Fukudome on his way out?

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Please see the following information from the Tribune website:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-07-cubs-gm-meetings-chicagonov07,0,7843897.story

Call if the Fukudome Funk.

Whatever caused Kosuke Fukudome to go from phenom to failure, all in his first major-league season, has put the Cubs in an obvious quandary.

With manager Lou Piniella insisting on more pop from the left side of the plate and with Fukudome still unproven, the Cubs made no secret about their desire for another right fielder at the just-concluded general managers meetings.

The Kosuke Crash has cooled the Cubs confidence that he will be an every-day player. Right now, he is probably a platoon center fielder, meaning the Cubs have to spend more money to protect themselves. That will make GM Jim Hendry's job even more difficult.

While Hendry tries to put a positive spin on things, it's obvious the Cubs don't know whether Fukudome is the All-Star player who hit .296 through June or the benched bust who hit .207 from July on.

"I told him we had a lot of faith in him coming back and being good, but that we're in a position where we're going to have to add something to the club and possibly in the outfield," Hendry said. "He understood that.

"Hopefully we can put a better club on the field than when we were eliminated [from the playoffs]. He understands that. And I think he knows he has to play like he did the first half."

It still isn't clear whether Hendry will go for a big-name bat or just a cheaper one who could play full-time if necessary. And there are other questions about left-handed hitters to be answered, according to Hendry.

"Is [Micah] Hoffpauir going to take the next step forward and be able to help? Is Fukudome going to be more like the first half than the second? You have to factor that all in," Hendry said. "You would love to find a way to get [ Mike] Fontenot more at-bats, because he played awfully well. He's a guy who had a terrific year without a lot of publicity and not in an easy situation. So there's three lefties right there.
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"But we would like to add somebody. We've gone through [internal scouting] reports. You look at outfielders who might fit with the group coming back. You look at whether a free agent would be easier, but if Fukudome comes back, do you want to get a guy who ... there are so many different ways. There are a lot of different ways to go."
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Part of the Fukudome problem is his contract. The Cubs will not be crazy about paying a soon-to-be 32-year-old $38 million for the next three years as a bench player.

One executive with another team firmly believes Fukudome has talent, but said he would not recommend a trade for him with that much money still owed.

A well-placed source said the Cubs had received "more than one" trade inquiry about Fukudome, meaning other teams believe in his talent.

While no one has figured out the answer(s) to the why of the Fukudome Funk, the Cubs are hoping it was only temporary. They will hire a new interpreter for him this year, apparently willing to try anything to get his sagging confidence back.

"I think he's a real proud man," Hendry said. "I'm sure he didn't feel good about the way it ended. We can't forget how good he played. We were all giving him credit for making everybody better. And the on-base percentage seemed to help every body. And he played great, great defense [all year].

"It's not like he doesn't have bat speed or he's getting old or the league adjusted to him. He just got in a funk that really is hard to describe. I think he'll be on a mission to be good again."

**please see the quote I put in asterisks...That is a pretty damning statement (as far as Fukudome is concerned) . It appears as though the Cubs have fielded calls about him. I believe they'll wait until they find out who they have to give up for Peavy---and if they go that route to begin with anyway----then, they'll move to other areas of concern like Fukudome.

You would have to figure that if the Cubs get Peavy in a trade, AND sign Dempster and Wood, then one or all of Fukudome, Marquis, and Lee will have to be traded to save over $35 million for next year. Sure, Peavy, Wood, and Dempster would negate any savings, but it also wouldn't break our budget either, and allow us to add a significant offensive weapon.

I can't remember who said it on another post, but pitching was NOT the problem the past two years. Hitting was. I would think young next year, and try for Dunn in the OF, and make a play for Crawford if you can't sign Furcal.

We need a table-setter, and we need a significant power threat, and we'll be set.