Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 11/28/11
Late Sunday when most Houston sports fans were worrying about what the Texans would do at quarterback, the Houston Astros made a move not unexpected at all, but still big. They informed both club president for baseball operations Tal Smith and general manager Ed Wade they were being removed from their jobs. According to new club CEO George Postolos, the new ownership led by Jim Crane feels it is best to start fresh in baseball operations while trying to rebuild the club. In a news release, Postolos both praised and thanked Smith and Wade for their work for the Astros and baseball and wished them well in the future. He also said that assistant GM David Gottfried would be the interim GM, but not a candidate for the full time job. Who that might be is open according to Postolos. The search for a new GM begins immediately. It has been speculated that current Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman might be in the Astros sights. However, some reporters who cover the Rays don't think Friedman would be ready to make a move at this time. The Rays have been very good for several years. The Astros new GM will face a major build up job, or be very lucky that the young players counted on to anchor the roster in 2012 all develop into All-Stars. What no one really knows except Crane and Postolos is what planning was afoot during the six months while Crane was waiting for (negotiating) approval as new Astro owner. Tal Smith's future was probably a foregone conclusion to include either retirement or other form of departure. With the job description given to Postolos, the Astros' way of two team Presidentsone for baseball operations in Smith and another for business operations in Pam Gardner was doomed. Gardner is sticking around at the outset but Postolos is her boss just as he will be that of the GM when a new one is named. There is no need under the new arrangement for separate department presidents. It is known that the salary dump for prospect moves that Wade made during the season that saw Astro stars Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn traded away were approved by both Drayton McLane and the potential new owners at the time. The plan was to "gut and build" with a much lower salary base to help cover lower revenues. The Astros attendance in 2011 was deceiving. The club passed two-million tickets sold at home, but many were heavily discounted and many of those sold were not used. That affected everything from concession sales to repeat business. The discounts also irritated a number of season ticket holders who were on the books for full price. The bottom line was not good. Further cost cuts will be needed. It will no longer be Ed Wade's headache to try to build a team to compete while scouring the garbage bins of others hoping to find a discarded gem. The plan is to build from within. That is very admirable and was what Ed Wade started. Losing one's job for doing what the owners wanted done is a tough way to go. That is especially so since it was Ed that was savaged by many fans. In a prior experience, Ed Wade built the foundation of the Phillies that won a World Series a few years ago. He had been fired a couple years before. The situation in Houston is more of a long shot. When Wade was fired in Philly is was essentially because the club could not quite get over that last hill that kept a good team from being great. In Houston he leaves with a team that faces a whole mountain range to cross to achieve greatness. But if some of the players he acquired over the last two years in the deals for Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn turn out to be cogs in an Astro resurgence, he will again deserve some credit. Who will be the next GM of the Astros? Let the speculation begin. In the meantime only the best wishes for Ed Wade who will continue to work in baseball for sure. Tal Smith Enterprises continues to operate as he helps clubs in player evaluation. Tal won't retire from baseball. And he shouldn't. Both Ed and Tal have a lot left to offer the game. It just won't be from an Astros' perspective any longer.
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