With the exception of Alfonso Soriano, the Chicago Cubs have struggled to find consistent outfield production in the post-Sammy Sosa Era.
But could Kosuke Fukudome finally be the answer on the Northside?
Though Fukudome was a standout in Japan, in America, it's a whole new ballgame. He's been compared to Ichiro—but let's not get carried away. At this point, all we have are his Japanese stats to go off.
If nothing else, Fukudome would seem to solidify the Chicago outfield. He's a phenomenal hitter—not the powerhouse the Cubs are looking for, but they'll leave that to Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and occasionally Derek Lee.
In the end, Fukudome could turn out to be for the Cubs what Daisuke Matsuzaka was for the Red Sox. But we can't say that until we see him in action.
Looking ahead, the future seems bright for the the Cubs. They need to add a few more pieces before I call them legitimate World Series contenders, but this is a great start.
Someday the Cubs will be the team to beat in the NL, and someday Lou Piniella will lead this club to a championship. Maybe this is the year; maybe not.
At the very least, you can be sure of better things to come.