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Atlanta Braves news and links: More questions than answers when it comes to Hector Olivera

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Hector Olivera and his viability as a legit major leaguer is still one of the biggest wildcards when it comes to the grand process that is the Braves' current rebuild.

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BRAVES NEWS

There are still plenty of question marks swirling around Hector Olivera

Although the Braves have received many plaudits for their rebuilding efforts over the past year or so, one move that has caused many observers to scratch their heads was the move that brought Hector Olivera to Atlanta. The Braves are still very much in his corner and believe he can succeed, even though there's still plenty of skepticism surrounding the soon-to-be 31-year old Cuban. Braves.com beat writer Mark Bowman is one of the skeptics, and he expounded on his opinion during his latest mail bag feature for the Braves website.

Maybe Olivera's great physical skills will help him take advantage of the chance to make necessary adjustments while experiencing his first full Spring Training this year. But accounting for the struggles the 30-year-old Cuban encountered in September and again during his abbreviated stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League, there's reason to wonder if Olivera will make the many adjustments necessary to find success in the Majors.

Braves may make strong push for Lazarito

16-year old Cuban outfield prodigy Lazarito Armenteros will be a free agent on February 10th, and he's already drawn the attention of nearly every team in Major League Baseball. This includes the Braves, who will be giving him a private workout this weekend in the Dominican Republic. The Braves have already made it known that they're going to be aggressive on the international market this season, and if Lazarito is willing to wait until July 2nd (which is when the next international free agent period starts) to sign with a team, then the Braves could be serious players when it comes to potentially signing Lazarito to a contract.

Pierzynski and Flowers are expected to help young pitchers develop

One of the more intriguing stories to follow this season will be the relationship between the two veteran Braves catchers (A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers) and the young group of pitchers that figure to fill the Atlanta Braves' starting pitching rotation in 2016. While the combo of Pierzynski and Flowers appears to be a short-term fix (with Coppy admitting that catcher has now become their biggest long-term need), some of the young pitchers are hopefully going to be here for the long haul, which means that not only are AJP and Flowers expected to contribute production to the team, but they're also here to help develop the young pitching staff, as well.

Flowers has worked with multiple Braves pitchers, including starter Matt Wisler, in the days leading up to spring training in an effort to begin forging relationships and finding chemistry. These things take time.

"It's more picking their brain on what they think they need to do, their tendencies, their reminders that they use for themselves to get back on track. And then you kinda combine that when you get in game action, of course, with what (pitching coach) Roger (McDowell) sees and suggests and kinda what I see on pitches, the actions of them, the misses on all the pitches," said Flowers, who signed a two-year, $5.3 million contract with a 2018 team option. "That gives you a good idea on how to at least communicate with the pitchers and helps simplify things for young guys, where you can contribute instead of them feeling like they have to do everything all the time."

Mike Foltynewicz could start 2016 on disabled list

Mike Foltynewicz is still recovering from what he described as a "life-threatening" blood clot that he suffered during the late stages of last season. He's 20 pounds lighter now and has gotten a late start on his throwing program, and that could lead to him starting the 2016 season on the DL. With that being said, he's still making pretty good progress, and I suppose that it's better to start the season on the DL than to still be dealing with the effects of what had to have been a super-scary blood clot.

MLB NEWS

MLB owners discuss effects of tanking on baseball

One of the hot-button topics not only in baseball, but in all of sports, is the art of tanking. Tanking has been a part of sports for quite some time now, but a lot of teams are getting attention for it as of late, with teams such as the Cubs and Astros reaping the benefits of tanked seasons in the years coming up to 2015. The current system definitely benefits teams who decide to sacrifice the present for the future, and apparently that's rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because the owners are discussing ways to potentially curtail tanking.

The January discussion in Coral Gables, Florida, was not formal, and there haven't been any official steps taken toward exploring the question of whether teams are endeavoring to lose. But some teams have expressed concern about a strategy that is drawing more and more attention among baseball operations officials. Another reason for the discussion at the owners meetings was to bring up to speed anyone who wasn't aware of the conversation about the perceived tactic within the sport.

If Major League Baseball decides to pursue an adjustment to the rules to deter teams from pursuing a tanking strategy, there will be an immediate opportunity, given the ongoing negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement expires in December. "It'll probably be addressed in some way in the collective bargaining agreement," predicted one ownership source.

Greg Maddux joins Dodgers front office as special assistant to the GM

Another former Braves legend has joined a front office as a special assistant, but they haven't joined the Braves front office. Hall of Famer Greg Maddux has joined up with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a special assistant to their GM, Andrew Friedman. This is his third time being a "special assistant" with a baseball organization, as he's previously worked with the Cubs and the Rangers ever since leaving baseball as an active player. Maddux has a relatively brief history with the Dodgers, but apparently he made a good enough impression to where the organization is still willing to work with him to this day.