, in the end, both years were darn similar. The above projection is pretty much the average of 2008 and 2009, and there really is no reason to suggest he will perform otherwise.
But honestly, I thought we were getting a 20/80 guy, with .300/.400/.900 when he was signed as our key free agent of 2008. He went on a tear his first two months with us, then was a complete offensive drag after that. Last year, Fooky had a nice first month, then cooled down, not quite as bad as the last part of 2008, but enough to where he ended up with nearly the same offensive production as his first year.
There is no reason whatsoever to believe he is going to find a next gear, and ratchet his offensive game up. Basically, if you didn't know what his contract calls for, you would look at this guy, a guy who gets on base, plays decent outfield defense, and call him a great fourth outfielder. However, he is being paid as a starter, and based on everything we have seen, heard, and read, he is our starting right fielder.
What would I like to see? I want to see Tyler Colvin start in RF, and Fukudome become the 4th outfielder. Why? Because, someday, Colvin COULD be that 20/80 guy. I think he has a better chance of doing that in 2010 than Kosuke. Honest to God, I do.
I think Colvin is one of our three best outfielders. He might be the very best, in fact. At least he could be the best. What do we know about him? Very little, I admit. But what we know is that Byrd will not give us 20/80, nor will Fukudome, nor will Soriano, if I had to guess. Soriano COULD give us 40/100, if he were 30 years old and healthy. But he is 33 with a bad knee. Kurt says just because somebody is 33 years old with a bad knee doesn't automatically make him a bustout. He cites Andre Dawson. Dawson was a Hall of Famer. Soriano is not.
What does any of this have to do with Fukudome? Well, I want him to be our first outfielder off the bench. If we had confidence in Colvin, if Byrd was assured to hit as well as he did in Texas, and if Soriano was 30 and healthy, Fukudome would be our fourth outfielder. But none of those things are true, so the Dome will play, and give us our .270/.370/.770 and make us like it. And, we'll be in the bottom half in offense again this year.
So, what hope do we have? Silva the Hutt winning 15? Sure, if that happens, we'll win the division, whether or not Fukudome improves or not.