What will the Lotte Giants look like after the season ends?
On April 28, Lotte manager Larry Sutton voluntarily resigned due to health reasons. The Giants will play the remainder of the season under acting head coach Lee Jong-woon.
Sutton’s departure was actually half voluntary and half forced. While it is true that he was under extreme stress due to the team’s poor performance, there was also some pressure from the club. In June, Sutton’s position at the helm of the team was threatened by the resignation of the coaching staff and the reshuffling of the coaching staff. In addition to the performance, the pressure from the club’s upper management seems to have caused Sutton a lot of stress.
In an attempt to find a breakthrough, Lotte decided to hand over the reins to the head coach on an interim basis. This is a common practice when a head coach resigns. In the process, an ironic situation arose.
Lee Jong-woon took over as Lotte’s full-time head coach eight years ago, stepping down after just one year. The former Gyeongnam Go-Lotte player took the helm at the end of October 2014 on a three-year contract, but was fired a year later after finishing eighth (0.462) in his first season. Lee later served as the head coach of the SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) Futures (second team) League before returning to the Lotte second team this year. It’s not common for a first-team coach to return to a second-team role after a few years. In this case, the former manager was asked to “reorganize” the team’s messy situation.
It’s also unusual to bring back a coach who was fired once, whether for poor performance or other reasons, to serve as acting head coach. Whether it’s the past or the present, one could argue that either choice is wrong. While there are precedents for this in the early days of the KBO, it is rarely seen in recent years.
In Lotte’s case, it’s an unusual situation. Former manager Kang Byung-cheol was the manager of Lotte three times. Yang Sang-moon also served as Lotte manager in 2004-05 before returning to his parent club in 2019 on a two-year contract. “We had no other option but to appoint Lee Jong-woon as acting head coach,” a club official said, “and we will start from a zero base after the season ends.”
The original Lotte team has had a total of 20 full-time managers (including more than one). Since the departure of Jerry Royster from 2008-2010, Cho Won-woo has been the only manager to fulfill his contract. Even he signed a three-year contract after leading the team to the postseason in 2017, but he resigned after just one year after finishing seventh in 2018 (0.479 winning percentage). Other managers since 2010 include Yang Seung-ho, Kim Si-jin, Lee Jong-woon, Yang Sang-moon, Heo Moon-ho, and Sutton, who packed their bags early due to poor performance.메이저놀이터
As of Aug. 28, Lotte has 38 games remaining. Depending on how Jong-woon performs in the rest of the season, many changes are expected after the season ends.
It will also have a major impact on the future of the organization. Sung was re-signed last year after his three-year contract expired. Sung has been planning for the future by selecting many excellent resources in the rookie draft. However, his direct results so far have been disappointing. Two of his handpicked managers (Heo Moon-ho and Sutton) were disgracefully dismissed, and he was criticized in the process. His free agent and trade acquisitions have also failed to produce results. As a result, rumors about the manager’s future have been a constant throughout the season.
Lotte, which last won the Korean Series in 1992, has been without fall baseball for the longest time among the 10 teams. All of this is the cold reality of Lotte, where the abnormal becomes the norm.