메이저놀이터The ups and downs of Kium Heroes. Fans are getting tired.
This season, Kiwoom has taken a decidedly different path. The team has been aggressive in signing free agents. They didn’t go for the big guns, but they bolstered their bullpen with Won Jong-hyun, an outside free agent, and shored up their outfield weaknesses by bringing in Lee Hyung-jong, a Futures Free Agent, after a competitive process.
Kiwoom’s attitude has made the league more interesting. In the past, Kiwoom had a reputation for selling players, but last year, with the prospects they developed, they swept the league’s highest-paid teams to reach the Korean Series. Although they finished as runners-up, it was significant that they were able to “spend money” after that.
Of course, baseball doesn’t work like that. Despite spending money like never before, Kiwoom is in the bottom half of the standings. There were too many injuries, and the players who were expected to do well were underperforming. Even Lee Jung-hoo was in a slump, which no one could have predicted. It was more like ‘bad luck’.
However, what has happened since then is somewhat questionable. Kiwoom sent Kim Tae-hoon in a trade with the Samsung Lions and brought back veteran infielder Lee Won-seok, who was given a multi-year contract on a whim. Lee Won-seok is certainly a player with a wealth of experience, skills, and a good attitude. However, it was a departure from the countless decisions and directions that the Heroes have been making.
Just a year and a half ago, Kiwoom released Park Byung-ho, who was the leader of the team, the core of the batting lineup, and the pride of the club. However, it seemed incongruous to give a transfer player the same age as Park Byung-ho a multi-year contract ahead of his free agency.
The Choi Won-tae trade makes sense on paper. The LG Twins, desperate to win a championship, were in need of a starting pitcher, and Kiwoom received a first-round rookie pick and two other top prospects in outfielder Lee Ju-hyung and pitcher Kim Dong-gyu in return. In the cold light of day, Kiwoom is not going to be able to win the championship they wanted to this year, and acquiring good rookies now might be better in the long run.
However, it also left fans feeling hurt. After spending differently on free agents and multi-year contracts than before, they now have to let go of a player they’ve been holding onto for a long time, even after he’s seen the light of day. We let Park Byung-ho go, and now we let Choi Won-tae go. Sooner or later, Lee Jung-hoo will also leave the team for overseas opportunities, and who knows what other ‘big deals’ will be made for which players. What is clear is that the fans’ belief that ‘this year is different’ and ‘it’s really different now’ has been shattered once again. How can you expect fans to be loyal in a situation like this?