Last winter, Astros General Manager Ed Wade avoided arbitration with lefthanded pitcher Wandy Rodriguez by signing him to a three-year deal worth $34 million, with a crazy fourth-year vesting option for another $11.5 million that would kick in if (among other things) he were moved to another ball club.
It was yet another indicator that, at a time when the team needed to be deciding whether to strip down and rebuild or stay the course and try and cobble together some form of a "maybe win now" nucleus, the Astros were miraculously trying to do both simultaneously.
REBUILD! Trade Lance Berkman!
STAY THE COURSE! Here's $30 million, Brett Myers!
REBUILD! Trade Roy Oswalt!
STAY THE COURSE! Here you go, Wandy! $40 million for you!
Signing Wandy was another directionless move for a franchise that was not only plummeting toward irrelevance, but doing so amidst other moves that indicated that they knew they were plummeting toward irrelevance.
Basically, for the Astros, signing Wandy Rodriguez (and Myers, too, quite frankly) was the equivalent of adding a nice new back patio to your home while watching the clouds of a Category 5 hurricane roll into town. Even if it looks nice (which Wandy has for most of the new deal, 9-9 with a 3.31 ERA), the thing is about to be part of a structure (in this case, the Astros) that is going to get destroyed by a fierce, dominant force of nature (in this case, every other team in Major League Baseball).
While signing Wandy to a fat deal might make sense for a good team, there was no point in doing so for the Astros. He is in a special class of player that is simultaneously underpaid and overpaid -- at $10 million per year (or more in future years), a decent value for a contending team and a waste of money for a team with no hope.
So we can talk until we are blue in our respective faces about what it says about the Astros that one of the steadiest (and at times spectacular) lefthanders in the National League is living up to every red cent of his deal, and it's still a bad deal.
The bottom line is that it is a bad deal.
Rarely in life do you get a chance to hit the figurative reset button and correct a wrong, but when the Rockies claimed Wandy Rodriguez off of waivers yesterday, they were basically begging Ed Wade to hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE on the original contract.
Not that Astros fans should care, but the Rockies' claiming of Wandy was about as inexplicable as the Astros giving Wandy all of that money in the first place. The Rockies are going nowhere (62-68) as of this typing, and they didn't get anywhere these last few years by paying the Wandys of the world $13 million. But for Houston, who cares, right?
The Astros have until tomorrow to work out a trade with the Rockies, otherwise they can let Wandy go to Colorado for nothing, which means they would get out from under paying a pitcher $36 million over the next three years to be a nice porch on a destroyed house. Either scenario -- trade or outright letting him go -- is desirable.
So naturally, it appears Ed Wade, fresh off trading Hunter Pence for a couple players who are at least two years away and trading Michael Bourn for a pile of magic beans, is going to look behind door number three, pull Wandy back and hang onto him (from MLB.com):
"I can't make predictions," Wade said. "I don't predict what could happen, but my gut tells me at this point there's no reason to believe that Wandy will be pitching anywhere than wherever we're playing in five days, which is Houston."
I would like to think this may be posturing, but this is also the same general manager who has taped thick envelopes of cash to both Oswalt and Pence while sending them to Philadelphia. In other words, I believe Ed Wade and I think Wandy Rodriguez will remain an Astro. Instead of hitting CTRL-ALT-DELETE, Ed Wade is going to try and tinker around with some crappy virus scan software while his computer grinds to a paralyzing halt.
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In a strange twist of fate, Wandy Rodriguez actually had a chance to pitch today in front of what would be his new teammates in what would be his new home, Coors Field. In what was an American Idol situation of sorts, Wandy threw up a thoroughly uninspiring six-inning stint, giving up 13 baserunners and four earned runs. The only thing missing was Rockies General Manager Dan O'Dowd telling Wandy in a British accent what a turd he is and telling him to get lost. Except O'Dowd can't say that unless Ed Wade allows him to.
But alas, it looks like Wade, in his latest spell of GM schizophrenia, is going to hang onto a $12 million-a-year thirtysomething pitcher so that the Astros can win 68 games next season instead of 62.
These are your Astros.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and on 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.