At Least Fukudome's Subconscious is Healthy
On the day of the rule 4 draft, I'll keep this short. It's based on a Sun-Times article by Gordon Wittenmyer about why Kosuke Fukudome is surprising the Cubs management with his solid performance so far in 2009. I guess the surprise is they had virtually written him off when they went out and got another multi-year contract, free-agent, left handed hitting right fielder (OK, Bradley is a switch hitter) for the second year in a row. The article implies that the reason Fukudome was bad the second half of 2008 was that he was having subconscious mechanical problems with his swing, related to his 2007 elbow arthroscopy for the removal of bone chips.
But perhaps the most important reason and least known publicly was the affect his surgically repaired right arm had on his swing.
Fukudome had elbow surgery late in the 2007 season, and the elbow started bothering him last season right about the time his decline began in May. By the end of the season, his hitting mechanics were a mess.
''I didn't feel the pain physically, but I must have been subconsciously feeling the pain of the elbow,'' said Fukudome, still reluctant to openly admit pain. But when asked if it was a factor last season, he said, ''Probably it was.''
Surgery often takes longer to get to a point of full recovery in an athlete and that's can be measured by performance. Endurance is often the aspect that takes the most time to recover. So although he wasn't saying he was having elbow pain, he just might have been affected when the effects of a long season took hold.
I think that if the Cubs brass thought Fukudome was going to be a "force" in their lineup as originally expected, they wouldn't have had to get another lefty bat to "balance" the lineup for 2009. I imagine would have made this offseason roster shuffling much quieter. It also would have kept a solid backup for Aramis Ramirez, instead of what has become a 2009 reminder of the days when they replaced DLee with his broken wrist in 2006 with Neifi Perez (Todd Walker just "shuffled" from 2nd to 1st, but Perez was the substitution to the lineup, essentially replacing Lee). The 2009 shuffle slid Mike Fontenot from 2nd to 3rd, putting him in the Todd Walker role and has cast the Bobby Scales/Andy White combo as Neifi, aka ARam's replacement.
Memo to the Cubs brass: If you lose an RBI machine, please don't consider your replacement reasonable when it's someone who generates zero RBI's. Also, remember that it's not the dancer who's already on the floor that becomes the real replacement when the music calls for the positional shuffle dance (as in saying Mike Fontenot's replacing ARam at third when it's really Bobby Scales who's replacing ARam in the lineup).