Padres Roll the Dice, Add Prior to Their Rotation
Less than a month after the Cubs cut their injury-plagued ace Mark Prior, the Padres signed on to bring him to his hometown of San Diego. I still remember pulling his 01 UD Prospect Premiers Auto XRC from a pack at the local card store back when the product was first released, thinking who is this guy? Since his debut in '02, Prior has been a dominant strike-out pitcher. Even with his ups & downs the past few years, he's still averaging a career 10.37 K's/9IP. Unfortunately, he only had one full, healthy season back in '03, when he won 18 games & had 245 K's in 30 starts. Being that he missed the entire '07 season while still pulling in $3.5 + million in salary, it's not too surprising that the Cubs decided to let him go. I'm glad to see that there's still interest in Prior, despite his health problems, and to join such a great rotation (with Jake Peavy, Chris Young & Greg Maddux) is just an additional plus.
Prior's best base rookie cards from '01 are his Ultimate Collection Auto #'d 250, SPx Auto #'d 1500, Donruss Elite XRC #'d 556 (only avail through redemption) and of course his UD Prospect Premiers Auto XRC #'d 1000. There have been very few on auction during Prior's absence this past season, probably meaning that sellers haven't lost hope that he & his cards will make comeback (otherwise we would have witnessed a large-scale dumping on the market by now).
On espn.com they're saying that he's been throwing on flat ground without any pain, and he should be able to return to play by mid May at the earliest. If he can stay healthy, I think that playing alongside other top-notch pitchers will help him to regain his form back. It would be very interesting to see if he, Peavy & Young were all able to compete for the Cy Young in '08, since they all have the talent to do so. I've been a Prior fan since I pulled that XRC several years ago, and I'm excited to see his comeback.