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The Day The Laughter Died: Ed Wade Fired By Astros Boss Jim Crane

It has been fun while it lasted Boffo.

Ed Wade will be missed. Not for flamboyant brilliance, but for his constant acquisitions of middle relievers, under the radar waiver claims and the fact that you could basically set your clock by his trades with the Phillies

If Andrew Friedman is indeed the man to replace him as the manager of the franchise as President of Baseball Operations, then we can all pray for a similar cleaning out of the Tampa Bay system (if only).

Wade is lost not only to the baseball community, but us sullen hacks, who got great mileage from scrutinizing his every foible, apportioning blame for the present miserable condition of the Astros and general mickey-taking the man I christened Boffo last season.

Lord knows Jim Crane may actually pick someone competent, not a spent ex-GM plucked from a relatively mundane exile in the Padres system, in a position that seemed more like a sinecure rather than a role with any real tasks attached to it. Heavens no.

breakdown of the range of moves and mistakes Ed Wade made will have the ex-Phillies man look rather sheepish, but most people agree that by 2007, when Wade took over, the franchise was starting to tailspin after a golden decade under Drayton McLane. 

No stay of Ed Wade could possibly be told without some reference to Uncle Drayton and one feels that unlike Tim Purpura, whose leash was visible for all to see, Wade merely did a better job at disguising his. 

Take what we already know. Jim Crane had a handshake agreement in the summer of 2008 to buy the Houston Astros. By 2011 McLane had decided to get rid of the Astros, seriously this time. Prior to both points Wade made large-scale restructuring moves to the franchise, work that was in some way, I believe, framed entirely by the fact that Drayton wanted to sell the team.

Unable to pursue either a spend-all policy or a total rebuild, Wade was pegged to McLane's third way, a restructuring aimed at making the franchise as lucrative to a potential buyer as possible. Not an easy feat, but a course pursued nonetheless. 

This is what has stuck the Astros in the serbionian bog it finds itself in now, pursuing short to mid-term goals by acquiring 'major-league ready' talent in Brett Wallace and J.A. Happ among other things, and stopped Wade blowing the team sky high in 2008 when he should have done. Instead he shopped in a host of veterans in order to plaster over the cracks and portray the franchise in good health. 

We laughed. And we cried. But mostly we cried, sometimes with laughter, others in incredulity.

Like when somehow Wade thought Pedro Feliz was the answer, but did not know to what question. 

There was the Miguel Tejada trade, on balance not the howler that most expected, since only Luke Scott has really produced since, but the real fallout came with the double whammy that Tejada had lied about his age, and was two years older than previously believed, and his naming in the Mitchell Report. 

The move that I think could come back to haunt Wade is the Lance Berkman trade to the Yankees. Berkman, already 35 and  36 before the 2012 season starts, may be on a downward spiral, but after an all-star campaign in St. Louis, he might just be this generation's Nolan Ryan. Obviously this is a ludicrous idea, but I like the ring of it. Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes may be key cogs in the Astros future, or Berkman may continue to mash it up for the Cardinals

The real talking point is the trade that Ed Wade did not pull off. In 2007 the Indians put Cliff Lee on the table for Brad Lidge. A fantastic Hail Mary it might have been, but there was no way Lee's meteoric rise could have been predicted. Wade rejected it out of hand and took Costanzo, Geary and Michael Bourn instead. Nihil desperandum. All was not lost. 

Tal Smith meanwhile seems to be positively shocked that he has been let go after his long years with the franchise, and was not even fired in person. Why he would be shocked I cannot even fathom, and sincerely hope he can stick it in baseball and find another franchise to blight. And he can take Mike Kvasnicka with him (college bat my foot). 

So Wade rides off into the sunset, the sucker at the MLB GM's table, and whichever clown gets the job after him could probably do a better job by accident than Wade did trying his best. Some could do far better, and one will, whether his (or her) name be Friedman, Ng, Levine or Preller. 

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