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Running to Stand Still: the Phils Under Ed Wade

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Year Record    Payroll Attendance Comments
1998 75-87 (3rd) $36,085,000 (19th of 30) 1,715,702 (13th of 16) Bobby Abreu added to nucleus; 7 game improvement
1999 77-85 (3rd) $30,516,500 (23rd of 30) 1,825,277 (12th of 16) Phils in contention through August, but fade late. Criticized for failing at the trade deadline, Wade trades prospects for Andy Ashby after season
2000 65-97 (3rd) $46,947,667 (20th of 30) 1,612,819 (13th of 16) Dreadful start dooms Terry Francona; Curt Schilling traded; Larry Bowa hired after season
2001 86-76 (2nd) $41,663,833 (24th of 30) 1,782,054 (14th of 16) Great start has Phils in division lead through June; midseason bullpen pickups Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook falter
2002 80-81 (3rd) $57,954,999 (17th of 30) 1,618,467 (14th of 16) Rolen traded mid-season; fans blast mis-handling of situation. Thome, Millwood acquisitions in December boost '03 ticket sales
2003 86-76 (3rd) $70,780,000 (15th of 30) 2,259,948 (10th of 16) Higher payroll and Veterans Stadium finale boost attendance, but team falls short again
2004 86-76 (2nd) $93,219,167 (5th of 30) 3,250,093 (2nd of 16) Underachieving team draws 3.25 million for first season in Citizens Bank Park; Bowa fired, replaced by Charlie Manuel
2005 88-74 (2nd) $95,337,908 (4th of 30) 2,665,304 (9th of 16) Late charge, emergence of young stars not enough to save embattled GM

This is the first of what I suspect will be a series of pieces on the Wade Era, now mercifully closed. All I want to do here is show how as the payroll went up, the return went down. Later on we'll take a look at the best and worst trades and free-agent signings of Wade's eight-year tenure. But I think these numbers tell a pretty straightforward story: Wade simply wasn't able to buy wins after the team opened up the wallet, and he depleted the farm system (more about that as well in another article) while effectively running in place.