So, Mr. Fukudome, you need a day or two more to ponder the biggest decision of your career, if not your life. (Frankly, I don't know where you get off keeping so many baseball fans on pins and needles.)

Just so you're aware, Mr. Lifetime .300 Hitter and Potential National League All-Star, the Cubs aren't intimidated by the possibility that you could choose to stay close to home or sign with some other Major League team: our GM, Jim Hendry, will have plenty of other free agent, left-handed-hitting outfielders to choose from.

I'm talking Barry Bonds, Milton Bradley, Darin Erstad, Steve Finley (yes, he's still alive), Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green, John-Ford Griffin, Geoff Jenkins, Ricky Ledee, Kenny Lofton (he was swell back in '03), Rob Mackowiak, David Newhan, Trot Nixon, Orlando Palmeiro (it's his brother who has the steroid and truth-telling issues), Corey Patterson, Scott Podsednik (that groin injury will heal some day), John Rodriguez, Brandon Watson and DeWayne Wise. Yes, that DeWayne Wise.

By my count, Mr. Fukudome, that's 19 alternatives with previous big league experience, 18 of whom--to the best of my knowledge--are not under federal indictment.

Just wanted you to know where we stand, sir.

We await your answer.


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