‘Tragic fall baseball’ SSG’s first task is building a coaching staff…final camp workouts ahead
It’s SSG, the end of a tragic fall baseball season. However, there is no time for lamentation. The organization must now focus on preparing for next year, starting with the coaching staff and finalizing camps. SSG plans to clean up the mess as soon as possible.
SSG lost 6-7 in the third game of the NC and semifinals of the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League Postseason’ at Changwon NC Park on May 25 due to a mound that collapsed early in the game and a lethargic batting lineup that missed crucial opportunities. SSG, which lost 3-4 in the first game due to a lack of offense, lost 3-7 in the second game after starting pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun was unable to establish a flow early in the game. They fell victim to an ‘upset’ in the third game.
Of course, they’re better off than the teams that didn’t make the postseason. But SSG’s performance is clearly disappointing. Last year, SSG won the first “wire-to-wire” championship in KBO history (meaning they were in first place from the start of the regular season to the end) and rode that momentum to the Korean Series, where they swept Kiwoom 4 games to 2 to win their first overall title in 12 years since 2010.
Considering last year’s performance, and the fact that the team’s salary is still the highest in the world, SSG’s performance this year can’t be considered satisfactory. While the team still finished the regular season in third place, the team’s mid-season struggles hit them in several places at once, dropping them to sixth place at one point. The team was also shocked to be eliminated from the postseason, where it mattered most, with three straight losses. Losing two straight Korean Series was not in any of their calculations.
The season is over anyway. But it’s been a headache from the start. While Kim Won-hyung, who is in the first year of a three-year contract, is likely to stay on as head coach, a coaching staff reshuffle is inevitable. SSG already had two coaches receive offers from other teams before the semifinals ended. Kim Min-jae has been offered the head coaching job at Lotte and Chung Kyung-bae has been offered the head coaching job at Hanwha. A senior club official acknowledged the reality, saying, “We want to keep both of them, but it’s hard to stop them because they will be head coaches forever.”
While some coaches have left, there are others that SSG is considering organizing internally. Taken together, these departures, both voluntary and involuntary, are expected to result in quite a few changes to the coaching staff. It’s true that SSG has been focusing on strengthening its coaching staff since mid-season and has been preparing to add to it. However, the changes are larger than expected, and it will be difficult to organize them in a short time before the final camp starts.
Bringing in a fresh, proven coach can be even more challenging than signing a free agent. Often, the tech coaches from other teams that you might have your eye on are locked into multi-year contracts with their current organizations. The only way to break that is to give them a more authoritative position, which is not something we have within SSG.
However, there will be no major disruptions to the final camp as it was originally planned and prepared. The main players, who have been exhausted this year, will finish the season with rest, rehabilitation, and light training in Incheon. The first-team backups and 1.5-teamers who were on the fringes of the first and second teams this year will travel to Kagoshima, Japan, on Nov. 1 for a final camp. The remaining players and the 2024 rookies will begin training at SSG Futures Field in Ganghwa in November.
Initially, the finishing camp was to be held in Korea, but it was changed to overseas in order to focus on training resources for the next year, even if it costs more money. Ganghwado is an island, so you have to fight the cold after mid-November, but not in Kagoshima, where the temperature is in the 20s. We return to the facilities in the Satsumasendai area, which have been used as a finalization camp in the past. More than 20 athletes are on the roster, including Kim Chang-pyeong and Kim Sung-min, who were recently discharged from the military. It will be announced shortly after finalization.
The Kagoshima camp is likely to be more intense than usual. SSG head coach Kim Won-hyung announced midway through the season that he was “thinking about increasing the amount of training for the final camp.” The intention was to focus on intense 바카라사이트 training rather than autonomy, as the players did not have a large physical demand this year and had room to improve their skills through training. Many of these players will need to step up to first-team level next year to help the team lay the groundwork for a generational change that is currently slow in coming. This is why the Kagoshima camp is so important.