Let's postulate pitcher X. Pitcher X is a real major league pitcher. Pitcher X has a 9-5 record, a 4.25 ERA, and a 1.33 WHIP. He's thrown over 114 innings so far this year. He gives up less than 0.80 home runs per nine innings pitched and strikes out more than 2.10 batters per walk. He does all this in a neutral park, albeit one that gives up a lot more home runs than neutral.
Could the Phils use Pitcher X?
Let's look at the Phils' starting pitchers so far this year:
And here, for ease of comparison, are Pitcher X's stats:
As you can see, Pitcher X would lead the team in wins, innings, and home runs per nine (for starters with more than one start). He would be second on the team in ERA, WHIP, and WPA. He would be right in the middle of the pack for strikeouts per walk. If the Phils had Pitcher X instead of the disastrous combination of Brito, Floyd, Mathieson, and Bernero that has inhabited the fifth starter's role so far this year, they'd probably be closer to the lead in the Wild Card race.
Who is Pitcher X? If you haven't guessed already, it's Chris Wheeler's favorite space cadet, Vicente Padilla. He was shipped to the Texas Rangers in the off-season not for David Dellucci, who is contributing nicely, but for reliever Ricardo Rodriguez, who never saw the light of day for the Phils, being released before the season started.
Reportedly, Padilla was traded to avoid overpaying him in arbitration and because he had clubhouse issues. The absurdly expensive contract given to Abraham Nunez (he of the .355 OPS!) belies any truth to any assertion that the Phils had fiscal concerns. And, could Padilla really have been such a bad influence in the clubhouse that his relatively stellar pitching (compared to the rest of the staff) wouldn't have been worth it? I can't see how that could possibly be true.
The stats don't lie (they usually don't). Padilla would have helped the Phils, and Pat Gillick traded him away for less than the proverbial bag of balls.