“You like Lotte’s catchers? Yoo Kang-nam should become a pillar”… The Giants’ home room as seen by coach Kim Tae-hyung

“Catchers? They all look good?”

The quality of the Lotte Giants’ home defense seemed satisfactory even to the eyes of a ‘master’ who has a picky eye on catchers. Although I have not yet been able to watch the players closely, my basic stance is that each individual’s skills are good.짱구카지노

Lotte has been monopolizing KBO League news since the afternoon of the 20th. The appointment of former Doosan Bears coach Kim Tae-hyung as the 21st head coach has already raised expectations for the 2024 season.

Lotte signed a three-year contract with coach Kim Tae-hyung, with an annual salary and contract fee of 600 million won, totaling 2.4 billion won. The vacancy at the head of the first team was filled two months after coach Larry Sutton voluntarily resigned due to health issues on August 28.

Coach Kim Tae-hyung said in a phone call with ‘Xports News’, “There is clearly something the Lotte team and fans want. I feel a great sense of responsibility,” and added, “I will work with the players during the final training period and prepare for how to play next season.” 

Lotte has traditionally had a strong tendency not to prefer veteran coaches. After 2010, except for directors Kim Si-jin (2013-2014) and Yang Sang-moon (2019), Yang Seung-ho (2011-2012), Lee Jong-woon (2015), Cho Won-woo (2016-2018), Heo Moon-hoe (2020-2021), and Sutton (2021-2023). ) Even the director entrusted the baton to ‘beginners’. 

However, after failing to advance to the postseason for six consecutive years, including 3rd place in the 2017 season and reaching the semi-playoffs, 7th place in 2018, 10th place in 2019, 7th place in 2020, 8th place in 2021-2022, and 7th place this year, changes were made. chose.

In particular, this season’s report card was shocking to both the club and the parent company. Despite a large investment in Stove League, including catcher Yoo Kang-nam (4 years, 8 billion won), shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk (4 years, 5 billion won), and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (3+1 years, 4 billion won), as external free agents, the team made a large investment. There was no increase in grades.

By May, when they were in sole 3rd place with 27 wins and 17 losses, it seemed like fall baseball was in sight, but from June onwards, it fell apart like a lie. Lotte has continued to fall to 41 wins and 59 losses since June. With a final record of 68 wins and 76 losses and a winning percentage of 0.472, advancing to the postseason was an unlikely prospect. 

Lotte fans hoped that coach Kim Tae-hyung would take over as the Giants’ head coach after Coach Sutton stepped down. There is no doubt that he will take control of the team based on his strong charisma and bring Lotte back to the ranks of strong teams.

Coach Kim Tae-hyung not only led the team to the top of the Korean Series three times (2015-2016, 2019) during his time at Doosan, but also made history by becoming the first team in the KBO League to advance to the Korean Series for seven consecutive years (2015-2021). In the 2020 and 2021 seasons, when Doosan was not evaluated as a contender for the championship, it showed off its competitive nature in the postseason and created a drama by upsetting teams with higher regular league rankings.

In the 2022 season, Doosan stayed in 9th place and the contract renewal was not concluded, but coach Kim Tae-hyung’s wild life ended in just one year. Lotte hired coach Kim Tae-hyung to rebuild the team and heated up the gloomy fall season due to the lack of baseball.

Coach Kim Tae-hyung will take his first steps as Lotte’s head coach at an official inauguration ceremony at the Lotte Hotel in Busan on the 24th. On the 25th, he will move to the Lotte 2nd team stadium in Sangdong, Gimhae, have a meeting with the entire 1st and 2nd team players, and immediately begin leading the final camp.

Coach Kim Tae-hyung’s stance is that Lotte’s basic roster composition is not bad. In particular, in the case of Lotte’s catchers, I gave them a passing grade from my perspective as a baseball commentator this year.

Lotte is likely to operate a three-man catcher system of Yoo Kang-nam, Jeong Jeong-geun, and Son Seong-bin in the 2024 season. All three players have different strengths and play styles, giving coach Kim Tae-hyung the ability to use them according to the situation. Considering only the catcher lineup, it is no exaggeration to say that he is the most competitive among the 10 teams.

In the first year of his transfer to Lotte, Yoo Kang-nam recorded a batting average of 0.261 (92 hits in 352 at-bats), 10 home runs, 55 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.726 in 121 games. In the first half, he fell short of expectations with a batting average of 0.233 (51 hits in 219 at bats), 8 home runs, and an OPS of 0.654, but it is encouraging that he rebounded with a batting average of 0.308 (41 hits in 133 at bats), 5 home runs, and an OPS of 0.843 in 47 games in the second half. His strengths include league-leading framing ability, abundant post-season experience, and slugging power.

The presence of Son Seong-bin, who boasts ‘strong opinions’, is also a corner of Lotte’s trust. Son Seong-bin showed sufficient competitiveness in batting with a batting average of 0.263 (20 hits in 76 at-bats), 1 home run, and 15 RBIs in 45 games in the 2023 season. In particular, the play of stopping a base stealer with a laser throw that seemed like something out of the major leagues made the hearts of Lotte fans race.

Jeong Jeong-geun also opened his eyes from the blow. He left a strong impression with a batting average of 0.333 (27 hits in 81 at-bats), 1 home run, 13 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.902 in 55 games. His defense, which was rated as top-notch, also showed rapid growth in his offense. If it weren’t for the injury in the second half of the season, he could have expected much better results. 

Manager Kim Tae-hyung, a former catcher, was particularly strict with catchers during his time as Doosan’s head coach. When he was dissatisfied with the way the game was being run, he often spoke bitterly to the media in an interview the next day after being substituted mid-game. From the Lotte catchers’ perspective, they must prove their competitiveness before the start of next year’s season in order to leave an impression on the new head coach.

Manager Kim Tae-hyung highly evaluated the players’ skills, saying, “From the outside, it looked like all of Lotte’s catchers were doing well.” Although he had to go through finishing training to see it with his own eyes, he didn’t seem to worry too much about the management of the catcher’s lineup.

He also said emphatically, “Yoo Kang-nam should become the team’s pillar as the starting catcher.” There was an underlying belief and expectation about Yoo Kang-nam’s experience, record, and ability. This can be interpreted as emphasizing that Yoo Kang-nam’s role is important for Lotte to leap to the top.

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