It’s already been a mixed bag for the two foreign managers entering the final season of their contracts this year. Carlos Suvero was fired from Hanwha early on. But another foreigner, Lotte manager Larry Sutton, is cruising. Sutton will finish his three-year contract with Lotte this year.
Lotte is in third place with a 29-19 record and a 0.604 winning percentage after losing to KIA in Busan on April 4. They are two games behind leader SSG and one game behind second-place LG. The team has been on an upswing since mid-April and won nine straight games in early May. After finishing first in April, they finished May in third place. They continued their upward trend in June.
This year’s Lotte is not the Lotte of old. In the past, when they had a brief run in the late 2000s and early 2010s, they tended to be a one-hit wonder. Instead, their pitching and defense were inadequate, and their fielding and baserunning were weak. This year, however, Lotte has a much more organized lineup, albeit one that is less devastating than back then. The team is much more cohesive in terms of execution, baserunning, and defense. On the mound, the bullpen is stable and the starting lineup is well organized. The manager himself is a former home run king, but he’s actually good at small ball.
That’s because Sutton has a good understanding of the KBO. As a player, he played for Hyundai and KIA from 2005 to 2007, and at Lotte, he joined the second team from the final training camp in 2019 and has been watching and managing the team for four years. After a year in charge of the second team, he checked out the prospects and spent two years developing his own baseball, starting in 2021.
In the process, it hasn’t all been favorable, with some saying that the penalty system was a bit rigid in the past two years, but in his fourth year, it has softened considerably. There are many evaluations that he is definitely more Korean than previous foreign managers. He knows the KBO and Lotte inside and out. If you step on the gas a little more, you can see the lead, but it is also impressive that he drives safely without overdoing it.
The season hasn’t reached the turning point yet. The way to go is farther than the way to come. However, there is a prevailing view that this year’s improved Lotte will not repeat the ‘Bomde’ of the past. Once they reach the postseason for the first time in six years after 2017, Sutton has the potential to make KBO history.
He would be the first foreign manager in KBO history to be re-signed. Previously, Jerry Royster of Lotte (2008-2010) and Trey Hillman of SK (2017-2018) only fulfilled their contracts. Hillman became the first foreign manager to win the Korean Series, but he declined to re-sign due to family commitments.
Former KIA manager Matt Williams 토토사이트 (2020-2021) was fired with one year left on his contract. He was one of the highest-paid foreign managers in history, but he was criticized for being too “old-school” and left Korea in disgrace. And recently, Subero became the second KBO manager to be fired.
Sutton has the potential to accomplish what Royster and Hill never did. If Lotte makes the postseason this year and doesn’t falter too badly in the postseason, and if he doesn’t mind living in South Korea, he could be re-signed.
It’s a full-blown summer race. From here on out, it’s all about managing injuries and staying healthy. For reference, Royster and Hillman had winning percentages of 0.519 and 0.545 last season. Sutton, at 0.604 this year, would be lucky to get into the six figures, and even a low five figures would be a happy ending. Sutton’s big challenge is in full swing.