Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kosuke Fukudome Still on the Market

Former Dragon Kosuke Fukudome has still yet to sign with any team in the U.S. or Japan.  He has stated that he would like to stay in the Majors and several MLB teams have been rumored to have had interest in him over the offseason.  The most recent team to be linked to him was the New York Mets last week; the Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Indians were rumored previously.  It is not too surprising that Fukudome is still looking for work in the U.S.  He has been about a league-average hitter in the Majors, but in each of his four big league seasons he has started off the season very hot and slumped continously downward as the season progressed.  His trade last year to Cleveland inserted him directly into a pennent race, but again he was unable to contribute much down the stretch and the Indians were unable to keep pace with the Detroit Tigers and missed a chance at the playoffs.  Kosuke batted .249/.300/.371 in 59 games for the Tribe in 2011.

In my opinion it is Fukudome's pattern of late season failure that is keeping teams away this offseason.  His overall MLB numbers are not bad at .260/.361/.399, he really has a knack for drawing walks and getting on base and is a solid defensive player, but it is hard to overlook his late-season slides.  At this point he has done nothing to prove to any MLB team that he can put together a full-season and he missed a golden opportunity to do so last year, in his contract year, and in the spotlight of a pennant race.

I hope he gets one more opportunity in the big leagues, but if he is out of chances here, I do think he could definitely help one of he NPB teams.  The Dragons in particular could really benefit from having him back.  He is unlikely to regain his power stroke with the new NPB ball, but he could provide some of the on-base skills that Chunichi truly lacked last year.
I don't know that he would want to return to the Dragons and I'm sure the other NPB teams will be after him as well.  Some have mentioned Yomiuri as a possible destination, but we will see.  Spring Training has already begun in Japan and will be soon in the U.S. and I'm pretty positive that he will be in someone's camp it just may not be in the league that Kosuke is hoping for.

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