Wade has played a wait­ing game

Ex-GM un­der­stands any un­easi­ness Kapler has about his fu­ture

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Bob Brookover

There are plenty of in­ter­ested ob­servers as Philadel­phia Phillies owner John Mid­dle­ton me­thod­i­cally de­cides the fate of man­ager Gabe Kapler.

One of the most in­ter­ested of all might be Ed Wade, the for­mer Phillies gen­eral man­ager who knows what it’s like to wait a while be­fore find­ing out your ser­vices are no longer wanted, which may or may not be the case for Kapler.

Wade lived through that ex­pe­ri­ence twice, and he was also the re­cip­i­ent of his first GM job when Lee Thomas was fired by David Mont­gomery in 1997 just a cou­ple weeks be­fore Christ­mas.

“That one caught me to­tally off guard,” Wade said dur­ing a tele­phone interview. “On a Sun­day evening my phone rang and David asked me to come out to his house to speak to him. I drove out there and he told me we were go­ing to make the change and he wanted me to be the in­terim GM.

“I had a lot of mixed emo­tions on that one be­cause I had this in­cred­i­ble re­la­tion­ship with Lee. I went in Mon­day to the of­fice know­ing what was go­ing to hap­pen and David did not get around to telling Lee un­til the early af­ter­noon.

“It was a strange feel­ing be­cause in ad­di­tion to [for­mer Hous­ton Astros GM and President] Tal Smith, I owed Lee so much in terms of my own ca­reer. This guy took a chance on me as an as­sis­tant and gave me so much re­spon­si­bil­ity, so this was crush­ing in that re­spect.”

Wade, how­ever, de­fended Mont­gomery’s me­thod­i­cal de­ci­sion on Thomas and even his own de­layed fir­ing in 2005.

“The peo­ple mak­ing the de­ci­sions are not mak­ing the de­ci­sions that every­body else thinks are ap­pro­pri­ate,” Wade said. “The clock may be tick­ing, but mak­ing the most ex­pe­di­tious de­ci­sion is not al­ways the right de­ci­sion.”

Wade’s own dis­missals as a GM took him by sur­prise.

The first came with the Phillies after the 2005 sea­son, Char­lie Manuel’s first year as man­ager. The Phillies had won 88 games and just missed out on the wild-card playoff spot, which went to the Astros when they beat the Cubs on the sea­son’s fi­nal day.

“In all hon­esty, I didn’t think I was go­ing to be fired,” Wade said. “I knew I was the light­ning rod for all the neg­a­tiv­ity from the out­side, but we had a great

sec­ond half and we just missed the play­offs. On the train ride back from Wash­ing­ton after the last game, I dis­cussed re-sign­ing Billy Wag­ner with David and we re­newed the coaches con­tracts the fol­low­ing week.

“I was quite sur­prised on Colum­bus Day morn­ing when David asked me to come into his of­fice. I didn’t ex­pect it to hap­pen and I blocked out a lot of that stuff about my job se­cu­rity. We were 14 games over .500 that year and 43 over dur­ing a five-year pe­riod. I knew what we were try­ing to build. We wanted to get good and stay good, but ob­vi­ously it took too much time and ever since then I’ve hated Colum­bus Day.”

Six years later, after an own­er­ship change in Hous­ton, Wade had a con­ver­sa­tion with in­com­ing Astros Chair­man Jim Crane about his fu­ture with the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

”I just want to see your plane,“Crane told Wade.

Wade thought his job was se­cure, but he was fired the next day, Thanks­giv­ing eve. He

has no ill will to­ward Thanks­giv­ing, how­ever.

If the Phillies fire Kapler, Wade will also have an in­ter­est in what di­rec­tion the team goes in se­lect­ing its next man­ager. The Phillies have never hired a high-profile can­di­date. In fact, they have never hired a man­ager who had won a playoff series be­fore com­ing to Philadel­phia.

The most high-profile hire in fran­chise his­tory was Harry Wright, who won six ti­tles in the late 1800s with the Bos­ton Red Stock­ings be­fore tak­ing over the Philadel­phia Quak­ers in 1884. He did not win any­thing in Philadel­phia.

In 2004, Wade had a chance to hire Jim Ley­land, who had won three divi­sion ti­tles in Pitts­burgh and a World Series with the Florida Mar­lins. Ley­land was the peo­ple’s choice, but after an ex­ten­sive interview process Wade opted for his own spe­cial as­sis­tant, Manuel, and we all know how that worked out.

“First let me say the two most dif­fi­cult things I ever had to do was fire Terry Fran­cona and Larry Bowa,” Wade said. “As for the hir­ing of Char­lie, it was an ex­cru­ci­at­ing process.

“Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, I wasn’t locked in on Char­lie

from the be­gin­ning. I thought we re­ally had a good list that also in­cluded peo­ple like Buddy Bell and Don Bay­lor. Ley­land would have been a good hire. But after spend­ing time with Char­lie over the previous year and watch­ing him in­ter­act with our play­ers, I just felt he was the best man to re­place Bowa, who I still think is the smartest base­ball man I’ve ever met.”

Ley­land, of course, also went on to have more suc­cess, lead­ing the Detroit Tigers to four playoff ap­pear­ances and two Amer­i­can League pen­nants be­fore re­tir­ing after the 2013 sea­son.

Now, the Phillies have an­other chance to hire a high­pro­file man­ager. Three men who have won a World Series (Joe Mad­don, Joe Gi­rardi, and Mike Scios­cia) are avail­able, and the Phillies are among the most at­trac­tive fran­chises who could be look­ing for a new man­ager.

If I was rank­ing them, I’d place the Phillies job sec­ond be­hind the Cubs, with the Mets and Giants tied for a close third.

But first Mid­dle­ton must make up his mind about Kapler. Ed Wade knows such de­ci­sions are dif­fi­cult and not al­ways ex­pe­dited.

PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

Gabe Kapler’s fu­ture with the Phillies is cur­rently in a hold­ing pat­tern as team owner John Mid­dle­ton has yet to de­cide the man­ager’s fate fol­low­ing an­other playoff-less sea­son. For­mer Phillies gen­eral man­ager Ed Wade can re­late to such a de­lay as some­one who has been fired him­self and has had to fire man­agers.

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