Vicente Pa-whaaaa?!

Uh… Ken Gurnick?

The Dodgers will name Vicent Padilla their Opening Day starter.

Thanks to the magic of Twitter, let’s see the immediate reaction from several people I have a lot of respect for:

jay_jaffe    Why, did he shoot Kershaw and Billingsley?

craigcalcaterra    This has to be a joke, right?

injuryexpert    RT @jay_jaffe: Why, did he shoot Kershaw and Billingsley?

truebluela    What the hell?

DodgerDivorce    You’ve got to be kidding me.

The funny thing is, the Opening Day starter role usually doesn’t really matter at all. I already had a post prepared to go for when Clayton Kershaw was named the starter, and it included this passage:

the Dodgers haven’t exactly had a great recent tradition with their Opening Day starters. Last year, Hiroki Kuroda threw 5.2 innings against the Padres, and then immediately disappeared for two months with a pulled muscle, returning only to take a line drive off the head, miss the NLDS with a neck injury, and get torched in the NLCS. In 2008, Brad Penny ended his Dodger tenure by putting up a 6.27 ERA in 19 games. That’s neither here nor there – Derek Lowe started the previous three seasons and he was very effective as a Dodger – but the point is, it’s hardly a guarantee of a successful season. A nice honor; nothing more, nothing less.

From a baseball standpoint, Padilla getting the job doesn’t change that. But from a public relations standpoint… I mean, this isn’t going to shut up the “they don’t have an ace” crowd, is it? They could have gone with Kershaw, who’s young but undeniably talented. They could have gone with Hiroki Kuroda, who got the job last year. They could have gone with Chad Billingsley, who has had the most MLB success of any of the starters over the last few years and then positioned it as a “we have total confidence in you, Chad” move.

But Padilla? The guy who was picked up for free last year? The guy who shot himself in the offseason? The guy who’s always one step away from a total breakdown? This is the guy you’re starting your season off with? I don’t even care from an on-the-field perspective, but the stories that are going to come off of this will just be more bad PR in an offseason full of it.

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