Worst GM Poll: Jim Hendry vs. Ed Wade

UPDATE: This poll is now closed.

The first quarterfinal match is now closed - Bill Bavasi of the Mariners has soundly defeated Rangers GM Jon Daniels, 346 to 70, thanks partly to an influx of Bavasi-hating Mariner fans from the M's blog Lookout Landing. Daniels goes back to Texas; Bavasi heads to the semifinals. J.P. Ricciardi versus Ned Colletti is still open.

Today's matchup features the Cubs' Jim Hendry (7) vs. the Astros' Ed Wade (2).

As GM of the Phillies from 1998 to 2005, Wade consistently led Philadelphia to disappointing just-above-.500 seasons. He was infamous for snapping up every 30- or 40-something reliever to come down the pike - Jose Mesa, Rheal Cormier, Dennis Cook, Turk Wendell, Dan Plesac, Mike Timlin, Mike Williams, Roberto Hernandez, Felix Rodriguez, Ugueth Urbina... he turned (the admittedly unhappy) Scott Rolen into Timlin, Urbina, Bud Smith and Ramon Martinez. He signed David Bell and Mike LIeberthal to unfortunate long-term contracts. He also allowed former manager Larry Bowa to turn the Phillies' clubhouse into a war zone. 

The contrast between Wade and his successor, the infinitely better Pat Gillick, became clear almost immediately after Gillick was hired. Wade had Jim Thome signed to a long-term deal as the Phillies' first baseman, but he also had Ryan Howard, a very talented and much younger hitter who also only played first base. Wade, by all credible accounts, offered Howard to the Pirates for Kris Benson, but Dave Littlefield declined. After an outstanding half-season by Howard in 2005 while Thome was injured, Wade still hadn't resolved the problem by trading one of them. Just weeks after Gillick was hired, though, he sent Thome to the White Sox for Aaron Rowand and Gio Gonzalez. Howard hit 105 homers in 2006 and 2007 for the Phillies, and both he and Rowand were big parts of the Phillies' 2007 playoff run.

And that's Ed Wade in a nutshell. He flounders for years, never winning 90 games despite a nice payroll, and then his predecessor comes in and immediately makes the big trade Wade couldn't make, and the Phillies make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

To Wade's credit, the results of his drafts with the Phillies were quite good - he grabbed Pat Burrell (with the first overall pick) in 1998, Brett Myers in 1999, Chase Utley in 2000, Howard in 2001, and Cole Hamels in 2002. There are a lot of things worse than winning 85 games the way Wade consistently did, and while Wade also got a lot of mileage out of inherited stars like Bobby Abreu and Jimmy Rollins, many of those annual 85-win seasons would not have been possible without the stars Wade drafted.

Nonetheless, he deserved to be fired, and Houston's hiring of him near the end of the 2007 season was uninspired in the extreme. Wade's first offseason in Houston was completely schizophrenic - as with his Phillies days, he didn't decide to contend, and he didn't decide to rebuild. First he sent the unpopular but electric Brad Lidge to the Phillies for a mediocre trio of players, including the speedy but ineffectual Michael Bourn, who's now the Astros' leadoff hitter and who looks like he stepped right out of the Pirates' Duffy-Redman Memorial Not A Starting Centerfielder Factory. Wade then sent most of the few interesting youngsters the Astros had to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada one day before Tejada turned up in the Mitchell report. He also overpaid for Kaz Matsui and sent a package of pitchers to the Diamondbacks for Jose Valverde, another electric-but-flawed reliever who looks like he could well become the next Lidge. Oh, yeah, and there were a couple of Ed Wade Specials in there, like the additions of aging reliever Doug Brocail and the absurdly terrible Darin Erstad.

Some of this might have made some sense if the Astros team Wade inherited was a talented one, but it wasn't. They'd won 73 games the previous year with aging players all over their roster, and they had almost nothing in their farm system. After Wade was done trading, they had even less in the minors, and they still hadn't built a team that had any prayer of making the playoffs, even in the weak NL Central. If a GM doesn't understand what kind of team he's running, he shouldn't be in charge.

Also, it recently came to light that Tejada is actually two years older than the Astros thought - even though his birthdate is correct on Tejada's green card and driver's license. What boss doesn't check his employee's driver's license?

As for Hendry, we've discussed him before, so please check out that thread before you vote. He has a lot in common with Wade - he's a (relatively) big-payroll GM who's posted mediocre win totals, in part because of his reliance on a manager who was exactly wrong for his team. He doesn't have Wade's record of solid drafting, but unlike Wade, he has helmed a playoff team.

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