Actually it's more like using last night's game as a jumping point from where to start a discussion about filling our needs. Before the game last night I looked at the lineup and saw four areas of weakness: Catcher, second base, left field, and shortstop. How'd they do? Well, Danny Ardoin happily had me eating crow and Cory Sullivan had two hits, but Aaron Miles and Desi Relaford combined to go one for nine on a night where even Franchise was hitting well. But I do want to look at all the position players we have a litlle closer today, analyze what we need and try and determine where and how these needs are best met, by mid-season trade right now, by prospect depth, or by off season trade or free agent acquisition.
Current starter: J D CLosser
Current back-up: Danny Ardoin, Todd Greene
Assessment: Ardoin and Greene actually could combine to be an offensively serviceable number one catcher, but the problem is none of these three really have what it takes defensively. Ardoin called a nice game for Franchise last night, and if I see a little more ability to control runners, maybe I'll change that assessment, but right now I still say we need to be looking at replacing one of these three with a legit starting catcher and letting another one of these to walk.
I'm beginning to think free agency might not actually be the way to go here after all. Outside of the Padres' Ramon Hernandez there aren't a whole lot of appealing choices. In the event he proves out of our price range or unavailable, the next best option would to be to try and trade for one from a team that has a catcher to spare. Could JD eventually come back? It's possible, particularly at the plate, but I'm very skeptical on the defense at this point as I haven't heard of very many stories of catchers all the sudden finding good D where there wasn't any before. Right now it looks like we have three offensive backups without the multitalented front-person contenders need. Chris Ianetta won't be ready until 2007 it looks like at this point, so we'll need to at least look for a useful fill-in until we can try out the next home-grown talent then.
Current Starter: Aaron Miles
Current back-ups: Luis Gonzalez, Eddy Garabito
Assessment: Another major need heading into the offseason. Heck, it's a pretty big need right now. Put simply, Aaron Miles doesn't generate enough offense for the position to be viable on a lineup which isn't packed everywhere else. Sure he's a scrappy glove man and he has loads of heart, but he's not an everyday major league 2-bagger. Would Lui Go-go be any better? Probably, but I think his greatest value to the team will ultimately be in doing what he's doing right now, that is just being a roving super utility guy when other players need a break. Eddy's another good story, but maybe not a good long term solution.
Prescription: Already we see the front office working on it in trying to acquire talented AAA middle infielders like Ronny Cedeno and Josh Wilson from organizations they are talking trade with. As with catcher, the organization's own top talent (Matt Macri, Troy Tulowitzky, maybe Jayson Nix) is still a couple of years away from being an influence on the major league roster, so these moves are to fill in until there is a real competition, and besides, stockpiling middle infielders with bats was never a bad idea as far as future trading chips are concerned. The free agent market in the offseason doesn't promise to have much, maybe Mark Loretta, maybe Akinori Iwamura from Japan (he's more of a third baseman, anyway) and it might be expensive so I like Dan O'Dowd's current tack of filling the gap now by trying to exploit desperate postseason competitors.