Heading into the off-season, it was widely believed that the Chicago Cubs were going to trade Kosuke Fukudome, and the remaining $13.5MM on his deal for next season. With the emergence of Tyler Colvin this season, Fukudome basically came out of favor with the Cubs. However, his numbers spiked once Mike Quade took over the Cubs in place of Lou Piniella.
Under Piniella this season, Fukudome hit .258/.365/.425. However, under Mike Quade, Fukudome hit .277/.390/.482 with more walks than strikeouts. It is for those reasons, that the Chicago Cubs may hold onto Kosuke Fukudome, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.
Just like their is question over how good the Cubs are right now, considering the strong finish under Mike Quade despite a mediocre roster. The question still persists with what Fukudome is the real Fukudome? The one who struggled under the tutelage of Lou Piniella, or the one who thrived under Mike Quade.
In my opinion, the perfect role for Fukudome is as a role player, starting once or twice a week. The less at bats that Fukudome has during a season, the more valueable he becomes to a team that he is playing on. In 2008 and 2009, Fukudome had 590 and 603 plate appearances respectively. During those two seasons, Fukudome hit .257/.359/.379 in 2008, and .259/.375/.421 in 2009.
However, this season, Fukudome had a career low 429 plate appearances. As a result, Fukudome’s lined increased to a career high in average and slugging percentage, hitting .263/.371/.439. While it was not a big increase in production, it still was an increase to his previous years. Ideally, If Fukudome has around 350-400 plate appearances in a season, he probably will be able to hit around .280. Also, you have to take in consideration that Fukudome is an above average fielder in the outfield.
Also in the report, Stark touched on the availability of Carlos Zambrano, and what the Chicago Cubs are looking for in a first baseman.
Like Fukudome, Stark reports that the Cubs are “less inclined” to trade Carlos Zambrano this winter, than they were earlier in the year. However, Stark indicates that the Cubs are willing to listen to offers for Zambrano. Though, it is unlikely that Zambrano would waive his no trade clause, and wants to be back with the Chicago Cubs next season. Despite Zambrano’s wishes, teams are expressing interest in trading for him, Zambrano finished the season on a run going 8-0 with an ERA of 1.58.
As for who the Cubs are looking at for their next first baseman, Jayson Stark shoots down any idea of the Cubs signing Adam Dunn. According to Stark, one National League executive whose had conversations with the Cubs brass, believes the Cubs are looking for an above average fielding first baseman. Which would eliminate Adam Dunn, who is one of the worst fielders in the game today. At this point, Carlos Pena would make the most sense for the Cubs. Despite Pena having a poor .196 average this season, he still had 28 home runs with the Rays this past year. Also, Pena fits the criteria, as he is one of the best fielding first basemen in the league.