Vice president and assistant general manager Kim Ng took part in a live Web chat on Tuesday. Ng, in her fifth season with the Dodgers, answered questions about how she got into baseball, what she likes most about her job, how she evaluates talent and who might be the best double-play combination in the Minor Leagues.
Kim Ng: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining the chat today. Let's get started with your questions.
soylentgreen: Hello Kim, thanks for being available today. You have now served as assistant GM under three very different general managers and during a time of historic change. What have you learned about baseball, and more importantly, about the Dodgers?
Ng: I think I've learned that every day you learn something new about this game. It is so complex and there are so many variables about formulating strategy and building a club that you never stop learning. I've now worked for two franchises that are just laden with history and that is something I'll treasure for the rest of my career, and being a part of the Dodgers on a daily basis has made me understand the magnitude of its history.
14hodges: Could you please describe what goes in to determining when a young player is ready to make the jump to the big league club? Are a player's numbers in the Minor Leagues very important?
Ng: Performance is a very important indicator of how you feel a player will perform in the big leagues, but not the sole factor. We take into consideration other things, like character and how a player deals with failure.
14hodges: Is it difficult to represent the club in arbitration cases? Does it feel like a struggle between the player and the Dodgers, or do most people involved deal with the process in a less personal way?
Ng: When you go to an arbitration hearing, it is always difficult. It, in some ways, goes against everything you are trying to build, which is teamwork. At the same time, from the club's point of view, you are given limited resources from which to work, and therefore every dollar we save in arbitration or in a contract negotiation, then can get allocated to another player we need. I, personally, never want to be involved in an arbitration hearing, but sometimes you have to do so.
14hodges: What's your favorite food?
Ng: Who would have thought this would be the hardest question to answer? I like so many different kinds of food. My mom would kill me if I didn't say it was her cooking.
14hodges: Does the fact that the fans love a player matter at all when you consider his value to the club?
Ng: I think all baseball executives are fans deep down inside, and it is really hard to separate yourself, but it is a necessary part of the job, and although we always want to hear what the fans have to say, we aren't always going to be able to satisfy everyone.
14hodges: What do you like the most about your job?
Ng: I like winning. But I also love knowing that you are trying to build something and every day you come to the ballpark, you think you could witness history.
dodgermc: Is there someone in the Minor Leagues that you feel is really good that we're not hearing about?
Ng: Yes. Chin-lung Hu and Tony Abreu could be the best double-play combination in the Minor Leagues today.
dodgermc: How do you and Ned Colletti work together?
Ng: I've worked for several general managers now. Our relationship is not much different. We give each other daily updates and talk through a lot of different situations.
Base_Ball_2: What's the plan when Cesar Izturis comes back?
Ng: Right now, Izturis is still recovering from his surgery and we will determine at a later date what we will do.
Base_Ball_2: What's the best way to break into the business of baseball for a current law student? How did you get started in the industry?
Ng: When I was a senior in college, I was very interested in getting a job in sports, so I sent my resume to a variety of organizations, and the White Sox actually called the university and asked for intern candidates. I applied, interviewed and got the internship. From the internship, I was hired full time by the White Sox. As for advice, I would get a copy of the Baseball America directory, and send resumes to everyone you can find, go to the Winter Meetings and try and meet as many executives as possible, and I wouldn't be selective about what particular job I got. One common mistake is that people only shoot for baseball operations jobs, and don't try to just get their foot in the door, i.e. marketing or sales. It's easier to make an impression from within an organization, chatting at the coffee machine, rather than from the outside.
Base_Ball_2: Is there any chance that Russell Martin will be the guy from now on?
Ng: I'd say that Russell has been doing a great job filling in, and we see a very bright future for him. There is always a chance.
Base_Ball_2: How is Greg Miller doing?
Ng: I just saw him the other night and he is doing extremely well in Jacksonville.
Base_Ball_2: Are the Dodgers planning on bringing up Joel Guzman any time soon?
Ng: Guzman is one of our top prospects at this point. We are hoping that he gets his at-bats in Triple-A this year, and if we do see him, I'm sure he will be performing off the charts in Vegas.
philmikips: Has it been difficult to balance the great farm system while still trying to field a winner this year?
Ng: Yes, but it's a great problem to have.
Jerry_Williams: Would you please discuss the progress of Matt Kemp?
Ng: Right now, he is at Double-A and doing a great job. We've got him playing a lot in center field, and some in right, to prepare him for all possibilities. In Spring Training, he showed our staff five tools, and we can't wait to see him up here.
Base_Ball_4: What needs are the Dodgers prepared to address immediately and after the All-Star break?
Ng: Our mission statement is to always improve the club. Eric Gagne's rehab is coming along well. We expect him to go on a rehab assignment at some point in the near future. Once we get him back, we think our pitching will settle down quite a bit.
Ng: Let's take a couple more, then I have to run.
14hodges: To what degree does the field manager have input into decisions about who is on the roster, which player is sent down, which player is brought up, which player is acquired, traded, etc.?
Ng: We are constantly communicating with Grady Little and his staff in order to get as much information as we can to make good decisions.
philmikips: Where is most of your time spent? The office? Minor leagues?
Ng: Most of my time is spent here in the office and watching the big league club.
Ng: Thank you all for taking the time to join the chat. I look forward to talking to you in the future.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.