This offseason, as with every other one, Cubs fans have begun to knock on Jim Hendry's door, toting their list of demands. As usual, these demands, typically written in crayon, include a surplus of frowny faces and sad-looking ponies. So, when Cubs fans begin tap their little toes and furrow their brow about something, I usually try to ignore it.
The case of Kosuke Fukudome is different. Many Cubs fans want him traded -- immediately. They want him and his contract out of town. He is not the slugger they ordered. I too feel slighted.
In Japan's 2007 season -- his final year before joining the Cubs -- Fukudome has a .443 on-base percentage (OBP) and a .520 slugging percentage (SLG). In other words, he ruled the islands. Nearly half the time he sauntered to the plate, he ended up on base. In the MLB, his OBP has been good (.375ish), but his power has nearly evaporated (.410 SLG since his arrival).
The dagger in the heart of most Cubs fans is not just his under-performance, but his under-performance in the context of his contract. The Cubs have 6 players with 7-digit contracts going into 2011:
Alfonso Soriano: $19.0MBasically, Fukudome is getting Ramirez money for Marlon Byrd hitting (which isn't that great, I'm sorry). But if the Cubs want to trade Fukudome, what can they expect to receive in return?
Carlos Zambrano: $18.9M
Aramis Ramirez: $14.6M
Kosuke Fukudome: $14.5M
Ryan Dempster: $14.5M
Carlos Silva: $12.8M
Well, Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors recently examined the CF market. Basically, Carl Crawford is going to decide the market. There are two legit CF free agents, Jason Werth and Coco Crisp, but about 5 or 6 teams looking for CF help. If either Boston or New York get Carl Crawford, then the whole market turns upside down. If he goes elsewhere, Kosuke Fukudome becomes one of 4 or 5 other outfielders capable of playing center field and open for trade.
The problem, as always, is his contract. Of the other potential trade targets, Fukudome is the only one making 7 digits. If the Cubs trade him, they will still probably have to eat half his contract. And who should we expect to net? His statistics since joining the Cubs have not merited his contract, and he will be 34 in 2011.
On top of that, the Cubs do not have really have a wave of prospects knocking on the door. Tyler Colvin seems to have potential, but regular PAs may very likely result in: (a) him becoming more 'exposed', decreasing his power numbers, and (b) his poor OBP really hurting the team. But even if Colvin turns out to be the real deal, there is an opening at 1B or even LF (if we ever tire of watching Alfonso Soriano injure himself on routine flies).
Behind Colvin, we have Brad Snyder -- who's 28 and has every appearance of a quad-A player. For the past few years, Snyder has hit well, but never really conquered the league.
So barring the possibility that Fukudome nets an ML-ready 1B or OF, trading him seems more like paying $7M just to play Tyler Colvin in RF.
But what are the chances Fukudome plays up to his contract in 2011? Let's examine that next.