Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Astros GM search: Houston hires Braves executive Dana Brown to replace James Click for defending champions

The Houston Astros have hired Atlanta Braves executive Dana Brown as their new general manager, the team announced Thursday afternoon.

Brown had previously served as the Braves’ vice president of scouting, a role that saw him lead Atlanta’s amateur drafts. Under Brown’s guidance, the Braves drafted several foundational building blocks despite picking later in the first round. That group includes Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II, and Vaughn Grissom. Brown is also believed to have been responsible for signing veteran reliever Tyler Matzek, who was a key member of Atlanta’s 2021 title run.

CBS Sports had identified Brown last year as a soon-to-be popular general manager candidate this winter.

“We are excited to have Dana join our organization,” Astros owner Jim Crane said in a statement. “He brings championship caliber experience to our team and is the right fit for us to continue to deliver a winning franchise on and off the field. We welcome Dana and his family to the Astros family.”

As USA Today’s Bob Nightengale noted on Twitter, Brown’s pairing with Astros skipper Dusty Baker will form just the second Black GM-manager combination in Major League Baseball history. The other instance occurred from 2000-03, when the Chicago White Sox employed Ken Williams and Jerry Manuel.

The Astros, of course, parted ways with previous general manager James Click (along with top assistant Scott Powers) following their World Series victory last fall after failing to reach terms on a new contract with him. According to most reporting, Click was a bit too analytically inclined and reliant for Crane’s tastes, which is a divide the owner briefly addressed on Thursday during Brown’s introductory press conference. In addition to referring to Brown as “very analytics savvy,” Crane also told reporters — unprompted, according to Chandler Rome — “Certainly we won’t do away with analytics.”

As for Brown, he also addressed the issue of melding analytics with traditional approaches to player evaluation. “I think analytics are a piece of the puzzle,” Brown said at the presser. “We have a saying: ‘You have to weigh all the evidence, and when you weigh all the evidence, you can cut out mistakes that are made.'”

Brown has only a few weeks until spring training gets underway, and the Astros roster is mostly constructed anyway. There are a few areas he could look to upgrade upon, including finding a better backup catcher (young Korey Lee is the incumbent there) and perhaps a left-handed reliever to replace free agent Will Smith.

Prior to joining the Braves, Brown had also spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, and Pittsburgh Pirates. He even enjoyed a brief playing career as part of the Philadelphia Phillies organization. In 280 professional games, he batted .262/.340/.325 with four home runs and 82 stolen bases.

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