In case you just came off of a 12-hour shift in a coal chute, the Fooker is gone, gone to Cleveland, and not only did Hendry not get anything back for him, but he had to send along all but $700,000 of the salary still owed to him. They want to see how Tyler Colvin finishes out the rest of the year, and I am fine with all of that.
Kurt remembers, and any of the rest of you that have followed me since the start of the Fukudome Era in Chicago are aware of the sad fact that I wanted Fooky here - badly, and not just because I thought we would have a smashing good time making fun of his name. (Live, from Phuket, Thailand, its...Fun With Foreign Languages, with your host, the Uncouth Sloth! YAAAAY!!)
In a rare bit of foresight, the Cubs were one of the first and only teams to set up a "Pacific Rim" scouting organization, and out of all the established Asian baseball players, Fukudome was the man the Cubs went hard after. They thought as I had - the man was an impact hitter, both high average and power, with an excellent eye, and an outstanding fielder to boot. He seemed to fit perfectly into a team who needed exactly what he brought - left handed impact, plate discipline, situational hitting, and a plus fielder in RF. Probably the only guy on the planet who wanted him more than Hendry did was me. He seemed custom made for us.
So, what happens? He puts up 3 nearly identical seasons in a row - hot Aprils, then a three month slump as the league adjusts/remembers his weak spots, then brief August resurgences followed by late season dives. He hit about .275 all three years, with an OBP of .375, with 12 homers and 50 RBI. He played well in RF, except when Lou Piniella put him in center to make room for Milton Bradley. Ugh, ugh....ugh. Statistically, the above average right fielder was the leagues worst center fielder in 2009. Then Bradley had to go, and the Fooker went back to right.
He was not, by far, the worst Cub. In fact, at times, he was the best Cub. He was our best fielder, and the man most likely to get on base. He was pretty good...just not 48 million dollars good, not the savior, not the man to tip us over the top.
The Fooker suffered from high, possibly inflated expectations, and of course, all that salary he made. He was decent, but not great. Shouldn't scouting have caught that, especially with our 'vaunted' Pacific Rim organization?
Today was a day to stop and evaluate the failure many...most, ok, all MLB teams have had scouting Japanese players. Besides Ichiro, there have been dozens of established Japanese League stars come here, many require a much larger financial outlay than the Fooker. How's Dice-K? Did Hideki Matsui really become a star here? What does history suggest about Hideo Nomo? That Irabu guy, the so-called savior of the Yankees pitching staff, decided yesterday to commit seppuku...even the Great Ichiro is described by former teammates as a selfish prick who only cares about how many hits he gets.
Suffice to say that the Japanese game does not translate well here, and I am as guilty as everyone else in thinking that it could. I am ready to ritualistically fall on my sword, and admit to one and all, that I have no business being a GM.
Regardless. How much money has the Ricketts family eaten the past 2 years, and how much more will they eat in the future before this team can improve? The Ricketts family HAS to find someone out there who is a good GM.
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