Korean Baseball for 2014

An interesting article on what to look for in the Korean season for 2014.  You can find it here:  http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports/2014/03/28/3/0702000000AEN20140328003100315F.html

A summary of the discussion:

The Samsung Lions will have a difficult time making it four in a row after losing Seong-Hwan Oh to Japan.  They were talking about putting last year’s set up man Ji-Man Ahn as the closer, but he lacks the experience.  The recent signing of Chang-Yong Lim may address the closer position.  The Lions also lost leadoff hitter Young-Seob Bae to mandatory military service.  The club will miss his 83 steals from 2011 to 2013.  They hope the recent foreign addition Yamaico Navarro will make up for this loss of offense.

The Doosan Bears had a 3-1 lead last year in the best of seven championship series, but lost the next three games.  They have also lost a number of players to the free agent market.  Centerfielder Jong-Wook Lee and shortstop Si-Heon Son will now play for the NC Dinos.  Championships are won and lost by the defense up the middle and those are two huge losses.  Jun-Seok Choi was another player lost to free agency as he left for the Lotte Giants.

The LG Twins lost perhaps the best pitcher in the KBO, or at least the pitcher with the greatest velocity.  Radhames Liz left for the major leagues, but because of injury will not be available until mid-season.  The Twins are the only team who have yet to reach their foreign roster quota, signing only Josh Bell and Cory Riordan.  They promise a big announcement within the next 15 days.

The Nexen heroes lost a 2-0 lead in a best of five playoff series to the Doosan Bears.  They have the most prolific offense in the KBO with Byung-Ho Park winning the MVP award last year with a .318 batting average, 37 homeruns and 117 RBIs.

The Lotte Giants may have the best pitching in the KBO, led by Shane Youman, Chris Oxspring and Seung-Jun Song, who combined for 38 wins last year.  Coming back to the team from military service is lefthander Won-Jun Jang, who won 52 games from 2008-2011.  Pitching wins games and they have the deepest starting rotation.

The SK Wyverns had been in the playoffs six consecutive seasons.  That streak was broken when they missed the playoffs last year.  They added the big bat of Luke Scott to ignite their offense.  They are also hoping left handed pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim is healthy and pitches to his former MVP self.  Ross Wolf and Jo-Jo Reyes are two foreign pitchers to solidify the starting rotation.

The expansion NC Dinos did not finish in last place last year, finishing ahead of the Kia Tigers and Hanwha Eagles.  Righthander Jae-Hak Lee hopes to improve on his rookie of the year performance last year.  Charlie Shirek joins him in the starting rotation.  Last year the two were one/two in ERA.  Thad Weber was added to enhance the starting rotation and Eric Thames is hoped to improve the offense.

The Kia Tigers were the KBO’s biggest disappointment.  They have now lost their ace Suk-Min Yoon to the Orioles.  They will need lefthander Hyun-Jong Yang to get healthy and replace the numbers lost with the departure of Yoon.

The Hanwha Eagles have finished last in four of the past five years.  They are the Yokahama Bay Stars of the NPB.  They even had Hyun-Jin Ryu in their rotation, considered the top pitcher in the KBO and still finished in last place.  They used the posting money from the Ryu loss to sign free agent second baseman Keun-Woo Jeong away from the Wyverns and outfielder Yong-Kyu Lee from the Tigers.  They also signed Felix Pie to patrol the outfield.  The Eagles finished last in offense last year and with these three new players they hope to energize the bats.  The pitching could be another problem.

You can also follow the boxscores for the KBO games here:  http://www.mykbo.net/KBO_news

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