Chris Haft (Giants beat writer for MLB.com) told MLB.com that the Giants will be interviewing current Major League Baseball exec and former Dodgers, White Sox, and Yankees front office exec Kim Ng for their open baseball operations job.
Earlier today, I tried to figure out who the ideal GM candidate would be. While there’s a clamoring Online for the next person to be a progressive, analytics-minded front office executive, I tried to look at the reality of the situation and the entrenched parties involved (Baer, Sabean) to create a list of the separate human qualities they’ll need.
Kim Ng has to be considered a top candidate for the job (which was reported as the GM job, but we know will be the President of Baseball Operations) because her experience with strong ownership groups and success in developing international scouting programs for teams and the league itself gives her an edge over others in the field. She was also assistant general manager for the Yankees and Dodgers in her time there, which fits in nicely with the preferred experience for the role as outlined by Larry Baer and Brian Sabean. Maybe Ned Colletti can even put in a good word for her!
But back to the ownership issue: Larry Baer might not be a “meddler” so much as “heavily involved”, but Ng (pronounced ANG) has experience working with Steinbrenners, Reinsdorfs, and McCourts. And her experience as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations in the league office with Joe Torre gives her a global perspective few other candidates can tout.
She knows how to navigate competing interests and understands the push and pull of the money side of the business and the human side — she seems like the perfect person to manage expectations and create a situation where ownership and the fans can enter this next phase of the franchise with an open mind and some positivity.
Joe Torre had this to say about her to ESPN’s Jim Caple back in 2015:
“She’s very competitive,’’ Torre says. “And for someone as bright as she is, she has no trouble relating to people on everyone’s level. She is there, she doesn’t delegate, she does it herself.’’
Ng became the first woman to interview for a GM opening when she did so with the Dodgers in 2005, but she didn’t get the job. As Evans, Torre and others will attest, she clearly has all the experience, knowledge and skills necessary for the position. The question is whether a baseball team will finally allow a woman to hit from the men’s tee.
”I want to say yes,’’ Torre says. “I always talk her up at owners meetings. At some point, somebody just has to ignore the fact that she’s a woman and just make a baseball decision. And if they do that, then I think she will get an opportunity. Somewhere.’’
There’s no obvious reason why she’s been denied the chance to run a baseball team. Misogyny is certainly a possibility. Considering she has previously interviewed for the Dodgers’ job (that went to Ned Colletti) and the Padres job (that went to A.J. Preller) and is now linked to both Giants’ and Mets’ openings, it is possible that her inclusion as a candidate can be viewed by some as tokenism:
The practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from under-represented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.
I prefer to think the Giants are above something like this and that when Kim Ng meets with Larry Baer, it’s because he views her as an extraordinarily qualified candidate. If Larry Baer did not think she was a qualified candidate, then I’d have huge concerns about his process.
Here she is talking about her relationship with baseball players from Curacao and reveals that she was in on the decision to convert Kenley Jansen to a pitcher.
I can’t help but wonder if Brian Sabean has ever even been to Curacao.
In a podcast interview, she gave some insight into her leadership philosophy:
I think a lot of people view ‘The Leader’ as the person who should have all the answers, and should push his or her version down. But I’m much more — I tend to share opportunity a little bit more than that. And, you know, and that is I want the young people of my staff — the junior members of my staff — throwing ideas at me. Because, you know, that’s sort of the truth method of teamwork. And together we can come up with a better vision. So, in terms of staying fresh, you have to incorporate the imagination of those around you, and not be afraid of it.
And here’s a longer interview talking about her journey and the challenges of working in baseball (both as an exec and as a woman exec):
Ken Rosenthal tweeted this out just before the Ng news broke:
#SFGiants asked to speak to #Brewers GM David Stearns about becoming their president of baseball operations, but Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio denied permission, sources tell The Athletic. Stearns has at least one year left on his deal, sources say.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 11, 2018
The Giants aren’t messing around when it comes to finding their “next gen” candidate. Stearns is young (he’s 33), analytically-minded, and successful. He’s also a sexy candidate. It would be malpractice not to pursue someone like that. You don’t have to be too cynical to imagine that the Giants are casting a wide net because that’s just what teams are supposed to do, and seeking permission to interview a successful 33 year old exec and a qualified woman who could make history are extremes, but also no-brainers.
We don’t know when the Giants requested to interview Stearns or Ng, but it’s possible that the Ng news got leaked after the Stearns denial came out — that’s how these things work. What we do know is that the Giants need to hire someone soon so that they can start hiring people they need to do the job of remaking the team.
Ray Ratto was on Ray Woodson’s Triples Alley podcast and mentioned something along the lines of the Giants needing to find someone who could get the team ready for the next trend in baseball, because it’s very likely that a new front office could try to chase the current trends but find themselves holding a developmental bag of lemons — the team is that far behind, talent-wise.
I agree with his reasoning in that the Giants need someone who doesn’t become set in their ways. Reinvention isn’t a flaw in the game, it’s what makes it cool. Knowledge affords teams those opportunities and they’ve always been a part of the game. Isn’t it cool that John Smoltz was able to remake himself into a closer? Isn’t it cool that Dereck Rodriguez reinvented himself as a solid back of the rotation pitcher? Rule of three question here?
Who could possibly prep the team for future and beyond future success? The job doesn’t require a futurist, but it needs someone who can create a culture of open-mindedness and nimble re-philosophizing, and will hire people who are willing to help the Giants jump ahead of the curve. Kim Ng just seems like the right person for the job.