Dana Brown named Astros GM: 'He's the perfect fit'
HOUSTON -- Astros owner Jim Crane said his club went through a “pretty vigorous” interview process in trying to find its new general manager, and ultimately turned to Dana Brown, who Crane said was analytics-savvy, a great talent evaluator, seasoned at player development and is, like himself, a former college player.
“When we did the complete evaluation, he’s the perfect fit for us,” Crane said.
Brown, a former scout and longtime baseball executive who helped the Braves acquire their stable of young talent, was named the Astros GM on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. The hiring comes three weeks before the start of Spring Training and ends a two-month search for the Astros, who parted ways with GM James Click after three seasons shortly after winning the World Series.
“I know there’s some special things going on here already and I really want to continue that and extend that long-term,” Brown said. “I've been in the game for 33 years. Baseball is all I know. It’s my entire life, and so I want to empty myself into this city [and] the Astros fans and let Jim Crane know he made a special pick.”
Brown, 55, is the second Black GM in Astros history, and he joins Dusty Baker in becoming only the second Black general manager-manager duo in baseball history, following GM Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.
Brown interviewed for GM jobs previously with the Mets and Mariners.
“I remember [Commissioner] Rob Manfred told me, ‘Stay positive, because we understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that can be a big part of a new organization and lead an organization in baseball operations,'” he said. “At the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity, and I’m really excited for this opportunity and especially grateful that Jim Crane took an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I like this guy. I like what he’s all about,’ and he’s rolling with me.”
Brown joins the Astros after spending the last four seasons (2019-22) as the vice president of scouting in Atlanta, where he oversaw the drafting of 2022 National League Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II and Harris' runner-up, pitcher Spencer Strider, along with infielder Vaughn Grissom. Many of Atlanta’s young players have been locked up to long-term deals with the Braves in recent months.
Brown, who said he was “trained by old-time scouts,” spent nine seasons as a special assistant to the GM for the Blue Jays and worked as the director of scouting for the Expos/Nationals from 2002-09, during which time he drafted more than 40 Major League players, including seven All-Stars. He began his scouting career with the Pirates in 1994.
In Montreal, Brown worked with Alex Anthopoulos, who later became the GM of the Blue Jays and brought Brown along with him. Brown followed Anthopoulos to Atlanta, and the loyalty shown to Brown stood out to Crane. Now, Brown gets the keys to his own team.
“When you turn on the TV and you watch the Houston Astros, they’re a winning team,” Brown said. “Just being around some of the players and knowing and understanding what it takes to win a championship, whether it's the pitching, the timely hitting, the good bullpen, there's things like that that you notice, and we certainly have that here, and I want to continue that.”
Brown inherits an Astros team that is poised to make a run at its third World Series title since 2017 and attempting to reach the American League Championship Series for the seventh year in a row. He’ll have to be a quick learner, considering pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15.
The Astros have most of their key roster pieces under contract for at least the next two seasons, with left fielder Michael Brantley and catcher Martín Maldonado among the exceptions. The Astros have signed such young core players as Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve to extensions in the past; 2022 All-Stars Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez are extension candidates.
“Now you come into an environment where you have money and you sign good players and you extend Major League players, now you choke the system with players and you've got a chance to have a long run, and so that's what the plan is,” Brown said.
Astros Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio played with Brown at Seton Hall University and gave him a strong endorsement. It was Brown who, while with the Blue Jays, drafted Biggio's son Cavan.
“Over the years, we always stay in touch, and we always talk,” Biggio said. “I think the thing I’m most proud about for him is he’s jumped through all the hoops to get to where he is today. He’s learned from a lot of people. He’ll do a lot of good for the organization, and I’m excited to have his expertise working for us now.”