Imagine a teammate of Craig Biggio becoming the next General Manager of the Houston Astros and, no, it isn't Jeff Bagwell. Meet Dana Brown, who played alongside Bidge at Seton Hall and helped to draft his son, Cavan to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Brown: 33 Years of training
(c) Houston Chronicle
But the 55-year-old New Brunswick (NJ) native has much better credentials than that. Brown is in the unusual position of stepping into a ready-built winner and keeping the good times rolling. The position became available last November when former G.M. James Click did not see eye-to-eye with Owner Jim Crane on a contract extension after winning the World Series. His appearance at the trophy ceremony was quite awkward and one could sense something was wrong.
Brown was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies then became a scout with the Pittsburgh Pirates and later named director of Amateur Scouting for the Montreal Expos in 2002. When the club moved to Washington D.C. and became the Nationals, Brown moved with them.
Alex Anthopoulos tabbed Brown as a special assistant with the Toronto Blue Jays then was made Vice President of Scouting for the Atlanta Braves in 2019 after Anthopoulos took the G.M. job there.
Brown's specialty seems to be scouting and drafting, an area where the Astros have done well in recent times but has watched a talent drain as others left for higher positions with other teams. Brown seems to mix modern analytics with his roots in old-time scouting.
Crane leaned on three holdovers from Click's front office to assist with G.M. duties and they should remain to help Brown. While roster construction is largely done, a few holes remain to be filled plus preparing for the arbitration hearings of stars Kyle Tucker and Cristian Javier in February. Training camp is just weeks away.
He's been able to work for teams with low-to-mid budgets and keep the talent flow strong. The Braves not only had the National League Rookie of the Year but the runner up as well. Houston hopes that Midas Touch follows him to Texas.
The Braves also had a number of players signed to extended contracts, ensuring roster stability and cost control. When Atlanta lost star first baseman Freddie Freeman to free agency after beating the Astros in the 2021 World Series, they still managed to win the hotly-contested National League East the next year.
The Astros will likely try to extend Tucker as well as pitchers Javier and Framber Valdez in the near future.
On a lighter note, Justin Verlander was awarded the trophy for the American League Cy Young Award, his third such honor but the first with a typo on it. The wording on the trophy included the word "valueable" rather than "valuable". I honestly don't blame who did it, since the word is one of my Top 10 most common spelling errors, however it leads one to ask "Does Major League Baseball not own a spell-checker?"
- Bob Hulsey