Kim Ng may or may not be the best person for the Padres job, but she is qualified to be a GM

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A conversation developed on Twitter a bit ago that sort of pissed me off. It began just after (a) Bud Black said the Padres would name their new GM in 48 hours; and (b) the San Anotinio Spurs announced that they were hiring a woman as an assistant coach.

I tweeted — more jokingly than anything — that the Padres should hire Kim Ng — who is a candidate — right now and then the NBA and Major League Baseball can turn to the NFL and say “your move.”

This caused a couple of people to respond seriously, saying that the Padres should not be in the business of hiring someone simply for the good press. That came along with the strong implication — and in a couple of responses, the clear statement — that Ng is not qualified to be the Padres general manager and that hiring her would be mere tokenism.

Let me start out by saying that I have no idea if Ng is the best person for the Padres’ GM position. I don’t know the other candidates — which include Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler, Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller, and Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen — too well. I certainly can’t say I know their resumes as well as I know Ng’s. It’s quite possible that any or all of them are better suited to what San Diego is looking for or a better fit. It’s also possible that Ng isn’t too enamored with leaving her post at MLB to take over what would clearly be a big job of building the Padres into a contender. In short: whoever the Padres hire is their business and there are tons of 100% baseball reasons why Ng may not get the job.

But I will not accept the assertion, because it is 100% counterfactual, that if the Padres did hire Ng it’d be some sort of P.R.-driven/affirmative action/tokenism kind of hire. Ng has held almost every conceivable job in baseball, from arguing arbitration cases to running international academies to coordinating pro scouting. She has spent many, many years in this game and there is zero suggestion that she is not capable. If you are unfamiliar with her resume, here’s a good place to start. That’s three-years-old, by the way and does not include her experience at MLB headquarters.

Again, maybe she’s not the right fit for the Padres, but to the extent people are suggesting that she is unqualified, please, present some information about that. Don’t assert things that are plainly wrong because you’re so utterly convinced that her candidacy is some liberal, p.c. conspiracy.

Justin Verlander changed his mechanics to prolong his career

Justin Verlander mechanics
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Last week, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported that Astros starter and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander changed his mechanics in order to prolong his career. Specifically, Verlander lowered his release point from 7’2″ to 6’5″.

As Brooks Baseball shows, Verlander drastically altered his release point after being traded to the Astros from the Tigers on August 31, 2017. The change resulted in a huge bump in his strikeout rate. Verlander’s strikeout rate ranged between 16% and 27.4% with the Tigers, mostly settling in the 23-25% range. With The Tigers through the first five months of 2017, Verlander struck out 24.1% of batters. In the final month with the Astros, he struck out 35.8% of batters. He then maintained that rate over the entire 2018 and ’19 seasons with respective rates of 34.8% and 35.4%. Just as impressively, the release point also resulted in fewer walks. His walk rate ranged from 5.9% to 9.9% with the Tigers but was 4.4% and 5.0% the last two seasons with the Astros.

Verlander finished a runner-up in 2018 AL Cy Young Award balloting to Blake Snell before edging out teammate Gerrit Cole for the award last season. Despite the immense success, Verlander described his mechanics as unsustainable. Per The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan, Verlander said, “I changed a lot of stuff that some people would think was unnecessary. But I thought it was necessary, especially if I want to play eight, 10 more years.”

Verlander is 37 years old, so 10 more seasons would put him into Jamie Moyer territory. Moyer, who consistently ranked among baseball’s softest-tossing pitchers, pitched 25 seasons in the majors from 1986-2012.  He threw 111 2/3 innings with the Phillies in 2010 at the age of 47 and 53 2/3 innings with the Rockies in 2012 at 49. But aside from Moyer and, more recently, Bartolo Colon, it’s exceedingly rare for pitchers to extend their careers into their 40’s, let alone their mid- and late-40’s.

The Astros have Verlander under contract through 2021. The right-hander will have earned close to $300 million. He’s won a World Series, a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, two Cy Youngs, and has been an eight-time All-Star. Verlander could retire after 2021 and would almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2027. That he continues to tweak his mechanics in order to pitch for another decade speaks to his highly competitive nature.