Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Kim Ng leaves Dodgers for MLB post
By Tony Jackson
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kim Ng, who has been the Los Angeles Dodgers' assistant general manager since 2002 under three different general managers, is leaving the organization to accept a senior vice president's position with Major League Baseball, the commissioner's office announced on Tuesday morning.
Ng will report directly to former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who retired from managing last September and was named executive vice president of operations for MLB last week. She will remain with the Dodgers through their March 31 season opener against the San Francisco Giants.
"We haven't worked out all the details, but a lot of my focus will be on international operations, such as the Dominican Republic," Ng said at the Dodgers' spring-training complex. "I talked to Joe, and he described the job, and it was something of interest to me. It took a while to process and think about. I finally came to the conclusion this job was a fantastic opportunity that I couldn't afford to let pass me by."
Ng denied that her decision had anything to do with any instability within the Dodgers organization resulting from owner Frank McCourt's divorce and the possibility that the team will have to be sold.
"This is really about the opportunity in front of me," she said. "Like I said, I have a chance to help Joe help the commissioner in changing policy and having an impact on the game in a meaningful way. That [instability] really wasn't a part of this. Frank has been very good to me, and [general manager] Ned [Colletti] has been very good to me. This was an extremely difficult decision for me. I have been with this organization for almost half my career, and that was a big factor.
"The people I have been around all this time -- I just walked in the door with Sandy Koufax -- those are some of the things I am going to miss."
Ng is one of two people, along with Arizona Diamonbacks assistant GM Peter Woodfork, who are being named senior VPs in the baseball operations department.
Ng had seemed at times during her tenure to be on the verge of becoming baseball's first female GM. She interviewed for the Dodgers GM job in the fall of 2005, but ultimately was passed over in favor of Colletti, then the San Francisco Giants assistant GM. Ng also interviewed for the Seattle Mariners GM vacancy in the fall of 2008 but was passed over in favor of Jack Zduriencik. She interviewed for the San Diego Padres GM vacancy in the fall of 2009, with that job ultimately going to Jed Hoyer.
Ng said she still has the goal of becoming a general manager.
"Obviously, I have a job to do in the commissioner's office, and I am fully committed to that," she said. "This is a chance for me to contribute in a meaningful way to the game. In terms of my long-term aspirations, they are still there. I think if anything, this will make me a more well-rounded candidate."
McCourt issued a statement through the club.
"I'm excited for Kim because this is a huge step in her career, but I'm disappointed that we are losing such a tremendous talent," McCourt's statement read. "She has been a dedicated member of our organization for the last decade and has set herself apart with her integrity, her work ethic and her dedication to winning and always doing what is best for the Dodgers. I wish her all the best in her new role and will always consider her part of the Dodger family."
Colletti said there are no immediate plans to replace Ng in the front office.
"We'll see in time what we're going to do," he said. "It could be internal, it could be external, it could be half and half. This is a great shot for her and a great opportunity. I know her and Joe are close, and he picked a great person, somebody who knows what she is doing. She will be a good asset for him."
Colletti said it's possible Ng's responsibilities will be dispersed to more than one other person and that he doesn't necessarily feel the need to give someone the title if assistant GM. The Dodgers presently have two other individuals with that title -- Logan White, who runs the amateur scouting department, and DeJon Watson, who heads up player development -- but they both live in the Phoenix area and aren't in the Dodger Stadium offices on a regular basis.
"She worked very hard to get that title," Colletti said. "She put a lot of time and a lot of energy into that position."
Colletti said Torre called him "a couple of weeks ago, around the start of camp" seeking permission to talk to Ng.
Although Torre was officially named to his new position only last week, it is widely believed he accepted the position well in advance of that announcement. Torre told reporters at the quarterly owners meetings in January that he was deep into discussions with commissioner Bud Selig about the position he ultimately accepted.
Ng and Torre have a working relationship dating back to 1998, when Torre was the manager of the New York Yankees and Ng began a four-year stint as the team's assistant GM. She left the Yankees after the 2001 season to join the staff of then-Dodgers GM Dan Evans.
Evans was fired just before the 2004 season when McCourt purchased the Dodgers from NewsCorp, at which point McCourt hired Paul DePodesta. DePodesta was fired after the 2005 season and replaced by Colletti. Ng survived both of those regime changes and has been an integral part of the Dodgers front office, handling all arbitration cases and most minor league free-agent signings as well as making sure that the club is in compliance with all of baseball's complex and intricate rules for roster management and player eligibility.
"We're going to miss her, obviously," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "But I'm sure this is something maybe better for her, and you always want something better for people."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Follow him on Twitter.