If the D-backs start slowly, don't blame the schedule: They play 18 of their first 21 at home. "I'll tell you after April if it's a good thing or a bad thing," says veteran Tony Clark
. Last year Arizona went 19 -- 8 in April and looked like the class of the National League. And after that? The D-backs were 62 -- 72 the rest of the way. During the winter, the team let vets Adam Dunn
, Randy Johnson
, Juan Cruz
, Brandon Lyon
and Orlando Hudson
leave as free agents. So clearly it's time for the kids to follow through on the promise they showed two years ago, when the D-backs made the playoffs.
Arizona was hoping that 25-year-old Chris Young
would build on his 32-homer campaign of 2007, but he hit just 22 last year, with an anemic .315 OBP. Justin Upton
, still just 21, looked like a phenom early, then hit .123 in June. And when Eric Byrnes
went down with a torn hamstring in July, the team was left without a viable alternative in the outfield. Byrnes, who signed a $30 million extension in '07, should be ready in April. And if he ends up being one of the game's highest-paid reserves, thank the kids.
Young and Chris Snyder
are two of the best at their positions. But losing second baseman Hudson (who signed with the Dodgers) will hurt: Felipe Lopez
and Stephen Drew
form one of the game's worst middle infields.