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New Dodger Hee-seop Debuts with Double

Posted August. 01, 2004 22:27,   


“Big Choi” Choi Hee-seop, 25, was abruptly traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With a day left until the trade deadline, on July 31, Florida completed a three-for-three trade with LA by sending Choi, Brad Penny, who was fifth in its rotation list, and rising minor leaguer lefty Bill Murphy for catcher Paul LoDuca, setup-man Guillermo Mota, and outfielder Juan Encarnacion.

Let’s take a look at Choi’s sudden trade and his future with the Dodgers, and other major transactions in the Major Leagues.

Why Was He All of a Sudden Traded?—

The Dodgers--winless in the postseason since 1988--originally wanted Arizona’s “Big Unit” Randy Johnson. In the negotiations, the Dodgers raised their highest stakes, offering LoDuca and Mota, but abruptly turned to the Marlins after Johnson refused to be traded. Hence, the Dodgers have been criticized for being the loser in this transaction.

An Opportunity After a Crisis—

For Choi--who started his career with the Chicago Cubs, was traded to Florida, and then to the Dodgers--this trade is considered a lucky break. In Florida, Choi was only a part-time batter, batting only against right-handed pitchers, but with Shawn Green returning to the outfield, it is highly likely that Choi will start full time at first base.

In his first game as a Dodger, on August 1, in a road-game against the San Diego Padres, Choi’s uniform number was 5, and he started at first base while batting sixth in the lineup. He had a good game by going 1 for 3, with a double to right center in the fourth inning, and earning a walk.

What Type of Ball club Are the Dodgers?—

The LA Dodgers, a distinguished ball club in the western division, are familiar to Koreans because Park Chan-ho (Texas Rangers) played for them until 2001. It was founded in 1884 and won the World Series six times. Although it failed to make it to the playoffs since 1996, it is still a very popular team.

With a surprising strong performance this season, the Dodgers lead the National League West Division, and are likely to advance to the playoffs. With almost one million Korean residents in LA, and a mild weather throughout the year, these are the best conditions for Choi to play under.

Choi said, “At first the trade was a shock to me, but I think it is rather a good thing. I can expect fervent support from Koreans in LA and my life will be more comfortable.”

Seo Jae-weong’s Uncertain Future—

Another major issue besides Choi’s trade is the New York Mets’ acquisition of two above-average pitchers--Kris Benson from Pittsburgh and Victor Zambrano from Tampa Bay. As a result, Seo is now out of the starting rotation.

Another interesting point is Nomar Garciaparra, who is considered one of the best shortstops, and his trade to the Chicago Cubs, which involved a four-club trade including Montreal and Minnesota.

The New York Yankees, who failed to bring in Randy Johnson, acquired nine-game winner Esteban Loaiza from the Chicago White Sox by sending them Jose Contreras and $4 million in cash. Johnson, on the other hand, will remain in Arizona for this season, but is predicted to be traded next season.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com