Friday, September 21, 2007

Astros Hire Wade, Middle Relievers' Agents Rejoice

Ed Wade was a curious beast as GM of the Phillies. He seemed to subscribe to the standard roto "studs and scrubs" theory of roster development, fimly convinced that a couple of stars could haul endless amounts of deadweight to the promised land. He was also deeply slow to promote top Phillies prospects (yes, they once had prospects) - check the ages of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard at callup if you don't believe me - and had the same sort of creepily obsessive fixation on aging middle relievers that Todd McFarlane had on Mary Jane Watson.

His penchant for handing out huge long-term contracts to slugging veterans will enable him to fit in well in Houston - see Berkman, Lance, and Lee, Carlos - and the Astros' willingness to let their major-league-ready talent rot in AAA or on the bench matches his philosophy with the Phils. But packing in middle relievers isn't going to put the Astros over the top; developing some starting pitching and putting at least average-level bats in the lineup will. At this point, you can basically put a fork in Jason Lane, Luke Scott and Chris Burke, all of whom got yanked to the bench or sent down at the first hint of struggle and replaced with veteran mediocrities like Orlando Palmeiro, Mark Loretta and Mike Lamb. One suspects that the sure knowledge that these guys were lurking in the wings didn't help the young guys establish themselves. The question is, will Wade allow the same to happen to the Mitch Einertsons of the world, or will he have learned from his time in Philly? Past history suggests not, and the constant meddling of owner Drayton McLane probably won't help matters.

Still, in a brave new post-Biggio world, anything is possible. At least, until Wade signs Antonio Alfonseca to a 3-year $12M contract, that is.
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