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Houston's Front Office: The Godfather Parallel

Ed Wade is like Tom Hagen...he probably isn't fit to be a wartime consigliere

HOUSTON - JULY 23:  Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade talks on the phone during battting practice before the Houston Astros play the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on July 23 2010 in Houston Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - JULY 23: Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade talks on the phone during battting practice before the Houston Astros play the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on July 23 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Friends, Houstonians, Countrymen,

Lend me your eyeballs.

I come to bury Ed Wade, not to praise him!

The blogosphere says Wade was horrendous, and the blogosphere are honorable men/women.

Okay, okay, I don't want to bore you with a full-on recreation of that speech. But, I do want to talk about the job Ed Wade has done as general manager of the Astros and I'm not going to defend him. I'm going to make the case that he will probably not be around when this team is good again, but he shouldn't be fired now. Bear with me.

As I've said before, the only result that matters for Ed Wade's job security is the standings. If the Astros are winning, he's got a good chance to stay on. If they're not, he's probably out. Look at Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels. Do you think it was a coincidence that Daniels got that contract extension after the team went to the World Series? Or that Nolan decided to keep him on board only after a pair of winning seasons? If Ed Wade doesn't start winning games, there is no way that a new owner (probably Jim Crane) will keep him on as GM for very long.

That's not to say Wade is entirely without talent. One of the frustrating things about being a hardcore Astros fan is to see all these snarky comments about the GM. It's not because I'm invested in his job status or that the team is winning because of him, like they did under Gerry Hunsicker.

No, the reason it bugs me (and other Astros fans) is that Wade is doing a good job. He's slowly rebuilding the farm system. He's put the Astros in better position to trade Brett Myers or Wandy Rodriguez for at least as good a haul as Roy Oswalt brought. He's stocked this team with young talent and kept them competitive in the process.

Note I said "competitive" and not "contenders." The Astros should not be mistaken for a playoff team any time soon, but that's understandable. There is a huge lack of talent on this team and that can't be fixed through trades or free agency. That has to be fixed via the draft and with patience. Lots and lots of patience. As I've been thinking about why Wade's competence is constantly questioned, I realized who he reminds me of.

Ed Wade is Tom Hagen.

If you're unfamiliar with The Godfather Trilogy, just stop reading this column right now. Go watch at least the first movie and then we can be friends. For those of you who are left, you know how Hagen was considered an outsider. He wasn't Sicilian, so he was on the outside looking in for most of these big-time crime families. It was a slap in the face that Don Corleone placed him as his consigliere, his top counselor. His basic competence was questioned just for his background.

But, the most important part of this comparison is what Michael tells Tom in the first movie. He pushed Tom aside as consigliere once he took over as acting Don, because Tom wasn't a "wartime" consigliere. Basically, Hagen was fine for all the stuff that came with the everyday running of the family, but didn't have that thing to run a bloody mafia war. He tried with Michael's brother Sonny and failed.

Like Hagen, Wade doesn't seem to be a wartime consigliere. He's great for rebuilding an organization under little pressure. He did the same for the Philadelphia Phillies, pulling them from consecutive 90-loss seasons to something a little more respectable while still rebuilding the major league team. However, when it came time to contend, to win that title, he couldn't do it. The Phillies brought in Pat Gillick, a true wartime consigliere, who took the Phillies to the World Series before installing his successor in Ruben Amaro, Jr. Their job was made easier by the groundwork laid by Wade, but they made the moves to put Philly over the top.

Wade's in a similar situation here in Houston now. He's doing a good job at putting the franchise back on good footing. The farm system is rebounding and is climbing back up Baseball America's rankings. It hasn't started showing any fruit yet, but that will come. The big league team hasn't been good, but they haven't bottomed out either. The old Don, Drayton McLane has made a point to keep this team competitive, so Wade's done his best.

When a new Don (Jim Crane?) comes into the picture, who knows what he'll do. I'm assuming he or she will be smart, and will keep Wade around long enough to evaluate him for themselves. When that happens? Wade will be found wanting for the big league record. Hopefully, though, he'll have put the organization in a position where they can go out and get a wartime guy, finally contending again.

Maybe Wade's not competent. I know there were many other guys I'd rather the Astros have hired when Wade got the job. But, he is improving this team, if in little ways.That may not save his job in the end and that's okay too.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.