No, Astros GM Dana Brown is not on the hot seat, nor will he likely get tossed aside anytime soon. The honeymoon question is actually asked from Mr. Brown’s perspective.
Taking on the Astros’ job must have seemed like a slam dunk on easy street for him when it was offered:
- The Astros were the World Champions coming off a great 2022 season where they were a brilliant 106-56 in the regular season and 11-2 in the playoffs.
- They were returning practically all their position players, rotation, and bullpen folks.
- Even where some players left, there was no reason to be overly concerned. Justin Verlander was a big loss, but they were returning 6 pitchers who had posted sub 4.00 ERAs as starters, including 4 who were sub 3.00 ERAs. Most teams would kill for 4 at sub-4.00. Yuli Gurriel left, but he was more than replaced by Jose Abreu. Aledmys Diaz was a valuable bench piece when healthy, but aye, there is the rub. And Will Smith, Christian Vasquez, and Trey Mancini had performed to varying degrees for the 2022 club after mid-season trades but could be replaced internally.
- He was joining an organization that has shown it knows how to win and where Jim Crane has been very supportive with large, but not ridiculous, budgets that hovered just below the luxury tax boundary.
- The farm system probably needed some attention after being depleted a bit with trades, late-in-the-round draft picks, and four lost draft picks in 2020 and 2021. But that was in Dana Brown’s wheelhouse, why he was being brought in to give that part of the franchise a boost.
Yes, the new GM had to feel like he had died and gone to front office heaven to pick up the new job.
Now, just a short time later……
- Brown came in thinking out loud to the reporters that he would be getting some extensions done in a heck of a hurry for some subset of Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Framber Valdez, and Cristian Javier. The Astros signed an extension with pitcher Cristian Javier about two weeks after Brown’s hiring. He probably thought the other dominos would fall, like they did when he was with Braves, when they locked up a chunk of their young talent when he was there. But his missives on these possibilities have grown more negative as time has passed to the point he is not even mentioning them.
- He may have thought he had a really solid rotation with Javier, Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy up front, and Hunter Brown waiting in the wings. Well, with McCullers hurt again for the umpteenth time, the starting rotation is looking a lot thinner, though the recent performance of Ronel Blanco might take the sting out of this problem a bit. (And then I see a tweet from Brian McTaggart that Hunter Brown has back discomfort)……
- He also may have thought that his solid lineup would be supercharged with the addition of Abreu and the return of Michael Brantley from shoulder surgery. But Brantley has not played to date and is on the 10-day IL for the start of the season. Yordan Alvarez’s hands were hurting again, and he will take his first real swings in a game on Thursday. Brown’s all-world second baseman Jose Altuve is out indefinitely based on imminent thumb surgery.
This looks a lot worse than two months ago when he took this job, but……
Dana Brown is neither naïve nor a youngster. He has been in the business long enough to know that many a team looks great one minute and a mess a few weeks later. He also knows that he would have a lot to live up to with this new job and that the chances for some regression were probably high. He should work through the problems and not make knee-jerk moves that hurt the team down the line.
But I’m sure he wishes the view he had of the team on January 26 had not changed.
The latest on Jose
I am going to wait until opening day before I declare that the sky is falling.
I think we are going to be fine and if we aren’t, I’ll do what I always do: go watch a a movie from before the 80’s.
I don’t think if even for a moment our GM thought about taking a drive down easy street. It’s possible he reflected fleetingly that he had in fact gone to heaven. But I’m sure he’s been aware from the start that while he’s got a wonderful opportunity, especially for a first timer, he’s inherited a monster that must be fed. He’s got a very tough act to follow.
Here’s a feel-good story about a guy whose honeymoon is just starting:
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That’s a beautiful story AstroNut. He’s my new Joe Sclafani!
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He’s my new Tyler Heineman, who was taken in the very same 2012 draft as Sclafani.
Boy, time flies.
He might have been a bit too forthcoming initially as he talked about his plans, making extensions sound imminent. Maybe the boss has already told him to be more guarded. He has not said much lately about anything.
I still think we’ve got a heck of a rotation and a very strong pen.
I still think we’ll have a very solid offensive team. We could be playing .500 ball at the end of May and I’d still expect the inevitable correction, unless of course the injury thing takes on a life of its own.
Plenty of teams have already been impacted by injuries. Things could be much worse. That said, I’m a bit concerned about Javier and Brown right now. We’ll know a lot more about our roster in a very few days.
When the team you take over (if he is indeed fully in charge) has been to the playoffs 7 of the last 8 years, made 4 WS appearances, and won 2 of them (including the year before you take over) you don’t get a honeymoon. Expectations are on you from day 1.
Good luck in the fishbowl Mr. Brown, we are all watching.
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Yea – way to early for sky is falling.
Some random thoughts right after caffeine (it might not have kicked in yet though) –
Depth. McCullers out probably first few weeks. Five man rotation should be set but Javier not at full strength and Brown is probably going to be pushed back on his next start. France hasn’t thrown yet. The door is wide open for Whitley, but I don’t think he noticed. No panic though, there is no catastrophic thing – and in 6 weeks we could be at a 6 man rotation wondering who misses starts if they have 2 off days in a week.
Could they use the 60 man IL to free up a temporary spot for Dirden? Altuve is 2 months away from even “baseball related” activities we probably don’t see him until mid June or even early July (punishing that 3000 hit push too). That option is only there if el cheapo grande wants to put Dirden on a major league salary.
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Ronel Blanco has been looking really good so far this Spring [14 IP, 17 Ks, just 3 BBs, 0.86 WHIP, 0.64 ERA, and a .184 BAA]. They’ve been stretching him out to start. If Brown isn’t ready, or Javier is hurt, we are not out of options. Being 29, I suspect the FO will want to find out what he can do for us before exposing JP France to the league.
Quote from McTaggart’s Twitter page yesterday afternoon:
Dusty Baker on Justin Dirden: “He has that quiet confidence. He can play all three outfield positions, he can run, he can throw. There’s not much he can’t do on the baseball field. He’s been impressive from day one”.
I know it’s early, but … having an OBP of .500, a BA of .364, and an OPS of .907, and 8 loud extra base hits in 27 ST plate appearances – along with playing sparkling defense in multiple outfield positions – is hard not to notice.
Sorry – that should read 5 loud EBHs (3 DBLs, 2 HRs), not 8 EBHs.
This is the box score for yesterday’s Astros /Mets game.
Notice Houston’s mostly minor league lineup vs New York’s mostly major league lineup.
Then notice that Houston’s Jairo Solis threw two scoreless innings against that starting lineup to start the game.
Then notice that the losing pitcher was New York’s $75 million free agent signee, who they also had to pay a posting fee to his old Japanese club.
The kids beat the Mets.
The Corey Julks double that won the game for us was earned. The kid has a nice eye and stroke [and also showed a good arm by throwing out a Mets runner at home!]. As far as the Dubon ‘double’ that came later, it was a weak pop-up that got dropped by the Mets’ super-slow footed right fielder. It should have been an out.
Meanwhile, our pitching was NAILS early [Solis, Maton, and Abreu].
Could you imagine that, after all these years, Jairo Solis could work out and be a pitcher for us?