Over the last year, the Phillies have transformed themselves from an old, aging team with the same old voices calling the shots, to a team with a lot of youth (if not a ton of talent yet), a farm system bursting with close-to-big league-ready players, and a team president and owner that are adamant on changing the way things have traditionally been done within the organization.
They like sabermetrics now. They went outside the organization to hire their new team president. And now, it appears they may be ready to break a very important glass ceiling in Major League Baseball.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports the Phils are going to interview baseball executive Kim Ng for their open general manager position. If hired, she would become the first woman, and the first Asian, to land a GM job in Major League Baseball.
Philly has been unusually mum about its search, but it was learned that Kim Ng, the former Yankees, Dodgers and White Sox executive who works in the MLB Central office, is line for an interview there, joining Indians executive Ross Atkins, who is interviewing this week according to sources, and ex-Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, who interviewed a couple weeks back, as the three known candidates. Ng, who has parents of Chinese descent, has an interview upcoming.
Others rumored to possibly be in the mix include Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak, Royals assistant GM J.J. Piccolo, Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine and possibly ex-Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. So Ng may actually be the lone minority hope (though there may be more under-the-radar candidates).
As Heyman notes, Ng has interviewed for general manager jobs before with the Dodgers, Angels, Mariners and Padres. In fact, she has twice interviewed for open GM positions in San Diego, failing to get the job each time.
She currently works in the Commissioner's Office as the VP of baseball operations. Not coincidentally, before coming to Philadelphia, MacPhail also worked in the Commissioner's Office too, so it's likely they know each other well.
My sense is this is not simply a minority interview for the sake of interviewing a minority candidate. Ng is a legitimate candidate for this job.
Of course, the other names mentioned by Heyman are legitimate candidates as well. Ross Atkins has helped develop a roster that should contend in the AL Central next year, Larry Beinfest has plenty of experience as the Marlins' former general manager, and names like Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak and Royals assistant GM J.J. Piccolo have been floating around for weeks now.
Previous reports indicated the Phillies are looking for a younger candidate with a strong understanding of sabermetrics, as opposed to someone with a long history of past GM jobs. Ng is just 46 years old, and according to this profile of Ng written by ESPNW's Jim Caple last week, she has the analytics chops the Phils are looking for, too.
After a couple of months, Ng had impressed the organization with her knowledge of the game and propensity for crunching numbers so much that the White Sox offered her a full-time job, in which she compiled statistical research for contract negotiations and the Rule V draft. Pretty soon, she took over the team's salary arbitration duties too. Analytics were starting to infiltrate the sport, and Ng was one of the brainy, technologically savvy, elite-school grads who was comfortable with computers in ways that many ex-ballplayers weren't. "You could just tell that she was going to make contributions to our organization,'' Evans says. "And she did. She was a wonderful addition to our group.''
Caple also talked about Ng's qualifications for the open positions now.
There are multiple GM openings across baseball right now, and while that role has traditionally been filled by a former ballplayer, since the Moneyball revolution many of the new-generation execs have been hired because of their fancy degrees and facility with analytics. The Milwaukee Brewers filled their vacancy earlier this week when they hired former Astros assistant GM David Stearns, a 30-year-old Harvard grad who fits the new-age, number-cruncher profile.
Ng fits that profile as well.
It remains to be seen if Ng is the Phils' first choice, and this is not to say the Phillies absolutely have to hire her. Some of the other candidates mentioned above would also be fine choices.
But Ng's inclusion certainly makes the process even more interesting. And if she's hired, the Phils will have made a little history by hiring the first woman, and Asian, GM in baseball history.
It's also great she just so happens to be qualified for the job.
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