Vicente Padilla: 20.5% better than Mark Prior, at least on paper

I think Mark Prior may want to get a new agent. Specifically, he should contact the guy who represents Vicente Padilla. Either that, or he might want to make his way to the Rangers when he hits free agency.

Prior last week agreed to a $3.65 million contract to avoid salary arbitration. He got a $900,000 raise from the deal he would’ve had this season if he hadn’t voided that contract in November, which was one of the incentives built into it that went into effect with his service time in the majors. That’s a bargain price for a guy who has the potential to be a 20-game winner with a low ERA and high strikeout total that championship teams tend to have. Of course, Prior has yet to fully realize his potential because of his injury history.

But on the same day that Prior’s deal was announced, so was Padilla’s with Texas. For $4.4 million! That’s $750,000 more than Prior’s salary and 20.5 percent of Prior’s money. And it’s not like Padilla was the picture of health last year.

Prior is 20 days short of being exactly three years younger than Padilla; has a 41-23 career record to Padilla’s 51-51; a 3.24 ERA to Padilla’s 3.95; a .233 career batting average against to Padilla’s .261; and a 3.7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio to Padilla’s 1.9:1. The Cubs may have Kerry Wood (though himself injury-prone) and Carlos Zambrano also in their rotation while the Rangers brought in Kevin Millwood and are just happy to be rid of Kenny Rogers, but I can’t even buy it that Padilla is that much more valuable to Texas than Prior is to Chicago.

And I’m not even taking into account that Padilla is making the switch from the AL to the NL, a move that with the exception of Millwood last year and Curt Schilling the year before has not resulted in numbers even as good as the previous season for the pitcher involved. I might give Padilla some slack if he were moving to Oakland or Seattle, two comfy pitchers parks, but he’s going to Texas, home of hot air and short fences.

Come to think of it, maybe I can hire Padilla’s agent to find me a new job at a better salary, no matter my previous performance.

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