The grades are in for major leaguersWith roughly two weeks left until the playoffs, I thought grading the Korean players in the major leagues might be a good idea. Here is my take on them (from A to D), and to all those naysayers out there, I am ready to defend myself.
Park Chan-ho, Texas Rangers, pitcher (1-3, 7.58 ERA): This is a man to whom I have tied my fortunes, as I repeatedly have backed up Park through good and bad days. He is scheduled to come to Korea in October through the backdoor at Incheon airport.
Sunny side up: His rehab goes through and he finds his fastball. At age 30, he’s still good for a couple of years. He may not win 15 games, but he’ll be good enough to give the Rangers at least 10 wins.
The dark side: Park gets injured again or he loses some of the zip in his fastball. He tries to pitch his way through with control but ends up dethroning Ron Hunt for the single- season record of HBP of 50.
Overall: B (I am ready to be crucified for this).
Seo Jae-weong, New York Mets, pitcher (8-12, 4.01 ERA): Seo burst onto the scene this year, providing the ever-hungry legions of Korean sportswriters some fodder. Eh, that was until his meltdown in July, when he lost four consecutive games. He seems to be back on track now. Good for those who hailed him as the “control artist” and even dared to compare him to Tom Glavine (the old one).
Sunny side up: Seo learns how NOT to give up points in the first inning. His control stays as it is and he adds some velocity to his fastball.
The dark side: Batters have figured out this rookie and know that they only have to rock him a little for him to lose his temper, his control and the ballgame (in that order), melting down like ice cream on the block.
Kim Byung-hyun, Boston Red Sox, closer (7-9, 12 saves, 3.55 ERA): Is BK strictly a non-Yankee closer? Hmm... Facing his eternal enemy seven times this season, he posted a 1-2 record, one save, one blown save and a 5.40 ERA. Watching his recent performance, I have to admit that I am not comfortable with Kim on the mound in a big game against New York.
Sunny side up (conditional): Kim stays as a closer. Keeps his lovely slider. Keeps his confidence.
The dark side: Kim keeps getting hypnotized by the Yankees or he becomes a starter, and batters who’ll take a good look at his stuff will start to pummel him. Suddenly, his exotic style isn’t so exotic anymore.
Overall: A-minus (the age factor got him over what would have been a B; there is much upside potential).
Choi Hee-seop, Chicago Cubs, first base, (AB 199, .229): Korea had its first position player in Choi. Yeah, I know, I jumped on the bandwagon myself, but I conceded that he might be a couple of years away from being the player the Cubs think he could be.
Sunny side up: Gets to play every day without looking over his shoulder and finally learns how to hit a curveball.
The dark side: He’ll never learn to hit anything besides a fastball. The minor leagues are filled with guys who can hit fastballs, even from hard- throwing guys like Roger Clemens. But they never make it to the show because they can’t hit anything else. Playing first base in the major leagues means you have to produce. If he does not in the next two years, sayonara!
by Brian Lee