The Houston Astros are in shambles.
After a hot start, they completely tanked in May and June and are now in a closely-fought battle with the Reds for last place in the 6-team NL Central.
So big changes need to be made. And they need to start in the front office.
Owner Drayton McLane can’t very well fire himself, but he needs to fire somebody. With all the indications that manager Cecil Cooper and pitching coach Dewey Robinson have contributed to creating a toxic clubhouse atmosphere, he can start with them, but most of the blame for this putrid team must be laid at the feet of GM Ed Wade.
To be as fair as possible to Wade, he was apparently under strict orders from McLane to field a contender. But what Wade did was take a team in no position to seriously contend, and completely torpedo any vague chance it might have had with a series of atrocious moves.
It’s not like I foresaw this suckage or anything, months ahead of time. Oh wait, I did.
A quick glance at the performance of the guys Wade brought in, compared to the performance of the guys he shipped out, reveals the magnitude of the tranwreck, as all of his major acquisitions have tanked. Leadoff man Michael Bourn has a .288 on-base percentage and a .600 OPS. Second baseman Kazuo Matsui has an only slightly less abominable .678 OPS. Imported closer Jose Valverde has posted a 4.24 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. Shawn Chacon added injury to insult by physically assaulting Wade and getting released. And marquee big-name acquisition Miguel Tejada’s .779 OPS is actually 86 points lower than that the main player he was acquired for, Luke Scott.
Meanwhile, Scott has become one of the best hitters on the Orioles, fellow Tejada trade pieces Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate have been amazing out of the Baltimore bullpen, Chad Qualls leads all Diamondbacks hurlers in relief innings, and Brad Lidge has utterly dominated as the Phillies closer. Throw in Trever Miller’s decent performance out of the Rays’ pen, and Wade gave away or let go almost an entire major league bullpen which is much better than the one he currently has.
The Astros have no business trying to field a contender this year. They should be tearing everything down and rebuilding from the ground up. And that needs to begin with the front office and the coaching staff. But mostly Ed Wade. Because even if they think they should be trying to contend, Wade is clearly not the man to try that with.