Jose Fernandez wins Comeback Player of the Year in the Players Choice Awards

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Last night the winners of the Players Choice Awards, handed out by the Major League Baseball Players Association, were held. One of the awards was, to say the least, bittersweet.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident in September, was voted the NL comeback player of the year. Fernandez, the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year, had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and only pitched a half season in 2015. This past season he reclaimed his position of one of baseball’s most electrifying aces, going 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA, leading the league in strikeouts per nine innings and making the All-Star team. He died on Sept. 25, at age 24, when the boat he and two friends was riding in crashed into a jetty on Miami Beach.

Mark Trumbo of the Orioles, who led the majors with 47 home runs after hitting only 13 for the Mariners in 2015, was voted the AL comeback player of the year. In other awards:

  • New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson earned his second Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, given to the player who most inspires his fellow players through his on-field performances and contributions to his community. Granderson also won in 2009.
  • Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was voted the AL’s outstanding player. Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy was selected the NL’s outstanding player.
  • Kyle Hendricks of the Chicago Cubs, who led the majors in ERA, was the NL’s outstanding pitcher. Red Sox starter Rick Porcello won the AL award.
  • Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer was the AL’s top rookie, and odgers shortstop Corey Seager the top NL rookie.

 

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “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 often 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 and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So 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.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”