Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cubs, Fukudome agree on four-year deal

The Chicago Cubs and Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome have agreed on a four-year deal believed to total anywhere from $48MM to $50MM. Fukudome, 30, will likely serve as the team's everyday right fielder, while it is uncertain where in the lineup he will hit.

Exactly how well with Fukudome fare in America?


2005 CD: 515 at-bats; .328/.430/.590 with 39 doubles and 28 HR.
2006 CD: 496 at-bats; .351/.438/.653 with 47 doubles and 31 HR.
2007 CD: 269 at-bats; .294/.443/.520 with 22 doubles and 13 HR.

Before choking on that .440 on-base percentage, it's important to realize that his batting average going down will drop the on-base percentage considerably too. Not only that, American pitchers walk fewer batters, so that will hurt it even more.

Judging by the numbers of other Japanese stars like Hideki Matsui and Tadahito Iguchi and how they reacted to Major League Baseball, I thought that Fukudome would perform around .290/.360/.480 with 15 homeruns and 25 doubles in a full, healthy season. The experts seem to be a bit more optimistic.

The PECOTA system projected Fukudome at .289/.401/.504 with 30 doubles and 15 homeruns in just 395 official times at-bat. The CHONE system is a little more down to earth, but still expects .283/.373/.465 with 38 doubles and 16 homers in a full season. ZiPS projects Fukudome at 457 AB going .293/.382/.460 with 33 doubles and 13 homers.

It seems like many of computers think that Fukudome can keep his doubles total real close to what it was in Japan. If he can continue to hit 30-40 doubles and keep that on-base percentage in the .380's, Fukudome would be a great addition to the team. I would definitely hit that version of Kosuke Fukudome in the cleanup spot.

LF Soriano
2B DeRosa
1B Lee
RF Fukudome
3B Ramirez
C Soto
SS Cedeno/Theriot
CF Pie

If Felix Pie can live up to his end of the bargain and the shortstop (whoever it may be) can play competently, that is one scary lineup.

Cubs interested in Roberts, Nathan: The Chicago Cubs have shown interest in Orioles' second baseman Brian Roberts as well as Twins' closer Joe Nathan. While the latter might cost a little too much, considering the fact that we have three capable closing options, I would certainly welcome Brian Roberts to the team with open arms, Mitchell Report or not.

Without speculating too much about what it may cost us to bring the switch hitting second baseman to our club, let's try to speculate how that will change things in the lineup. Brian Roberts most definitely would hit second and play second base, meaning Mark DeRosa would be completely replaced.

For the record, there are very few people that I would be willing to bench Mark DeRosa in favor of, but Roberts would be one of them. What does that mean for DeRosa? He might end up having to sit on the bench and play the role that he played for the Braves or his versatility might give him the ability to log some at-bats at short or center field. Someone even suggested that DeRosa would be able to start five game a week by playing a different position each time.

Let's not worry about DeRosa too hard though. As of now, Roberts is still an Oriole and DeRosa is still our starting second baseman.