HOUSTON — The Houston Astros fired general manager Ed Wade and team president Tal Smith on Sunday night in the first of the changes promised by new owner Jim Crane.
The moves come less than a week after the sale of the team from Drayton McLane to Crane was officially completed last Tuesday, a transaction that requires the franchise to move from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013.
In a news conference on the day owners approved the sale on Nov. 17, Crane vowed to meet with all the executives and “make some very, very quick adjustments.”
And he did, with the Astros announcing the moves late Sunday night in a statement from new team president and chief executive officer George Postolos.
“With the change in ownership, we would like a fresh start in baseball operations,” Postolos said. “We have told Ed Wade and Tal Smith that we are making a change.”
The search for a new general manager will begin immediately. Assistant general manager Dave Gottfried will serve as interim GM, but will not be considered for the permanent job.
Postolos said the Astros want a candidate who has a strong commitment to player development necessary for long-term success.
“Our goal is to consistently compete for a championship, and we know the first step towards that goal is to develop one of the top farm systems in baseball,” Postolos said. “We will hire the best candidate available to achieve our goal.”
Wade was hired in September 2007 after spending the previous two years as a professional scout for the San Diego Padres. He was the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1998 until he was fired after the 2005 season.
The Astros made a 13-game improvement in Wade’s first season as general manager and finished 86-75. But that would be their only winning season under Wade as they won 74 games in 2009 and 76 in 2010 before posting this year’s franchise-worst mark of 56-106.
In the last two years Wade traded away stars such Lance Berkman, Michael Bourn, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence for mostly young prospects, saying he had “inherited a pretty barren farm system” that he had to replenish.
Smith, who has been team president since 1994, has spent more than 50 years as a baseball executive and more than 30 of those years have been with the Astros. He worked for the franchise in its first season in 1962 when the team was known as the Houston Colt .45s and remained in Houston until 1972.
He spent some time working for the Yankees before returning as general manager of the Astros from 1975-80.
Smith’s input was key in the development of both the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park. A small hill in center field at Minute Maid Park is known as Tal’s Hill as a nod to his work on the project.
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