Nearly a year later, we’re still unspooling the thread of Houston’s explosive cheating scandal, an earth-rocking development that cemented the Astros’ place as MLB’s unquestioned villain figure. Former assistant GM Brandon Taubman, a promising up-and-comer on the front-office fast track in Houston, saw his Astros tenure end in disgrace last year after taunting a group of female reporters with his overly emphatic praise of star closer Roberto Osuna, who was suspended under the league’s domestic violence policy in 2018. Taubman was later placed on the league’s restricted list, preventing him from working in MLB through the 2020 season.
Author Ben Reiter discussed Taubman at length in the fourth installment of Cadence 13’s new podcast series “The Edge: Houston Astros,” portraying the former Wall Street analyst as a rising star in the organization but also “hypercompetitive” and ferociously confrontational, often yelling to get his point across while attacking his subordinates in scathing emails. “He didn’t have a lot of diplomatic instincts,” one Astros employee expressed when asked to describe Taubman’s bedside manner (or lack thereof). “He’d ruin your day sometimes. He’d say this is how we are on Wall Street.”
Taubman’s relentless work ethic and unquenchable thirst for finding an edge wherever possible gained him entry into former GM Jeff Luhnow’s exclusive inner circle, but his win-at-all-costs mentality rubbed many of his Astros coworkers the wrong way. In fact, several told Reiter he was the “worst person” they had ever worked with, characterizing Taubman as high-strung and “overly assertive.”
While Luhnow said he was cognizant of Taubman’s feverish intensity and penchant for alienating colleagues with his biting criticism, he never considered Taubman’s workplace conduct “inappropriate” or something that would warrant an HR intervention. “He knows I wouldn’t have tolerated him doing anything aggressive towards anybody else, so I didn’t see it. I didn’t witness it, but he wouldn’t have done anything like that in front of me.”
As for the incident that ultimately led to Taubman’s dismissal and subsequent placement on MLB’s restricted list, the Cornell alum reached out to one of the reporters he had taunted, apologizing months later over coffee. In the course of a three-hour sit-down, which was prompted by a chance encounter at a Houston yoga studio days earlier, Taubman admitted he crossed a line with his behavior and “deserved” to be fired for his actions. Taubman acknowledged the reporter had “good reason” to be critical of the Astros’ Osuna trade and said his outburst toward her came from a “pathological instinct to defend what he helped the Astros build.”
Throughout his unemployment, Taubman tried to make amends by volunteering 20 hours a month at a local domestic violence organization while also attending therapy in an effort to help smooth out some of his rough edges. These acts of contrition and a seeming desire for self-improvement are important first steps, though it figures to be a long time until Taubman earns his way back into the good graces of MLB, if he ever does.