One-time Expos' GM Omar Minaya takes a beating for having made the June 27, 2002 trade that sent 19-year-old outfielder Grady Sizemore, a 21-year-old Brandon Phillips, 23-year-old lefty Cliff Lee and 34-year-old 1B/OF Lee Stevens to Cleveland for RHP Bartolo Colon and then-22-year-old right-hander Tim Drew (brother of J.D. and Stephen). But what's often forgotten -- (ed. note - "...is the fact that Minaya compounded the damage by then trading Colon to the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Rocky Biddle, who (miraculously?) saved 45 games in two seasons with the Expos, striking out 105 (6.3 K/9), walking 71 (4.3 BB/9) and surrendering 34 HR's (1.3 HR/9) in 149.2 IP, Orlando Hernandez, who never pitched for Montreal, and IF/OF Jeff Leifer who contributed a total of three doubles, three HR's and a .193/.217/.330 line in the 35 games)...is that Minaya did some positive things for the franchise that would eventually become the Nationals. For example, Minaya was responsible for bringing Dana Brown into the Expos' organization as the director of scouting in 2002...
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-born, Brown, a Seton Hall-educated former Phillies' prospect and Expos and then Nationals' executive remained with the organization from '02 through the transition to Washington. In late 2009, Brown left to become a special assistant to Toronto Blue Jays' general manager Alex Anthopoulus who had once been an intern with the Expos that was hired by Brown in Montreal.
When Brown left the Nats' organization in October 2009, Washington Post writer Chico Harlan quoted the scouting director credited with "steering" Washington toward current Nats' Ryan Zimmerman, John Lannan, Drew Storen and Ian Desmond ( called a future "franchise shortstop" by Brown in a 6/8/04 article by MLB.com's Bill Ladson) in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Brown Discusses Departure From Nats", saying that, "'It was a very difficult thing for me [to leave] because I had been a part of the organization for eight years...[and]...right as more players are starting to get [to the majors], here I jump to another team.'"
"'It was a difficult decision to leave [Washington]," Brown told MLB.com writer Gregor Chisolm in an article today entitled, "Brown seizes opportunity in Jays' front office", "but I knew it was a something I needed to do." Brown departed the Nationals' front office abruptly amidst a flurry of hirings and dismissals by new GM Mike Rizzo following an '09 season which saw the then-Asst. GM replace Jim Bowden as the "acting" GM and eventually get hired on a full-time basis. Brown was replaced as the Nationals' Scouting Director by Kris Kline, who's described as "a trusted lieutenant" of D.C. GM Mike Rizzo in the former WaPost Nats beat reporter's October '09 article. In explaining the decision to leave the nation's capital to the Washington Post's Mr. Harlan, Brown said, "'I have aspirations of maybe one day being a GM down the road some time...and I thought this was maybe another stepping stone.'"
The former scouting director credits Minaya and the time both spent in Montreal in the MLB.com writer's article with preparing him for the job he hopes to one day have, in spite of the restrictions that they worked under in Montreal:
"'We started off with a shoestring budget -- we only had nine scouts. We built it from the ground up and we couldn't go over our budget in scouting, so we were really restricted in terms of going after some of the top players. But it taught me a lot, and I helped build and develop a lot of the top talent they have in Washington.'"
Brown interviewed for the NY Mets' general manager opening this past winter before Sandy Alderson was installed as Brown's former boss Omar Minaya's replacement. Asked about his continued attempts to become just the sixth African-American general manager in baseball in today's profile, Brown says he believes, "...creating opportunities like the one he received in New York will only help to increase the number of minorities working in front offices around baseball."
While he also thinks there should be more minority owners in the game, Brown tells MLB.com's Mr. Chisolm that the, "No. 1 priority has to be reaching out to younger athletes and making sure they stay involved in the game," with programs like the MLB's Urban Youth Baseball Academy helping to accomplish that goal. Omar Minaya may have traded away players who could potentially be helping Washington today for a playoff-chase rental, but he gave Dana Brown his first front office job and Brown helped build the team Nats fans will watch this season. Occasionally Minaya got things right.