MILWAUKEE — Kim Ng, a serial general manager candidate who recently interviewed for the Mets’ opening and who is bidding to become the first woman general manager in major professional sports, has a big fan with big-time New York ties: Joe Torre.
As MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, Ng works with and for Torre, the chief baseball officer. Their history spans two decades and three organizations, from the Yankees to the Dodgers to the commissioner’s office.
“She’s very well prepared in whatever she does,” Torre said at Miller Park on Saturday. “She’s way over my head when it comes to all the knowledge she has about a lot of aspects about the game.
She’s very bright. She knows her baseball. And she’s, how do you put it? I don’t want to say sure of herself, but s he’s very bright and a very brave woman. She knows baseball and she doesn’t hedge on stuff. She attacks things head on. That’s the best way to put it.”
Torre met her in 1998, when Yankees GM Brian Cashman hired Ng, then 29, as assistant GM, making her the youngest in the game with that title. Ng made road trips with the team, a part of an assistant’s duties, and Yankees manager Torre quickly learned that she knew her stuff.
“You’re very comfortable talking baseball matters with Kim Ng,” Torre said. “Plus she’s bright beyond baseball. And really engages in conversation that makes it very understandable.”
Ng spent four seasons with the Yankees before the Dodgers hired her, also as an assistant GM, before the 2002 season. She did a little bit of everything for Los Angeles — working on major-league acquisitions, including trades and contract negotiations; overseeing the farm system, including hiring managers and coaching staffs, and leading the club’s arbitration cases — for almost a decade.
Torre managed the Dodgers from 2008-10, then joined the league office in early 2011. He sought to bring Ng on board in his first weeks on the job.
“We had areas that I knew she would work very well with,” Torre said. “I asked the Dodgers’ permission, and they weren’t happy. But it was an advancement for her. It just made her a little more well-rounded.”
Major league teams have taken note of that well-roundedness. The Dodgers, Padres and Angels, among other clubs, have interviewed Ng for GM. This offseason, she has been linked to all three head-of-baseball-operations openings: Mets, Giants, Orioles.
Torre said he has called more than one team to recommend Ng. He declined to say whether the Mets were one of them.
If a team were to hire Ng, it would be historic. No major-league team ever has had a female GM. The same is true of every team in every other major professional sport.
Could the Mets be that team? They seem open to it.
“We need a new GM in place with his ideas or her ideas,” chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said last month.
After the Mets trimmed their list of GM candidates in recent days — cutting Gary LaRocque and De Jon Watson — Ng still is in the running, a source said Sunday. Chaim Bloom, Doug Melvin and Brodie Van Wagenen (perhaps known best by Mets fans as Jacob deGrom’s agent) also remain candidates. Second-round interviews, conducted by principal owner Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon, are expected to start early this week.
On paper, Ng very much fits the mold of what the Mets are believed to be looking for. She is a baseball lifer after graduating from the University of Chicago, where she played softball. Ng joined the White Sox’s front office in 1990 and is said to be adept at blending new-school analytics with old-school scouting. She even spent part of her childhood in Queens.
Currently, Ng oversees all of MLB’s international operations — an arena ripe with corruption that the league has been trying to clean up — and works closely with all 30 teams.
Torre, a former Mets infielder (1975-77) and manager (1977-81), is confident that Ng would be a good choice for the Mets or any other team.
“I’m a little biased,” he said. “But she’s got a lot to give.”