It is neither a daring nor innovative move for incoming Phillies president Andy MacPhail to interview Kim Ng. A few big-league teams have been there and done that. The San Diego Padres, in fact, have done it twice.
It only becomes an out-of-the-box way of thinking if MacPhail and the Phillies have the courage to hire Ng (pronounced ANG) as the first female general manager in the history of this country's four major professional sports.
Risky? Not really.
"She's a very, very intelligent baseball person," Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa said. "A very good baseball mind, a hard worker and what she doesn't know, she's willing to ask questions to make sure she gets it right. I'm not picking the GM, but I sure hope she gets an opportunity to do something."
Ng, 46 and the current vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, is more than qualified to be a general manager even though she has fallen short in interviews with the Dodgers, Angels, Mariners and twice with the Padres. That's especially true if you believe what outgoing team president Pat Gillick said about the job last month after the Phillies fired Ruben Amaro Jr.
"The job is about hiring the right people," Gillick said. "You can talk about everything you want to talk about, but it's hiring the right people and slotting them in the right spots so they can be successful. That's the whole gig."
Having been involved in professional baseball since landing a job out of college in 1991 with the Chicago White Sox - she was a star softball player at the University of Chicago - Ng knows a lot of great baseball people. Working with MacPhail, she would have the ability to put together an extremely qualified staff of personnel in scouting and player development.
Her longest team-related tenures were as an assistant general manager with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, blue-blood organizations with deep pockets. Bowa got to know Ng when he was a coach under manager Joe Torre with those organizations.
It's no secret Torre has an immense respect for Ng. She has worked as his assistant with Major League Baseball since 2011.
"I know she's as knowledgeable as a lot of people who are in GM jobs right now," Bowa said. "Being a woman is not going to be a problem for her. She is well respected in the game of baseball because of how smart she is and how well she listens."
If Amaro's resumé qualified him to replace Gillick as Phillies GM after the 2008 World Series run, then Ng's qualifications should jump off the page and slap MacPhail and owner John Middleton right across the face. At 29, she was hired an assistant to the Yankees GM Brian Cashman and New York immediately won three straight World Series from 1998 through 2000.
Having shed his anonymity to become the ownership face of the Phillies, Middleton is on record as saying a couple of things about the general manager's job. One is that he has the utmost trust in MacPhail's pending decision. The other is that he wants MacPhail to hire the next MacPhail as the Phillies' general manager.
"I say that because 30 years ago, a very young Andy MacPhail was general manager, a newly minted general manager at that," Middleton said the day the Phillies fired Amaro. "This guy was sitting in an office in Minneapolis and he was playing with mathematical, statistical and analytical tools. And he was using them to try to figure out how he could make better evaluations . . . better personnel decisions."
Middleton has made it clear that he wants an analytical mind sitting in the GM chair, and that's another area in which Ng has excelled. At 26, she won a salary arbitration case for the White Sox against pitcher Alex Fernandez and super agent Scott Boras. If you have ever seen the encyclopedia of information Boras carries with him to support the case of his players, you'd know that making a winning case against him is more difficult than stealing home.
This is not to say the other candidates who will make their case in front of MacPhail are not qualified. It would be a great story, for instance, if Cherry Hill native and Kansas City assistant GM J.J. Picollo took the next step forward in his career as a baseball executive by becoming the Phillies' next GM. St. Louis assistant GM Michael Girsch would give the Phillies insight into how the Cardinals have been so good for so long. Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak would be the comfortable choice for MacPhail.
Look at the list of the reported candidates and Ng seems more qualified and more prepared for the job than all the others. The Phillies have never been known for breaking ground. They were the last National League team to sign an African American player (John Kennedy in 1957) and they were a big-market team that acted like a small-market one for the entire decade of the 1990s.
Now, they have a chance to do something bold and daring and, most important, right. If they hire Kim Ng, they will have landed the best candidate for the job.