Professional oppositionalist Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle was back at work again yesterday, penning a piece about how Astros GM Ed Wade should be kept. I want to say this now: I really enjoy that in an opinion piece whose main point is that the Astros should keep Ed Wade, it takes six whole paragraphs to get to Ed Wade. He's not even interesting enough to hold up a piece about how the Astros should keep him by himself.
Anyway, to the fisking machine!
Perhaps Astros fans should hope not. The fastest way for the Astros to return to the good old days of contention that had become a staple of McLane's ownership is to allow Wade to continue the reorganization process he started.
He's had three years at the helm. We're in year four of the Ed Wade era. What has changed? The Astros low minors have been better off because of him, but given the fact that the Astros threw away their top two picks in the 2007 draft for Woody Williams and Carlos Lee, that's not much of a surprise. Drafting somebody is often better than drafting nobody. It's certainly not the major league product, which has continued to dwindle.
Oh, it is possible a new guy could see all that Wade sees, learn all that Wade knows and take advantage of his work, to finish construction on the rebuilding project. But more likely a new head of baseball operations will slow the progression from nothing to something, which is snailing along as is.
Well Ed Wade certainly is laying those bricks to the new foundation quickly. No one can accuse him of taking his time to build a winner. Wait..what?
The Astros jumped off the tracks when McLane let Gerry Hunsicker get away, and they ventured further off course when Tim Purpura was hired as general manager in November 2004. Despite a run to the World Series in 2005, the franchise is being punished for those moves.
Well yeah, and a good GM would have them much further along the road to getting out of it. So your point is?
It could take the better part of a decade to recover from the mistake-filled years. And the economic downturn hit at the worst time. With an aging major league roster and a pathetic minor league system, the team couldn't afford to pay for bandages.
Wade needed a significantly larger budget to put a tourniquet on a team that was bleeding its way to the bottom of the standings.
You're right, Ed Wade couldn't afford stopgaps like Kaz Matsui, Brandon Lyon, Pedro Feliz, Mike Hampton, Bill Hall, LaTroy Hawkins, Doug Brocail, Mark Loretta, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Michaels, or Darin Erstad. They just magically appeared on the roster and sucked. But whatever happened with those players, I think we can clearly agree that Wade deserves no responsibility for them.
It isn't a presumption that Wade knows what he is doing. He has done this before. He is largely responsible for building the Philadelphia Phillies' powerhouse.
No, no he's not. He's the man who drafted Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, then decided not to let them play because he'd already brought in Jim Thome and Placido Polanco. He's the man who gave enormous contracts to David Bell and Mike Lieberthal. He gave away Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen for pennies on the dollar. His Philadelphia teams never made the playoffs, as good as the players he drafted and developed were, because he didn't finish the job.
The only credit he should get for the Phillies run of success is the acknowledgement for donating Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt to the cause. Plus ten million of Oswalt's salary to help keep the books tidy for the Phils this year.
The Astros and Phils had roughly the same payroll in 2007. This season, Philadelphia is shelling out nearly $100 million more to its players, with the Astros paying some $10 million so Roy Oswalt would pitch in Philadelphia instead of here.
The Astros are paying almost $20 million a year to Carlos Lee. While that's not Wade's fault, they also don't have the right to cry poor while it's happening.
Recovery has been slow. It has been painful. And the past two summers were hot and boring. But most of what has happened of late had to be done, particularly with the budget under which Wade, who doesn't complain, has been forced to operate.
UPSIDES OF ED WADE, GENERAL MANAGER
1) Can draft good players.
2) Doesn't complain.
Wade understands what often happens with new ownership. He was public relations director with the Astros when John McMullen bought the team in 1979.
He left for Pittsburgh two years later, but in 1985, one month before the sale of the Pirates was finalized, he left the financially strapped franchise to take a job under current Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith.
3) Seems to understand that owners sometimes sell teams.
For now, Wade, who has never met Crane, isn't polishing his résumé. His efforts are on building a winner. East Coast scouts were in town Monday discussing draft plans, and nobody knows more about what the Astros need than Wade.
Look, I don't hate Ed Wade. I don't think he's a particularly bad drafter. But if your entire logical reasoning to keeping Ed Wade around is that he drafted some of the good players the Phillies have, doesn't that just scream out scouting director? It sure as hell doesn't scream out general manager. With his zero playoff appearances, lack of success, instant success after his departure in Philly, and terrible free agent signings, couldn't you make a better argument that he's just not a very good GM?
And "building a winner"? Please. This is the most talentless roster in baseball right now.