Astros pluck critical piece of Braves’ front office due to Atlanta’s “player retention”

Alex Anthopoulos trade deadline

The Braves said goodbye to a critical piece of their front office this offseason as the Astros plucked Vice President of Scouting Dana Brown from Atlanta. Attrition is inevitable when an organization is as successful and renowned as Atlanta. Other clubs poaching executives and other personnel is expected.

Dana Brown has been absolutely critical to the Braves’ success, primarily responsible for bringing in Shea Langeliers, Spencer StriderMichael Harris, and Tyler MatzekAlex Anthopoulos has praised him for his ability to identify talent.

“I remember Dana telling me he was a top-five high-school bat in the draft — he wrote it in his report as well — and that we had to take him,” Alex Anthopoulos said. “He wasn’t highly touted at all and Dana wanted to take him in the third round. I remember asking him if he was sure we needed to take him that high and he was adamant. He did the same thing with Spencer Strider (the Braves’ fourth-round pick) in 2020. I’ve been with him a long time and when he’s that convicted I stay out of the way.”

“One other time he pounded for us to sign a player was Tyler Matzek when he was in Indy ball. It was August (2019), minor league season was about to be over and he wouldn’t let it go so we signed him to a two-year minor-league contract. Dana doesn’t bat 1.000, no one does but when he’s passionate about something, I’ve learned the smart move is to listen.”

It’s obvious what the Astros see in Dana Brown, and Houston owner Jime Crane elaborated: “He was very analytics-savvy. He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves. Seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention – they were always able to extend some of their player contracts. … He’s got great people skills. Excellent communicator. And last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out.”

The Braves could teach a course on player development and retention. There isn’t a single club that can match the amount of young talent locked up. Brown was a factor in getting them to this point, but it’s more than just that. The culture that has methodically been built in and around Truist Park is the primary reason the Braves are able to retain elite players at affordable rates.

Terry McGuirk gives Alex Anthopoulos all the resources he needs to win games, which means creating a place where people love to come to work. Anthopoulos places a premium on that, and he’s done a masterful job hiring the right people who want to do everything they can to help the organization succeed.

The Astros are as successful as any ball club in recent history, but the front office personnel turnover has always been a sore spot. Owner Jim Crane isn’t exactly a hands-off employer. Brown will surely be able to help lock up core members of the championship teams, but the Braves franchise does Alex Anthopoulos’ bidding for him.

For a lot of the players that signed long-term deals, geography matters. For others, it’s the first-class support and consistent winning. Matt Olson and Michael Harris are from Georgia. Austin Riley is from Mississippi. Spencer Strider and Sean Murphy want to be with a winner. Everything always points to the same thing: everyone loves playing and working for the Atlanta Braves.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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