Since the 2010s, the Lotte Giants have been plagued by managerial atrocities. No manager has been able to fulfill the contract period, and recently, there have been frequent in-season dismissals.

On the 28th, Lotte said, “Coach Larry Sutton resigned from his position on the 27th due to health reasons after the game against KT,” adding, “After deliberation, the club decided to respect and accept Coach Sutton’s wishes.” Lotte will continue the remainder of the season under acting head coach Lee Jong-woon, starting on Sept. 29 against Daejeon Hanwha.

Sutton, who won the KBO’s home run title as a player (2005), returned to Korea as Lotte’s secondary manager ahead of the 2020 season after a stint in the U.S. minor leagues. In May 2021, he was named Lotte’s first-team coach, succeeding former manager Heo Moon-ho, who was fired during the season. Amidst the team’s turmoil, Sutton steadied the ship in the second half of the 2021 season with a winning percentage of .542 (32 wins, 27 losses, and seven draws), earning the trust of the club later that year with a contract extension through 2023.

But last year, after finishing April in second place, the team stumbled, finishing eighth (0.457 winning percentage). This year, the team received a boost by signing catcher Yoo Kang-nam (31), shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk (34), and pitcher Han Hyun-hee (30). The team continued to fight for the lead until the beginning of June and was in the top three. However, after June, the team went through a series of losing seasons and dropped down the standings. Lotte, whose 5 percent winning percentage was broken in the last game of the first half, failed to rebound in the second half and is currently in seventh place with a season winning percentage of 0.463 (50 wins, 58 losses) as of Aug. 28.

Amidst the team’s downward spiral, Sutton was reportedly suffering from stress. In particular, he missed two games in August (against SSG on the 17th and against KT on the 27th) due to health problems. Despite undergoing a medical examination, the situation did not improve, and eventually, Sutton announced his intention to resign from the club after the game on the 27th, ending his association with Lotte.

Former Lotte coach Larry Sutton.
Lotte in turmoil, losing a coach in-season for the third time in four years

Yang Sang-moon, former head coach of Lotte.
Sutton’s resignation marks the third time in four years that Lotte has lost a head coach in midseason. Previously, Yang Sang-moon, who took over the reins ahead of the 2019 season,토스카지노 chose to step down due to a poor performance that saw the team drop to the bottom of the standings. Lotte spent the rest of the season with Gong Pil-sung as acting head coach, and then hired Heo Moon-ho, then the head coach of Kiwoom Heroes.

However, Heo got off to a rocky start as his feud with the front office came to light, and Lotte fired him in May 2021. At the time, a club official said, “This is different from the case of my predecessor, who voluntarily resigned due to poor performance. It’s hard to see it as a voluntary resignation under these circumstances, whether the feud between the field and the front office is true or not.”

Heo Mun-ho, a former Lotte director.
Lotte’s history is not without its share of mid-season resignations, with three managers in a row. In 1998, Kim Yong-hee was fired for poor performance, and in 2001, his successor, Kim Myung-sung, died during the season, leaving a vacancy. This was followed by four consecutive midseason resignations, including Woo Yong-duk in 2002 and Paik Incheon in 2003.

Since the 2010s, however, it hasn’t been common to see back-to-back in-season managerial departures in the KBO. The Hanwha Eagles have had Kim Sung-geun, Han Yong-duk (2020), and Carlos Suvero (2023) step down in the middle of the season since 2017, but all of them were in their third season when they or the club made the decision.
Seven Lotte managers since Royster, all of whom failed to fulfill their contracts

Former Lotte head coach Jerry Royster. /Photo=News1
In addition to the recent cases, Lotte has had a history of managers stepping down mid-contract since the 2010s. Since Jerry Royster’s departure in 2010 in the form of a “nonrenewable contract,” all seven Lotte managers have failed to fulfill their contracts.

The first was Yang Seung-ho, who led the team to the playoffs in 2011 and 2012. After failing to reach the Korean Series for the second consecutive year, he chose to resign at the end of the 2012 season. Kim Si-jin, who signed a three-year contract, also stepped down after his second season in 2014. Lee Jong-woon, who took over in 2015, was fired after just one season.

Cho Won-woo earned a three-year contract after leading the team to the semifinals in 2017, but he was fired after the 2018 season. The next three coaches (Yang Sang-moon, Heo Moon-ho, and Sutton) all left during the season.

Of course, in Sutton’s case, it was his own health issues, not the club’s. But regardless of the reason, it’s hard to see the lack of consistent on-field leadership as a positive.
‘Returning to the dugout after eight years,’ can acting manager Jong-woon Lee turn around a chaotic team?
Lee Jong-woon, who will take over for Sutton, who chose to step down, will be returning to the Lotte dugout for the first time in eight years. Since taking over in 2015, the acting coach has led Lotte to a winning percentage of 0.462 (66 wins, 77 losses, 1 draw), which ranks eighth out of 10 clubs. Led by the foreign trio of Josh Lindblom, Brooks Reilly, and Jim Aduchi, the team was in contention for a top-five finish by the end of the season, but they never got to experience fall baseball, and he was fired in October of that year.

The former SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) second-team coach returned to Lotte as second-team coach ahead of this season. He then moved to the first team as head coach in a coaching staff reshuffle at the end of June and was named acting head coach for the remainder of the season after about two months.

He has the advantage of having spent a season as a first-team coach. The fact that the team was in contention for the title, albeit without any notable results, could help. A club official also said, “It’s a difficult time, so of course there will be pressure on him, but he has experience, so I’m looking forward to that.”

As of the 28th, Lotte is five games behind the fifth-place KIA Tigers in the postseason standings. The team’s win-loss margin, once as high as +11 (as of June 3), has fallen to -8 in less than two months. With such a difficult situation, can Lee properly wield the baton eight years after his dismissal?

Acting Lotte manager Lee Jong-woon. /Photo=Lotte Giants

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