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Thread: 3rd DARKEST DAY -- UPDATED! A BUST, THEN BUSTED ... Could One Deal Go More Wrong?

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    3rd DARKEST DAY -- UPDATED! A BUST, THEN BUSTED ... Could One Deal Go More Wrong?



    A Bust, Then Busted:
    The Hector Olivera Story (A Farce with a Happy Ending)



    At 6:51 a.m. on April 13, 2016, the Emergency Call Center in Arlington, Va., received a 911 call from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City.

    The woman on the line claimed to have been assaulted, and when police arrived they found a bruised, injured woman who claimed that a member of the Atlanta Braves, outfielder Hector Olivera, had injured her. Olivera, who was also at the hotel, was arrested and booked into the Arlington jail and charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and battery.



    The woman, who police stated knew Olivera previous to the incident, was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for treatment for her injuries, but by the time Olivera faced a judge late Wednesday afternoon, she had already been released.

    Olivera was released on a $10,000 bond and was on a plane for his American residence in Miami by the time the Braves took the field Wednesday for their game with the Nationals. He has not been allowed to suit up, practice or play with the Braves again until August – an 82-game suspension. And he still hasn’t faced the charges in Virginia.

    At the time of his suspension, Olivera was hitting .211 with two RBI in the Braves’ first seven games – all losses, en route to an 0-9 start.

    And so the latest chapter in the slapstick comedy of errors called the Hector Olivera Story began to be written. As of this posting much of it remains unsettled, but enough has happened for this to comfortably sit as the third-worst day in the history of the Atlanta Braves.

    Many people saw it coming in some form or fashion. Just not this way. Anything but this way.

    So why the hell is Hector Olivera an Atlanta Brave anyway?

    Olivera’s acquisition on the July trade deadline from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a labyrinthine 3-trade with the Miami Marlins had fans either buzzed or puzzled at the time. The buzz came from the fact that Olivera only two months before signed a six-year, $62.5 million deal with the Dodgers, one of the most daring signings ever of a Cuban free agent because of his age (30) and injuries (too many to mention here). That deal included $28 million signing bonus that the Dodgers remained on the hook for.

    The Braves had to ship top infield prospect Jose Peraza and pitchers Alec Wood, Luis Avilan and Joe Johnson to the Dodgers and got minor leaguer Zack Bird from the Marlins – as well as additional amount (estimated between $28-$32 million) to help pay the remainder of Olivera’s salary.

    But many, and I mean many, fans were more than a little spooked by the fact that the Dodgers did the deal barely two months after beating out the Braves, Marlins and Padres (among others) to sign the former Cuban national third base star. His numbers in his 20s were encouraging, as he hit over .300 every season but one since joining Santiago de Cuba as an 18-year-old.

    But, having run afoul of the Cuban government over previous defection talk, he did not play at all in 2014, and when he finally arrived in Haiti in September of that year, it was reported that he left the island “illegally” in search of a MLB deal.

    But … Olivera’s injury history was a long as his batting record. He missed the entire 2012 season due to what was reported in some Cuban sources as thrombosis in his left bicep, meaning restricted blood flow. His return season, 2013, saw him largely at DH with 29 games at second base, not his accustomed third base. But he was still rated the sixth-best player still on the island by Baseball America. He had been the MVP of the Intercontinental Tournament in 2010 and won the all-star game home run derby in 2012.

    So the Dodgers ponied up, finalizing a deal in May that was agreed on in March, once his free agent status was confirmed by MLB. The snag on the deal was a report that Olivera had a damaged UCL, which could lead to Tommy John (Tomas Juan?) surgery. He passed a physical arranged by his agents, but when the Dodgers asked for a second one, given by their on staff of doctors, Olivera refused.

    But he was able to begin playing soon after signing, beginning a bizarre journey through the bush leagues. He played on no less than six minor league teams, including the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers, Tulsa (AA) and Oklahoma City (AAA) before the trade, then the Gulf Coast Braves, Rome and finally Gwinnett. All told, in six stops he played only 35 games, with two homers and 10 RBIs matching his .255-2-11 output with the Braves are the end of the dismal 2015 season.

    It was agreed upon the Olivera work on his game and spend time back at third base during winter ball, but after five weeks he was released by the Caguas clug despite hitting .275 through 18 games. One report was that he was feeling mental fatigue to do excessive travel, having gone to visit his sister, who was in Miami awaiting a kidney transplant and was released by mutual agreement with his manager, Alex Cora. Another report is that he arrived in Puerto Rico a day late after leavine to visit his sister.

    Olivera’s spring training was frustrating for everyone, as his only spring homer was washed out by a rainout. Plus, after all the work at third base in 2015, he played left field exclusively in the spring and once the season started.

    Then came April 13.

    The Braves were eager, it seems, to place him on the restricted list, meaning he would not have to be paid. Because of the investigation, lame duck manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “I can’t even talk about it. It’s not good. It’s really disappointing.”

    Now, the Braves simply don’t talk about him. It’s as if he were never there – though he reportedly is currently taking daily b.p. at Disney.

    Olivera will be eligible to began rehab in mid-July for an August return. The questions now are: Do the Braves need him? Do the Braves want him? If not, how do you get rid of a $50 million albatross that you’re stuck with until 2020?

    UPDATE: Well, we asked the above question in early July. Then, one year to the date from his acquisition, he was sent to (and released by) the Padres for 31-year-old Matt Kemp, who was the MVP runnerup and Hank Aaron Award winner in 2011. And, yes, Kemp is healthy, having played in 100 games (.262-23-69). The Padres also sent $10.5 million towards the $21.5 million per year he is owed through 2019. The answer to the above question is that we should never underestimate Coppy.
    Last edited by rico43; 07-31-2016 at 11:08 AM.

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    Shift Leader CyYoung31's Avatar
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    I think this is a little high, especially considering the story isn't finished, but the trade was unquestionably questionable even before Olivera decided to actually hit something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyYoung31 View Post
    I think this is a little high, especially considering the story isn't finished, but the trade was unquestionably questionable even before Olivera decided to actually hit something.
    A little high? This doesn't even register in my book although it wasn't a good trade. I get that it's fresh in everyone's mind and maybe that's why it's here, but this probably should go alongside the signing of Andy Messersmith or something like that.

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    Yeah, I can think of a few that rank well above this.

    1982 rain out in game one of NLCS.

    The day Bob Horner broke his wrist in August 1983.

    FA signings of Bruce Sutter and/or Bossman Junior.

    Brett Butler trade.

    1997 Eric Gregg game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DirkPiggler View Post
    Yeah, I can think of a few that rank well above this.

    1982 rain out in game one of NLCS.

    The day Bob Horner broke his wrist in August 1983.

    FA signings of Bruce Sutter and/or Bossman Junior.

    Brett Butler trade.

    1997 Eric Gregg game.
    Trading Kevin Millwood for Mr. Estrada. @Millwood1Hitter

    Chipper and Hooters revelations.

    John Rocker in NYC.
    Forever Fredi


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    Quote Originally Posted by 50PoundHead View Post
    A little high? This doesn't even register in my book although it wasn't a good trade. I get that it's fresh in everyone's mind and maybe that's why it's here, but this probably should go alongside the signing of Andy Messersmith or something like that.
    I was trying to be diplomatic.

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    It is early, but any other trade you can think of (free agent signings excepted) have had some kind of positive return for at least a short time (Uggla, Lowe). There has been nothing positive at all from the arrival of Olivera in the Braves system and they are stuck with him until 2020.

    By the way, your lists doesn't hit either of my top two dark days. Again, I laid off Eric Gregg out of respect for the dead. I was there and it was one of the most mind-blowing things I have ever seen.

    The St. Louis rainout was just that, a rainout. I lump it with the infield fly call, Lonnie Smith's baserunning and the Leyritz homer as the fickle nature of baseball. A truly dark day transcends a single win or a single loss, to my thinking.

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    Shift Leader CyYoung31's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rico43 View Post
    It is early, but any other trade you can think of (free agent signings excepted) have had some kind of positive return for at least a short time (Uggla, Lowe). There has been nothing positive at all from the arrival of Olivera in the Braves system and they are stuck with him until 2020.

    By the way, your lists doesn't hit either of my top two dark days. Again, I laid off Eric Gregg out of respect for the dead. I was there and it was one of the most mind-blowing things I have ever seen.

    The St. Louis rainout was just that, a rainout. I lump it with the infield fly call, Lonnie Smith's baserunning and the Leyritz homer as the fickle nature of baseball. A truly dark day transcends a single win or a single loss, to my thinking.
    Exactly why I don't think the Olivera deal qualifies, nor ever will.

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    If this is #3 then Nick Esasky has to be in the top 2

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    Unless Wood turns into an ace this wasn't that bad. How about the day Glavine signed with the Mets. That's the day I lost my childhood innocence and learned what hate feels like.
    "State power feeds on crisis and enemies"

    John T. Flynn 1944

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cajunrevenge View Post
    Unless Wood turns into an ace this wasn't that bad. How about the day Glavine signed with the Mets. That's the day I lost my childhood innocence and learned what hate feels like.
    That's me -- until Glavine ran afoul of that cab in NYC and had his front teeth knocked out. That, baby, is karma.

    By the way, the delay was because I misplaced my notes for No. 2. Found them Sunday and it's getting done. No. 1 has been done for awhile.

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