Spring Postcard: Webb, young D-Backs look to bounce back
Hinch, a Stanford man and former Olympian, is probably a fundamental kind of guy anyway, but following last year's disastrous season -- he believes they're lifting what he calls the "black cloud'' of 2010 -- Hinch has them working OT on the basics. His good work didn't show in the spring opener, however, as they played a sloppy game in an 11-1 defeat to the rival Rockies. A particular problem was which base to cover in that game.
Last year, Webb's shoulder issue came to light on Opening Day. He pitched that day, and never again last year. His pain became an omen for the season. "Losing Webb on Opening Day was a catalyst,'' Hinch said. Once again, he could be the key to the year. With Webb at his best, he and
Unless he loses his nerve,
The organization's top prospect,
Experience needed, and the more the better. Veterans Howry,
If Webb is back to being the pitcher who finished in the top three in Cy Young voting three straight times, they will have one of the best tops to any rotation in baseball, right there with the Cardinals, Mariners and Red Sox. Dan Haren, who will start Opening Day, looks primed for another big season after leading the majors with a 1.00 WHIP in 2009, so if Webb -- who's temporarily penciled in for game No. 3 but may have to be pushed back a couple weeks after a sluggish start to spring -- can regain his form, they can match anyone.
Two rising stars, Upton and Reynolds, grace the lineup. Reynolds hit 44 home runs, has light-tower power and good athleticism (he's a plus defender and stealer of 24 bases) while Upton carries MVP potential. He hit .300 with 26 home runs at age 21 last year and is thought to be only scratching the surface of his potential. The D-Backs obviously think so also, or they wouldn't have given him a $51.25 million, six-year extension early in spring.
There's a lot of young talent here, but there remains a question whether it's their time yet, especially after the disappointments and disarray of last year. The rotation could be dynamic, but the bullpen remains a question without a dominant closer (tough veteran Chad Qualls is back to handle the duties) and very dependent on kids (
There are some seemingly big names in a clubhouse that's thought to have some anonymity:
It's time for a huge bounce-back year for the team, and especially for Young, the talented center fielder who provided hope with a big September that brought him over the Mendoza line, from .188 all the way to .212. Young, a smart kid (his reported 1250 SAT is among the highest in the league), needs to figure out how to get back to where he was couple of years ago. And so does the team. Here, they all believe it can be done.