Jim Crane is Cleaning House
As we here at Climbing Tal’s Hill reported late yesterday, new Astros owner, Jim Crane, has fired President of Baseball Operations, Tal Smith, and General Manager, Ed Wade. Brad Mills has not been fired as George Postolos hinted in his statement yesterday that the new General Manager will have the final say so on the managerial job. That is a very good sign as it means Crane and Postolos are going to allow their GM to do his/her job, which is something Drayton McLane rarely did. These firings come as no surprise as quite frankly, anytime you finish the season with the worst record in club history, drastic changes should be made and jobs should be replaced.
As I said earlier, these firings should come as no surprise, however, Tal Smith was apparently shocked that he was fired and was even more upset that it was done by phone. Pardon me if I do not sympathize with an individual who has held his position two different times, for several years total and yet never did we win a World Series title. Can anyone tell me the last relevant thing Tal Smith did or even the last positive input/impact he had on anything Astros related? Tal stated after his firing, “I would think after 54 years and 35 years with the club, somebody would be interested in my views of how we got here.” Tal, its not hard to figure out how we got here and Jim Crane and George Postolos do not need to sit down with you to see you point the finger at anyone else. You were not alone in dismantling the Astros, but you had a big part in it. You were the voice in Drayton McLane’s ear. You were the one that insisted he hire your friend, Ed Wade, rather than going with a new, young GM. I could go on and on with a list of stupid decisions you helped make, but I’ll move on.
Ed Wade was also relieved of his duties as GM of the Astros. Let’s not kid ourselves here, Wade was given an impossible task when he was hired. McLane ordered him to re-stock the minor leagues while keeping the big league club competitive and he did the best he could. However, Wade still made move after move that left you scratching your head. Be it signing Bill Hall or Kaz Matsui or trading for Miguel Tejada the day before the Mitchell Report came out, these are examples of his attempt to keep the big league club competitive. The jury is still out on the four drafts that he oversaw, but so far, the results are about average. J.D. Martinez looks like a solid player, while Jason Castro has been hurt and Jordan Lyles just got his feet wet at the big league level this year. Baseball America’s list of top 10 Astros prospects, features only three players drafted during Ed Wade’s tenure (the remaining seven were acquired via trade) which is a definite cause for concern. The blame can be laid on Wade or Bobby Heck or on Drayton McLane for still only drafting players who will sign for slot, but the fact remains, the Astros are still not drafting well.
According to Greg Lucas of FoxSportsHouston, we will not be searching for a new President of Baseball Operations as Postolos will serve in that role, which in my opinion, rules out the possibility of Andrew Friedman coming over as he currently serves as Vice President of Baseball Operations/General Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. His coming here would be a lateral move since President of Baseball Operations is no longer a possibility for him. That means the team’s main goal at this point, is to find a new General Manager ASAP. Among the names being thrown out there as possible replacements are former Astros GM, Gerry Hunsicker, Kim Ng, who currently works in MLB’s front office and Thad Levine, who serves as the assistant GM to Jon Daniels with the Texas Rangers. Whoever is chosen will have a difficult but not impossible job to do of continuing to rebuild the farm system in hopes of getting the Astros back to respectability and it should start with trading Wandy Rodriguez to the highest bidder to stock the farm system with even more young talent. I believe we will have a new GM in place very soon as the next few weeks could prove to be very interesting for Astros fans.