Lots and lots and LOTs of media reaction so far this morning on the news that Wade and Smith are gone. Let's run down the highlights before getting to more thoughts:
- Wade was told he was fired last Wednesday, meaning on Jim Crane's second official day on the job.
- He's also getting paid through 2013 because of his contract under Drayton McLane. That means Crane had to eat quite a bit of money at a very late date to get a new GM in place. That is a pretty gusty decision.
- Tal Smith was bitter about getting the axe. He isn't gracefully retiring, he was booted out by a phone call Sunday night as he was in Hawaii with his family. He was none too pleased.
- Brad Mills is safe for now, as the ownership will wait until a new GM is in place to make a decision on him. I wouldn't be signing any long-term leases in the Houston-area if I were Brad Mills, though.
- Buster Olney talks to one executive who says the Astros are 4-7 years away from contention again, which will affect who they can get as a new GM. As Astros County points out, the Astros situation isn't the best without the long wait for contention.
That's a lot to react to, but I'll do my best after the jump...
The more and more that I hear about how Crane went about this, I'm more and more furious that the ownership transition took this long. Wade should have been fired back in September or October, giving Houston the chance to find a GM long before this point.
I know Crane got the $70 million for negotiating in the months between the July vote and the November confirmation. He probably was able to then use some of that savings to justify eating two years of Wade's contract. But, it still stinks. Selig ramrodded this whole AL move down the Houston franchise's throat and it cost him more than just money. It cost him time.
The list of GM candidates Steve Campbell gathered is fairly impressive. I am no more ready to say Andrew Friedman is likely to come back to Houston than I was when his name surfaced this summer. Hunsicker? Maybe. I still think it's most likely that the guy who will be in charge is one of the two Ranger executives. Crane has played up how much he likes that franchise and how they work. Both of those guys would move easily right now, could be set up as a GM easily with a step up and wouldn't cost a whole lot of money. If Crane so chose, he could even bring Hunsicker back as the President of Baseball Operations and install someone like Thad Levine as GM.
The only way I see David Forst moving from Oakland is if he were offered the presidency. I don't know that even that will be enough to move him, given the state of the franchise.
I really wonder why Crane didn't meet with Smith before he got the axe, especially when he did so with Ed Wade. To me, that is more a statement of how Crane viewed Smith's position within the organization. Also, don't automatically assume this means the Astros will do worse in arbitration hearings. The Rays have a pretty good track record there and they don't use Smith's consulting service. It's going to be harder to find someone competent to do it, but arbitration alone isn't enough to justify keeping Smith. Still a remarkable show of disrespect to Smith. I guess that's life in the Big City.
My favorite part of this decision? Justice's comment that Crane decided to fire Wade not because he was incompetent (like Tim Purpura), but to try and get someone who was above-average. That's what I want to see. Don't settle for good, go for the best. That's how you create a winning team again. Can Crane do it? I'm not sure, but all this certainly seems like a step in the right direction.