Friday, July 29, 2011

A Look at Kosuke's Time with the Cubs

Even though Kosuke Fukudome's time with the Cubs was, for the most part, a failure, there is still a part of me that is sad to see him go. Anytime a Cub who has been with the team for several years departs, most die-hard fans miss seeing them play every day.

Let us say goodbye to Kosuke by looking back at his time with the Cubs.

December 11, 2007
The Cubs signed outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a four year, $48 million contract. The Cubs thought that that Japanes import would help put their team over the top after winning the division title that year.

March 31, 2008: Big League Debut
There is no doubt that the highlight of Fukudome's time in Cubbie blue came very early on, in his big league debut on Opening Day of 2008. The fans at Wrigley Field, many of whom were sporting Fukudome Japanese headbands, went wild when he doubled on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues. Kosuke stepped to the plate with two men on base in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Cubs trailing the Brewers 3-0. He delivered a dramatic home run to tie the game at three and finish his debut 3-for-3. Although the Cubs fell 4-3 in ten innings, Kosuke's game tying homer is a moment that Cubs fans will never forget.

2008 Season: Hot When It's Cold, Cold When It's Hot
Each year Kosuke got off to a solid start in April and May before falling victim to a June swoon when the weather heated up. His number continued to decline each year as the season moved into the fall. That was evident in his first season when he batted .327 in April, .293 in May, .264 in June, .236 in July, .193 in August, .178 in September and .100 in two postseason games.

July 7, 2008: An All-Star
Kosuke told Judd Sirott in an interview for WGN Radio a few weeks ago that the 2008 season was his favorite in a Cub uniform for several reasons. It was the only one in which the Cubs won the division title. His hot start in the big leagues was also fun for him. It led to his lone All-Star appearance as well. Kosuke started in center for the NL and went 0-for-2.

2009: Position Switch
At the start of his second season with the Cubs, Kosuke was moved to center field so that Milton Bradley could play right. In July, he switched to first in the batting order, replacing Alfonso Soriano. For the rest of his Cubs career, Fukudome bounced around the lineup after hitting fifth for most of '08. Kosuke moved back to right field for 2010. In 2009, he actually finished second on the team in OBP at .375.

2010 & 2011 : Platooning
The past two seasons, the story of Kosuke Fukudome not living up to his large contract has faded onto the back burner with all the other headlines surrounding the Cubs. Kosuke's struggles were well documented his first two seasons, but he is actually an asset to a team when he is put into the proper role. Kosuke brings strong defense and draws a lot of walks, plus is one of baseball's good guys. He is not, however, a middle of the order hitter or a $48 million player. In 2010, Kosuke split time with fellow left handed hitter Tyler Colvin in right field. Colvin had a great season, so Fukudome's player time decrease quit a bit but he finished with his best average since signing with the Cubs at .263. Colvin started off slow in 2011 so he was sent back to Triple-A, with Kosuke sitting in favor of Reed Johnson against left handed pitchers.

July 28, 2011: Traded to the Indians
Yesterday, Kosuke's tenure with the Cubs came to an end when he was shipped to Cleveland for two minor leaguers. Click here for more information on the trade.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted as we countdown to Sunday's 3pm CT trade deadline!

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