The Houston Astros will limp into Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia tonight, 54-69 and with virtually no chance to make the playoffs.
Since the team's World Series appearance in 2005, there's been a lot of limping finishes in Houston.
While the Philadelphia Phillies were in the process of reaching their first post-season in 14 years in 2007, the Astros were in the final stages of a search for a new general manager.
That new GM would be Ed Wade, who had spent eight years with the Phillies as general manager, from 1998 until his firing in 2005.
And while Wade is long gone from Philadelphia, he has played a critical role in the team's success while not stepping foot inside a Phillies office.
After the conclusion of the 2007 season, with the Phillies still looking to build towards a championship, general manager Pat Gillick consummated a trade with Wade that brought closer Brad Lidge to Philadelphia.
Forty-eight saves and a championship later, you could say that the Phillies had their way with their former GM. After all, it only took outfielder Michael Bourn, the final piece remaining from the deal in Houston, to get Lidge.
If Wade came into town early on Sunday for his team's series against the Phillies, he could have seen another one of his trades helping out his old team.
Roy Oswalt has been nothing short of spectacular thus far for the Phillies, going 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his five starts with the team. On Sunday, he dominated the Washington Nationals, pitching seven shutout innings in a 6-0 victory.
The Phillies got him from Wade for what largely amounted to a sack of baseballs, and that's no disrespect towards gentlemanly left-hander J.A. Happ. But to be fair, the Phillies stole Oswalt from the Astros because they were willing to pay him.
And maybe that's the silver lining here. Maybe Wade isn't the guy who looks like the fool in all of this.
As fans, we do not know how much Wade has been hamstrung by team owner Drayton McLane, and what influence he has had in Wade's decisions.
There could be plenty of wheelings and dealings behind the scene that have left Wade looking like the fall man.
Days after the Oswalt trade, the New York Yankees acquired Lance Berkman from Houston in what was again a salary dump, with minimal prospects going Houston's way.
What is important here is that the Phillies seem to have a steady working relationship with Wade in Houston. There are probably conspiracy theorists out there wondering how the Phillies got Oswalt for the price they did.
Phillies fans know this pain. Wade dealt star pitcher Curt Schilling to the Diamondbacks in 2000, in a trade that hardly ever benefited the Phillies.
While he left to low approval ratings in Philadelphia, he certainly left the team in good shape for the future. It took plenty of tweaking here and there, moves that Wade seemed incapable of in his time with the team.
When Wade stares out onto the field in this series, he'll watch Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley, all drafted when Wade was here. While scouting director Marti Wolever can certainly take a large part of the credit for drafting those players, Wade deserves it as well.
He also hired current manager Charlie Manuel before his exit, a move that fans didn't take much liking to in Wade's final year here in 2005. Since then, Manuel has become a sort of folk hero in the city of Philadelphia.
Now, with the Phillies fighting for another playoff berth, they've gotten help from Wade once more in the form of Oswalt. Along with Hamels and ace Roy Halladay, the Phillies are hoping those three lead them deep into the post-season.
They couldn't have done it without Wade, who seems to be helping the Phillies more these days since he stopped collecting paychecks from them.
Give Wade credit. In many ways, he was able to help set the Phillies up for this magical run they have had in the past few seasons.
But as fans in Houston now know, many of his moves are perplexing. Don't worry, Houston. Maybe some day he'll help you out, even if he's not getting paid to.
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