Reports: Korean left-hander Kwang-Hyun Kim to be posted, Yankees have checked in

The following is a guest post from Sung-Min Kim, who has also written guest posts about Kei Igawa and Hyo-Jun Park.

Kim at the 2014 Asian Games last month. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)
Kim at the 2014 Asian Games last month. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

According to Eun-Byul Park of eDailyStar, left-handed pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim of the SK Wyverns in Korea will have a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the “pursuit of going over to the Major Leagues.” The article also states that the Wyverns’ general manager and main representative will also be present. All signs point to the team posting their star pitcher.

Kim, 26, is one of the most popular players in the Korean Baseball Organization. He was drafted by the Wyverns in the first round in 2006. By the end of 2007, Kim had already posted 3.62 ERA in 77 IP as a 19-year old. His rise is very storied among Korean fans. The Wyverns were down 1-2 to the Doosan Bears in the Korean Series and the manager decided to start the teenager to save their season. The starter for the Bears was one-time Yankee Danny Rios, who later went on to win the league MVP after having a phenomenal season with 2.07 ERA in 234 IP and 22 wins. Undaunted by the task, Kim threw a 7.1 IP gem with only one hit allowed while striking out 9, earning the win for the Wyverns that later went on to win the Korean Series title. Here’s a Korean television segment about the fateful game.

From 2008 to 2010, his ages 20 to 22 seasons, Kim rivaled Hyun-Jin Ryu as the most talented young lefty in the nation. He went 16-4 with 2.39 ERA in 27 starts in 2008, winning the league MVP, the gold medal for Team Korea in the Beijing Olympics, and another Korean Series trophy as the Wyverns won consecutive titles. He went 12-2 with 2.80 ERA in 2009 and 17-7, 2.37 ERA in 193.2 IP in 2010 (and another Wyverns title). By the end of 2010, there wasn’t much doubt about his place as one of the best lefties in the history of Korean baseball. However, starting in 2011, Kim became plagued by slumps and injuries. From 2011 to 2013, he posted 4.84, 4.30 and 4.47 ERAs, respectively, with worse control (4.64 BB/9 from 2011-13 as opposed to 3.64 BB/9 in 2008-2010) and strikeout numbers (7.10 K/9 from 2011-13 as opposed to 8.11 K/9 from 2008-10).

The 2014 season was not his best year, however he came back as a healthy, full-time starter who finished second in the league in ERA (3.42) and home run rate (0.52 HR/9) and seventh in strikeout rate (7.51 K/9). His fastball hit as high as 96 mph, which is around where he topped when he was a younger ace. His 3.42 ERA in 173.2 IP may not be impressive for a pitcher that is pitching at a well-below NPB’s level, but KBO experienced a historical offensive explosion this summer.  The ex-San Francisco and Lotte Giant Ryan Sadowski describes it the best:

“As of September 10th, we have seen 5,762 runs scored over the course of 505 games. There have been about 11.4 runs scored per game or 5.7 runs scored per team. We have witnessed about a 40% increase in runs scored from the 2012 season. We have also seen 1,047 home runs during the 505 games that have been played.  In 2014, we have seen an 80% increase in homeruns produced in comparison to the 2012 season.”

That is insane. There were only SIX starters in KBO with ERA under 4.00 and Kim is the only Korean-born pitcher in that group. The other five: Rick VandenHurk (3.18), Andy Van Hekken (3.51 and the first 20-game winner in KBO since Rios), Charlie Shirek (3.81), Dustin Nippert (3.81) and Cory Riordan (3.96).

A huge knock on Kim’s 2014 numbers is that his walk rate remained mediocre at 4.20 BB/9. There have been Asian imports, or just pitchers in general, that had less-than-ideal control and pitched decently in Majors, but for every Kaz Ishii there are names like Kei Igawa and Ryota Igarashi — pitchers you did not want anywhere near the 40-man roster. The lefty was also one of the luckiest pitchers with runners on base: 74.6 LOB% is the second in league (though one can argue that Kim bumps up his velocity a notch in dicier situations). I would say this video summarizes Kim’s season in a nutshell: showing some control hiccups to get into trouble but using his upside to get outs and out of the trouble.

My assessment: I do not see Kim being a full-time starter in the Majors unless there is a major improvement in command. It would be a wishful thinking for him to be an “effectively wild” pitcher a la early-2002 Kaz Ishii. I don’t know if Kim would post walk rates as abysmal as Ishii’s (6.19 and 6.18 BB/9 in his first two seasons with the Dodgers) but what mattered was that he was a pitcher expected to start in every five games for three Major League seasons. I think a lot of Korean baseball fans would more than gladly take that for Kwang-Hyun Kim.

If Kim were to sign with an ML team, it’s because they would be sold by his stuff. His fastball usually plays around high-80’s-to-low-90’s. He is able to bump it up to mid-90’s but don’t expect a first-grade heat from the lefty. According to a big league scout quoted in Global Sports Integration, Kim has “big league stuff. Definitely a big league slider.” The scout adds “Kim’s raw stuff is electric. If he were a raw prospect with low mileage, he would be the best prospect in Asia. But he has injury history and isn’t 21 years old.”

Some fans may remember RHP Suk-Min Yoon, who signed a ML contract with the Baltimore Orioles in the previous winter. The deal, however, has not gone well at all for the Birds. Yoon, who was also one of the best young starters in KBO along with Kim and Ryu, was trending downwards with health and performance when he signed with Baltimore. Ryu, who had showed endurance in Korea, came off one of his best seasons in 2012 before he signed with the Dodgers. Kim, I would say, is somewhere in between those two. He has his share of injury history but he’s trending upwards in stock – definitely not at Ryu’s level but enough to maybe give some team to take a flier or two.

As for the Yankees, I doubt that they will look at Kim as a rotation option. First off, there are other names in the free agency that could possibly woo the team to spend bigger money on (Jon Lester, James Shields, Brandon McCarthy, etc.). The team also has in-house rotation candidates and pieces that delegitimize a need for a risky signing like Kim. There have been reports that Yankee scouts have checked on him and some think a posting fee between “$10 to 12 million” is “not a stretch.” But then again, I will believe what the ML teams actually think of his value when I see it. All indications say Kim will be posted and it will be interesting to see how a pitcher from Korea with less-than-optimal history would be seen among the teams.

TiqIQ: Ticket prices sky high with Jeter’s final home game looming

A guest post from our friends at TiqIQ:

The end is near, for both the 2014 Yankees and the career of The Captain. With playoff hopes dwindling, the Yankees will host their final homestand of the season over the next week, playing four games each with the Blue Jays and the recently crowned AL East champion Baltimore Orioles. Like with Mariano Rivera’s retirement last season, there will be a known finality with the Yankees unlikely to claim a postseason spot. Derek Jeter has had a forgettable season statistically, but his final game at Yankee Stadium has already generated astronomical secondary market prices for New York Yankees tickets in the Bronx for Thursday’s game against Baltimore.

As Jeter says goodbye to the Yankee faithful one week from yesterday, the game will serve as the most expensive regular season game in Major League Baseball this season. According to TiqIQ, the average price for Jeter’s final home game on September 25 is currently $668.94 on the secondary market. The team’s second most expensive remaining home game on Monday pales in price comparison to next Thursday’s game. At $104.12, Monday’s game against the Orioles is nearly 85% less expensive than the final game at Yankee Stadium this season. Thursday’s average price is 542% above the series opener against the Orioles on Monday.

On top of its extreme secondary market average, the final regular season game at Yankee Stadium currently has a get-in price of $212, making even the minimum ticket price to the game 103% higher than the second most expensive game’s average on Monday. Such high prices for the final game makes the other remaining seven home games seem like a relative steal on the secondary market. Of those games, the most expensive get-in price was $15 for last night’s series opener against Toronto.

TiqIQ: Multiple Player Ceremonies Lead Most Expensive Yankees Promotions

From our friends at TiqIQ:

All season the New York Yankees have found a way to stay competitive. With the amount of injuries they have sustained, especially in the starting rotation, it would not have been surprising if they had one of the worst records in the league, but somehow they’ve remained above .500 all season. Currently they are second in the AL East with a 60-54 record, despite losing four of their five original starting pitchers to injuries. That’s especially shocking for a team that was realistically expected to struggle offensively. But there is one area the team hasn’t struggled, and that is with ticket sales for games at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees are always one of the most expensive tickets in the league, and the only team that has been close to them this year is the Boston Red Sox. For the remainder of the season the Yankees have an average ticket price on the secondary market of $131.43, while most teams fail to even come close to the $100 mark. The league average is about $80 but most teams are lower. That number would be a lot lower if it weren’t for the Yankees and Red Sox.

Part of the reason New York Yankees tickets are so expensive is because of Derek Jeter’s impending retirement, but some promotions have also led to the hefty price tags. The next home series for the Yankees is this weekend against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are no slouch, but they are currently third in the AL Central and a game under .500 at 57-58. Still the cheapest game of the series is $113.03. The most expensive game of the series is $176.61, and it also happens to be a game in which Paul O’Neill will have a plaque dedicated in Monument Park on Saturday.

Similarly the most expensive game for a September series against the Toronto Blue Jays has a promotion. The series is a four-game set from the 18-21, with the game on the 21 the only one with a giveaway. The first 10,000 guests 14 and younger will receive a limited edition Yankees bear beanie baby with the number “2” stitched in to celebrate Jeter. Tickets for that game are averaging $145.57, while the first game of the series is just $91.62.

From August 22-24 they play a Chicago White Sox team that isn’t anywhere close to contention. One the 22nd tickets are averaging $100.54, and on the 24th tickets are just $95.31, but on the 23rd the average is $139.48. But there is a big event on that day, with the Yankees retiring Joe Torre’s No. 6. But that pales in comparison to the game on September 7 against the Kansas City Royals. Tickets are currently averaging $543.42, with a special Derek Jeter ceremony scheduled for the day.

Despite everything they’ve had to deal with, the Yankees still have a chance at the postseason berth. But that’s just part of the reason Yankees tickets have been among the most expensive in the league this year. One of the big reasons seems to be all the promotions the team is having, especially those centered around their most popular players.

TiqIQ: Season tickets for New York City Football Club at Yankee Stadium now available

From our friends at TiqIQ:

As the level of popularity in Major League Soccer grows, two more teams will be added to the league beginning in 2015. Next season there will be newteams in Orlando and New York City with the Orlando Football Club and New York City Football Club becoming the 20th and 21st teams in the MLS.

NYCFC will be the second team in the New York area along with the New York Red Bulls, a matchup that has all the makings of an epic rivalry. For at least the first season, NYCFC will have their home games in the famous Yankee Stadium, and they have ensured they will have productive (and marketable) players donning their jerseys when play begins. First, they signed Spanish star David Villa, and rumors had been circulating that English stalwart Frank Lampard and fellow Spaniard Xavi would be joining the ranks. Today they made one of those rumors a reality.

The team announced the signing of Frank Lampard in a move from Chelsea FC in London. Lampard comes to NYCFC after playing in England since 1995. Lampard has scored 211 goals for Chelsea and is their all-time leading goal scorer. He is second all time in the Premier league in assists only behind soccer legend Ryan Giggs. Internationally, Lampard has also been capped over 100 times for the England National team and has scored an impressive 29 goals in international competition. He is considered by most to be one of the best midfielders of the 21st century with his supreme passing ability, along with his tremendous consistency.

Lampard will be joining NYCFC on a two-year deal. He is expected to bring with him a great amount of experience and soccer knowledge. In the press conference today Lampard said, “Having seen the vision of this club, I have seen a real long-term plan and I want to be involved and I want to keep on challenging myself.” No one can be sure exactly how long he will play, but the time he does spend in New York will be well worth it.

The Villa and Lampard signings have the city of New York very excited for the 2015 season. NYCFC recently surpassed 3,000 season ticket accounts with about eight months to go before the opening game. The team has rolled out a very simple ticket buying process as fans only need to put down a small deposit on season tickets initially and then get to choose their very own seats during a seat selection process in August. If you consider that the majority of accounts are probably between 2-4 seats, NYCFC probably has an initial season ticket base around 7,000 people. That’s a lot of fans they’ve been able to get on board before their inaugural season.

With another designated player slot to go for the club, chances are their will be at least one more marquee name joining the team, and a lot more fans wanting to see he team play at Yankee Stadium. If you’re interested in being a founding fan of the team, now is the time to do it!

TiqIQ: Yankees tickets 46% below average for series vs. Rangers

From our friends at TiqIQ:

The Yankees have one of the worst run differentials in the league at -29 and have barely hovered around a .500 record for most the season despite a huge offseason spending spree. That, however, doesn’t come close to the awful season the Rangers have put together, who are every bit as bad as their division-rival Oakland Athletics have been good. The Rangers are the only team without 40 wins, currently at a 39-59 record, and have the league’s worst run differential at -110. Both teams have a reasonable excuse, with injuries mounting for both sides. Each team has seen their rotation crumble up to this point in the season. The Yankees schedule just got a lot less interesting with presumed AL Rookie of the Year Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list. It’s no wonder Yankees tickets for the series are down 46 percent for a $73.08 average.

7/21 – TEX Miles Mikolas vs. NYY Shane Greene | Avg. Price: $62.02 | Get-in Price: $17

The first game of the series is the cheapest with a $62.02 average, but the get-in price is the most expensive at $17. There’s also a fan giveaway, with Derek Jeter figurines going to those attending the game. Shane Greene makes the start for the Yankees, and if you just said “who,” you’re not alone. Greene is a rookie 25-year-old who was on no one’s radar. Not even ranked in the top 20 for Yankees prospects, Greene has come up and been one of the team’s best starters. While it’s been just two starts, he has given up only two runs in 13.1 innings, and has a superb 11-2 K/BB ratio, while allowing less than a base runner per inning, while inducing ground balls at an elite rate. He’s definitely gotten lucky, but even without luck he would be an above average starter for the Yankees.

7/22 – TEX Nick Martinez vs. NYY Chase Whitley | Avg. Price: $80.39 | Get-in Price: $10

The next night is Cap Night, with fans receiving a free Yankees cap upon entering the ballpark, and prices climb way up. The average price of Yankees vs Rangers tickets for the game is $80.39 and the get-in price is $10. Chase Whitley takes the mound, and he is another example of an unheralded young pitcher, who had a strong start to his major league career with the Yankees. He’s also a cautionary tale for those getting excited about Greene. Despite a great start, Whitely now has a 5.30 ERA.

7/23 – TEX Yu Darvish vs. NYY David Phelps | Avg. Price: $76.84 | Get-in Price: $9

When you have as many injuries to the rotation as the Yankees, you’re going to need to get creative to find starters. David Phelps started the season in the bullpen, but has performed well since his move to the rotation. Phelps has good strikeout numbers, a solid 3.87 ERA, and is third on the team in WAR, meaning he has at least been reliable for the Yankees this season.

7/24 – TEX Colby Lewis vs. NYY Brandon McCarthy | Avg. Price: $83.16 | Get-in Price: $10

The final game of the series is the most expensive with an $83.16 average and a $10 get-in price. Brandon McCarthy makes his third start since his trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the change of scenery has done wonders for him. He’s given up just one earned run in both his starts, while pitching at least six innings both times. He’s also walked just one batter compared to 12 strikeouts.