Inside the Phillies: Wade watches familiar faces leave

Posted: August 06, 2012

Ed Wade's perspective on last week's two ground-shaking trade deadline moves was unique.

He was the general manager when the Phillies paid $50,000 for Shane Victorino in the Rule 5 draft in December 2004, a move that proved to be among the most important during the team's run of success that has at the very least stalled in 2012.

He was also the general manager who sent Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros to the Phillies at last year's trade deadline, a transaction celebrated in Philadelphia as the piece that would lead to another parade down Broad Street.

Now, Victorino and Pence are gone, one leaving behind a legacy that will last forever and the other leaving as just a brief and disappointing memory.

Wade often does not get credit for the Victorino move - some people still think it was Pat Gillick who brought the centerfielder here - and he was lampooned in these parts when he sent pitcher Roy Oswalt and Pence to the Phillies in consecutive years at the trade deadline.

In his first season back with the organization as a consultant, Wade was asked about the two deals that Ruben Amaro Jr. made in his first-time role as a trade-deadline seller.

"They hit me on a lot of different levels," Wade said. "First of all, you go back to sitting at the table when we made the Rule 5 selection of Shane. Mike Ondo [Phillies director of professional scouting] had done the legwork that put Shane on our radar and we selected him."

As well as it all turned out for the Phillies, the Los Angeles Dodgers could have had Victorino back long before Tuesday if they had only paid $25,000 when the Phillies offered him back at the end of spring training in 2005.

Instead, the Dodgers declined and the Phillies persuaded Victorino to remain with their organization instead of leaving as a free agent.

"I'd be lying if I told you exactly why he didn't make our team that spring," Wade said. "I think he was in the mix, but if he was really close, we would not have offered him back to the Dodgers.

"I think what we saw of Shane in spring training was a guy with five tools, but never at the same time. He might steal a base, but then not play a ball right in the outfield. The tools were there. You could see why San Diego took him in the Rule 5 draft the year before. I'm just glad we had a good enough relationship with him to convince him to stay with the organization."

By the time Victorino developed into a special player who made unforgettable postseason contributions for the Phillies, Wade was gone. But he still admired Victorino from afar.

"I thought the connection that evolved between Shane and the fans here was something really special," he said. "You saw it when he got his 1,000th hit a couple weeks ago."

There's no denying that the Victorino Rule 5 acquisition was one of the best during Wade's era as general manager, but it will take some time to evaluate the trades that brought Pence from Houston and then sent him to San Francisco last week.

At this point, however, it appears as if Wade got the best of the Pence deal by acquiring top prospects Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and Domingo Santana for a guy who was gone after one season in Philadelphia.

Wade would never gloat about such a thing even if he was still working for the Astros. He believes Pence was the right man for the Phillies a year ago.

"That's the way the game exists these days," Wade said. "The way things worked out with Victorino is more unusual than having a guy moving to two places in two years.

"Hunter fit perfectly here last year. They had [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard and he fit seamlessly into that lineup."

With Utley and Howard sidelined by injuries during the first half of the season, Pence pressed, especially with runners in scoring position, and that did not come as a surprise to Wade.

"There were stories about Hunter in the minor leagues," Wade said. "There were some times when he struggled that he was driven to tears because he wanted to help the team so much.

"We saw it some in Houston, too, when we lost [Lance] Berkman and he was thrust into a role where he felt like he had to do more. I think you saw it with Ryan and Chase out, I think he was chasing more balls out of the strike zone. He was trying to do more when sometimes less is better."

Wade certainly understood Amaro's predicament as a first-time seller in the GM role, but the Phillies' plan is far different from what he was forced to do in Houston.

"It's a very difficult situation," Wade said. "Ruben and I talked about the whole process a couple weeks ago. Two Julys ago, I had to deal Oswalt and Berkman. Last July was the most stressful thing I ever went through in my professional career because I knew how much of an impact it was going to have on the organization going forward.

"Everybody looks at a move and it is reduced to one word - transaction. But there are so many things involved: the emotions of the fans, their teammates, the ballclub employees. You don't let that impact your decision, but you're always wondering if you've made the best deal or if you were right to pull the trigger at all."

That's Amaro's job now, and his moves in July will also be judged by what he does during the offseason with the money freed up by Pence's departure.

"In Houston, I was under a mandate to reduce payroll as dramatically as I possibly could," Wade said. "In Ruben's case, he made moves that should have a positive impact down the road. We still have a very, very strong club that has a chance to contend for a long time."


Inside the Phillies: Tough Finding a Rule 5 Gem

Shane Victorino was the seventh of 12 players taken in the 2004 Rule 5 draft. He's the only one still in the big leagues and the only one to have made any impact for the team that selected him. Here are the players taken in that Rule 5 draft.

PLAYER   TEAM

1. Angel Garcia   ARI   Never played in the majors.

2. Andrew Sisco   KC   3-9, 5.18 ERA in 151

relief appearances

3. Tyrell Godwin   WAS   Played in three games.

4. Marcos Carvajal   MIL

0-2, 5.21 ERA in 42

relief appearances.

5. Matt Merricks   COL

Never played in the majors.

6. Luke Hagerty   BAL

Never played in the majors

7. Shane Victorino   Phillies

Two-time all-star, three-time Gold Glove winner.

8. Tyler Johnson   OAK

3-5, 4.32 ERA in 116

relief appearances.

9. Ryan Rowland-Smith   MIN

12-17, 4.57 ERA in 115 games (47 starts).

10. D.J. Houlton   Dodgers

6-11, 4.99 ERA in 53 games (19 starts).

11. Adam Stern   BOS

.116 batting avg. in 43 at-bats.

12. Tony Blanco   WAS

.177 batting avg. in 62 at-bats.


Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or on Twitter @brookob

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