Twenty nine years ago today new Braves GM Bobby Cox began what would be a painful five-year rebuilding project, releasing pitchers Rick Camp, Pascual Perez, Terry Forster and Len Barker. That same day fabled prospect Brad Komminsk, after two miserable seasons in the majors, was sent back to the minors.
Releasing Barker only reinforced the awfulness of the trade that brought him to Atlanta. He was 10-20 with a 4.64 earned run average for the Braves; meanwhile, the players sent to Cleveland, Brook Jacoby and Brett Butler, had become stalwarts for the Indians. Butler hit .311 and stole 47 bases in 1985 while Jacoby batted .274 with 20 homers and 87 RBI.
Optioning Komminsk was an acknowledgement that the franchise’s next big thing was instead one of its biggest miscalculations. He’d appear in only five games for the parent club before being traded to the Brewers for Dion James.
Camp never pitched in the majors again. Forster’s career would end one year later while Barker retired after a brief comeback with the Brewers in ’87. That same year, Pascual forged a brilliant comeback with the Expos, winning 7 of 10 starts with a 2.30 ERA and 0.967 WHIP. He was even better in ’88, allowing only 133 hits in 188 IP with 12 wins and a 2.44 ERA.
“It was a rough day, but we think this is the way we have to go, ” Cox said.
The next five seasons would be even rougher.