‘Vast majority’ of Nationals players vote against making road trip to Miami

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The Washington Nationals are scheduled to play a three-game series against the Marlins in Miami this weekend. The same Marlins who, as you know, are having a thing at the moment. The Nationals, however, don’t wanna go: Ken Rosenthal just reported that “In team vote, vast majority of Nationals players voted against going to Miami for three-game series this weekend.

This is a massive problem for Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball.

To be clear: pursuant to the March Agreement and the later MLB-MLBPA agreed-upon health and safety protocols, teams do not have the power to simply not play games if they think it’s unsafe. That power rests with Rob Manfred and the clubs. If the Nationals players vote leads to them deciding to simply not get on the bus to the airport after their game against the Blue Jays on Thursday evening, they will technically be engaging in a wildcat strike.

To which I say: good for them.

As we’ve noted in the past twenty four hours, Major League Baseball seems to have abdicated its role in making these sorts of decisions. The Marlins, as has been reported, decided to play on Sunday over a group text. Since then baseball has reacted, postponing some games, but it’s not at all clear what philosophy is guiding them. If the Nationals players do not feel safe playing that series, they should not play that series. If it takes them making that decision for themselves rather than waiting for Major League Baseball to do so, so be it.

In the meantime, the Nationals players vote creates a massive problem for Rob Manfred. If he orders the Nationals to play in Miami regardless of their feelings on the matter, he’ll look like a dictator who cares little for player health and will lose whatever confidence the players have in him. If he allows the Nationals to sit out the trip, on the other hand, he has formally ceded his power over the schedule to the rosters of the thirty teams.

Where I think this goes in the next couple of days is a great many conference calls after which some sort of compromise is announced that allows this all to look like the league is handling this pursuant to a plan. But make no mistake, the fact that a team is voting on whether to play games or not — and the fact that they’re leaking that fact to the press — is strong evidence that there is no plan here at all. Or, at the very least, that the players do not have confidence in whatever plan exists.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that MLB is brainstorming their way around this:

Such a plan would serve to validate the Nationals’ vote, at least in effect.

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.”