SBN/Baseball Prospectus have been gracious enough to get the "head" baseball blog writers complimentary subscriptions to Baseball Prospectus. I speak for David, Stephen and myself when I say, "Big ups to the powers that be", for making all this happen.
This is (was?) the preeminent source online and otherwise, for innovative statistical analysis and discussion, so access to their writers and stat database will inevitably come in handy for us.
For instance, yesterday one of their contributors had a breakdown concerning positional battles for the NL Central. As is the custom in the saber-world, the Astros' portion of the article was pessimistic to extreme. Their discussion of the Astros' second and third base options was like listening to a Foodie discuss the fare at McDonalds. What's puzzling is that PECOTA doesn't exactly hate Jeff Keppinger (.297/.358/.427) or Kaz Matsui (.282/.340/.418), but I'm guessing that their opinions of Pedro Feliz, Geoff Blum and Chris Johnson more than overshadow the able play of Matsui and Kepp.
But what's a Astro-personnel article without a poke at Ed Wade? I'm seriously asking that question. I can't recall there being such an article. Anyways, here's the dig at Wade:
These aren't really job battles, they're squalid compromises with the present that you're left with when you get this far out on the weak branch of Ed Wade's decision tree, the upshot of a course taken back when the new GM elected to go for it in 2008.
Hold on. Hold on. So we're supposed to believe that Ed Wade put the Astros in this situation, because he traded for Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins at the tail end of 2008?
A breakdown of the "toll" this put on the Astros' developmental ladder goes something like this:
- To acquire Wolf, the Astros gave up....Chad Reineke.
- To acquire LaTroy Hawkins, the Astros gave up....Matt Cusick, a minor league second baseman.
Judging by the stats, Matt Cusick would not be able to help the Astros at all this season. Or in 2011. Or in 2012. So Christina Kahrl thinks Ed Wade sold the Astros' future short by trading for Wolf and Hawkins in 2008? Both players had key roles in helping the Astros come within a game before our ill fated trip to Miller Park to face the Cubs after Hurricane Ike hit town.
Maybe she's arguing that the Astros should have traded players instead of trading for players? That argument has merit, but when your club is in contention like the Astros were in 2008, Wade would have been doing the team a disservice by giving up at that point, as making the playoffs is so difficult in MLB. I'm sure Christina Kahrl knows these things, but it's even more likely that she knows where sabermetric bread is buttered now a days: piling on Ed Wade, decrying the Astros' talent evaluators as dopes, and writing about the 2010 club in near mocking fashion.
Richard Justice came to Wade's defense in a blog post yesterday. Right on cue, RJ lauds the same signings that Kahrl lampoons:
He added Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins during the 2008 season, and both those moves turned out extraordinarily well.
While Justice knows Wade personally, I don't, and my motivation to defend him comes from the same place as my motivation to do a lot of things in my life: because most people don't. Still, this line from RJ's post makes me like Wade a little more:
Ed is an interesting guy. Gets up and runs seven miles in the dark many mornings.
The runner in me appreciates this tremendously.
I'll throw in a personal comparison here: many mornings, I'll finish up my morning run by going past the law library here where I go to school. It's not infrequent that I see classmates of mine piling into the library to catch up on homework, do research or just be studious.
Now, I'm not going to graduate first in my class, but I do a competent job with my studies nonetheless. If I joined them in the library when it was still dark out, it's a possibility that I could join them as scholars. Probably not, but maybe. After three years though, I still prefer to put on my running shoes and start my day off that way.
Like me and some of my high GPA classmates, Ed Wade's not Theo Epstein, but he's not the worst GM either. He's a well-rounded guy, who knows his strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, whether your craft is making pottery, learning the law, or making baseball decisions. The Astros have a GM who doesn't seem to get the praise he deserves, but will always be criticized for one thing or another.
Check out this cool graph of sorts that shows all the stadiums that ML teams have played in since each team came to be. I think the Marlins get the record for playing in the same building that has had the most number of names (5), over the fewest number of years (17).