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Vicente Padilla's reputation, and lazy journalism

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I saw this article that predicts the Rangers will finish last (and the Mariners 2nd, believe it or not) in the comments to an earlier post.

I don't think the Rangers will finish last, of course...but what really jumped out at me on the segment on the Rangers is this:

If Vicente Padilla, who has an alarming track record for doing his best when pitching for a contract, actually lives up to the latest deal he earned last season, it will go a long way toward legitimizing GM Jon Daniels' decision to make the Rangers more pitching-oriented than has been customary.

Really? Vicente Padilla has "an alarming track record for doing his best when pitching for a contract"?

Can someone tell me why the hell people keep saying things like this? I've heard similar comments -- although usually not so strongly worded -- by folks in the media. But I'd love to hear Tom Singer explain where he picked up this notion...

This is the first time Vicente Padilla had ever been a free agent. His 2006 season, contrary to what so many have said, was not a career year...he pitched better while with the Phillies both in 2002 and 2003.

Padilla couldn't have really been pitching for a contract in 2002, since he wasn't arbitration-eligible yet, and was going to be renewed for close to the league minimum.

He was eligible for arbitration after the 2003 season, and signed a one-year deal. I guess you could say that he was pitching for a contract then, since he was going to get a big raise in arbitration.

But then, in 2004, Padilla struggled and was injured. And he was arbitration-eligible after the season. So if his great performance in 2003 was because he was pitching for a contract, how do you explain 2004?

Same thing in 2005...after signing a one year deal with the Phillies for 2004, he struggled again, and the Phillies dumped him on the Rangers because they didn't want to go to arbitration with him and pay him the $4 million plus he was going to get.

And in 2006, he had a very good season, although not the best season of his career, with free agency looming. And when he was successful, suddenly, the Tom Singers of the world start proclaiming that he has "an alarming track record" of doing well in contract years, when that's simply not supported by the evidence.

Why the hell is it so hard for people to actually look at the facts? If you want to say that you think Padilla is the type who was more motivated last season because of the potential for a huge payday, that's fine...I don't necessarily agree, but it is possible.

But don't say that his track record shows that that is the case. To claim that is simply ludicrous.