New Lotte Giants manager Kim Tae-hyung has outlined his plans for foreign players for the upcoming season. Two pitchers will be retained, while batters will be rotated.
Kim revealed his plans for foreign players in an interview after his first meeting with the Lotte squad at Gimhae Sangdong Stadium on May 25. Kim spoke positively about Charlie Barnes and Aaron Wilkerson, saying, “They have the ability to throw strikes and run the game.”
Barnes, who spent two seasons in the KBO, was the only player who stayed with Lotte from start to finish this season. While Dan Streeley (3-5, 4.37 ERA in 16 games) and Jack Rex (0.246 batting average, 4 home runs, 30 RBIs, 0.683 OPS in 55 games) were replaced due to poor performances, Barnes’ up-and-down pitching in the middle of the season led to speculation that he would be replaced at one point.
After going 5-6 with a 4.57 ERA in 16 starts in the first half, Barnes rebounded to go 6-4 with a 2.05 ERA in 14 starts in the second half. With double-digit wins for the second straight year, going 11-10 with a 3.28 ERA in 30 games this year after going 12-12 with a 3.62 ERA last year, Barnes isn’t an overpowering ace, but he’s shown he’s good enough for a No. 2 starter.
Wilkerson, who joined the team midseason as a replacement for Straylor, has exceeded expectations and become a league ace. After going 5-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 games for the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball last year, Wilkerson went 7-2 with a 2.26 ERA in 13 games in his first year in the KBO, serving as Lotte’s de facto ace in the second half.
“I’ve seen a lot of foreign players in the past, but even if you look at the data and bring in a good player, there are some who can’t adapt, and if they make a bad first step, their record is worse than you thought,” Kim said, “I think (Barnes and Wilkerson) are the most stable. If there is a player who is better than them, I don’t know, but first of all, these two players are stable,” he said, revealing that he will not replace the foreign pitchers.
On the other hand, he drew a clear line in the sand when it came to foreign batsman Niko Gudrum. “I didn’t think about foreign batters. I’m thinking of changing it right away,” Kim said, adding, “Goodrum’s value is reduced because he can’t play defense first.”
In the KBO as Rex’s replacement, Goodrum batted .295 (173-for-51) with 28 RBIs and an OPS of .760 in 50 games. His batting average wasn’t bad, as he picked it up late in the season, but he didn’t hit a single home run. Goodrum, a utility player whose strength is his defense, made a whopping 13 errors that helped Lotte slip out of contention at the end of the season.
When asked about his criteria for signing new foreign hitters, Kim said, “The first thing I look for in a hitter is long batting power. “Pitchers still 스포츠토토 come in and pitch to a certain extent, but batters are so different. That’s why it’s very sensitive,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kim has been conducting final training sessions in Sangdong since the 25th to get to know the team. The coaching staff that will assist him, including coaches Kim Min-jae, Joo Hyung-kwang, and Kim Joo-chan, is also slowly taking shape, and the preparations for the 2024 season are picking up speed.