- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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With the trading deadline approaching, more and more contending teams are showing interest in Chicago Cubs players.
Right fielder Kosuke Fukudome has been on the radar of a number of teams, including the Cleveland Indians. The Indians, who lost right fielder Shin Soo-Choo to injury, would be a much better team with Fukudome.
A National League scout, who asked for anonymity, likes what he has seen in Fukudome this season as opposed to the previous two.
“He’s a different player now,” the scout said. “He’s different than when he came to the Cubs. Fukudome no longer tries to pull the ball on a regular basis. He has better balance in the batter’s box and doesn’t’ overswing like when you would see him spin around in the past. Right now he’s kind of a poor man’s Ichiro. He doesn’t have Suzuki’s speed, but he’ll hit the ball where it’s pitched and take a single or a walk. That’s why he has the good high on-base percentage.”
The scout went on to say that as a defensive player, Fukudome is above average in range as well as arm strength and accuracy.
Fukudome, who was not a favorite of former Cubs manager Lou Piniella, has done well under Mike Quade, who continues to lead him off against right-handers since taking over for Piniella on Aug. 23, 2010.
In any deal the Cubs are seeking minor league pitching that they can project to the majors in return for veteran players. Teams also have expressed interest in lefty reliever John Grabow, outfielder Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd.
Soriano’s a possible DH answer for an American League team.
A source told ESPNChicago.com that the Cubs would eat a high percentage of over $60 million left on Soriano’s deal in the right trade.
Teams have also inquired about Byrd, who has one year remaining at $6 million. However, with the possibility of Fukudome and/or Soriano going elsewhere, the Cubs would hesitate to move the versatile Byrd, who can play all three outfield positions and mentor players like up-and-coming Brett Jackson on and off the field. Byrd’s leadership by example cannot be overestimated.
After having off the record meetings with management over the last week, Aramis Ramirez is staying with the Cubs, according to a major league source.
Ramirez told the Cubs as he did to ESPNChicago.com last week that he wants to stay with the team. Ramirez has a full no-trade clause.
23hMike Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information