I don't know what Vicente Padilla news was more troubling yesterday: that he was accidentally shot yesterday in a hunting accident, or that the Dodgers want him back. Look, don't get me wrong, Padilla pitched wonderfully for the Dodgers -- well, at least until Game 5 of the NLCS. Including the playoffs, Padilla pitched much better for the Dodgers than he did at any point with the Rangers:
Padilla's strikeout rate had plummeted the past few years with the Rangers, from 6.7 in 2007 to 5.9, to 4.9. Then it spiked with the Dodgers to 8.1. Is the difference between the two leagues really that great? Bringing Padilla back smacks of Jose Lima all over again. After 2004, the arbitration rules were different and actually helped prevent Lima's return after his out-of-nowhere performance. Bringing Lima back wasn't a good idea then -- he wasn't good for four years prior to joining the Dodgers, and his final 36 starts after leaving produced a 7.26 ERA, suggesting his performance in LA was a fluke -- and bringing back Padilla for 2010 isn't a good idea now.
Before we get swayed by 11 games, we should remember that upon his release by Texas, his Ranger teammates openly applauded their general manager for getting rid of Padilla. They hated him. Did Padilla's attitude change with his move to the Dodgers? Sure it did! He was on his best behavior because he was on a contract drive. Using the Manny Ramirez Principle, the Dodgers should only bring someone with a checkered past back if his two months with the club produced Hall of Fame-type numbers. Padilla was good, but he wasn't that good.
As for yesterday's shooting, that really doesn't concern me, at least for now. Padilla seems to be fine, according to his agent, so there aren't health concerns. This doesn't appear to be another Plaxico Burress situation, at least on the surface, so there aren't likely to be any legal concerns.
For what it's worth, the 2010 Bill James Handbook projects Padilla in 2010 to have a 4.66 ERA and 4.73 FIP. We know the Dodgers will likely sign at least one starting pitcher this offseason. Unless the offer is a one-year contract for a few million bucks, perhaps with some incentives built in, the Dodgers should stay away from the Vicente Padilla sweepstakes. Otherwise, he is a bad gamble.