“Like Epstein”… Lee Jong-yeol to lead Samsung out of the dark ages
Can Jong-yeol Lee lead the Samsung Lions out of the dark ages like Theo Epstein, the “curse breaker”?
Samsung announced the appointment of SBS commentator Lee Jong-yeol as the new manager of the Samsung Lions on Saturday.
Lee, who joined the LG Twins in 1991 and played for only one team until his retirement in 2009, has played 1,657 games in his career.
Lee, who also served as a coach at LG after his retirement, is known as a “leader who studies”.
From 2012, he spent three years studying in the United States, and since 2015, he has been a commentator to keep in touch with the field.
His knowledge of the game’s theoretical aspects has led him to analyze the national team’s power in international competitions. He served as the national team’s fielding coach at the 2019 WBSC Premier12, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.
“We believe he is the right person to build a strong team in line with the latest baseball trends and a team that fans will love,” Samsung said in a statement.
“This is an opportunity for me to showcase what I have learned and experienced during my long playing career, what I have seen and learned about baseball in the United States, and what I have experienced as a commentator and national team coach,” Lee said.
“When I was in the U.S., I often communicated with Professor Cho Sung-ho, who teaches sports management at a local university. We talked about my baseball direction and team management,” he said, emphasizing, “I thought it would be good to operate in the same style as Theo Epstein.”
Epstein is the man he’s referring to.
Epstein took over the Boston Red Sox in 2001 at the age of 28, the youngest manager in major league history, and he hasn’t been shy about showing off his talents. He broke the “Bambino Curse” and led Boston to its first World Series title in 86 years in 2004. The Red Sox repeated as champions in 2007.
In October 2011, he was named president of the Chicago Cubs. He aggressively rebuilt and strengthened the roster, and in 2016, the Cubs broke the Curse of the Goat and lifted the World Series trophy. It was their first championship in 108 years.
Like Epstein, Lee joined Samsung in its dark days after 2016.
After dominating the league for four straight years from 2011-2014, winning the overall title, Samsung finished first in the regular season in 2015 and runner-up in the Korean Series, but slipped to ninth place in 2016.
In the eight years between 2016 and this year, they made the postseason only once, in 2021. They finished second in the regular season after a tiebreaker with KT Wiz, but were eliminated from the playoffs.
In 2022, they dropped to seventh place again, and this season, they’ve struggled from the start. They were in last place for more than a month from the end of June and almost suffered their first ever last-place finish. They were also eliminated from the postseason early.
That’s why Samsung chose to make an “unconventional appointment” to lead the team out of the dark ages.
This is the first time in the team’s history that Samsung has hired an outsider to lead the team, and the first time that a former professional athlete has led the front office.
It’s also the first time in 40 years that the team has had a former baseball player. Kim Sam-yong, an unemployed baseball player, was appointed as the second manager in 1983, but stepped down after four months.
Samsung’s appointment shows the company’s commitment to rebuilding the team, as it has always appointed people from its affiliates or from within.
Lee is now expected to begin reorganizing the team in earnest. The most immediate task will be to strengthen the bullpen, which has been one of the team’s biggest weaknesses this season.
Samsung’s bullpen had a 5.16 ERA this season, the worst in the league. The bullpen, which was once a stepping stone to building a dynasty, 먹튀검증 has been completely devastated as prospects who were expected to anchor the bullpen have failed to develop as expected.
At 41 years old, Oh Seung-hwan is still the closer. A successor has yet to be found.
With the announcement of the change, there are speculations that Samsung will make an aggressive move in the free agent (FA) market this winter. Big-name bullpen pitchers such as Kim Jae-yoon, Hong Gun-hee, and Ham Deok-joo are set to become free agents.
Lee said, “Samsung is a team with a long history, but its power has weakened recently. We need to compensate in many areas.” “We will focus on player development. We want to build a strong team that can produce sustainable results.”