Dodger GM Search May End at Home

The general manager the Dodgers are looking for so frantically may have been right under their noses all along. Kim Ng, Dodger vice president and assistant GM, interviewed recently for the general manager's position that became vacant when owner Frank McCourt handed Paul DePodesta his pink slip and the search was then on to find a replacement. And former Dodger GM Dan Evans is firmly in her corner.

Now Ng, who is Asian-American, could become the first woman hired by a major league team to fill a role that's been exclusively male.

"I've been out in the field with her, scouted. I've been in the back rooms with her, around the table. She's as qualified as any guy sitting in there around the table," said Ken Williams, GM of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox.

"I am from the mind-set that if someone is qualified to do the job, it doesn't really matter what their background is, or what their race or gender is," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said. "Either you can do it, or not. My dealings with Kim always have been good and she obviously has a very good reputation wherever she has worked."

"Everybody here knows Kim, and they've known her for quite some time," said Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who hired her as his assistant in March 1998. "If she gets hired, whether it's for the Dodgers or anybody else, it's going to be because someone believes she has the ability to do that job.

"She's not going to get the job because she's a woman, and I don't think she's getting interviewed because she's a woman. I think she's getting interviewed because she deserves to have that opportunity because of that hard work she's put forth."

Unsolicited accolades such as these have come in waves from those who have worked with the remarkable young woman.

Ng, who turns 37 on Nov. 17, was the New York Yankees' assistant general manager for four years before becoming an assistant GM with the Dodgers in December 2001.

"The McCourts have asked the candidates basically not to discuss the whole situation," Ng said during the annual general managers' meetings, where she is co-leading the Dodgers' delegation along with Roy Smith, the team's vice president of player development.

Only three women have risen to assistant GM. The first was Elaine Weddington Steward, hired by the Boston Red Sox in 1990. When Ng left the Yankees, she was replaced by Jean Afterman, a lawyer who had worked for agent Don Nomura.

Ng worked for the White Sox from 1990-96, when Dan Evans was the team's assistant GM, and Evans hired her when he became GM of the Dodgers. After she left the White Sox, Ng became director of waivers and player records for the American League for one year.

Evans said he would "applaud big-time" if Kim Ng becomes the Dodgers' next GM.

"I hired her as an intern when I was the director of baseball operations for the White Sox in 1990 and then hired her as my assistant general manager in Los Angeles," Evans "I have great respect for her and whatever happens with her down the line, it will happen because she has earned the opportunity."

Evans remembered the first time he met Ng.

"She was recommended by the athletic director at the University of Chicago and was just one of the multiple interviews we had for the internship," he said. "I had one interview with her and it was just outstanding.

"I had the advantage of being married to a television producer who was a little bit of a pioneer herself and that was in the back of my mind. It made me think that there shouldn't be any barriers."

Ng got the intern job and worked on arbitration research.

"We didn't win all of them," Evans said, "but we were prepared. Kim is one of the hardest-working people I have ever met. She continues to ask questions and never asks the same question a second time."

Some question how the other Major League general managers would react.

"She has been in this game for 15 years, and anyone in the game now will have dealt with her and will have respect for her," Evans said. "It's not about friendships. You don't have to be friends with the people you work against, but you have to respect her.

"She works as hard, or harder, than anyone. Whether they are ready, that's their problem if they are not ready. I know I couldn't have asked for a better person to work for me at the White Sox or the Dodgers.

"I have two teenage daughters who consider Kim as their role model, and that's pretty cool."

Dodger Blue Notes-- reports that because the pool of free-agent talent is considered thin this year (Brian Giles and Johnny Damon might fit), observers are expecting more trading this offseason. "The Dodgers might find that bat by assuming all (or part) of a contract another club would like to unload through a salary-dump trade. Names that come to mind include Todd Helton, Jim Thome, Aubrey Huff and Adrian Beltre. With the removal from the payroll of Darren Dreifort, Shawn Green and Jeff Weaver, among others, the new GM could have a net of $25 million additional to spend. The Dodgers farm system is considered one of the most fertile in baseball and to get an All-Star type hitter, it likely would require the organization to swallow hard and dangle some of those jewels of the future -- Joel Guzman, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Andy LaRoche, Edwin Jackson -- for much-needed help now. There is speculation that the Dodgers will deal outfielder Milton Bradley, whose controversies in two seasons included a run-in last year with teammate Jeff Kent and former manager Jim Tracy. Kent, who met with ownership two weeks ago, has told teammates he would ask for a trade if Bradley returns." …The question of where Bobby Valentine will manage next year has been muddied by conflicting reports about the status of his negotiations with the Chiba Lotte Marines. The team has told the media that contract talks have been progressing; the manager says they have not happened. In the meantime, Valentine believes an impressive offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers is waiting in the wings. "If the Dodgers ask permission to speak to me and Lotte allows it, I expect to get an offer from the Dodgers that will be very hard to turn down," Valentine told The Daily Yomiuri on Wednesday. That being said, Valentine would prefer to remain in Chiba, where his current contract holds him until Nov. 30. "I want to stay here," he said. …Sources say the Dodgers and Angels have joined the chase of free-agent first baseman Paul Konerko, both seeking a middle-of-the-order bat, and both having spoken to Konerko's agent, Craig Landis, during these meetings. They can begin financial negotiations Friday for Konerko, the most attractive hitter in a marginal free-agent field. However, the Chicago White Sox are working to re-sign him.