The Diamondbacks have won two straight games. That qualifies as progress these days for what was supposed to be a model franchise.
Sixteen months ago the Diamondbacks were NL West division champions, sitting on one of the greatest stockpiles of young players in baseball. In addition to regulars
The Diamondbacks leveraged some of that young talent to get
And then something very odd happened to baseball's next growth franchise: It ground to a halt. Since that 19-7 start, Arizona is 71-84 while hitting .245 and scoring 4.1 runs per game. Nearly across the board, the development of its young stars has stalled -- except for that of Quentin, who has become a slugging sensation for the White Sox, not the Diamondbacks.
This season, despite a ridiculously favorable schedule in which it hasn't left Arizona since spring training began except for three games in San Francisco, Arizona has started 8-11 and lost Webb for at least six weeks with a shoulder injury and Drew for at least two weeks with a hamstring strain.
"I look at them now," the same GM said, "and I see a franchise in some crisis."
The Diamondbacks were built on the innings-eating durability of Webb and Haren and the certainty that Drew, Young and Upton would be major stars. What they have is a rotation that includes
"Carlos was always an experimenter," Arizona GM
Meanwhile, no one has stepped up for the Diamondbacks quite like Quentin. Jackson, 27, has been remarkably consistent in a rather middling kind of way. Young, 25, doesn't get on base nearly enough. Drew, 26, was off to a poor start trying to become a No. 3 hitter before his injury. And Upton, 21, recently finished the first 162 games of his major-league career with a .238 average and 17 home runs -- impressive, considering his age, but not quite the next
"We just haven't hit left-handed pitching," Byrnes said, "which is odd because I thought we were a little too right-handed."
The Diamondbacks are hitting .206 against lefties and are 2-7 when they see a left-handed starter. Arizona figures to improve greatly on those numbers, as their win over the Cubs and