By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Seattle Mariners are in need of a new General Manager as Jack Zduriencik’s tenure with the team was as futile as the team’s record on the field this season. “Jack Z” was relieved of his duties late last month as the Mariners season in which they were considered World Series contenders at the start has turned into another wasted season of underachieving baseball. Zduriencik’s ineptitude to put together a team coupled with the poor shape he has left the future of the franchise leaves no doubt that he did not deserve the seven years he was given by the team. In hiring a new general manager, perhaps the Mariners should review the resume of Kim Ng, a finalist for the Mariners when the club hired Zduriencik.
The 46-year-old Ng has the qualifications to step into the position despite never having served in the role. If the Mariners were to go bold and hire Ng, she would be the first Asian American general manager in professional baseball. She is currently the Senior Vice-President for Baseball Operations with Major League Baseball where she runs the scouting division for Major League Baseball.
Her career started with the Chicago White Sox as an intern and then hired to Assistant Director of Baseball Operations in 1995. She was the youngest person, and first woman, to present a salary arbitration case in major league baseball when she worked for the White Sox. Ng was recruited by the New York Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman under Cashman as Assistant General Manager. She became the youngest, at age 29, to hold the position.
She moved from the Yankees in 2001 to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as Vice President and Assistant General Manager. In 2005, she interviewed for the vacant position of Dodgers general manager but was passed over. She interviewed with the Mariners in 2008 and was one of a few final candidates to take the reigns as general manager. As we know, the job fell to Zduriencik.
Undeterred, Ng interviewed in 2009 with the San Diego Padres for their general manager position but did not receive the job. She also interviewed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011 and the Padres once again in 2014.
It’s clear that Ng is a viable candidate to run a major league baseball franchise. She remains on a short list of individuals when an opening surfaces. At some point, one has to think a team will hire her. Why not the Mariners?
With a history of work with winning organizations (namely the Yankees and Dodgers) and respected by her peers (former Dodger manager Joe Torre hired her for her present role with MLB), Ng has set herself up to take the next step in her career.
But, the speculation is that the Mariners are looking for a person that has served as general manager in the past. Hence, a retread more likely than not and someone within the established male, Caucasian-dominated fraternity that is major league baseball’s management.
The Mariners ownership gave Jack Zduriencik seven years to turn around the Mariners. In media interviews, he proclaimed that was the time frame for which one might expect a winning team and playoff baseball in Seattle. Yet, seven years appeared to be a rather extensive overhaul especially when other baseball franchises appeared to reach its goal of winning baseball in a much faster time frame. Seven years later, nothing has changed. In fact, Zdurencik’s tenure offered little in the form of winning and the timeline given appears more of him attempting to salvage his job security. Not since the University of Washington gave Tyrone Willingham 4 years to turn around the Husky Football program has the area seen such an embarrassing job performance. For those that do not recall, Willingham was the Husky head coach from 2005-2008 and amassed an 11-37 record including an 0-12 season in 2008.
The Mariners franchise is synonymous with mediocrity and disappointment. Despite several key signings by the baseball team (e.g., Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz) it remains below .500 and this year will make it 14 seasons since the team made it to the playoffs.
Perhaps the most-surprising thing about the mediocre Mariners is that attendance is up 15% over last year when the team was playing well. The attendance means that fans expected more this year or that people are coming to watch the visiting teams come to Safeco Field.
In the end, winning baseball brings in more fans and one might imagine the attendance figures if the Mariners were competitive. The Mariners are in a familiar low point of the franchise. The team should hire Kim Ng because of her qualifications and her experience with winning organizations.
One would hope that winning finally rubs off for baseball in Seattle and it doesn’t take seven more years. (end)