The Angels should hire Kim Ng to be their next general manager not to make history, but to make the playoffs.
They should hire Ng, a former assistant general manager of the Dodgers and New York Yankees, not to break a glass ceiling but to break a cycle of bad decision making that contributed to two straight non-playoff finishes under former general manager Tony Reagins.
The Angels, who talked to Ng on Wednesday as part of their ongoing interviews with candidates, should hire her not because she’s a woman or despite the fact she’s a woman.
They should hire Ng because she is experienced and accomplished at many facets of the game, from beating super-agent Scott Boras at the arbitration table — commendation enough right there — to running a farm system, negotiating contracts, and assisting with day-to-day operations of a major league team.
She would be the first female general manager in a major U.S. professional sport, but she’d be no pushover.
Let Manager Mike Scioscia be the face of the organization. Let Ng be the brains behind the scenes. There’s no doubt she is smart: she earned a degree from the University of Chicago and a thorough baseball education during two decades working for clubs, the American League and Major League Baseball.
She affirmed her intelligence earlier this year when she fled the chaos of the Dodgers’ front office to join the commissioner’s office as a senior vice president of baseball operations. That move added international negotiations and business dealings to her already impressive resume.
“I think Kim deserves an opportunity. She’s done just about everything there is to do to prepare,” said Ned Colletti, who beat her out for the Dodgers’ general manager job in 2005 but hired her as his assistant.
“She understands the demands of the position. We miss her here.”
In 13 seasons as an assistant general manager, teams Ng worked for made the playoffs eight times, reached the League Championship Series six times and won the World Series three times. Of course, she alone wasn’t responsible for those successes, but her role was significant and her performance highly regarded.
The Angels, burdened with bloated contracts, could use her bargaining skills and insights into determining players’ values. They would benefit from her calm confidence, attention to detail and ability to avoid being caught up in political undercurrents, a skill she demonstrated by surviving two regime changes with the Dodgers.
“I think she’s ready,” former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who hired Ng to work alongside him in the commissioner’s office, told The Times’ Kevin Baxter a few days ago. “It would be a terrible loss for us. But I think she is ready to take that next step.”
Dan Evans, who gave Ng her start when he hired her as an intern with the Chicago White Sox — and employed her again in Los Angeles when he became the Dodgers’ general manager — still considers her a friend. That hasn’t changed even though he’s competing with her for the Angels job and is scheduled to be interviewed Thursday or Friday.
“I’m a big fan of hers for all the right reasons,” he said in a phone conversation. “She’s a very hard-working person, very analytical. Great people skills. Just a real solid human being.
“Anybody that has worked with her recognizes that she’s not just the best woman baseball executive, she’s a really talented executive who happens to be a woman. … Gender is only an issue for people who haven’t worked with her and haven’t interacted with her.”
Ng interviewed for general manager jobs with the Dodgers, Seattle Mariners and Padres. That she didn’t get those positions isn’t a knock on her, Evans said.
“Those are tough jobs to get. There’s only 30 of them. There are fewer major league general managers than there are U.S. Senators,” he said. “Being up for jobs and not getting them doesn’t mean she’s not qualified. A lot of people, including myself, have gone through the same thing.”
If the Angels hire Ng, she would be under intense scrutiny because of her historic status. Evans said she can handle the additional duties of being a pioneer and role model.
“You’ve got to be able to handle the criticism and have a thick skin, and I think she’s got all the attributes. It’s just a matter of opportunity,” he said. “She’s going to have opportunity to do a lot of great things in this sport, and I think she’s going to be really prepared for whatever anybody hands her.”
She is prepared for the Angels job. The Angels should be prepared to hire her.