Can the KIA Tigers, starting with a new general manager system, solve the problem of catchers?
On the 8th, KIA recruited Sim Jae-hak, MBC Sports Plus commentator, as the new general manager. On March 29, former general manager Jang Jeong-seok was dismissed for suspicion of demanding money and valuables during contract negotiations with Park Dong-won (currently LG Twins), and then 40 days later, he filled the vacant position as general manager.
In an interview with the media, general manager Shim emphasized that the first thing to do is listen to the inside story of the club, identify what the team needs, and fill it. He revealed that he has a plan in his head, but he will focus on accurately identifying the club as he is joining in the middle of the season.
KIA, which started the season in disarray as leader Leaks, once fell to the bottom in mid-April and had a difficult time, but succeeded in rebounding and is currently cruising with 4th place. The batting line, which had been stagnant, revived, and the back door, which had been anxious, is finding a sense of stability, and the pitching balance is being adjusted.
However, the biggest problem still unresolved is the catcher. The catcher problem, which was pointed out as KIA’s weakness even before the start of the season, is becoming a big problem as expected. Currently, KIA’s catcher’s batting WAR (contribution to victory over substitute players) is -0.53, the lowest. Han Seung-taek (batting average 0.149) and Joo Hyo-sang (batting average 0.069) add up to less than 10 hits (9 hits in 76 at bats, team catcher batting average 0.118). wRC+ (adjusted scoring power) is 0.3, which is so serious that it is the lowest in KBO league history. 안전놀이터
KIA’s catcher worries are not a matter of a day or two. Therefore, in April of last year, infielder Kim Tae-jin, 1 billion won in cash, and the right to pick in the 2nd round of the rookie draft were hired to recruit Park Dong-won, but due to the departure of former general manager Jang Jeong-seok, the catcher could not remain on the team.
The last puzzle to be filled by KIA, which is doing well in the top ranks despite injuries to key players such as Na Seong-beom and Kim Do-young, at the beginning of the season, is the catcher. Other teams already know that KIA’s weakness is the catcher, so it may not be easy to trade. However, if he cannot resolve his long-standing concerns, it is difficult for him to look higher.
Director Shim put ‘fan first’ as the top priority and expressed his aspirations to show ‘baseball that fans can understand’. Attention is focusing on how Shim will solve the long-standing task of KIA and the long-cherished wish of fans, ‘strengthening catcher’.