Nothing heralds the end of Winter quite so evocatively as the sound of bat on ball; except perhaps the sound of buttock abscesses being squeezed. And nothing heralds the arrival of a new season quite so much as a blog entry about the upcoming campaign. In that spirit, here’s a quick look at the major issues faced by the D-Backs in 2008.
1) Hitting- there’s no way that they can repeat last season’s escapology in so many tight games, and there is a lot of reliance being placed on the premise that the young hitters will improve this year. If they do we’re home free, but any kind of sophomore slump and it’s going to be a hard season.
2) Pitching- If Randy stays fit and Haren is the Haren he was in Oakland, then we could have one of the best pitching line ups in the league. If Randy breaks down and Haren turns into one of those Oakland duds then we’re looking at Doug Davis as our number 2 pitcher. I find it almost inconceivable that Randy will pitch a full season and the "Oakland Dud Phenomenon" is in danger of becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.
3) Team Chemistry- I know less than nothing about the NBA but it’s clear that the arrival of Shaq has upset something at the Suns. Similarly the loss of Tony Clarke could have an effect on the Diamondbacks; it was a consistent theme last year that his presence was vital in the dressing room with the younger players. Team chemistry is an indefinable thing and the D-Backs definitely had it, hopefully Bob Melvyn has found a way to bottle it.
4) Complacency-It’s rare for a teams batting line-up and pitching rotation to be quite so obvious as it is for the D-Backs this year. The coaching staff have to make it a priority to ensure that the young players carry over their attitude from last season rather than settling into the comfort zone.
There are enough things that can go wrong to worry the fans. But Arizona is at minimum a .500 team and if things go well should win the NL West again.