I could see Fukudome hitting in the leadoff spot. He has a high OBP, is smart on the basepaths and he's left-handed, not to mention the Japanese fundamentals in hitting seem to be rooted in slap hitting, which is perfect for a leadoff hitter. Is there any downside to 'Fuke' leading off?
-- Cody U., Indianapolis, Ind.
The problem is you don't know which Fukudome you're getting. If he could do what he did the first half of his first season in 2008 with the Cubs for an entire year, he'd be a good leadoff man. In '08, he batted .279 and had a .383 on-base percentage before the break. Last season, he hit .193 in 48 games leading off. Fukudome just hasn't been consistent. Look at his monthly batting average totals from this year: April, .344; May, .253; June, .189; July, .162; August, .365; September, .210.
I realize the Cubs' plan is not in the free-agent market, but would there be a chance that Carlos Pena from Tampa Bay is on their radar? He's a slick-fielding left-handed power hitter who would fit well in the clubhouse.
-- Lenny Y., Dubuque, Iowa
Pena is left-handed and, from all reports, a quality person, but he also hit .196 in 144 games with the Rays, striking out 158 times last season. The 28 homers and 84 RBIs he totaled in 2010 are good, but his average has dipped dramatically each season since a career-best .282 in 2007. He had a .407 slugging percentage last year; Starlin Castro had a .408 slugging percentage. The other hot free-agent first baseman, Adam Dunn, has ignored a three-year offer from the Nationals and reportedly wants a four-year deal. Dunn would not only be expensive, but make Cubs fans long for Derrek Lee's Gold Glove at first.
I know he's in the same division, but is there any way the Cubs will attempt to get Prince Fielder this offseason? He fills the hole at first base and he's a left-handed bat.
-- Tim C., Manteno, Ill.
If not Fielder, how about Albert Pujols? No. General manager Jim Hendry is going to have to be creative to find a first baseman.
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