White Sox Signing of Kosuke Fukudome Makes Perfect Sense for 2012 Season

Jim PoljakContributor IIIFebruary 15, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 29: Kosuke Fukudome #1 of the Cleveland Indians talks with his new teammates prior to the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field on July 29, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Kenny Williams always gets his man, regardless of how long it takes him.  He pined after Ken Griffey Jr., Jake Peavy, Roberto Alomar and Adam Dunn and somehow found a way to bring them all to the south side.  

When Kosuke Fukudome left Japan to play baseball in America, the White Sox offered him the largest contract, but he chose to play across town for the Cubs instead.  Now, four years later, Williams has again gotten his man.  The Chicago White Sox and Fukudome agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal for 2012 with a club option for 2013, according to Chicago Tribune.

With the Sox trying to dance through rebuilding while staying competitive this season, the signing of Fukudome makes perfect sense.  Financially, the move is a no-brainer.  The Sox are paying next to nothing for a veteran left-handed-hitting outfielder that will be able to help the team in multiple ways.

Fukudome should open the season as the team's fourth outfielder.  He will essentially be the 2012 version of what Armando Rios, Timo Perez, Jerry Owens and Dewayne Wise should have been: a left-handed bat to come off the bench and a late-inning defensive replacement who could lay down a bunt and steal a base when the situation calls for it.  He will also be a nice piece of insurance in case any of the projected starting outfielders, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo, struggle offensively.

Fukudome is a veteran that has been involved in pennant races here and in Japan.  He is fundamentally sound in the field and plays the game the right way every time he steps on the field.

Most White Sox fans initially are not going to like the Fukudome signing because of his lack of success with the Cubs.  He was (incorrectly) hyped as a power-hitting outfielder that would be a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate.  Instead he became known for starting out hot and fading quickly.  

If the White Sox are going to have a chance at competing in the AL Central, they are going to need their big-salaried players, namely Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy, to have bounce-back seasons and not draw the ire and angst of Sox fans for their lack of performance.  The starting pitching will have to overcome the loss of Mark Buehrle and the bullpen will have to be better than it was last year.  Offensively, the team will have to find a way to score more runs without relying on the long ball.  

Fukudome is going to join Brent Lillibridge and Tyler Flowers as the first guys off the bench to pinch-hit, be a defensive replacement and crack the occasional starting lineup.  He will not be asked to carry a team offensively but will instead have a role better suited for where he is in his career.