While the Mets bullpen (well, Joe Smith, anyway) is back to their old tricks tonight in Miami, the Astros have named former Phillies GM Ed Wade as Tim Purpura’s replacement. Glass-is-half-full advocate Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle hails the move.
First the good news. Virtually the entire nucleus of the Phillies’ current team was signed and developed during his tenure as general manager (1998-2005). Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Pat Burrell, Brett Myers, Marlon Byrd and Taylor Bucchholz were all drafted when Wade was in charge. Jimmy Rollins came up in a farm system Wade organized. He took over an organization that was a mess and made it almost as productive as any. He hired Ruben Amaro and promoted Mike Arbuckle.
He hired two managers–Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel. Bowa’s tenure was interesting if nothing else. Manuel might be the NL Manager of the Year.
Now the bad. He traded Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling and didn’t get nearly enough for them. He handed out some horrendous contracts to Mike Lieberthal and David Bell and dumb no-trade clauses in deals for Bobby Abreu and Jim Thome. He got into unnecessary feuds with the Philly media.
That said, this is a good hire. Ed Wade is competent. It’s not a daring hire or a leap of faith. Wade will paint the town beige. But that’s okay. This organization needs someone that, first of all, will get them back on track at the minor league level.
Wade knows the lay of the land. Tal Smith hired him to be public relations-director of the Astros in the ’70s. He resigned after Smith was fired and went to work for Tal after a stint with the Pirates. He eventually joined the Phillies and methodically climbed the masthead, until being named general manager in 1998.
He became a punching bad for the Philly talk-show nitwits. Some of the criticism was legitimate, but most of it was typical talk-show gas. If anyone tells you Ed Wade is incompetent, don’t believe them.