added 8/1/2009 by Scott Barzilla
A lot of Astros fans are mad and rightfully so. The Astros let the deadline go by without making a deal. The funny thing is that the anger is coming from all directions. Some are mad the Astros didn't add an additional bat, arm, or both. Others are mad that they didn't deal some of their impending free agents to get prospects back. Both sides should take a step back before aiming their ire at Ed Wade.
Coming into the deadline, the club trailed the Cubs by four games. Most experts considered that too small a deficit to surrender and the only real "expert" that counts is Drayton McLane. Drayton would never allow the club to sell off even if they were trailing by three times the amount of games. So, anyone that wanted Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, or Ivan Rodriguez to be traded for prospects was practicing wishful thinking.
It's funny, everyone remembers the infamous "white flag" trade that sent two prominent White Sox veterans to the Giants when the Sox were trailing by a game and a half. What people don't remember is that this trade helped build the Sox nucleus that would eventually win the 2005 World Series. Sometimes, you have to know when to fold them even when it looks like you shouldn't. Holding a flush is nice, but if your competition has a full house you still lose.
An equally logical stance would be to add talent to a team of aging veterans. Those aging veterans aren't going to have too many more opportunities to compete. Some Astros fans were angry to see the Cubs pillage the Bucs and the Reds (the FIFTH place REDS) add talent at the deadline that the Astros could have used. Unfortunately, ownership again said it didn't want to add ANY money. It's hard to make a trade in that environment.
So, let me be one of the few to praise Ed Wade. A few made fun of him when he added Chris Coste and more chuckled when Coste became the first baseman following Berkman's injury. Those people aren't chuckling anymore. All Coste has done is hold down the position reasonably while we wait for Berkman to continue. Darin Erstad wouldn't have done that. These are the kinds of moves (including the acquisitions of Alberto Arias and Jeff Fulchino that have kept the team afloat.
The real culprit here is the owner. Someone needs to ask him if he's ready to be a champion. He asks everyone else, but his actions dictate that he's ready to be mediocre today. The worst part of it is that he's asking his employees to do the same. When you don't make moves to be champion in the future or a champion in the present then you are making moves to be mediocre in the present and probably worse in the future.
Champions don't necessarily outspend anyone. There isn't a magic payroll figure that says you are a champion. Champions look at their team and do what it takes to make them a champion. Sometimes that means trading veterans for younger players. Sometimes that means adding another veteran to the mix. Rarely does it ever mean looking at mediocrity and saying, "looks good to me."