I think Wade has done exactly what McLane ordered him to do — start rebuilding the farm system and not finish last in the meantime. I would cheerfully accept a last-place finish if it meant a speedier rebuilding of the system, but I think McLane simply cannot stomach the idea of finishing last in baseball’s only six-team division and is willing to spend money to avoid that.
That’s why the Astros signed Pedro Feliz. That’s why they traded away three young pitchers and a competent position player for Miguel Tejada, a deal I hated even though they had to deal Scott because they are stuck with the millstone that is Carlos Lee’s contract. That’s why they signed Kaz Matsui. Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz were just attempts to get lucky, but they didn’t work out. Shawn Chacon didn’t work out. So they haven’t gotten better and they haven’t gotten younger. All they have done is lay some groundwork.