For the benefit of those who haven't properly prepared for the arrival of the newest Cub by learning his native tongue, that headline means "Yes!" (Myself, I've been in Berlitz classes for weeks. It's called devotion to the cause, folks.)
With all of the Kosuke Fukudome rumors and partial truths that the media have reported in recent weeks, I am still coming to grips with the fact that this deal is actually done. But reports to that effect have been all over the Chicago media this evening, led apparently by one from David Kaplan of WGN Radio.
Around 10pm, Pat Boyle of Comcast Sportsnight reported that he had spoken to Jim Hendry shortly before going on the air, and Hendry confirmed the Cubs had signed the Japanese star to a four-year deal. Hendry did not confirm a dollar figure; Boyle said Comcast's sources placed the number at somewhere around $14MM per season.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports phoned into the Comcast show and said Fukudome had actually made up his mind to come to the U.S. several days ago, when Rosenthal reported that he had. Rosenthal contends Fukudome and his representatives only denied a decision had been made because Japanese baseball etiquette dictates that a player formally and respectfully inform the team he is leaving of his plans before he starts to entertain new offers.
(Respectful behavior in baseball negotiations--funny stuff, huh? Fukudome really does have a big adjustment in front of him.)
More from Foxy Ken:
- Scouts say the U.S. player whose game most resembles Fukudome's is Raul Ibanez of the Mariners, who, ironically, was rumored to be on Jim Hendry's radar if Fukudome landed elsewhere. (For those not well versed in Ibanez, the 12-year, career American Leaguer is a lifetime .285 hitter. His 162-game average line over those 12 seasons--21 HRs, 91 RBI, .345 OBP, .471 SLG and an OPS+ of 111.)
- Fukudome could hit as high as second in the batting order, but could also be a big contributor lower in the lineup.
- Fukudome should be fully recovered by Opening Day from the elbow problems and endoscopic surgery that ended his 2007 season in Japan.
- The Fukudome signing will not help the Cubs pry Brian Roberts loose from the Orioles. The problem is not that Jim Hendry has been unable to focus his attention on striking a deal with Andy MacPhail; it's that Orioles owner Peter Angelos has a management-crush on Roberts, one of his favorite players, and MacPhail will have to do a lot of sweet talking, tap dancing, and maybe a few other things to persuade Angelos that it's in the O's interest to trade Roberts at all.
- Speaking of the trade discussions with the Orioles, don't expect Felix Pie to be part of any deal. The Cubs don't want to trade him and have told Baltimore as much.
Rosenthal's bottom line: Fukudome is going to a difference-maker for the Cubs.
Lastly, I would be remiss and completely out of character if I didn't point out how utterly and profoundly ecstatic I am that Kosuke Fukudome will NOT be wearing the black pinstripes of the Chicago White Sox.
So I'm going to point that out--I'm beside myself with joy.