Sept. 19, 2009 has two very different meanings for the San Francisco Giants organization.
On one end of the spectrum, their High-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants, celebrated yet another California League championship after completely steamrolling the competition.
On the other, their teammate Angel Villalona, who was in the Dominican Republic after being sent home to visit family before beginning offseason conditioning, was being accused of murder.
From top prospect to being 19 years old and a possible murderer. Not exactly what you call an ideal situation.
Since then, almost two months had gone by without hearing anything about Villalona's legal situation in the Dominican. It wasn't a shocker considering that when he was arraigned the judge said he would stand trial in two or three months.
Then Sunday afternoon rolls around, and there are reports that Villalona has been released on bail —something few people actually expected to happen with everything being so quiet on the news front for such a long period of time and everybody just waiting for the proceedings for a trial going on as planned.
Monday brought even more news , this time with details of what exactly prompted Villalona's release on bail.
The synopsis of the developments is this—the victim's family has now asked for the murder charges against Villalona to be dropped.
But why did the family all of a sudden decide to drop the charges? It's because they reached a settlement with Villalona of around two million pesos, the equivalent to $50,000 or so (that is different than the five million pesos or $139,000 that ESPN Deportes reported a few days ago).
Whether it is hush money or just a plain settlement between the two parties, Villalona has basically just paid off the family of the son he is accused of murdering two months ago. That just looks like all kinds of bad.
That's not just because of the money, but because of how sudden this news is. All signs pointed towards Villalona going to trial and, whether he is actually innocent or guilty, seeing justice being served. There were reportedly witnesses in both corners willing to state their view of what happened in the La Romana bar Sept. 19.
In some ways, as a fan of the Giants and one that follows their minor league system closely, I want to see Villalona set free. You want to see a kid who has so much raw potential finally reach it and do something with the team that has invested so much in him.
You hear teammates like Buster Posey and Garrett Broshuis say nothing but positives about Villalona, so thinking that he is capable of going from quiet guy to murderer is basically not possible. There never has once been a reason to think that Villalona would have character issues, let alone be charged with murder.
However, when he is released on bail under these circumstances, you can't help wonder what exactly is going on in the Dominican right now.
No matter who the person is, whether it is a top prospect like Villalona or some random guy who stumbles out of a bar in the middle of the night, you want justice to be served and done the right way. You want things done the right way and not determined by a pretty good sum of money that the accused is willing to pay to get out of it.
Having your fandom override the fact that if Villalona is not prosecuted yet actually has done the unthinkable act of killing another man over something stupid in a Dominican club is unacceptable.
But what happens if he never goes to trial? What do the Giants do?
You would have to think that the Giants would be in one of the toughest spots they have ever been in with a prospect like this. The situation is so rare in the world of baseball, especially at this age, that the decision of whether to keep Villalona in the organization would be one that, either way, would be criticized.
Yet if the Giants decide to part ways with Villalona if there is no jail sentence, it's $2.1 million down the drain—a 19-year-old kid with huge power potential out of the organization for good while he was basically still getting his feet wet as a professional ballplayer.
Keeping Villalona in the organization could also be looked at as a double-edged sword. There are certainly people who aren't going to be happy with it. A suspected murderer now all of a sudden forgiven is welcomed back to the organization without any kind of punishment. That's just a public relations frenzy waiting to happen.
It's just a situation where you can't predict what is going to happen next.
The prosecutor in the case, Jose Antonio Polanco, does still plan to prosecute Villalona. But seeing as the family was basically bought off, who knows what would happen with the lawyers? This is the Dominican, where the judicial system is just all kinds of bad.
If the initial news of Villalona turning himself in on suspicion of murder was a complete shock and punch to the gut, the news from here on out will only continue to have us scratching our heads.