A decision was said to be coming shortly after Thanksgiving, and the new owners of the Astros came through. On Sunday night, the club announced that GM Ed Wade and President of Baseball Operations, Tal Smith, had been fired.
Given the new ownership of the club, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, Smith was compensated by then owner Drayton McLane as soon as the sale was approved to Crane. The long-time front office exec is also considered one of the first to use analytics on management’s side for salary arbitration and runs Tal Smith Enterprises where he has represented the majority of clubs in MLB over several decades.
Truth be known, the writing has been on the wall for months. The trades of Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence were said to have been run through now-owner, Jim Crane before he took over the club.
"With the change in ownership, we would like a fresh start in baseball operations,” said George Postolos, the new President and CEO of the Astros. “We have told Ed Wade and Tal Smith that we are making a change.”
In a turbulent off-season for GMs, the Astros announced that they will begin searching for a replacement for Wade immediately.
Assistant General Manager Dave Gottfried, who is not being considered as a replacement for Wade, will serve as Interim General Manager and will likely be at the helm when the Baseball Winter Meetings begin one week from today.
As mentioned, new ownership has had months to consider this aspect. With Crane saying that revenues need to be inline with cost, it more “moneyball-ish” approach appears to be in order for Houston. While the club is partners with the Rockets and Comcast for a new regional sports network, the Astros do not begin broadcasting on the new RSN until 2013. The Rockets and Astros will own a 77 percent stake in the network with Comcast holding the other 23 percent. With the 2013 broadcast start, the Astros will likely not see the benefits of the RSN for some time.
The move of releasing Wade and Smith could mean that SP Wandy Rodriguez could be on the trading block.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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