With the impending trade deadline, as Astros trade rumors swirl around the internet, most concerning Hunter Pence, Ed Wade is sitting at the center of it all, knowing that he could very well have months left in the job. Most people believe Jim Crane is certain to replace him and most, if not all of the front office staff at Minute Maid Park.
Wade has had his ups and downs since being hired in late 2007, and at times we have had to defend him from unwarranted attacks. A recent fanpost on TCB does a pretty good job of accomplishing that. It seems that Wade just has not been able to shake his reputation from his Philly days, and while he has done his best to turn around the mess he inherited, his best has not been enough.
This line of thought brings with it a significant quandary for Astros fans over the next week and a half. This is the right time to deal assets like Hunter Pence, because their value will never be higher, but this means that we have to trust Ed Wade to get the pieces we need to rebuild as a franchise. As the Houston Counterplot points out:
It seems like those with the most vitriol for Ed Wade are the most vocal about wanting him to blow up the team. Where's the logic in that?
Wade is under so much pressure to acquire packages that blows away every baseball observer that he may end up making no deals at all. Reports over the past two days, accurate or not, have suggested Wade's price for both Pence and Wandy Rodriguez have been prohibitive. Whether this will turn into a clever negotiating tactic, or whether Wade has put off teams straight away is something we will find out in the next few days.
Yesterday both Peter Gammons and Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald suggested that Pence would stay put, with Jon Heyman suggesting that the Astros were being 'absurd' over trying to seek as much for Rodriguez as the Rockies wanted for Ubaldo Jimenez.
If Ed Wade cannot get what he wants for Pence, he has no choice but to keep hold of him, rather than trading him for inferior players. Complimentary player or not, his ceiling is that of a 5/6 WAR player. Under normal circumstances you do not trade that unless you get a deal that makes you snap the other guys hand off. With two-and-a-half years left under contract Pence could be worth up to 12 or 13 wins above a replacement level player.
In return for him Wade needs three players with at least the ceiling to be as good as Pence, if not better. That means Vance Worley will not be traded for, however many deluded Philly fan columns are written implying that he would. And one jibe I would like to address on Pence before we continue is one from the normally excellent Craig Calcattera talking about why teams may have gone off him:
It's also possible that people looked at his splits and realized that Minute Maid Park has been very very good to him. If so, the haul the Astros might have expected may not be all that realistic.
His career OPS at home is .062 points higher than his road OPS, but don't most ballplayers hit far better at home than on the road? Just taking some tiny samples of the biggest MLB stars, Alex Rodriguez has a .044 point gap, Albert Pujols a .024 point gap, Matt Holliday .195, Josh Hamilton .142, and so on. I just think it is disingenuous to just throw a comment out there like that.
But this whole thing is not about how good Pence is, it is about the franchise weighing up whether they should take what is on the table right now for their most valuable asset. Nothing else. As Grant Brisbee pointed out in a rather roundabout way, Wade should not be taking the best that is on offer, just because it is obvious to all the Astros should be sellers at this point. That would land him with someone like Worley.
It is also unfair to think that Wade can pull off the second great train robbery this summer, just because that is what will require this franchise to get out of the pit it has found itself in. I would love to see Theo Epstein drunkenly trade Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway to the Astros before the deadline but I just don't see it happening.
When Wade figures that only NL teams are in the running for Rodriguez his price should drop and he and Bourn might have a chance to be traded. Bourn in particular had some telling comments as the team packed up to start a three-city roadtrip courtesy of Steve Campbell:
But unless a rival executive gets desperate and puts a huge offer on the table, Pence stays.
Because no GM is as desperate as Wade is.