Since the 2010s, the Lotte Giants have been suffering from the cruelty of their manager. There is not a manager who has properly filled the contract period, and recently, there have been frequent hardships during the season.
On the 28th,안전놀이터 Lotte said, “Director Larry Sutton resigned on the 27th after the KT match and expressed his appreciation for the managerial position due to health reasons.” Lotte continues the rest of the season with head coach Lee Jong-woon acting as manager from the game against Hanwha in Daejeon on the 29th.
Former coach Sutton, who had been the home run king (2005) in the KBO league as a player, returned to the Korean stage as Lotte’s second-team manager ahead of the 2020 season after serving as an American minor league leader. Then, in May 2021, he took over as Lotte’s first-team command tower following former manager Heo Mun-hoe, who was hardened during the season. Despite the chaos of the team, coach Sutton, who managed the team well with a win rate of 0.542 (32 wins, 27 losses, 7 draws) in the second half of the 2021 season, signed an extension contract until 2023 at the end of that year and was trusted by the club.
However, last year, even after finishing in second place in April, he repeatedly fell and lost face by finishing in eighth place (0.457 win rate). This year, the club recruited catcher Yoo Gang-nam (31), shortstop Noh Jin-hyeok (34), and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (30) and received a strong gift. As a result, it continued to fight for the lead until early June and was placed in the top 3. However, after June, the losing series continued and the ranking went down. Lotte, whose win rate was broken by 50% in the last game of the first half, failed to rebound in the second half, and as of the 28th, it is in 7th place with a season win rate of 0.463 (50 wins, 58 losses).
Amid the team’s decline, former manager Sutton was known to be suffering from stress. In particular, he missed two games in August (against Sajik SSG on the 17th and Sajik KT on the 27th) due to health problems. He went through a hospital checkup, but the situation did not improve, and in the end, after the game on the 27th, former manager Sutton announced his intention to voluntarily resign from the club and ended his company with Lotte.
With the resignation of former manager Sutton, Lotte faced an unprecedented situation in which the manager resigned during the season three times in the past four years. Prior to the 2019 season, former head coach Yang Sang-moon, who took over as head coach, chose to resign voluntarily due to poor performance that fell to the bottom. After spending the rest of the season as acting head coach Gong Pil-seong, Lotte recruited former head coach Heo Moon-hoe, who was the head coach of Kiwoom Heroes at the time.
However, former manager Heo had a difficult start as the discord with the front desk surfaced. In the end, Lotte sacked former manager Heo in May 2021. At the time, a club official explained, “It is different from the case of a former manager who voluntarily resigned due to poor performance.
It is not that there are no cases in Lotte history where three coaches stepped down during the season in a row. In 1998, coach Kim Yong-hee was hardened due to poor performance, and in 2001, a vacancy was created when his successor coach Kim Myung-seong died during the season. Since then, coach Woo Yong-deuk in 2002 and Baek In-cheon in 2003 have placed the baton during four consecutive seasons.
However, since the 2010s, it is not uncommon for managers to step down during the season in succession like this in the KBO. Since 2017, the Hanwha Eagles have had Kim Seong-geun, Han Yong-deok (2020), and Carlos Subero (2023) coaches leave their seats during the season, but all of these are cases in which the decision was made by the team or the individual only in the third season.
In addition to the recent case, in the 2010s, Lotte’s manager often resigned during the contract period. After manager Jerry Royster broke up in the form of ‘non-renewal’ in 2010, all seven people sitting in the Lotte director’s seat could not fill the contract period.
The first start was coach Yang Seung-ho, who led the team to the playoffs in 2011 and 2012. After failing to advance to the Korean Series for two consecutive years, he chose to resign at the end of the 2012 season. Following this, manager Kim Si-jin, who signed a three-year contract, also stepped down as manager in 2014, his second season. Head coach Lee Jong-woon, who took office in 2015, was sacked after just one season.
At least, coach Cho Won-woo led the team to the semi-playoffs in 2017 and received a three-year contract renewal, but after the end of the 2018 season, he was completely sacked. All three coaches (Yang Sang-moon, Heo Moon-hoe, and Sutton) who took over after that time parted ways during the season.
Of course, this case of manager Sutton is a case where his own health problems have nothing to do with the club’s doctor. However, apart from this reason, it is hard to see it as a positive picture in that field leadership is not consistently continued.
‘Return to the director’s seat after 8 years’ Acting Lee Jong-woon, can the confused team be rectified?Head coach Lee Jong-woon, who will take the helm in place of manager Sutton, who chose to resign voluntarily, will sit back in the Lotte manager’s seat after 8 years. Lee, who took over as Lotte manager in 2015, ranked 8th out of 10 clubs with a season win rate of 0.462 (66 wins, 77 losses, 1 draw). Josh Lindblom-Brooks Rayleigh-Jim Aducci’s three foreigners competed in the top 5 until the end of the season, but in the end, they did not experience fall baseball, and were sacked in October of that year.
Acting Lee, who later served as SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers)’s second-team manager, returned as Lotte’s second-team manager ahead of this season. Later, at the end of June, he moved to the head coach of the first team due to the reorganization of the coaching staff, and took the position of acting manager for the remainder of the season in about two months.
Having experienced one season as a first-team manager is an advantage of acting as Lee. Although he did not achieve outstanding results, the fact that he competed for rankings could help. An official from the club also said, “It’s a very difficult time, so of course I’ll be burdened, but I’m looking forward to that part because I have some experience.”
As of the 28th, Lotte is in a situation where it has a 5-game gap with the KIA Tigers, who are in 5th place, who have the right to advance to the postseason. Lotte, which once rose to +11 (as of June 3), fell to -8 in two months. Under difficult circumstances, will Acting Chief Lee be able to properly wield the baton that he took eight years after his resignation?