Tag: Kosuke Fukudome

New York Yankees Add Outfield Depth by Signing Kosuke Fukudome to Deal

While the New York Yankees resumed their second half of the 2012 season by beating the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 Friday night, Brian Cashman was looking for ways to improve the team.

According to Mark Carig of the Newark Star Ledger, the Bombers signed veteran outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a minor league deal.

Fukudome is expected to report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilks-Barre, according to Carig.

Fukudome started out 2012 with the Chicago White Sox, but after batting .171 in 24 games, he was designated for assignment by Chicago, and then was officially released on June 27.

When Fukudome came over to Major League Baseball from Japan in 2008, he had a lot of hype and media attention on him as a member of the Chicago Cubs. He was named to the National League All-Star team and finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

But so far in American baseball, Fukudome has been nothing more than a fourth or fifth outfielder (at best) with limited power; he doesn’t hit for a high average, either.

Fukudome can play all three outfield spots, which can give the Yankees some versatility and defensive options if he ends up working out in the minors. If anything, with the Brett Gardner injury, the Yankees may need another outfielder they can depend on.

Just before the All-Star break, the Yankees had claimed Darnell McDonald off waivers from the Boston Red Sox, but McDonald is at best a fifth outfielder who gets put into games for defensive purposes only. McDonald hits for even less power and a worse average than Fukudome does.

Bringing in Fukudome is an under-the-radar type of move by Cashman that could work out simply on the fact that maybe the Japanese veteran can benefit from a change of scenery. Or, maybe the fact that playing in front of Yankee Stadium and for a chance at a pennant could motivate him and potentially see him begin a power surge.

Or maybe it just doesn’t work out with Fukudome, and Cashman just releases him with no major harm done to the payroll.

Because of the Gardner injury situation and because he hasn’t played since the middle of April, I think Cashman is adding a little insurance to his outfield. With the second half of the season, he knows Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones can’t continue to go out there regularly and play the outfield since they are both up there in age.

Fukudome is 35 years old, but he has barely played in 2012, whereas Ibanez and Jones have had to accept bigger roles with the Yankees in 2012 because of Gardner’s elbow injury.

Only time will tell if signing Fukudome works out for the Yankees this season. Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

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Chicago Cubs: The ‘New Big Z’ Should Be Himself Without Restraint

Carlos Zambrano has been to the mountaintop and back.

He has braved the treacherous climb, studied with the celebrated Dharma bums in the Himalayas, found inner peace with the spirit of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and even spent a few months in the swamps of Dagobah under Jedi master Yoda.

He is ready.

Of course, Luke Skywalker also thought he was ready and then hurried off only to have his hand cut off by his asthma-bound father Darth Vader at Cloud City. While I’m pretty sure Zambrano’s appendages are safe, he still controls much of the Chicago Cubs’ density—I mean, destiny—this season.

Sure, he may do as much damage to the dynamic of the Chicago Cubs this season as Anakin Skywalker did when he basically killed all the Jedi Knights once he joined the “Dark Side,” but he could also do as much good as the Skywalker family eventually did for the freedom of the galaxy. You see, the problem with Zambrano is that too much can be a bad thing but—and hear me out on this—too little may also.

Zambrano was the only semblance of passion in last year’s lifeless, heartless and pathetic Cubs campaign. Derrek “6-4-3 inning-ending double play” Lee deserved plenty of guff for his lack of obvious concern. Aramis Ramirez couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat at the time, Alfonso Soriano looked like Wyle E. Coyote in left field and Kosuke Fukudome did more spinning in the batter’s box than the late DJ AM ever did in the booth.

The whole season lacked anything special, and the entire roster looked as if it was joining manager Lou Piniella in his impending retirement.

Heck, even the hot dog vendor deserved a little bit of the fury. It was THAT bad. Honestly, Zambrano’s outburst in late June was not the worst thing to happen and, as usual, Jim Hendry blindly threw him under the bus to maintain appearances and the status quo. The same GM who hired Piniella—a manager that had thrown more temper tantrums than all of the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ put together—now was condemning a MUCH younger man for doing the same thing.

While I don’t condone showing your teammates up, I do support players calling a spade a spade when calling out an entire team that hadn’t shown positive life since their brilliant general manager thought adding clubhouse great Milton Bradley was a good idea. Zambrano hit the boiling point many Cubs fans had been at all season, yet he was entirely at fault according to Cubs brass and the Chicago media machine, but they all failed to see that he was calling himself out as well.

Hendry, as usual, missed a real opportunity to call out his cast of wayward (and overpriced) toys, but—just like he did when he failed to handle the Ryne Sandberg managerial situation professionally—he showed he lacked the stones to lead. Having the guts to gamble is not the same as having the intestinal fortitude to be a leader. Hendry unfortunately lacks this, which is why he couldn’t bring himself to hire a manager who just might challenge him on how he ran the ballclub.

Mike Quade is a good man, and a solid coach, but make no mistakes about it: He is a “yes” man from head to toe. Zambrano, on the other hand, is not. He speaks from the gut, which can be misinterpreted in the sound bite world we live in these days, especially in Chicago, where the media calls fall and winter “QB Hunting Season” and the summer becomes a hot mess of pessimism.

The awfully negative Chicago media loves to give stupid nicknames like “Old Z” and “New Z,” or “Good Rex (Grossman)” and “Bad Rex,” but here’s a little secret for you: He’s the same guy no matter if you change his name to “Good Z,” “New Z,” or even Pee-Wee Herman. The Cubs have spent four years trying to reign in a wild horse and it obviously isn’t working.

If memory serves, the last major blowup Zambrano had was in 2007 when he gave catcher Michael Barrett a judo chop to the grill. The result? Piniella blew his fuse a few games later and the Cubs went on a magical run to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Don’t let the media fool you: Emotion and getting in a teammate’s face can work magic when the gauge is on empty. It’s the “crawling into a hole and quietly fading” that gets me worked up, and Zambrano’s emotion doesn’t tolerate that. He wants to win that bad, and if you don’t want it at the same level, then you better take some self-defense classes because you deserve anything Zambrano brings to you.

After 102 years without a World Series, I’m sure plenty of Cubs fans would agree that enough is enough. You’ve got to want it as bad as he does, or this isn’t going to work.

I’d love, for once, to see the Cubs and their management give Zambrano all the slack he needs to be himself. It’s not a coincidence that his performance has gone down since they began worrying about his psyche. The minute you tell someone to not be themselves, you’ll also see their performance resemble someone else as well.

You can’t have both.

In Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker had the greatest potential as a Jedi Knight but he gave into his anger and emotion too much, which led to his destructive nature and him becoming Darth Vader. But when given unconditional love regardless thanks to his son, who believed in him, it was Anakin (as Darth Vader) who eventually defeated the Emperor by throwing him down the reactor shaft.

Unconditional love and support throughout the early part of his career fostered in the golden age of Carlos Zambrano. Perhaps a little freedom, some support and some emotional space might bring him back to the days when he mowed down opponents like defenseless Ewoks and gave a team in contention the emotional boost it needed down the stretch.

Too much of anything is a bad thing, and that goes for restraint as well.

Me, personally, I’d rather not see “New Z” or “Old Z.” I just want to see Carlos Zambrano, the pitcher who has shown electric brilliance more than a few times and still has plenty left to showcase. If you bottle that up with the right mix, you’ve got something sweeter than Yoo-Hoo and more potent than any ginger root west of the Great Wall of China.

If you don’t, all you’ll have is a regretful son of a Jedi staring at a two-starred sunset, wondering what might have been had he left Tatooine with the old hermit, Ben Kenobi.

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World Series Issues: Why the Chicago Cubs Haven’t Succeeded

After 103 years of failure and disappointment, there have to be some excuses as to why the Chicago Cubs cannot win a World Series, let alone make it to one. Cubs fans have suffered, but remained loyal for inexplicable circumstances, including injuries and blunders. It has been a highlight reel of misfortune. This will discuss the top five reasons as to why the Cubs cannot win.

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 NL Central Deals That Could Swing The Division In 2011

In baseball, divisions can be won or lost based on what a team does in the winter months, and perhaps more so than any other division, the NL Central could be decided by a few key off season moves.

The division looks to be a three team race between the Cardinals, Reds, and Cubs. The Brewers are also capable of making some noise, while the Astros and Pirates are in the middle of rebuilding and could see marked improvement in the years to come.

What follows are the ten moves that could be the difference in the NL Central this coming season, whether it is by strengthening one of the front runners or improving one of the divisions bottom teams and making for a tougher division top to bottom.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Chicago Cubs May Have Interest In Ryan Doumit

It has been a quick and decisive fall from grace for Pittsburgh Pirates catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit. In 2008, Doumit looked like a future superstar. He hit .318/.357/.501, and was worth 3.6 WAR despite poor defense behind home plate. That winter, the Pirates signed Doumit to a three-year contract with club options for 2012-13. The future looked bright.

It has not been so. Doumit struggled to stay healthy in 2009, playing in only 75 games. He has also run into injury problems this season, and the Pirates moved decisively in another direction when they traded for Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder in July. Snyder has displaced Doumit to the outfield.

Doumit has played mostly right field since, and has been somewhat better there with the glove. His bat, which faltered badly as he tried to play through pain in 2009, has also come around. Doumit’s power has deserted him somewhat, but but his nine percent walk rate is a career-high.

Unfortunately for Doumit, Snyder is now locked in as the team’s starting backstop—his $5.75-million salary makes him the most expensive prospective 2011 Pirate. Garrett Jones seems ticketed for a return to right field, leaving Doumit as the odd man out.

Not wanting to fork over the $5.2 million they owe Doumit for next season, Pittsburgh long ago began shopping its switch-hitting catcher. Given the lean years Doumit has had since 2008, though, there will be relatively few suitors.

One team that might have interest, however, is the Chicago Cubs. Like Pittsburgh, the Cubs will pursue a rebuilding model in 2011 (whether they like it or not). Unlike Pittsburgh, however, Chicago has money to spend as GM Jim Hendry tries to shore up an offensive squad that lacks depth. Doumit could solve some of that.

As a switch-hitter, Doumit could act as the right-handed half of a right-field platoon with Kosuke Fukudome and/or Tyler Colvin. Because he bats substantially better as a left-handed hitter, he could also help out with occasional spot starts for catcher Geovany Soto against tough right-handed hurlers, and even play some first base if Hendry is unable to acquire an impact player at one of the two corner infield positions.

To build a worthwhile deal for Pittsburgh, Hendry could send one mid-level pitching prospect (a major league-ready arm like Justin Berg would most appeal to the Pirates), and either Jeff Baker or Darwin Barney to the Bucs.

Baker is a likely non-tender candidate this winter, and is therefore expendable to the Cubs. As a Pirate, he could platoon with Jones in right field or back-up both Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez on the infield. Baker rakes against left-handed pitching, and is a better fielder at second and third base than the Pirates’ incumbents.

For Hendry to part with Barney, who would pose a real challenge to former Cub Ronny Cedeno at shortstop in Pittsburgh, the Cubs would need to evaluate their farm system and determine that one of their more advanced infield prospects (Tony Thomas, Marquez Smith, and Josh Vitters are the sensible candidates) are ready for big-league time off the bench. Otherwise, Barney will be needed to play second base, and back-up Starlin Castro at shortstop.

Doumit would not be cheap, given his prospective role on the Cubs, but could make a positive contribution and keep the team in games with impact batting off the bench. Only time will tell whether Hendry has any room in his budget for such an addition, but it would probably benefit the Cubs to look into it.

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The Chicago Cubs’ Five Steps For Winning the World Seres By 2014

Yesterday afternoon, Lou Piniella managed his final game with the Chicago Cubs. 

And in typical Cubs fashion, they lost, bad, 16-5.

Its hard to believe that, save for a few players, this is the same Cubs team that posted the best record in the National League in 2008. Now the Cubs are in 5th place, with only the bargain basement Pirates keeping them from last in the NL Central (but only by 9.5 games mind you).

In the past month, we’ve seen half of our infield and a starting pitcher traded away, as well as  Piniella’s recent retirement.

The Cubs aren’t in a position to win for at least two years, but at least there’s hope, right? 

Well, there’s some, but there are things that must be done for them to win the World Series before Wrigley’s Centennial in 2014.

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Chicago Cubs: Fontenot to Giants a Sign of Things to Come?


The Giants and Cubs had a little unfinished business to attend to before they matched up Wednesday night in San Francisco. With the owner’s meetings getting underway in Minneapolis, Jim Hendry and Brian Sabean completed a trade that they reportedly began talking about as the trade deadline was approaching.

Mike Fontenot was sent from the visiting clubhouse to the home clubhouse in exchange for 22-year-old outfield prospect Evan Crawford. In a corresponding roster move, the Cubs called up 24-year-old middle infielder Darwin Barney from Triple-A Iowa.

But what does this mean for the North Siders going forward?

To begin with, it appears that the youth movement is in full effect. Between this trade and the one that sent Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to Los Angeles before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Cubs basically replaced three players aged 34, 30, and 30 (Lilly, Theriot, and Fontenot) with another three aged 27, 24, and 24 (Thomas Diamond, Blake DeWitt, and Barney).

It also reduced the cost of this roster.

Lilly was heading into free agency, Theriot into his second year of arbitration, and Fontenot into his first year of arbitration following his Super Two status last off-season. Meanwhile, DeWitt will not hit arbitration for another year and Diamond and Barney are three years away from that milestone at the very least.

It might also mean that the Cubs are set up the middle of their infield for the next few years.

Starlin Castro has six years of team control remaining and a seemingly bright future with both the glove and the bat; Barney has a glove that should keep him in at least a defensive substitution role for those same six years of team control; and DeWitt should be able to provide solid enough offense and defense to hold down the keystone while he plays out his four years of team control.

While many Cubs fans will be waiting for Hak-Ju Lee or one of the many other middle infield prospects to develop and burst onto the scene, those three may very well be able to do the job. If nothing else, the lack of large salaries gives enough flexibility to make additions to the position group down the road.

The most important takeaway for this season, though, is this: the Cubs didn’t stop looking for trade partners when the non-waiver trade deadline passed. There may very well be more moves to come.

So who might be on their way out before September 1st?

Since Derrek Lee already rejected a trade to the Angels and Carlos Silva landed on the disabled list with heart troubles, I am hard-pressed to believe that either of them will be going anywhere this season.

In my mind, that leaves only three names that are likely to find their way onto the backs of new jerseys: Xavier Nady, Kosuke Fukudome, and Jeff Baker.

Nady was originally a part of the negotiations that just sent Fontenot to San Francisco and also drew interest from the Rangers earlier in the year. With about one million dollars left on his contract this season, he might get picked up by a contending team looking for a first baseman or designated hitter down the stretch.

The Angels lost out on Lee, so maybe they would be interested in the cheaper (both in terms of money and players sent in exchange) option from the same team. Although it’s purely speculation on my part, I believe they might have interest in the Salinas native.

Fukudome is on the block mainly because of his prohibitive contract. He offers a level of defense, patience, and occasional power that would be much more attractive if he weren’t making more than 3.5 million for the remainder of this season and 13.5 million in 2011.

Those dollar amounts mean that he is a likely candidate to clear Trade Assignment Waivers and open up negotiations with anyone who’s biting, but his no-trade clause makes any such move slightly more difficult. It isn’t because he wouldn’t approve a trade right now, but because (as I’ve said before) part of a player’s value is how easily you can get rid of him.

Because he only has one year remaining on his contract and does provide the defense, patience, and occasional power that he has shown in the past, there is no reason that the Cubs should be leveraged into eating too much of his contract or getting next to nothing in return. He can still be a valuable backup outfielder for this team if the negotiating parties fail to realize that fact.

Baker, on the other hand, might be the least likely of the three to get moved. The reasoning for that is fairly simple in my mind: he hasn’t hit consistently well in his major league career and doesn’t provide enough in the way of defense to inflate his value much.

He has some versatility in the infield and at the outfield corners, which helps, and is still under team control for three more years, which also helps, but I’m not sure that’s enough to draw serious interest.

Still, it wouldn’t surprise me (and shouldn’t surprise anyone else, in my opinion) if a few more trades are made in the next few weeks. In return, look for prospects or young major leaguers instead of established veterans.

This season may be all but over, but a solid foundation is being built for the future. Just wait and see.

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Five MLB Players That Still Might Be Traded

Although the July 31st trade deadline has passed, teams can still try to pass players through waivers in hopes to make an August trade.

Here are five players that might be changing teams in the next few weeks.

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Sean Marshall, Kosuke Fukudome: Why, How They Could Help Boston Red Sox

As we approach the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline, the Boston Red Sox will be looking to make a trade or two to help the team stay in playoff contention.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is looking to upgrade the bullpen as the team has had poor middle relief from Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima over the last few weeks. 

Epstein has reportedly considered many names such as Rafael Perez, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Kerry Wood, Kyle Farnsworth, and David Aardsma as possible targets. 

Arguably the top reliever available with Matt Capps heading the Twins is Blue Jays relief pitcher Scott Downs.  Downs, has an impressive 2.34 ERA in 47 games for Toronto.  However, the Blue Jays are asking for either Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias for Downs, a price that they are not willing to pay.

Even with the unlikely acquisition of Downs, the Red Sox still have other options that could come much cheaper.

One name that hasn’t been mentioned at all and who has numbers better than Downs and is also a left handed pitcher is Chicago Cubs reliever Sean Marshall.

Marshall, has been the Cubs primary bridge to Carlos Marmol. This season, Marshall has put up a 6-3 record with an amazing 1.71 ERA in 53 appearances. 

Marshall‘s name has not come up at all in trade rumors, and the Red Sox could make a serious run at him.  Unlike Downs, Marshall’s price tag is likely a lot lower.

The Sox have been looking for a set up man along with Daniel Bard to pitch and hand the ball off to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning.  Their current middle relievers besides Bard are Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima, who both have an ERA over 5.

Marshall is by far the best fit right now for the Sox as a reliever.

The Sox have also been looking into a possibility of bringing in an outfielder to hold down the fort in left field until Jacoby Ellsbury returns. 

Names such as Jayson Werth and Corey Hart have been thrown around, but both are unlikely to move at this point.

However, a guy that no one has really paid attention to who is having an all right season and is a real bargain is Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, Marshall’s teammate.

Fukudome, has been forced into a pinch hitting role in Chicago in favor of Xavier Nady.  This season, he has a .250 AVG with 8 HR and 26 RBIs. 

The Red Sox have previously shown interest in Fukudome, but were not a fan of his salary.

However, due to lack of interest, the Cubs have tried to draw the Sox back in by offering to pay for most of Fukudome’s 2010 salary as they have been trying to trade him since June.

A Marshall and Fukudome deal for the Sox could be a real bargain and probably their best option to get better at this point.

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Could Kosuke Fukudome Land In Washington This Season?

The Washington Nationals have stepped up a notch in the MLB with their performance this year after their horrible 103-loss season in 2009.

The Nats did make quite a few moves for Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham before the 2009 season, and they are now the core guys, along with Zimmerman in the lineup. They also traded for the speedster Nyjer Morgan.

With Washington making plenty of wise moves this offseason, they are off to an average start, with a 31-33 record. They are just 6 games back in the National League East. 

Since the Nationals have shown that they may be ready for playoff contention, Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome might be the next starting Right Fielder for the Nats.

The Chicago Cubs look as if they are a “selling team” this year, and the Nationals could use help in RF. 

They have been using Mike Morse and Roger Bernadina together, and it is going fine. But Fukudome could be the guy that can start in all 3 outfield positions, and he could also be a solid 4th outfielder. He is also locked up in his contract until the end of the 2011 season. 

The salary is another problem, because of his $13.5 million earnings per year. But if the Cubbies decide to take some of that portion off, the Washington Nationals might be able to land this guy.

We do not know if the Nationals can keep playing good baseball like they have been all year, but at this point, Kosuke Fukudome can be brought in to help them become an overall solid team. 

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