The White Sox Finally Get Fukudome and Other Bullets

I got the Wife a gigantic card for Valentine’s Day. It was funny. I win at marriage.

  • The White Sox picked up Kosuke Fukudome yesterday on a one-year, $500k contract (with a $3.5 million option for 2013 and a $500k buyout, so it’s more like a one-year, $1 million deal), and everyone is eagerly pointing out how much less that is than the Cubs paid Fukudome over the past four years. That doesn’t really bother me for at least two reasons: (1) the man who signed Fukudome is no longer in charge, and (2) multiple reports had the White Sox offering Fukudome *more* money than the Cubs when he was originally signed. What does bother me about the signing is that the White Sox are getting Fukudome for less than the Cubs are paying Reed Johnson ($1.15 million). I like Reed for a number of reasons, but I’m not sure that the White Sox didn’t just get themselves a hell of a deal.
  • Players keep arriving to Spring Training early, which is swell. The most recent group (at least in terms of names we haven’t heard yet) includes Marlon Byrd, Steve Clevenger, and Jason Jaramillo, as well as Trey McNutt, Casey Weather, Chris Carpenter, Joe Mather, and Dave Sappelt. Off the top of my head (this is very rough, and by no means exhaustive), some of the bigger names we’re still waiting on include Geovany Soto, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Welington Castillo, Bryan LaHair, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, and Randy Wells (again, that’s rough – some of them might be there already, but we just haven’t heard).
  • Hardball Talk takes a look at the Cubs’ roster heading into the 2012 season, and the short conclusion is that the rotation looks deep (if not good), the bullpen looks deep (if not good), and the lineup looks bad (definitely not good).
  • Carrie Muskat’s recent Q&A underscores one big thing that will have to shake out in Spring Training: the Cubs have six plausible outfielders on the roster – Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, David DeJesus, Reed Johnson, Tony Campana, and Dave Sappelt – and will likely be limited to carrying just five. Unless there’s a trade, it could be a Sappelt/Campana battle. The former likely has a better bat and slightly better defense, but the latter offers unmatchable, game-changing speed off the bench.
  • My second set of MLBullets over at BCB, featuring a Marlins’ PR gaffe, bullpen rankings, and Dodgers sale info, among other things.
  • With Spring Training around the corner, I just know you want to be ready to sport your official Bleacher Nation apparel. You should check it out here. /sales pitch.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

73 responses to “The White Sox Finally Get Fukudome and Other Bullets”

  1. Steve

    I must buy Bleachernation apparel. I must buy Bleachernation apparel. I am almost hypnotized by your subtle suggestion there at the end Brett….

  2. Caleb

    In 2008 the Cubs played the crappiest post-season baseball in history. The highlight of that sh*t-show was the decision to play Fukudome over Reed Johnson exclusively, based on righty-lefty matchups. In the preceding months, Johnson had played excellent baseball and Fukudome had pooped his pants regularly. No Johnson, all Fukudome. As expected, Fuk went 1-11 with 47 swinging ninja strikeouts. Johnson didn’t swing a bat. I still haven’t forgiven the Cubs for that move.

    So I’m completely okay with the Fukudome-Johnson comparison. As far as I’m concerned, the Cubs have gotten a hell of a deal on Johnson for years.

    1. Stan

      I totally agree. I remember almost ripping my hair out that October! The Dodgers were not that good of a team, y’know? It’s been the Cubs’ problem to hit in pressure situations dating back to that 2007 post-season (Where Geo was the only Cub to hit a HR!) versus Arizona. Ever since then we’ve been haunted by a terrible offense (A HUGE decrease from the 2008 offensive explosion). So if you look at the players from that 2008 team that never changed in production, the only one that you can mention is Reed Johnson. He’s never been an All-Star, but his hustle (Remember that catch in Washington to rob Jesus Flores of a 2B, maybe even 3B? How about that one where he ripped the RF in Milwaukee to rob Prince Fielder of a grand slam?) and offensive production have never changed! This is the type of guy we need! Fukudome was a disappointment.

      I’ve been craving this “renovation” to the team since 2009. I’m so excited for Spring Training!

      1. DocWimsey

        Again, the Dodgers were a much, much better team than the Cubs by post-season. The Cubs offensive explosion *stopped* at the end of August: their offense was putrid in September. Look at the run-scored and runs-allowed for the two teams: the Cubs were 112-117 and the Dodgers were 135-86. Compared to the Cubs, the Dodgers were averaging over 0.7 more runs scored per game and they were giving up an average of 1.4 fewer runs.

        Now, people wanted to blame that on the schedule or the Cubs resting their players. However, guess what: that’s exactly what Phillies and Yankee fans said this year when their bad Sept. performances predicted first-round elimination. That’s what Cardinals fans said in 2009 when their bad Sept. performance predicted first-round elimination. It does not matter *why* a team performs poorly in September: perform poorly and you very probably are not getting out of Round 1.

    2. DocWimsey

      That had nothing to do with why the Cubs lost. Over the last month of the season, the Cubs were dreadful. They managed to go 12-14, but they had a -5 run differential after averaging a +38 run-differential the first months. Right off the bat, you knew the Cubs were in trouble: teams with negative run differentials over the last month of the season win only about 20% of post-season series. (Two other 2008 playoff teams had negative run-differentials: the Brewers and the ChiSox; basically, the Dodgers, Phils and Rays all had “byes” in the first round!)

      On the other end, the Dodgers had had one of the best Septembers of any teams making post-season over the last decade. At a +49 run differential, they were better than a 0.600 club. They were “on” for all aspects of the game. The Phils were not too much behind them. Still, one could make a much stronger case that the Dodgers were a the big let-down the next week, as they managed only one win against the Phils!

      1. Stan

        Great analysis, Doc. I still think that the essence of my comment stands, however. I don’t understand how an 855 run team couldn’t score against the Dodgers (Not trying to downsize them in any way, as they had the number one starting to rotation ERA that season).

        I’m speaking out of frustration. Please excuse me.

        1. DocWimsey

          Yes, it was frustrating. After all, the Cubs were 132 runs better than the Dodgers in 2008. Shouldn’t that have counted for something?

          Sadly, no. Since 2000, there have been 11 first round series in which one team had a run-differential 100+ greater than the Cubs. (This year had 2: Yanks vs. Tigers and Cards vs. Phils). Including this year, the teams with the better run-differentials are 5-6 in those series.

          However, the teams that had the better September RD are 9-2 in those series. This years Cards and Tigers are two more examples. The Yanks and Phils didn’t “choke”: the other teams were better at the end of the year.

          So, the “excuse” for the 2008 Cubs is the same as that for the 2011 Yanks, 2011 Phis, 2002 Twins and 2003 Braves: everything before September is irrelevant come October!

          1. cubmig

            “…everything before September is irrelevant come October!”

            True……..stats explain past performance, but all bets are off when managing outcomes at crunch time.

            1. DocWimsey

              If all bets truly were off, then the correlations between late-season performance and post-season performance would not exist. Several very good managers have been unable to get poor-performing September teams out of Round #1. In other years, those same managers have gotten well-performing Sept. teams into the LCS or even WS. So, there does not even seem to be any association between managing style and playing well at the end of the year.

              Really, it doesn’t matter how good a chessmaster you are: if you have nothing but pawns and the other guy has 4-5 queens, then you are pretty much boned! Putting in Johnson for Kosuke in 2008 would have been replacing one pawn with another, really: the Cubs needed multiple guys hitting and 2-3 more starters pitching well.

              Wait, that sounds familiar….. :-(

          2. OCCubFan

            Doc, I really appreciate your informative analysis.

        2. DocWimsey

          Oh, and a sad-but-true story: I figured this out because of my poor old father. His retirement party was scheduled for the first game of the NLCS that year. He wanted to know if he should reschedule, but he noticed that (as so often in the past) the Cubs were really bad in September. He was a chemist and didn’t do statistics in his research, whereas my research is all heavily statistical, so he asked me to figure out if bad Septembers made a difference.

          I crunched the numbers and told him not to change his retirement party plans….

      2. Norm

        disregard

    3. Jim L.

      No one in the line-up was hitting during that sweep but I’ll never forgive Ryan Dempster (or Lou for starting him over Z or Lilly) for crapping his pants and walking 7 Dodgers in his brief stint.

      1. DocWimsey

        Again, yes, it was a poor performance: but the Cubs had been a litany of poor performances. When a 0.480 team plays a 0.650 team, well, don’t cry “choke” when the 0.650 team stomps!

        I do sometimes wonder if the Cubs luck at winning quite a few close games at the end coupled with the Brewers even more monumental collapse blinded Cubs fans to just how bad the team was going into the playoffs.

  3. Stan

    The little Sappelt vs Campana battle will certainly keep me entertained. From what we do know, Sappelt can hit and Campana can run. I don’t know if Sappelt has been working on his mechanics so that it gives him THAT much of an edge over Campana but I’m sure that those extra ten pounds of muscle Campana put on are certainly going to make him stronger – maybe strong enough to muscle out some more bloopers.

    I mean, look at what some added weight did to Jacoby Ellsbury from 2007 to 2011. And yes, I do see Campana as an Ellsbury-type player.

    So in a nutshell, if Campana’s new-found strength yields to hitting then I’m not sure if Dale Sveum could pass up on him. (Plus Sappelt’s a year younger so he could use some more AAA ball.)

    1. Norm

      I hope by “Ellsbury-type player” you mean they are both fast? :)
      -
      Sappelt is going to be a better player than Campana will ever be, but may as well let him play every day in AAA.
      Be nice to get rid of Byrd and Soriano and let them both play.

      1. Stan

        It’s exactly what I mean, haha. To be honest, I would have to say that Ellsbury’s power surge came from the added weight and better hitting mechanics. If Rudy Jaramillo can help Campana learn to hit, then he could be a very good leadoff guy.

        Remove the power numbers from Ellsbury and then compare to Campana. Very similar, don’t you think?

        EDIT

        And yes, it would be nice to see Sappelt develop a little more.

    2. Brian

      If not mistaken, I believe Sappelt can move around the bases pretty good also.

      1. Spencer

        One SB in 38 games with the Reds last season.

        1. Brian

          How many times of the 38 games was he on base in a situation to steal?

      2. Stan

        I’m currently reading about Sappelt in a Cincinnati Reds fan-blog. His college numbers were pretty good and always on the rise. Check out this excerpt:

        “Sappelt attended Coastal Carolina University where he hit .315/.344/.461/.805 in 178 ABs as a freshman. He posted a 29/8 K/BB ratio, cranked 5 homeruns, and swiped 5 bases in 7 attempts. As a sophomore, he took it up a notch, posting a .359/.410/.580/.990 in 276 ABs. He hit 10 homeruns, swiped 7 bases in 13 attempts, and put up a 40/26 K/BB ratio. As a draft eligible junior, he found yet another gear, kicking it up to .349/.415/.636/1.051 in 275 ABs with 18 homers, a 27/33 K/BB ratio, and 7 steals in 10 attempts. Sappelt’s diminutive stature inspired his teammates to nickname him “Gary Coleman.””

        So he can steal (19/30) and the power’s always been on the rise.

        Here’s the link for anyone who’d like to read it. It’s also got some video of him. His swing is sloppy. http://redlegsbaseball.blogspot.com/2011/03/2011-top-prospect-list-10-dave-sappelt.html

        1. Norm

          I expect Sappelt to put up Reed Johnson numbers.

      3. hogie

        His minor numbers suggest good speed, just not good instincts (82 S/47 CS), and last year he only stole 4 bases in the minors. For what it’s worth.

  4. gratefulled

    Nice thong. Too bad I didn’t know about that before Valentines Day.

  5. Ivy Walls

    Regarding OF’er’s….Byrd or Soriano (hope, hope, hope) change home fields during spring training. I suspect once Hoyer sees Soriano playing the AZ OF, Cubs find a way to offer Soriano out with $48M-$50M

    1. Stan

      The problem with Soriano isn’t the money, it’s the three years left in the contract. No team wants to take him for three seasons. But then again, if we offer to eat enough of the money, couldn’t the team just pay him his 4-6 million dollars and cut him after one year? Or is that against the contract? Just wild guesses here.

      1. Dave H

        A wise man once told me “It’s not the money….. It’s the money.” If it was 3/30 we wouldn’t be having problems. But 3/54 is a little different. The years do hurt, don’t get me wrong. It comes down to everyone else has time issues and the Cubs have dollar issues with fonzie.

  6. Edwin

    I would almost think that Campana would have the edge due to his speed. I don’t think stolen bases are super important, but it is nice to have at least one guy on the roster who could potentially steal a base every once in awhile. Stolen bases work well in the right situation. Campana offers the Cubs something they don’t really get from anyone else on the roster.

    1. Stan

      I agree with you on everything expect on the “Stolen bases are super important” bit. If you look at all the teams that we’ve composed over the years, we’ve never had a guy steal more than 25 bases. Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome have been our steals leaders the past three years!

      It’s been proven that we can’t hit in the clutch, so why not steal our way into scoring position? We’re too sedentary on those basepaths, man… It’s about time we pull an Anaheim-Tampa move and play some freaking small ball!

      1. Spencer

        Especially with the lineup we are going to put on the field this season…we may have to get creative and manufacture runs whenever we can. If we’re tied or down one run in the 8th or 9th inning and get a runner on third, Campana should pinch run and we should safety/suicide squeeze every time. And I’m not joking. Hell, he might even get the straight steal sometimes.

        1. Stan

          My thoughts exactly! We can’t trust a shoddy defense and horrible baserunning. Man, if I could have 9 Reed Johnsons playing I would get you 85 wins.

          1. Edwin

            Somehow I doubt the pitching holds up.

      2. Edwin

        I think small ball is a very inefficeint way to score runs. With the current run enviroment, creating outs by bunting, or risking outs by stealing bases, is very costly. If the idea is to score more runs, the best way to do that is to draw more walks, and hit for more power. Bunting/stolen bases work best in specific situations. From my understanding, bunting a runner into scoreing position will decrease the total amount of expected runs you score, but increase the liklihood of scoring. Basically, your team has less a chance of getting 2+ runs in the inning, but a slightly better chance of scoring at least 1 run. So in a close late game, bunting/stealing can be very valuable, as long as you only need 1 run. Basing an entire offense around “small ball” will lead to less runs scored over the season, which leads to many losses.

        I think if Campana gives us a better late game option, than go with Campana. But I wouldn’t want to sacrifice better on-base/slugging just for his speed. If Campana is being considered as a 5th outfielder/speed specialist, I’m fine with him on the team. But if he’s being counted on to be a spot starter, then no thank you.

        1. DocWimsey

          Earl Weaver is smiling right now! Except for one thing: bunting or stealing to get just one run late in a game? Bah! Get a walk, a single and a HR to make it a 2-run or 4-run game! (They called it “Weaverball” before they renamed it “Moneyball.”)

      3. DocWimsey

        Neither you nor anybody else knows how much “heart” players put into the game. It’s all based on individuals superimposing their own standards onto observations tainted by their personal feelings for the player.

        At any rate, hustle is not even pennies on the pound of talent in sports: it’s pennies on consumer debt.

        1. loyal100more

          ill just assume you dont care about this than, as its” pennies on the pound” and guys like dustin pedrioa, reed johnson, its just an illusion that they have heart… based on i like them as people, not based on me visually seeing them play with great fire. you know doc i DO hold you posts in high regard and admire your depth always… but we are gonna disagree on this one brother

      4. DocWimsey

        The better way to ask whether stolen bases are important is to look and see how net stolen bases correlate with winning. For example, hitting more HR than you allow correlates very strongly with winning percentage. Drawing more walks than you allow correlates strongly with winning.

        There is no correlation at all between winning percentage and out-stealing your opponent. (This is based on [SB - CS] – [SB Allowed - Runners thrown out]). Half of the teams making the playoffs, including the Cardinals, allowed more net stolen bases than they took. The Cards were particularly bad at this: only 5 teams in MLB did worse than they did!

        Conversely, some very bad teams (the Padres and Mariners) were very good at outstealing their opponents.

  7. Stan

    Completely on the random side of things: Anybody know when MLB.TV becomes available for the 2012 season?

  8. Stinky Pete

    Soon. But this year every game will be blacked out.

    1. MichiganGoat

      What do you mean?

  9. art

    Campana would be a pinch runner, not worth the roster spot. trade him to Finley A’s.

  10. Mathew

    The funniest part about this is, is that at the top of my page it’s abbreviated to… “The White Sox Finally Get Fukud…” *CAUSE IT’S TRUE*

  11. ty

    Another nice day at Fitch Field as I note parking lot for players filling up by 7 a.m. Groundskeepers are here before daylight preparing the four big fields and the infield only field. Theo and co-horts are very friendly and approachable but I never bug them either. They have all been here many times this winter. Players are still low key on the fields with nobody really ripping the ball yet. They are making good use of the covered batting cages which is state of the art with video capabilities. I can stand on my patio and watch the guys prepare. Hope this is not boring but do not wait for 20 years like I did before attending spring training as it is special for fans. Also just 20 minutes from Fitch and Ho Ho Kam you can visit the Angels, Giants, Oakland, Rockies, and Diamondbacks. By noon every day practice is wrapped up but the players are here by 5:30 and on fields by 8:30. Come down and visit with me and if you have B.N. apparel on I will introduce myself.

    1. Brian

      It’s going to be a beautiful day here also, lower 40′s some sun! Thanks for the info, enjoy!

    2. Dave H

      Man, I envy you Ty! I have wanted to see ST for some time! A friend of mine and myself are planning one soon.

  12. Mike F

    The outfield is a huge weakness. It’s not particularly a good defensive outfield with Soriano and only adequate to marginal with Byrd in Center. We’ll see on DeJesus, I think it was a good gamble. Johnson is a fine utility outfielder and I remain unimpressed behind that.

    We’ll see. I see the pitching as decent, closer as sucking until the pull the plug on Marmol. So the season will come down to if and how quickly Jackson and Rizzo get the majors, combined with the Cub’s making a move to up the hitting and dealing with the clear Marmol problem. I can see where they will be competitive and can also see where they could easily lose more than 90 games, especially if they trade Garza and don’t get something like Turner back.

  13. die hard

    Cubs miss Fukudome’s defense though…he was way above avg there and if signed and paid as 4th OF by Hendry, then may still be here…..wonder if when Cubs play WS, he can DH for them and play RF for Cubs as he was overpaid and owes services?

    1. Cheryl

      They will miss him. He had not only good defense but had fairly good plate discipline until he tried to change his style of hitting and do what he saw most of the cubs doing. It’s going to be interesting so see how much the Sox play him. I agree with Brett that the Sox got a bargain. One thing that may happen with the cubs is they may be forced to sacrifice some hitting in the outfield for better defense. Soriano may be on the bubble. Could he be a roving batting instructor in the minors? I’m not sure if he’d even be any good there but I’m trying to think of a way the cubs could use him but get him out of the outfield.

      1. DocWimsey

        Actually, Fukudome’s discipline never dropped. His walk rate was always good and he always took a lot of pitches. There just were too many people in the Cubs organization (and definitely too many people in the Cubs fanbase) who do not recognize the value of drawing walks.

        It was a little disappointing that he never developed the 40 double, 15+ HR power that people hoped: but that was the upper bound on his projections, if I recall.

      2. die hard

        instructor and recruiter at new DR facility may be what you had in mind?…maybe after he gives it a go in 2012….if he still has gas in the tank then let him play is how I see it…but if hes done, then your idea makes sense…

  14. loyal100more

    reed johnson goes after the ball like lenny dykstra. if our whole team played with his type of hustle and intensity we would really have something… lets hope the little guy can get the youngsters believing in them selves. on fukudome, well i took 4 years in chicago to evaluate his club value. i think the sox got a bargain but not a huge one. great defense, decent arm, but man that bat, that slappy swing… gotta hide that as best you can. i remember scouts saying ” hes like ichiro with matsui power” in retrospect… NOT!

    1. DocWimsey

      If by “really something” you mean a 65 win team, then, yes, yes we would…..

      1. loyal100more

        i mean if the more talented guys played with his heart they would over achieve

      2. loyal100more

        im i the only guy that sees reed johnson as a guy that over achieves based on his heart and attitude? i wish you could bottle that attitude! if you coulsd it would be a banned substance!

  15. MichCubFan

    I would move Soriano or Byrd by the end of spring. Campana and Sappelt have more possible value for the longterm…which is kind of what we’re about. I would rather have them split time in left or center than send one of them down…but on the other hand it is never bad to have the extra depth. But still i would move Soriano and/or Byrd. And don’t forget that BJax will probably be ready to come up at some point in the season as well.

    1. die hard

      if any of the OF candidates can fill in at 3B, 1B or C then that should be deciding factor-versatility may be whats needed to make the team play well this year

  16. Dave H

    I have a question. You’re going to have Rizzo and Jackson both at AAA. You decide no one is exactly cementing their HOF credentials up in Wrigley. Do you want to bring both of them up in the same year? If you don’t, do you bring Rizzo and move Lahair to OF. What would be the ideal situation there FO wise? What worries me is that you start 2 players MLB service in the same year. Will that make for some difficulty down the road contract-wise? Would you rather bring one up a year to be safe?

    I’m trying to understand this stuff a little more. Bear with me, old dog and new trick kinda thing….

    1. Smitty

      If you were a small market team, I would be consider the idea of splitting them up. Since we are not, I get them up when they are ready and start letting them prove they are worth those FA contracts down the road. Of course you wait until June/July to keep their clock from starting this year, but if they are both ready to go, bring them up together.

  17. Cub- Fan-Missouri

    Dave H,

    My thinking on that is you bring them up when they say the are ready, not before
    then, some time after june to start their clock

  18. Cheryl

    And if LaHair really is slamming the ball its a pleasant problem to have. Razzo may be doing some outfield practice in AAA.

    1. Dave H

      I’d rather see Lahair in the OF. Rizzo seems better at 1st base from all of the knowledge amassed on this website.

  19. 2much2say

    if the starting point is 6/27.5 mil for Soler and Cespedes got 4/36 mil where do teams draw the line on Soler If you believe the hype he may get 6/42 mil