Where do we go now?
How to recover from a disastrous series in the home of one of baseball's best teams? Here's what I would do if I was calling the shots:
1. Reggie Willits plays everyday, and in the outfield. He's an on-base machine, and we need him there. He should hit 1st or 2nd behind Figgins. If he's in the lineup, he's a better defensive player than Anderson, Guerrero, Matthews, Rivera...pretty much anybody except Hunter. So playing him at DH makes no sense on the field. It makes sense in that the high priced veterans complain, say "I'm an everyday player, not a DH" while Reggie will not complain, knowing that the team has options to send him back to Salt Lake City any time. He's just happy to be in the big leagues, and happy if he's put in the lineup. But if we don't put our best offensive and defensive configuration out there, we are costing ourselves games. Do we want to give this division to Oakland or claim what is rightfully ours?
2. Juan Rivera needs to be traded. Rivera will get his bat going when he's given regular playing time. That is not happening on this team, and he's unlikely to get hot playing once or twice a week. He's not in our 2009 plans, as he's a free agent after the year. His value isn't high, but deal him now, for a minor league pitcher we can roll the dice on or something.
3. That puts Vlad, Hunter, and Willits in the outfield everyday. The last spot goes to either Anderson or Matthews, depending on who you like better that day. I see a lot more time on the bench for these two. Right now it would be Anderson playing and Matthews sitting. Consider getting a real DH to fill that last spot as well. I won't bring up he who shall not be signed again, but there are other options. Good hitters without a position are always available. Get a Duncan (Shelley from the Yanks or Chris from the Cards), Nelson Cruz, Dan Johnson, Ben Broussard, Mike Piazza, Joe Dillon...I could go on for days listing guys. Maybe let our latest PCL batting superstar, Matt Brown, try out the DH spot.
4. Justin Speier, I've seen enough. Mopup work only for him. That leaves only 3 trustworthy relievers (Oliver, Shields, K-Rod). It may be time to see what we can find in a trade. Does Baltimore want to hold onto George Sherrill now that their illusions of contending are over? San Diego is headed nowhere, perhaps we can interest them in a prospect or two for Heath Bell?
5. Fear not for the rotation as Lackey will be back soon.
6. Erick Aybar. Love the defense, but he's not a #2 hitter. Let him bat 9th. Top of the order options, depending on who's healthy: Figgins-Willits, Figgins-Kendrick, Willits-Kotchman.