Tuesday, December 11, 2007

...and there were three

Well the always funny Fukudome Sitcom continues to play out. As expected, on Tuesday in Japan, Fukudome announced that he will be coming to the states for the next stage of his baseball career. Here's the quote:

"I won't be playing for a Japanese club next season, I'll play in the majors," Fukudome said. "I appreciate the fans who supported me for nine years. I hope that the fans continue to root for me when they see me playing in the United States."

According to most MSM reports there are three teams involved in the bidding. The San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and your Chicago Cubs. Interestingly enough the San Diego Union-Tribune reports this morning that the Cubs have already raised their offer to over $50 million. It sounds like Kevin Towers is not going to get into a bidding war. He's gonna let the heavenly climate of San Diego make up the difference in the offers. An interesting tactic. Here's the Padres perspective:

The Padres are facing determined competition from the Cubs for Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Growing indications yesterday had the Cubs willing to guarantee Fukudome close to $50 million. The Padres have offered more than $10 million per year, perhaps well above that amount, over at least three years.
General Manager Kevin Towers declined to rate the Padres' chances of importing the right fielder/center fielder.

“I'd be shooting in the dark,” said Towers, who described the Padres' bid as final. “I have no idea. I really don't. The agent's kept this pretty close to the vest.” Last night, both clubs were waiting to learn whether Fukudome, 30, is leaving Japan, as expected. The White Sox also have an interest in Fukudome.

By selling ballpark advertising space to Japanese companies, Fukudome's new club could promptly add to its revenues. Fukudome's .397 career on-base percentage in Japan excited the Padres, who project him for the top third of their lineup.

“It sounds like it's Chicago or San Diego,” Towers said.

There's the first mention of the ballpark advertising to Japanese companies. I apologize for not thinking of the importance of this earlier. Next we see in this mornings Tribune(a cold and wet edition at my home):

If the Cubs sign Fukudome, they can immediately add to their revenues by selling advertising space at Wrigley Field to Japanese companies, as Boston, Seattle and other clubs with Japanese stars have done in their parks.

The Cubs recently announced they will increase the ad signage at Wrigley, and since more Cubs games will be televised in Japan if Fukudome signs, it makes sense that some of the ads will be in Japanese.

Well, well, well, looks like the cat is out of the bag on this one. Mr. Fukudome might be a left handed Matt Murton, except Matt Murton doesn't sell advertising in Japan. Signing Fukudome is as much about the opportunity the Cubs will have to build their brand globally as it is about what he brings to the field of play. And who said McDonough was mailing it in at the organizational meetings. Looks to me like he had his hands all over this one. Sell more advertising internationally...BRILLIANT!

Anyways, back to this drawn out decision making process. Don't expect this to be a long dog and pony show with him visiting the finalists (who the hell would want to come to Chicago in this weather anyways?). Fukudome's U.S. based agent said this:

"Once he makes the decision, he has -- but for maybe some final points -- offers from clubs that we can then talk about," Urbon said. "And then he'll take a reasonable amount of time and maybe ask some reasonable questions. Assuming he's coming, that might take another day."

In this process, I'll take that to mean we should know something by Christmas or Spring Training.


Waiting on Fukudome: Around the Cub Blogosphere

Cubbie cyberspace(this page included) is obsessed with the Fukudome-derby. Amazing isn't it for a ballplayer that most of us have only seen highlights of on YouTube. Let's take a look around:

Chuck at IvyChat takes us back to the last time Jim Hendry put all his eggs in one basket:

What's so sad about this whole situation is that the Cubs entire offensive plans for 2008 depend on this one guy. We saw that in 2006 when Rafael Furcal decided to go to the Dodgers and break Derrek Lee's wrist.

Let's recall, Hendry's backup plan that year was Jacque Jones.

Here's hoping that those of us who will be watching the Len & Bob Show don't have to see Hendry's 2008 Plan B show up. It's scary to think just what that plan might be.

I'm afraid plan b is Geoff Jenkins. (but as noted by comments earlier that might actually be better than Fuku. Who knows.)

At ACB, Maddog seems as frustrated as most Cub fans. The headlines speak for themselves: 'Mr. Fukudome might be coming to the U.S.!', 'Holy fuck, it’s for real this time, folks, Fukudome’s coming to the MLB. About damn time!', 'Fukudome needs a few more hours before he decides', and my favorite headline of this whole ordeal 'In a few more days Fukudome will need a few more days to decide'.

Over at BCB, Al is leading the candle light vigil for Fukudome.

At LOHO there's a great picture of Fuku that describes what this thing feels like.

Kurt at GROTA is as impatient as the rest of us!

The longer this situation with Fukudome goes on, the more convinced I am that he's just not mentally tough enough to come to America. I mean, here's a guy who was going to announce last week, no wait, before this weekend, no, on Monday night, no, maybe today.

Andy Dolan at Desipio writes with the perspective that only he can:

As the greatest name in sports history sits in a pagoda pondering whether to be sort of rich in San Diego or officially rich in Chicago, it seems like a good time to take a look at what’s been going on lately.

To be honest, the only reason I’m even remotely excited about the Cubs signing a Japanese All-Star to play right field is the chance to wear a t-shirt that says Fukudome and not be forced to turn it inside out by a 97 year old Andy Frain usher.

I don’t know if the guy is any good. The next Japanese baseball game I see would be my first. Though, to be fair, I have seen Mr. Baseball twice. Well, one and a half times.

LMAO. Always good stuff from Andy.

TCR is happy LaTroy Hawkins will be in the Bronx this spring.

Wrigleyville23 takes the advertising angle.

Mike (aka Technostats or the Hawk) at badnewscubs is excited about the Cubs adding Fukudome:

I’m hoping the Cubs do end up with Fukudome after all is said and done. I’m sick of the Cubs not fielding fundamentally sound players. Fukudome appears to be that. If we get this guy AND do the smart thing by putting Pie in center, we’re going to be really good defensively.

Joe at View From the Bleachers is frustrated with the 4-letter:

I went to bed last night with visions of an Asian man playing the outfield for the Cubs this season. Everything I read said the decision would be coming late last night. I awoke with yet another story from ESPN saying the decision was coming soon. If ESPN can't seem to get it right, why are they spouting information in the first place.

Cubby-blue has enlisted the help of our 16th president to brink Fukudome to Illinois.

Out of Rightfield has Jeff Fassero attempting a comeback with the Mets!

Finally, hirejimessian.com makes the most sense with this comment under the former Cubs skipper: 'Yo, Fukudome. DECIDE, ALREADY!'

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