Ed Wade: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Ed Wade could be the most maligned person in Philadelphia sports. He has been criticized, pounded on and even had an entire web site devoted to trying to get him fired. Through it all, Wade has endured and certainly doesn't seem to be acting like a guy who is about to lose his job.

Ed Wade is taking a business as usual approach to the off-season. He's gone to work on making some decisions about minor league and scouting personnel - letting AA Reading's manager, Steve Swisher go was the biggest news - he's signed six players from the international ranks and he's set up a meeting with closer Billy Wagner to talk about re-signing him to a long term deal.

If Ed Wade is going to be fired, it doesn't appear that he knows it.

Some may believe that since Wade didn't get the boot immediately after the season, that he's safe. Since he's being allowed to make personnel decisions both on and off the field, Ed Wade is safe, right? Not necessarily.

It's an unusual approach, but Dave Montgomery, who would ultimately be the one to make such a move, has a track record to look at. When Wade's predecessor, Lee Thomas was fired, it was December. Thomas had even led the Phillies through the post-season expansion draft and acquired Bobby Abreu before he was shown the door. Maybe there was something in the expansion draft or perhaps even the deal for Abreu that Montgomery didn't like that led to the move. Speculation is that there was a falling out between Montgomery and Thomas that ultimately led to the change.

In other words, Montgomery may well let Wade continue working before he makes the move. Just like in December of 1997, it's possible that Montgomery would have the successor already in the organization. Wade was Thomas' second in command and Montgomery could tap either Mike Arbuckle or Ruben Amaro, Jr. as the next GM if Wade were let go. Both Arbuckle and Amaro are assistants under Wade.

So, should Ed Wade exit?

After eight seasons on the job, the Phillies haven't made the playoffs. They've come close, but haven't been there. Their payroll has ballooned and the restraints that Wade had on him were lifted prior to the 2003 season when Jim Thome was signed and other veterans expanded the payroll. In other words, there is no excuse for why Wade hasn't been able to succeed.

To answer the question, yes, Ed Wade should be let go. His inability to make mid-season deals that have significantly helped the club have hurt and the farm system took a hit when he made ill-advised moves to bring in aging players - primarily relievers - who wound up not really helping. Not all of Wade's moves have been bad, but he simply hasn't gotten the job done.

So, will Ed Wade be let go?

Not very likely. Even though he has a track record of waiting until further into the off-season to make a move, Dave Montgomery isn't likely to pull the trigger just yet. A mid-2006 or end of '06 house cleaning is likely if the Phillies don't show vast improvement, but for now, it looks like Ed Wade stays.

If Wade exits, who would take over. Arbuckle and Amaro are certainly possibilities. As is Steve Noworyta, the Phillies' Director of Minor League Operations. From outside the organization, Gerry Hunsicker, who is Philly born and bred, would likely be at or near the top of the list.

Here's one interesting scenario to consider. If the Yankees' Brian Cashman or the Red Sox Theo Epstein, both of whom have been rumored to have an interest in changing scenery, were to become available, it might be tempting for the Phillies to dump Wade if they could get either of the superstar GMs. Since anything is possible, perhaps Montgomery is waiting to see what happens, figuring that if neither of them become available, he would rather keep Wade.

Remember, it's just a thought.

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