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Kim Ng Interviewed on Baseball Prospectus
2003-11-18 07:09
by Jon Weisman

This interview of Kim Ng on BP's premium service would have been interesting even before the Bill Singer incident, which is good, because the interview by Jonah Keri was conducted before the Bill Singer incident and does not reference the Bill Singer incident. Which is just fine by me.

The Dodger vice president and assistant general manager remains a bit of mystery in Los Angeles - I'm sure there are many of you out there who have never heard her speak or even read a quote from her. I've only heard her voice once myself. So it's nice to get a little insight into her views.

Ng tells Keri that there are different ways to build a club and "you can't go in there and tear a team apart." Nevertheless, you can see from the quote below that the condition of the Dodger middle infield must conflict Ng as it does many of the team's fans.

I can say that I am a proponent of being strong up the middle offensively. It's something I saw with the Yankees having such great success, something I believe in. How you build a team also depends on the ballpark. In Dodger Stadium it's difficult to hit home runs, so you have to adjust to that. The people in place, ballpark factors, there's a wide variety of factors that differ with each organization.

Though the interview is full of insight, there were a couple of places where I would have liked to have learned more about Ng. At one point, she says:

Sometimes people think stats don't always tell the truth, and that's true. There are some players where stats don't do them justice. You'll see a player who has great instincts, who does the little things that don't show up in box scores like taking the extra base. I think it is important for people doing arbitration to have a feel for what players can do.

I wouldn't disagree with any of the above sentiments, but I would want to know how often Ng thinks that stats don't do a player justice, and how much value she assigns "the little things."

Few proponents of statistics want to use them in place of on-field observation - they want to use one to compliment the other. So it's good that Ng is keeping an eye on the field. But what does she think about the stuff that actually does show up in the box score?

Later, the following exchange occurs between Keri and Ng:

BP: The Dodgers have had a history of drafting high school pitchers, even though they carry a much higher risk that any other player's background. In general, do you favor high school or college talent?

Ng: I'd take the best available, signable player.

The fact that high school pitchers are a risk, despite the matter-of-fact way in which Keri presents it, is still a revolutionary concept in mainstream baseball. If, by her answer, Ng is telling us that she is not worried about that risk, that she's going to support drafting the best player regardless of age, then I'd like to know why. Or, if she's defining "best" in a way that factors in that risk, some clarity on that would be worthwhile.

Above all, though, Ng seems bright, resourceful and dilligent. She is going to be a big name in this game, and it's about time we got to know her.

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