Regal Blue

The return of Vicente

Posted in Baseball by gklarsen on January 21, 2010

Via MLBTraderumors, the Dodgers and Vicente Padilla have agreed on a one year deal worth approximately five million.  I am shockingly okay with this.

If you’d asked me at the end of the season which discard-pile pitcher I’d want, Vicente would be low on my list.  It’s not the alleged bad attitude that gets to me or the penchant for nailing hitters at the plate.  No, it’s the fact that he’s solid fourth starter material who seemed primed for overpayment due to his good-decent Dodger work.  A two year, 14 mil deal seemed likely even in a depressed market.

The good news for us is that the market has said a loud and joyous “fuck you” to non-stars this offseason.  As you undoubtedly noticed, the Giants and Bengie Molina settled for one another for a far lower rate than either expected.  Joel Piniero only got a two year deal with the Angels after coming off a real career year.  Adam LaRoche, quite possibly the definition of a “good, not great” player is on a one year with the D-Bags.  All this to say that unless you’re John Lackey, the past couple off seasons have been rough for you (relatively speaking).

As we all sort of predicted he would, Ned waited out the market and picked through the remaining servicable starters and scored himself a deal.  Now, Vicente is not ideal but neither was Randy Wolf.  These guys are cheap for a reason; they come with risk.  Vicente has struggled with some nagging-type injuries the past year or so that could certainly pop up again during the season.  He’s also kinda old at 32 and hasn’t pitched 200 innings since 2006.  But all things considered, this is a fine enough deal.  Ned needed a cheap starter and he went out and got one.

If you’re a Dodger fan, you already know a lot about Vicente.  He doesn’t strike out too many (6.2 k/9), walks perhaps too many (3.22 bb/9), and loves puttin’ men on base (1.47 WHIP).  The various projections essentially believe that he’ll duplicate the career numbers in about 140 IP, according to both CHONE and Bill James, though both see a slight increase in FIP.  For some reason, BABIP has never been too much of an issue.  That’s really quite amazing for someone who puts as many balls in play as Vicente does.  It rests typically in the high 200s to low 300s and there’s no reason to believe his luck will gravitate significantly one way or the other with a full year back in the National League.

Obviously our favorite Nicaraguan won’t put up Randy Wolf numbers, but he’s coming back to the Dodgers in a similar situation.  The expectations are surely low.  I have to imagine fans would be satisfied if he took the ball every fifth day and managed to not get shelled too often.  Behind Kershaw, Billingsley and Kuroda, Vicente will be fine.  If everything goes right, we won’t really even notice him.

*We said the exact same thing about Wolf last year too, for you nostalgia fans.

There’s still a question of a fifth starter, but every team in baseball has that question.  We here at Regal Blue are fans of Charlie Haegar but I’ve been wondering a long time what Eric Stults could do with a long-term stint.  Maybe we can finally put Scott Elbert back in the rotation considering he has the highest upside by a long shot.  These, however, are good spring training questions.

With Vicente’s signing today, our free agency adventures may indeed be over.  If so, I have to be a bit impressed with Ned.  It can’t be easy to work with a super-constrained budget.  He’s managed to hand out a couple two year deals to our own guys and as such the Dodgers will be fielding almost exactly the same team next year.  Considering it got us into the NLCS, I certainly won’t complain.

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