Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cubs' Fukudome hard to figure

First things first.

It's Kosuke, pronounced KOH-skay.

And Fukudome, as in foo-koo-DOUGH-may.

There will be a test. And it involves being able to pronounce the newest Japanese import for the Chicago Cubs at your fantasy draft.

There's probably a draft somewhere, happening today even, where an owner looks down at his list of available outfielders and thinks, to himself, I'd like to take this Japanese guy but don't have a clue on how to say either name .... um, yeah, I'll take Aaron Rowand.

But besides questions about what emphasis to put on which syllable, there are plenty of other questions surrounding the Cubs' 4-year, $48 million import, charged with roaming the craziness that is right field at Wrigley Field.

For starters, Fukudome is not a big guy. At all. He's listed at 6 feet tall, 187 pounds. But in person, his build is so slight, he looks like a guy who needs to move around in the shower to get wet.

There's been plenty of buzz this offseason, and you know that only half of what you hear is probably true.
  • You've heard him compared to the Yankees' Hideki Matsui.

  • You've heard people say he's an Ichiro-type, with better power, but less speed.

  • You've heard about the two batting titles and the four Gold Gloves with the Chunichi Dragons.

  • You've heard he's an on-base machine, with a .397 lifetime OBP and over .430 the past three seasons.

  • You've heard about his 31 HR and 11 SB in 2006 and elbow surgery that cut his 2007 short.

  • And by now, you've heard of Fukudome's struggles this spring. It took him awhile to get comfortable, but he raised his .224 average to .270 by hitting safely in every game this past week (6-for-14, .429) and finished with 8 RBI.
Not great, but not horrible.

Basically, you can either buy into the hype, how the Cubs think he'll steal 30 this year and hit over .300, per his career average (.305). Or you can concentrate on that elbow surgery and the fact that most Japanese players struggle to repeat their power numbers.

Like anything, Fukudome-mania will take hold in Chicago's north side this summer, but not always because of a game-winning HR.

It might be a diving catch. Or throwing a guy out at the plate.

He'll likely win Rookie of the Year but fall short of finishing in the top 20 OF rankings, so don't take him too high unless you're in a league that counts OBP.

But in the meantime, keep practicing that pronunciation, because when Round 14 comes around and he's still available, you'll wanna be able to say in confidence, "I'll take KOH-skay, foo-koo-DOUGH-may," while looking around the room, nodding with a smile.

Someone will be impressed.


Anonymous said...

The importance of proper pronunciation can never be underestimated in fantasy baseball! Toss