What advice do we have for the Red Sox as they do their due diligence (for real this time) and set about hiring a new President of Baseball Operations?
Last week, I suggested an entry in the new-POBO sweepstakes, in the form of Raquel Ferreira. The other person that immediately came to mind was Kim Ng, but I didn’t take the time to research her details, in favor of quickly publishing the breaking news about Chaim Bloom’s firing.
I wasn’t quick enough and John Tomase of NBC Sports Boston scooped me. Thank you, John, for seeming to read my mind and publishing this insightful look at Kim’s career and her suitability for the Red Sox. (I still stand by my early Raquel Ferreira endorsement, by the way. I consider myself to have multiple votes in this, like a Chicago cemetery.)
As Tomase reminds us, Kim Ng was the first woman to lead a team in any of the big four sports.
She’s a former softball player (University of Chicago) and served as an intern, then analyst, with the White Sox. She worked for the American League, then became assistant general manager of the Yankees — the youngest in the major leagues, at age 29. She was Theo before there was Theo! She was the second woman ever to be an assistant GM. (In case you’re wondering who was the first: it was Elaine Weddington Steward, who became assistant GM of our very own Boston Red Sox in 1990. More on this in a minute.) Kim also worked as assistant GM for the Dodgers, as senior VP of baseball operations in the Commissioner’s office, and her current job: GM of the Marlins. Now that’s a résumé!
Tomase notes that under her leadership, the Marlins have improved from 67 wins in 2021 to a half-game out of the final NL wild card. Tomase covers the details of her gutsy decision to focus on shoring up the Marlins’ offense back in January, since they were strong on pitching. She traded one of those pitchers, highly regarded minor leaguer Pablo Lopez, for Luis Arraez. Lopez and Arraez are respectively tearing it up on their new clubs, of course.
Can you imagine Bloom pulling this trigger? Clutch your pearls and think of the prospects! No, he wouldn’t have been able to bear it. But the reason we have minor leagues is to support the big-league club, after all.
At the 2023 trade deadline, while Bloom was standing still and calling us underdogs, Kim Ng was getting busy. She brought in Josh Bell, RHP Ryan Weathers, RHP Jorge López (who was later put on waivers and claimed by the Orioles – they don’t all work out, and that’s okay), and RHP David Robertson. She’s not afraid of big change.
If you’ve seen Kim in interviews, she is clear, thoughtful, and occasionally funny.
“It was really about lengthening out the lineup and trying to give our stars a little more support, as well as getting that traffic in that we’ve seen on the bases.” – Kim Ng on her goals at the 2023 trade deadline
She’s a poet. If only I could hear the Red Sox President of Baseball Operations say something like that again!
She takes her job seriously and obviously sees herself as a steward of sorts for the people of Miami — keeping a watchful and responsible eye on their team and trying to do right by everyone.
“When you’re in this type of situation, you just have to make sure you treat that with care and you understand how big a deal this is for the city and for the Marlins fans, and for all those guys downstairs, and you have to do what you can to improve the club.” – Kim Ng
I can’t say that about Bloom, who never tried to improve the (MLB) club and had only one tool in his toolbox anyway. He was like the old guy who shows up on the West Dennis Public Beach with a metal detector after the lifeguards go home for the day.
Kim is far more qualified than several of the names that have been floated so far for Bloom’s replacement (including Alex Cora’s, which is, come on, kind of funny. Each time that gets mentioned, it’s also noted how he’s been “more involved in player development this year.” Ha! That does not a President of Baseball Operations make.) Kim is vastly more qualified than Cora and is the most exciting (and experienced, I believe) candidate of all the names that I’ve seen.
She’s a confident closer. A puller of triggers. She aims high, which Bloom never did. Does she know roster construction? Yes. Would she have the Sox playing baseball in October, as Sam Kennedy has said is a renewed priority? I believe she’d try her goddamn best, yes. Would she be good for the Sox? Yes.
She would also be a smart hire for MLB overall. If MLB is serious about increasing their scope and representation and fanbase (and that’s in each team’s best interest, too), I think she might be the smartest possible hire the Sox could make.
MLB has what I might call, let’s say, a “female problem.” I’ve felt it for a long time, and written about it before too, although in a different context. Attracting (not to mention retaining) fans who fall everywhere on the spectrum of American life should be a top priority. Football and basketball are generally good at this. Baseball, not so much.
Being more inclusive in the offices and on the field is part of that equation too, and the Sox have been doing a decent job. Decent doesn’t mean they can’t do more, though.
- In 1990 they hired Elaine Weddington Steward as the first female assistant general manager, as well as the first Black woman at the executive level, in MLB history. But that was 30 years ago!
- More recently, the Portland Sea Dogs feature an all-female broadcast booth who is KILLING it! If you don’t know what I mean, check out a Portland Sea Dogs broadcast sometime. Emma Tiedemann and Rylee Pay are just the second all-female broadcasting team in professional baseball. They call a beautiful game.
- The first all-female broadcast booth: also the Sox, when Melanie Newman and Suzie Cool worked the booth in Salem in 2019. Newman now does play-by-play for the Baltimore Orioles. Cool is director of promotions and entertainment for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies’ Triple-A team.
- Bianca Smith was hired in 2021 to coach at the Sox’ Fenway South complex, becoming the first Black woman to serve as a coach in professional baseball.
- Raquel Ferreira, part of the team who keeps us afloat whenever we’re in turmoil (like now).
MLB overall has also stepped up efforts in recent years, most notably (so far) with MLB’s first on-field female coach, Alyssa Nakken of the San Francisco Giants.
In 1993, Sherry Davis became the first fulltime female public address announcer in MLB, at Candlestick Park. I was going to college in the Bay Area when that happened, and I was a Giants fan too. It felt like a novelty at first, and people had thoughts, but I can tell you — it was so awesome to hear a woman’s voice booming out of the PA system.
Sherry is recognized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and has acknowledged that a higher bar exists for women in sports.
“You really have to know what you’re doing, and you have to be better.” - Sherry Davis, on women in sports
Kim Ng is that.
Hiring her away from the Marlins won’t add to female representation in MLB; it will simply shift her geographic location. (That’s part of the reason I suggested Raquel Ferreira in the first place.) But Kim will have more visibility in Boston, and be in charge of a more storied team. It not only makes sense for her career trajectory (assuming she’d like to leave Miami, of course) but it would be a wonderful boost for the Sox.