After protracted negotiations and much posturing, the Darwin Finches reacquired Zack Grienke, much-traveled righthander whose career has been a mixture of 'ahhs' at his potential and 'ewwws' at his well-publicized struggle with an anxiety disorder.
Grienke, who was but 5-6 with a 4.40 ERA in 46 games last season, missed virtually all of 2006 when he left his club in spring training. Overall, Grienke is 5-8 with a 5.13 ERA in 51 BARB games over the last three seasons and on the surface seems like a poor answer to the Finches' well-publicized need for stability in the rotation.
"You need to remember that he is still only 23 years old," said Darwin GM Scott Hatfield. "And, you also need to remember we drafted him way back when, and we have seen him go through his ups and downs. We feel that he's ready to put that behind him and be a regular contributor on a contending ballclub. In fact, we think it's important for Zack's life that he experience success, and we think that our club is a good fit for what he needs. It's a win-win thing."
In order to obtain Grienke, the Finches dealt significant talent. RHP Dustin McGowan (4-2, 4.66 ERA in 10 games last year) was slated to be the fifth starter, but he was sent packing along with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, widely-regarded as the top catching prospect in the majors today. GM Hatfield had only nice things to say about both at the press conference, emphasizing that he thought McGowan could easily win 13-14 games with Lexington and that 'Salty' would eventually be a big-league regular.
"Unfortunately," Hatfield remarked, "Salty hit a rough patch this spring behind the plate. He got into a funk with balls down and away, and it messed up his throwing mechanics. Last year the biggest hole in Darwin's game was our defense, and we just felt like we were going to be a better overall club if we improved our work up the middle. We weren't going to be able to give him time to develop in a pennant race. Probably in a year or so he'll be bashing the ball and people will talk about him as the best young offensive catcher in the American League. But we can't wait for that. We wish him the best."