Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs Make 4 Year Deal

Fukudome is not a name for a domed ballpark, but is the family name for one of the premier outfielders in Japanese baseball; lefthanded hitting Kosuke Fukudome.

But mistaking a baseball player’s name for something else is nothing new for me. It was only a year ago when I mistook Lastings Milledge for a turnpike freight hauling fee, and not so long ago that I thought Coco Crisp was a Kellogs cereal, that Prince Fielder was royalty from a foreign country and that Eric Gagne was one of Vince McMahon’s WWF wrestlers.

Be that as it may, Fukudome made his move to become a Major Leaguer on Tuesday and promptly nailed down a four-year, $48 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, pending results of a physical to be taken next week. The addition of Fukudome gives the Cubbies a potent lefthanded hitter to join their already dangerous, yet righthanded tandem of All Star leftfielder Alfonso Soriano, 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez and 1st baseman Derrick Lee.

AP Sports reporter Rick Gano reports for Yahoo sports;

Fukudome was the 2006 Central League MVP, batting .351 with 31 homers and 104 RBIs. The 30-year-old slugger was a key member of the Japan team that won the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March 2006.

He had surgery on his right elbow in August and sat out the Japan Series, but has 192 homers and a .305 batting average over nine seasons with the Chunichi Dragons, who won their first championship in 53 years on Nov. 2.

He is expected to play right field for the Cubs, who traded outfielder Jacque Jones to Detroit this offseason and declined their contract option on veteran Cliff Floyd.

MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat adds;

Fukudome, 30, had considered multi-year deals from the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants and his former team, the Chunichi Dragons.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said scouts have described the outfielder as a cross between Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki.

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