In a past life, I used to cover the Astros for the now defunct Fanball Network. I allowed a colleague (Jason Collette who will be joining us on Hardballchat Radio) to write a piece completely ripping Ed Wade. I thought he went over the top and have been a lukewarm defender of Ed Wade during his four plus years in Houston.
Yes, he overpays mediocre relief pitchers. Yes, he hasn’t looked at a stat sheet since the Reagan administration. Yes, he’s gotten fleeced in free agency. However, he began the hard work of rebuilding the farm system and we will eventually see the fruit from those efforts right? In general, I like how candid he is when speaking with the press and interested fans. He doesn’t mince words and you never come away wondering what he is thinking.
My defense probably has more to do with the fact that I am currently looking for regular work and am reluctant to call for anyone to be fired. Plus, the pundits on the internet have made Wade their personal punching bag. The celebrity death match between Ed Wade and Dayton Moore on Fangraphs was certainly a barrel of laughs, but it had to make you feel a bit uneasy. It’s like making fun of the handicapped kid in school.
Well, I’m done and the gloves are officially coming off. For those that didn’t hear, centerfielder Jordan Schafer was arrested this morning for felony possession of marijuana. Now, we could treat this as seriously or as tongue in cheek as we want. This isn’t a referendum on the dangers of pot or whether it should be legalized. That’s a different argument for a different day.
In this case, he faces real jail time and his reputation has been soiled forever. Naturally, there wasn’t much of a reputation in the first place. He did test positive for PEDs while with the Braves. He denied those charges as I’m sure he will deny these. Where there is smoke there is fire and if you come near that fire you might get the munchies. Okay, I had to insert one quip in there before getting to my rant.
When we rewind the clock a few seasons we remember the scandal that became Miguel Tejada. The Astros acquired an aging shortstop for six different players. Exactly 24 hours after the trade, the Mitchell Report was published with Tejada figuring prominently. He eventually pled to lying to investigators and served probation. Oh, did we mention that it turned out that he magically aged two years while in Houston?
So, Wade mortgaged a farm system for a player he thought was a power hitting shortstop at the end of his prime. He ended up getting an aging shortstop that became a glorified singles hitters. He did collect 199 hits in 2009 before he left. Tejada wasn’t a complete zero, but he wasn’t the player they thought they were getting. Now, we fast-forward to today where we have a once highly rated prospect that appears to be partying himself out the league.
Now, if you believe that Tejada’s information was not available then you must be smoking some of Schafer’s stuff. If you believe Schafer wasn’t doing that in Atlanta then you must be on something else. For an organization that doesn’t pay attention to stats, you see stories like this and wonder what they are paying attention to.
The funny thing is that Schafer wasn’t the key player in that deal anyway. The three pitchers should provide more than him even if he were clean and sober. That isn’t the point. The point is that this is another indication that someone isn’t doing their homework. As Adam Ant said, “don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” Well, don’t pay attention to numbers and don’t pay attention to a background check then what do you pay attention to?
Listening to an Ed Wade press conference can be a painful experience. He once said that Pedro Feliz was a good run producer. Feliz has been described many ways and no one would ever throw that one out again. Anyone that does describe him that way either needs to shift to marketing or get a remedial class in basic statistics.
Ed Wade is a nice guy. He is a hard working guy. I hate to be mean to someone that is a good baseball man. He definitely has a place in this game. He has done a credible job of restocking a farm system that was beyond bad. He should make it as a farm director, director of amateur scouting, or as a scout. He has been miscast as a general manager in a world where doing it his way is the same as using a typewriter in modern journalism.
We thank Ed for the many memories of players that defied a basic handle of sabermetrics. It’s somehow cruel that a marginal centerfielder on pot could end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Fate is a cruel mistress sometimes, but he’s a good guy and he will bounce back.