SSG, realizing the need for generational change, the future of Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min, the 41-year-old’s most senior

All pitchers are dominated by veterans… Team reorganization is inevitable

Reporter Seo Jang-won = Although the 2023 season was ambitious as the defending champion, SSG Landers ended in vain. SSG, which ended the fall baseball season with a shocking three-game losing streak in the semi-playoffs, is bound to make major changes in the off-season. In addition, the fate of Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min, both 41 years old, are also attracting attention.

SSG lost 6-7 in the third game of the semi-playoffs against NC Dinos held at Changwon NC Park on the 25th. SSG, who came to Changwon after suffering 2 consecutive losses at home, lost the 3rd game and suffered 3 losses.

The ‘winning DNA’ of the team that achieved the ‘Wire to Wire’ integrated championship last season has disappeared. Although they believed in their history, they could not stop the momentum of NC, which was armed with youthful spirit. Even though they delivered a one-two punch at home, they suffered a shocking loss, and were unable to turn the situation around in the third game.

Through this fall baseball season, SSG realized the need for generational change.

The average age of SSG’s players this season was 28.9 years old, the highest among the 10 clubs in the KBO League. This is the result of both pitches being played by experienced veterans.

In terms of forming team strength and atmosphere, the presence of veterans is essential. However, a team does not run smoothly with veterans alone. Only when an ‘ideal new structure’ that captures both the present and the future, with veterans and newcomers in proper harmony, is achieved will a team become a strong team.

But SSG did not do that. To put it bluntly, it is safe to say that they failed to discover new talent who will take responsibility for the team’s future.

In terms of fielders, ‘National University center line’ Choi Ji-hoon and Park Seong-han stood out, but their performance was minimal in fall baseball. There was still a high proportion of veteran players in the starting lineup. Most of the players in the lineup were in their 30s, and there was no suitable pinch-hitting card.

The mound was more serious. In the case of the bullpen, Noh Gyeong-eun, born in 1984, and Ko Hyo-jun, born in 1983, are still in their twilight years. Lee Kun-wook and rookies Song Young-jin and Lee Ro-woon finished the fall baseball season without ever stepping on the mound. This was in contrast to NC, where players in their 20s such as Ryu Jin-wook, Kim Young-gyu, and Choi Seong-young played an active part as the core of the bullpen.

The failure of generational change is not the fault of the veterans who are maintaining their positions. It also means that there are no young players who can compete with them. It is the responsibility of both the coaching staff responsible for development and the players who failed to develop.

Through fall baseball, it became clearer what path SSG should take. They must have realized that a different 2024 season could be promised only if a generational change was achieved through the discovery of young players in the off-season. It is highly likely that a project focusing on generational change will begin immediately, starting with the finishing camp.

A reorganization of the team is also inevitable. In the case of SSG, the proportion of veterans is high, so the range may be larger than other teams.

So, attention is focused on the team’s most senior members, Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min.

Even in their twilight years, the two players maintained their competitiveness and were respected by showing off self-management skills comparable to those in their 20s. Choo Shin-soo started 99 games as a leadoff player again this year, and Kim Kang-min, who has one-shot ability, also played an active role as a pinch hitter who could be used in important game situations.

However, we cannot rely on the two veterans forever. Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min also know that their time to play is not far away. There are rumors of retirement every year, and he himself is considering retirement. When my body doesn’t obey me, I’m ready to take off my uniform at any time.스포츠토토

It is not a situation to be happy about the fact that Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min are alive and well. Rather than relying on the two players who are nearing retirement, the urgent priority is to find resources to fill the gap between the two.

Amid the unstoppable trend of generational change, the two players’ concerns about their future next season are expected to be deeper than ever. Choo Shin-soo even had tears in his eyes as defeat came close in the third game of the semi-playoffs. It was an expression that expressed complex feelings.

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