Grading Ed Wade's 'Big' Moves as Houston Astros GM

Don't you pick a fight with Shawn Chacon, or you'll get a beat down.

After Rob Neyer's excellent and comedic run through of Jim Hendry's time with the Chicago Cubs I'm going to do exactly the same with Ed Wade's four year tenure as GM of the Houston Astros. If there are any big ones I have missed, get in touch.

November 7th 2007: Traded Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett to the Philadelphia Phillies for Mike Costanzo, Geoff Geary and Michael BournLidge had a fantastic 2008 going perfect all season, but had a very patchy next three seasons. This was a gutsy deal by Wade and showed faith in a player who would eventually reach all-star calibre level. With Bourn's production and sell-on value, he probably shaded this deal. 

Grade: B+

November 16th 2007: Traded Josh Anderson to the Braves for Oscar Villareal. Anderson was the archetype for a Quadruple A player, possessing speed and little else. Villareal was an absolute flop in a reworked bullpen. He was released before the season reached the halfway stage. Come back Chad Harville, all is forgiven.

Grade: C

November 30th 2007: The Astros sign Kazuo Matsui for three-years $16.5m. At the time the Astros needed a second baseman. Craig Biggio had left town and Matsui and Luis Castillo were the two men whose services were being bid for. Coming off a good season and a half with the Rockies, where he stole 32 bases and scored 84 runs in 104 games this seemed like a half-decent move. He had an average 2008 before bombing. Started on the DL in 2010 with an anal fissure, his sub-mendoza line batting average saw him cut within weeks. Castillo, who went for 4-years at $24m was little better. Shocker. 

Grade: E

December 12th 2007: Traded Mike Costanzo, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Denis Sarfate, and Luke Scott to the Baltimore Orioles for MIguel Tejada. Culling Adam Everett at the same time, Tejada had been on Drayton McLane's radar for years. Adding Tejada to Lee and Berkman was supposed to create a feared middle order, but the only thing that stacked up was his monstrously high salary and GIDP rate. His power deserted him in 2008 and his defence in 2009. None of the prospects amount to much, but Scott has been a handy producer for the Orioles.

Grade: C+

December 14th 2007: Traded Chris Burke, Juan Guttierez and Chad Qualls to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jose Valverde. Sometime closer but mostly set up man Qualls has had a tidy if unspectacular career, Guttierez, then the last real prospect Wade had to trade has bumbled around and Burke is two years retired. In return Wade got an all-star closer and a handy extra pick in the 2010 draft.

Grade: A-

February 20th 2008: Signed Shawn Chacon as a free agent. For comic value this has to be here. Innocuous at the time, Wade added Chacon so he could cut Woody Williams, who probably disappeared to go fly-fishing after a terrible 2007 campaign, and only half-way through his contract. Chacon would last 15 starts before the infamous war of words followed by a swift punch up. 

Grade: Hilarious

July 22nd/July 30th 2008: Traded Chad Reineke to the San Diego Padres for Randy Wolf; and Matt Cusick to the New York Yankees for LaTroy Hawkins. Probably Ed Wade's finest hour. When he made this move he was widely derided by a media who scoffed at the thought that the Astros were anywhere near contention. For two throwaway pieces, Wade added Wolf, who along with Roy Oswalt motored through the rest of the season and Hawkins, who allowed just one earned run in 24 apperances. If not for Hurricane Ike, Bud Selig and an awful series in Milwaukee, the Astros might have edged the Brewers and CC Sabathia for the wildcard.

Grade: A+

December 1st 2008/ January 13th 2009: Signed Mike Hampton ($2m) and Russ Ortiz ($750,000) as free agents. The beginning of the end for the Astros as we knew them. This was Wade clutching at straws because the farm system had nothing left to give. At least Hampton lasted the season, Ortiz did not.

Grade: F

March 31st 2009: Traded Drew Sutton to the Cincinnati Reds for Jeff Keppinger. The second baseman had two and a half decent seasons for the Astros and Sutton found his way onto the Red Sox roster in 2011. If Henry Sosa or Jason Stoffel pan out, this will look even better.

Grade: B

August 19th 2009: Traded Ivan Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers for Matt Nevarez and Jose Vallejo. They are both in the minor league system, but they have done very little since coming over. Rodriguez flopped in his second stint with the Rangers and headed to Washington in 2010. 

Grade: C-

December 9th 2009: Traded Luis Bryan, Roberto Bono and Jorge Jimenez to the Florida Marlins for Matt Lindstrom. Wade traded three nobodies to Florida for a fill-in closer. Until Lindstrom injured himself he was so-so in the role, but really should have been kept by Wade rather than being flipped the next season.

Grade: B-

December 10th 2009: Signed Pedro Feliz as a free agent for one-year, $5.5m. The real howler. Missing a third baseman, Wade turned to Feliz, who delivered a .555 OPS and was laughed off the team. 

Grade: F

December 12th 2009: Signed Brandon Lyon  for three-years, $15m. Never give set-up men three year contracts. Never. After a good debut year, where he filled in admirably as a closer after Lindstrom went down, Lyon had one of the worst seasons you will ever see, and he spent most of it on the DL. The longer he spends there in 2012, the better for the Astros. 

Grade: D

January 8th 2010: Signed Brett Myers for one-year $3m. Wade drafted Myers back in 1999 and while he had the stuff, he never really had the right temperament in Philly. Give him a low-pressure atmosphere and a couple of months with Brad Arnsberg and the results were marvelous. Myers reached a career high in IP and put up a 3.14 ERA.  

Grade: A

July 29th 2010: Traded Roy Oswalt and cash considerations to the Philadelphia Phillies for Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar and J.A. Happ, flipped Gose to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Wallace. For the amount of money that the Astros had to bump to the Phillies, something like $12m, they really should have walked away with something better than they did. Villar may or may not be a future all-star, and no-one is quite sure about Gose (70 steals and 14 home runs in AA in 2011), but in Happ and Wallace the Astros were sold dummies. When the Yankees were told about the amount of money Wade kicked in they were genuinely shocked. 

Grade: C-

July 31st 2010: Traded Lance Berkman to the New York Yankees for Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes. Berkman never really got going as a Yankee, from a trip to the DL to taking out Alex Rodriguez during batting practice. He hit an important home run in the ALDS, but in Melancon and Paredes the Astros have two solid pieces for the future. What the Cardinals have gotten from Berkman in 2011 is the really frustrating part. 

Grade: C+

August 1st 2010: Signed Brett Myers for two-years $23m. If only Wade had quit when he was ahead. Myers might have gotten lucky with his numbers in 2010, they certainly went south in 2011, and he's still guaranteed $14m from this point onwards. 

Grade: D

August 19th 2010: Traded Pedro Feliz to the St. Louis Cardinals for David Carpenter. To receive anything for Feliz makes Wade worthy of every accolade worth giving. Carpenter saw action in an Astros uniform in 2011 and profiles as a spare-boot middle reliever. 

Grade: A+

November 18th 2010: Traded Felipe Paulino to the Colorado Rockies for Clint Barmes. If you merely look at what Colorado got from Paulino and what the Astros got from Barmes, then the trade is an absolute steal. Paulino was shown the door almost instantly, while Barmes, having shrugged off an injury, had a good enough season to earn himself a multi-year deal with the Pirates. The Astros meanwhile get themselves a nice little compensatory pick in next year's draft. Yet I have the sneaking suspicion Paulino might do well for himself in Kansas City. 

Grade: B

December 20th 2010: Signed Bill Hall for one-year $3m. Like the Pedro Feliz signing a year earlier, Wade gambled on a rebound and did not get one. Ouch. 

Grade: F

December 23rd 2010: Traded Matt Lindstrom to the Rockies for Wes Musick and Jonnathan Aristil. Was this to shave payroll? Why else would you trade a serviceable set up man, although quite injury prone for two nothings?

Grade: F

January 25th 2011: Signed Wandy Rodriguez for three-years, $34m. The part of this deal that stinks is the fourth year becoming a player option if Rodriguez were to be traded. Why Wade consented to that is beyond me. Without that the contract makes perfect sense. Rodriguez is an underrated talent who has been worth far more than that amount of money since 2008. 

Grade: C+

July 19th 2011: Traded Jeff Keppinger to the San Francisco Giants for Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel. The first of the gang to get traded this was a middling return for a player who is also middling in his own way. Sosa drew mixed reviews in his handful of starts and will scrap for a place in next year's rotation. Stoffel meanwhile will be a middle-relieving candidate further down the line. Keppinger did not really provide much for the Giants, and their season floundered from here-on-in. 

Grade: C

July 29th 2011: Traded Hunter Pence and cash considerations for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana. For now this is a B, but if either Cosart or Singleton make it to the majors without the red-flags we hear so much about rearing their ugly heads then this becomes an A. And they might not even be the steal of this trade. Santana tore apart the SALLY in a very short amount of time in Lexington and still holds huge upside. Pence fits in nicely to the Phillies lineup and the one negative about this trade is Wade really should have gone harder for Domonic Brown. Cosart's K/9 is worrying and Singleton is still young, but both should be solid major leaguers at the very least. 

Grade: B+

July 31st 2011: Traded Michael Bourn and cash for Jordan Schafer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu. The trade is just a befuddling one from start to finish. How Wade went about it is truly incredible. He did not play the market and was low-balled on an extremely capable player who many teams would have loved to have. To not prise Randall Delgado or Mike Minor from Frank Wren's hands will forever be the story of this trade. Oberholtzer and Clemens may one day be capable major-leaguers, but they are a cut below what was on offer if Wade had been truly ruthless. 

Grade: D

Conclusions? It is a depressing set, peppered at the end by blockbuster trades that did not sizzle as they should have done. Early signings show just how cash-strapped Wade has been in his time with the Astros and how he had to desperately get from under massive contracts (Lee, Berkman, Tejada and Oswalt). When he did succeed far too many bloop singles and not enough home runs. 

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