As the Diamondbacks look back, one statistic hits them hard.

In one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball, the D-Backs were a middle-rung offensive team this season. Their 720 runs were 10th in the NL.

D-Backs notebook: Hitters to work on limiting strikeouts

That, general manager Josh Byrnes said, will not do.

“We need to be better at run scoring,” Byrnes said in his exit interview with the media Monday.

Without that, “it put demands on our pitching.”

The D-Backs actually improved their offense in 2008, if not their timing.

Without Eric Byrnes at full strength at any point of the season and Orlando Hudson missing the final seven weeks, they scored eight more runs than they did in winning the NL West in 2007.

They were a plus-14 in scoring rather than a minus-20 as in 2007, when they became the first team in history to have the best record in their league with a negative run differential.

“2008 could not have been more of a mirror image,” Josh Byrnes said. “In 2007, we were better than the underlying performance in many ways. In 2008, the opposite was true.”

Addressing the offense includes the basic belief that the young regulars — Chris Snyder, Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young and Justin Upton — will get better through repetition. Despite a perception to the contrary, perhaps based on potential more than realism, all did take a step forward this season, Drew a giant one.

“I do think our core group is very good,” Byrnes said. “We have young, talented players who can be here for a while, who — in many cases — have their best years in front of them or are in the middle of their prime.”

From there, the D-Backs’ direction remains to be seen, although they have no plans to explore the high end of the free-agent market, which would seem to rule out Adam Dunn’s return.

Dunn hit eight homers in six weeks with the D-Backs, but is not expected to play for less than the $13 million he made this season.

“It’s not who we are, as far as a business or baseball model,” Byrnes said of paying exorbitant salaries.

Any trade, unlike in previous seasons, “probably” will involve moving a major league player, Byrnes said, while the minor league system — used to acquire Randy Johnson and Dan Haren — regains its depth.

Without dealing a veteran — Eric Byrnes is to make $11 million next season, Chad Tracy $4.75 million — the D-Backs appear to have about $53 million allocated in salary and expected arbitration awards, three-quarters of their projected payroll.

The D-Backs will need a second baseman if Hudson, as expected, tests free agency. They could sign a veteran free agent for that spot — David Eckstein, Mark Ellis, et al — or, possibly, move Reynolds there.

If that happens, the D-Backs could return Tracy to third or enter the market for a bat there.

Byrnes said he had a brief conversation with Johnson — one of their seven free agents — on Sunday, but would not specify other than to say, “I think the general sentiment is kind of understood on both sides now.”

“But I think we have a lot of issues to pore through in the offseason with a very good free-agent class, him included. We need to make the best use of our resources to put a good team on the field.”

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