The playoffs are currently underway in Korea’s professional baseball league, and many of those who didn’t make it have already started planning their offseasons. Kia Tigers’ pitcher Yoon Seok-min, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, is headed to Los Angeles to try his luck with a Major League Baseball club. He said he plans to meet with his agent Scott Boras to organize trials for several clubs in the United States. Scouts like the 27-year-old right-hander for his control and three-pitch arsenal. —The Chosunilbo
Yoon is a six-foot, 190-pound right-handed pitcher. With a three-quarters delivery, Yoon throws a fastball at 90-92 mph (tops out at 96 mph), a change-up, an occasional curveball, and a hard breaking, mid-80s slider. He can pitch the slider more like a cutter when facing left-handed batters. With a shoulder injury Yoon lost about 2 mph on his fastball, and converted to relief during 2013 season. —Wikipedia
(Yoon is his family name so in western versions it reads Seok-min Yoon; The Chosunilbo uses Seok-min as the proper translation of his given name although much of the western media spells it Suk-min. Note that it is not a nickname meaning “sucks minimally.” He has started and relieved effectively during his career. He has won the Korean Baseball Organization’s top pitching award and represented Korea in World Classic and Olympics competitions.)
AL West Commentary
“While the A’s will likely lose Colon and Balfour, they have able replacements ready to step in. I don’t foresee any major moves in Oakland this winter, but those aren’t needed. Even if the A’s just make some moves around the edges they will enter next season as AL West favorites.” —Jim Bowden at ESPN [Insider required and recommended]
So they said
“If it comes down to it, would we want the player [Alex Rodriguez] we signed to be playing that position without any problems? Absolutely, no question about that.” Brian Cashman on ESPN Radio’s “Ian O’Connor Show” Sunday.
“Who would have guessed the ex-Ray in the Braves starting NLDS line-ups would be Elliot Johnson and not B.J. Upton?” —Marc Topkin at the Tampa Bay Times
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Joel Sherman of the NY Post asked four top executives—two from the AL and two from the NL—whether the Boston Red Sox will tender Qualifying Offers (QO) to their soon-to-be free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. All agreed Ellsbury will get a QO and the two AL execs thought Napoli would get one too. (Probably as they have seen more of him.) However they noted that Napoli’s chronic hip necrosis condition would have to be considered. One of the NL execs thought Saltalamacchia would get one due to the scarcity of good catchers. The other NL executive and Sherman believe all three of them will get a QO. “It’s a huge big-market advantage,” this executive said. “It’s why the Yankees will offer [the QO] one. Even if you think the guy will be worth $9MM-$10MM, you get a one-year deal or a [draft] pick.” Additionally, as Sherman notes, QO players are without no-trade restrictions so they all come fully trade-able to their existing or new clubs.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer answered a reader’s question about their starter Ubaldo Jimenez by saying: “I’m sure the Indians have considered every alternative with Jimenez, including offering him an extension. It sounds like they’ve been told Jimenez will void his club option and test the free agent market. I would imagine they’ll talk to him as he goes through the free agent process. They could also make him a one-year qualifying offer for an estimated $14 million to guarantee they’ll receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. The question I’m sure the Indians are discussing among themselves is who is the real Ubaldo Jimenez? Is he the starter who struggled for a year and a half after the Indians acquired him from the Rockies? Or is he the lead-dog starter who led them to the postseason this year?”
Mike Harris at The Washington Times writes that, “As incredibly cool as it would be to have an icon like [Cal] Ripken [Jr.] as the manager of the Nats, it is not a good idea. Not now anyway. There’s also no question he knows the game. You don’t play it as well as he did for as long as he did without knowing baseball. He’s the son of a manager. Odds are, Ripken will be a good manager one day. Ripken would be a splash hire. Choosing him would be discussed around the world. The attention would be considerable. The Nats don’t need a splash hire. They need a solid hire, a strong manager who has experience doing exactly that at some level: managing. They don’t need someone who will command a lion’s share of the attention. Ripken isn’t the type to demand that, but it will come if he’s the manager. For those reasons and more, someone like Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr or Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams are much better choices for the job than Ripken.”
Harris’ reasons for not wanting Ripken for the Nats would make him a good choice for the Mariners. He would be a “splash hire” who would vacuum the attention off of the front office and the young players from Day 1. He’s had a great career, knows the game, is the son of a manager, and, as the Hollywood Reporter might say, “is boffo at the box office.”
“Pirates GM Neal Huntington will have a host of decisions to make immediately, beginning with impending free agents such as outfielder Marlon Byrd, first baseman Justin Morneau, shortstop Clint Barmes and starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. Despite 2013’s success, the fact is Pittsburgh still is a small market, and just because the front office was aggressive during the season in their acquisitions of Byrd and Morneau, don’t expect them to be free spenders or even be able to retain either one of them. Byrd played well in Pittsburgh but is likely to be overpaid by a club desperate for corner power. And while Morneau did a decent job for the Pirates, the fact he hit zero home runs in 25 games for the Pirates and will be 33 next season tells me he’s not worth retaining. My guess is that he is headed back to the American League, where he can DH in addition to playing first.” —Jim Bowden at ESPN [Insider required and recommended]
By the numbers
Anibal Sanchez is the second pitcher in MLB postseason history with four strikeouts in an inning. The other? Orval Overall for the Cubs in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series (Oct. 14, 1908, first inning). —ESPN Stats & Info [For the record, these are not typos or made-up names.]
“Over the final weeks of the 2013 season, the Nationals went 33-15. That’s not a small stretch of good baseball. It is almost a third of a season.” —Mike Harris at The Washington Times
“Official Washington, still stuck in the government shutdown of its own making, seems exceedingly short on wisdom these days. But maybe it is looking in the wrong places for answers. Maybe, for one example, there is an unexpected lesson of sorts to be found in the history of baseball. That sport, which is currently moving through its postseason and toward the World Series, is hardly without it own troubles; it has endured its share of shutdowns, strikes and lockouts.
It was during one of those work stoppages — the seven-week strike of 1981– that an anguished fan pleaded publicly with the leaders of the sport, both the owners and the players, to come to their senses. The fan was Bart Giamatti, who at the time was the president of Yale University and who would go on to become the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Giamatti, frustrated by the posturing and excuses on both sides, wrote that the failure to open up the gates of the ballparks was ‘utter foolishness. … The people of America care about baseball, not about your squalid little squabbles. Reassume your dignity and remember that you are the temporary custodians of an enduring public trust.’ Baseball fan Giamatti wrote, in the midst of that 1981 strike, ‘There is no general sympathy for either of your sides. Nor will there be.’ “ —CNN contributor author Bob Greene