Astros fire team president, general manager
HOUSTON -- Former Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade was hardly surprised that he was fired along with team president Tal Smith in the first major changes by new owner Jim Crane.
Wade was, however, disappointed that he won't be with the club to see what will come of the many prospects he brought into the organization.
"I do think the work we have done with regard to the depth in the system will be saluted in due time," he said Monday. "It takes time. We had a lot of work to do when we first got here."
Wade, hired in September 2007, met with Crane and other executives last Tuesday and was told Wednesday he wouldn't be retained.
Wade's focus in the meeting with Crane was to tout the work and value of the people under him, most notably manager Brad Mills.
"I thought it was important for me to express my feelings about the people who work in this organization, not just on the baseball side, but throughout the organization," Wade said. "I wanted to make sure they were aware of how strongly I felt about the quality of people who work here. Hopefully they get a fair shot at continuing what we've been doing for a fair number of years here."
The firings of Wade and Smith came less than a week after the sale of the team from Drayton McLane to Crane was completed last Tuesday, a transaction that requires the franchise to move from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013.
The search for a new general manager will begin immediately. Assistant general manager Dave Gottfried will serve as interim GM, but will not be considered for the permanent job.
Houston will become the seventh of the 30 major league teams to hire a new general manager or head of baseball operations since the end of the season, joining Baltimore (Dan Duquette for Andy MacPhail), Boston (Ben Cherington for Theo Epstein), the Chicago Cubs (Jed Hoyer for Jim Hendry), the Los Angeles Angels (Jerry DiPoto for Tony Reagins), Minnesota (Terry Ryan for Bill Smith) and San Diego (Josh Byrnes for Hoyer).
Wade said this year was difficult because the franchise was kept in limbo waiting for baseball owners to approve the sale of the team after an agreement was reached in May.
"We were navigating through and playing pseudo ambassador between two different ownership groups and trying to hit our marks on the draft," he said. "Then we get to the trading deadline and we still have uncertainty. Drayton wanted to continue to keep the good, young, experienced players here and at the same time we were tasked with trying to get the payroll down."
Wade was hired by the Astros after spending the previous two years as a professional scout for the San Diego Padres. He was general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1998 until he was fired after the 2005 season.
Since then, the Phillies have made the postseason five times, including in 2008 when they won a World Series championship.
"If this one turns out the way the Philadelphia experience did, then good for them, good for the Astros," Wade said. "It took a lot of people (in Philadelphia) and it was a great organization with everybody pulling in the same direction, and the prospects showed up and they won."
The Astros made a 13-game improvement in Wade's first season as general manager and finished 86-75. But that was their only winning season under Wade as they won 74 games in 2009 and 76 in 2010 before posting this year's franchise-worst mark of 56-106.
"As far as mistakes go, yeah, I've made mistakes," he said. "Anytime that anybody in a business like this makes a lot of decisions, you're going to make some mistakes along the way."
In the last two years Wade traded away stars such as Lance Berkman, Michael Bourn, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence for mostly young prospects, saying he had "inherited a pretty barren farm system" that he had to replenish.
Wade believes the prospects acquired during his tenure will help get the franchise back on track.
"I really don't care if the fans remember me being part of it," he said. "I hope 10 years from now that they've got a whole bunch of hardware sitting up on the fifth floor of the train station that represents world championships."
Smith, who had been team president since 1994, has spent more than 50 years as a baseball executive and more than 30 of those years have been with the Astros. He worked for the franchise in its first season in 1962 when the team was known as the Houston Colt .45s, and he remained in Houston until 1972.
He spent some time working for the Yankees before returning as general manager of the Astros from 1975-80.
Smith's input was important in the development of both the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park. A small hill in center field at Minute Maid Park is known as Tal's Hill as a nod to his work on the project.
Wade hopes to remain in baseball and is already looking for his next opportunity.
"I want to make an organization better," he said. "I think I'm a young 55 and I've got plenty of steam left in me and hopefully there's a GM out there who would give me a chance to help them win."
houston astros, mlb, mlb
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