The Pros and Cons of Hiring Kim Ng

Last week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Phillies plan to interview Kim Ng in their search for a new general manager. Ng is one of a handful of candidates along with Larry Beinfest, Ross Atkins, Matt Klentak, J.J. Piccolo, Thad Levine, and Ben Cherington.

It’s not the first time Ng has been a candidate in a team’s search for a GM. She had interviewed with the Angels after the 2011 season, the Padres after the 2009 season, and the Dodgers in 2005. The Angels ultimately went with Jerry DiPoto, the Padres Jed Hoyer, and the Dodgers Ned Colletti. She interviewed with the Padres again in 2014, but the opening went to A.J. Preller.

Ng worked with Yankees GM Brian Cashman as the assistant general manager and vice president from 1998-2001. She resigned in order to join the Dodgers as their AGM/VP. In March 2011, she resigned from the Dodgers to work under Joe Torre to serve as the senior VP of baseball operations for Major League Baseball. In her time there, she worked with new Phillies president Andy MacPhail, who would be in charge of hiring her.

No one doubts Ng’s pedigree — she was the first woman to present a salary arbitration case and she won on behalf of pitcher Alex Fernandez in 1995 when she worked for the Chicago White Sox. Her opportunities with the Yankees and Dodgers, as well as in the commissioner’s office, has allowed her to work with some of the sharpest minds baseball has to offer.

Ng’s job, if she were to be hired by the Phillies, would be to make the best decisions from the ownership’s point of view. That would be, comparatively, a 180-degree turn from her role with the White Sox in which she argued for her players to be paid more money. To be clear: part of Ng’s job responsibility would be to nickel and dime with the players. That wouldn’t be her fault specifically; it’s simply a job responsibility. However, as our modern favorites have been poached by front offices, these smart people have increasingly been used for evil, rather than good. It’s what happens when you reduce human beings down to numbers in a spreadsheet, as many anti-Sabermetrics Luddites squealed many years ago.

On the other hand, Ng is both a racial and gender minority as a Chinese woman in the U.S. If she were to achieve the position as Phillies GM, she would directly and indirectly open up so many doors that were otherwise closed for those who aren’t older white men. Despite baseball being relatively more open to people of all walks of life, it still has a ways to go to achieve equality. Lloyd McClendon, fired by new Mariners GM DiPoto last week, was the only black manager in baseball, for example.

The Phillies have a particularly sordid past when it comes to equality in baseball. When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, Phillies manager Ben Chapman instructed his players to intentionally throw at the Dodgers’ first baseman. The club shouted racial slurs at him at nearly every opportunity. The Phillies were also the last team to integrate.

The Phillies could turn from a team that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th and 21st centuries into a team that allowed girls across the country the opportunity to dream of one day working for (or playing for) a major league ballclub. The social benefits — not to mention extensive front office expertise — would make hiring Ng a home run for the Phillies.

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  1. GMR2000

    October 13, 2015 07:19 AM

    Pretty sure the Philies were the last NL team to integrate. Both the Tigers and Red Sox were behind them.

    • Michael C Lorah

      October 13, 2015 11:34 AM

      This is true. Red Sox were last in MLB.

      Ever read the story about how Bill Veeck tried to buy the Phillies in 1943 and planned to stock the team with Negro League stars? Commissioner Landis put the kibosh on the sale. I’d love to peek into a parallel world where Veeck’s plan came to fruition. Imagine how different the franchise and the sport might’ve been if the most famed commissioner in its history weren’t a raging racist.

  2. Steve

    October 13, 2015 08:05 AM

    Are you saying the con would be: she could be so good at her job, that she avoids bad contracts and consequently prevents players from maxing out on their earning potential? That sounds like a pro to me from the standpoint of building a sustainable, successful organization.

    Also, while i agree with you that this could potentially “open up the door” for many people, I’m more interested in hiring the best candidate for the job (which she very well may be), than making a social statement.

  3. Eddie

    October 13, 2015 08:38 AM

    Her resume sounds pretty good to me, and seems like a solid candidate. Certainly the fact that she keeps getting interviewed by different organizations speaks to her reputation in the league. It seems pretty patronising to suggest she should get hired because she’s a woman.

    • d'ante benjamin

      October 13, 2015 09:15 AM

      This guy.

      • d'ante benjamin

        October 13, 2015 09:16 AM

        (By which I mean I agree with him)

    • Leo

      October 15, 2015 06:46 PM

      I don’t think Bill is saying she should get hired simply because she is a woman, just that it is a positive factor that should not be overlooked. It is respectful, not patronizing, to value how far she has come in a male dominated field.

  4. Romus

    October 13, 2015 08:42 AM

    Kim Ng, along with Jean Afterman and Elaine Wddington-Steward are the females in the ‘GM arena’. Though Ms Ng has been in the corporate offices for awhile now, she has paid her dues in the ‘trenches’ and is qualified.
    Jean Afterman (Yankess) and Elaine Steward (Red Sox) are AsstGM, BUT, they are also attorneys and keep the GMs, Cashman and former Sox GM Cherington, legal in all their decisions. Both, Afterman and Steward are in their 50s now and assume happy where they are at.
    Ng, however, may have been the only one of the three to actually do baseball operation maneuvers when she worked the Asst GM positions.
    Not sure if she is interested in going back into the trenches, she may be more inclined toward career progression within the MLB corporate structure.
    Perhaps she is doing MLB a favor…being a ‘good soldier’, and punching the ticket for the minority hiring process protocols and keeping the congressional types off the backs of MLB corporate. Just a wild guess on my part.

  5. d'ante benjamin

    October 13, 2015 09:15 AM

    None of your arguments have to do with baseball decision-making. SMDH.

    • Bill Baer

      October 13, 2015 09:19 AM

      Did you happen to miss my mentioning her extensive experience in various front offices and my em-dash aside in the concluding sentence?

  6. CJ

    October 13, 2015 10:38 AM

    The only reason to hire this person is if she is the best candidate. That is the only reason. Giving her extra points because she is a woman and minority does not in the long run benefit women and minorities in fields where they are under-represented.

    The Phillies have nothing to atone for. The statute of limitations for their social crime has long expired.

    Ng obviously has some front office skill. It’s worth noting that, for some reason, teams passed on her four times.

  7. Brian S

    October 13, 2015 11:48 AM

    I don’t think there was a single actual pro or con in this post…

    • Steve

      October 13, 2015 12:17 PM

      Ha i was thinking the same at first, not structured as you typical pro/con write up. I think her experience is an unquestionable pro. The rest seems like more of a biography or snapshot of Ng.
      The only thing that stood out to me as a possible con, if you really reach, if the fact that she has been passes over 4 times before. Gives me a little bit of a Sandberg vibe. But again, thats if you’re really looking for somthing negative about Ng

      • Romus

        October 13, 2015 02:05 PM

        Interestingly Dipoto (Angels) and the former Mariner GM are now no longer with their respective organizations that passed over Ms Ng.
        I do not quite understand and puzzled why the Dodgers (Walter/Kasten) did not rehire her…but elected to go with Friedman/Zaidi…maybe some bad blood since she left for corporate or maybe she just wasn’t interested in going back there for an interview.
        Padres, otoh, elected to go with Preller, who does have a pretty good resume.

    • JustBob

      October 18, 2015 07:13 PM

      It is a weak piece that wastes half of its words on a topic that is important but a secondary one.

      Given that Ng was the second candidate they interviewed, that isn’t a great sign she is one of their leading candidates.

  8. Scott G

    October 13, 2015 12:38 PM

    Isn’t all we should hope for as Phillies fans is that they hire the best man or woman for the job?

    Also, has there been a Crashburn analysis or conversation on the Utley slide?

  9. Major Malfunction

    October 13, 2015 12:50 PM

    If she’s the best qualified for the job, it would be an absolute travesty to the Phillies, MLB, the fans, to her, and most importantly, to women in general if she did not get it.

    Sorry, but decisions based on bigotry gets me more fired up than just about any other topic. I don’t have a daughter, but if I did, I’d be telling her everyday to learn in school, try hard, and you can do anything you put your mind to. And then some S.O.B. purposely excludes her from a job “because she’s a girl”.

    Now that I think about it, it’s probably better off I don’t have a daughter. .

    Anyway, good luck to Kim in her endeavor and good luck to the Phillies in their search. Looks like some interesting times ahead for baseball.

    • Steve

      October 13, 2015 02:11 PM

      I disagree. The Phillies need to hire the person they feel is going to run the organization the best. Period. There may be someone out there who doesnt have the same impressive credentials that Ng has, but who can do the job better. Their interview process should be expansive and extensive and should not be limited by any filters, concious or unconscious, such as age, race, gender, lack of experience, etc.

      • Major Malfunction

        October 14, 2015 08:07 AM

        Actually, that’s what I said.

        If she’s most qualified for the job, she should get it. By qualified, I don’t mean pedigree, I meant “Is she best for the job?”. It would seem you thought I was talking about job qualifications only, which is actually exactly the problem with how the selection process goes at a lot of places.

        I work with people who went and got a masters degree online and now think they should be upper management for the simple reason they have a masters degree. They have no proven ability to do anything and their past work is mediocre, at best.

        Being educated beyond your intelligence is a common problem in the business world and thankfully, most employers are looking beyond that now and looking at problem solving, experience, and personality as an important trait, if not more important than pedigree.

        Hopefully the Phillies are keen on resourcefulness and someone with an eye for the future, not just running the mill day to day.

  10. Greg

    October 13, 2015 04:29 PM

    A WOMAN AND an ASIAN?! Ben Chapman must be rolling over in his grave right now. Of course, I assume he’s on a spit over hellfire, so’s he’s been rolling over for a while now.

  11. Greg

    October 13, 2015 04:30 PM

    Hey, can we call the fact that more is being made over the fact that she’d be the first woman GM than the fact that she’d be the first Chinese GM some sort of racial progress? Or is that more of a damning statement about how little women are respected in sports?

    • Steve

      October 13, 2015 08:00 PM

      Hey, can we just focus on that fact that RAJ isn’t going to be the GM next year. Or the fact that the Phillies seem geniunely interested in bringing in someone from outside of the organization with a fresh perspective. That is real progress.

    • CJ

      October 14, 2015 11:15 AM

      How about we try leaving all of the Great March of Progress calculations out of it entirely and just appreciate sports without politics for a change?

      • Whitey

        October 15, 2015 12:52 PM

        Is this your first Bill Baer reading?

  12. 100Bucks

    October 13, 2015 07:59 PM

    I can imagine that Ng would be very good at making deals for the Phillies. She is an outsider and can therefore make her own rules rather than following the old-school path that Amaro tread.

  13. Nick

    October 13, 2015 08:41 PM

    Beinfest’s resume looks pretty good. Ng’s two teams that she primarily worked with (Dodgers and Yankees) remind me too much of the old guard in terms of spending a lot of money on aging free agents. She was also passed over for the Mariners job in 2008.

    Just win 100 games and get us a trophy.

  14. thephillyphorum

    October 13, 2015 08:48 PM

    I think Ng is by far and away the best chance we have of contending again (Soon already!). Not that I know anything, but the resume is impressive. Ng joins the Yankees and they win three straight World Championships. In her twelve years as AGM her teams had 8 post season appearances, made the LCS 6 times and World Series 3 times.

    She’s done a few interviews over the years and always has a really interesting, usually dead on take that’s somehow fresh but baseball to its very core. She seems perfect. An outsider whose base is numbers but understands the human aspect and hidden value in the game as well.

    I think it’s cool that she’s a woman, but I think it’s even cooler that she looks like a brilliant talent evaluator with a background in contracts and arbitration and she’s available and MacPhail looks like he wants to hire her.

  15. PhilsPhan

    October 14, 2015 02:10 PM

    she’s a NY native, like to know what she thinks about Utley, then decide if she’s the right fit 🙂

  16. Jeff

    October 14, 2015 04:25 PM

    Just a reminder: Ruben Amaro is an ethnic minority.

    Do his tenure as GM, and his multi-year grooming under Ed Wade and Pat Gillick, count as part of the Phillies’ “particularly sordid past when it comes to equality in baseball”?

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