There's no facet of the game where this team currently excels. The offense is off-kilter, the defense erratic, the starting pitchers can't go past 5 or 6 innings, and the bullpen has an implosion pretty much every night.
Dusty keeps talking like he's not fazed, but he's got to be going crazy -- because nothing's going right, there are brush fires all over the place, and no sanctuaries from what's looking like a brutal and devastating firestorm. If the firestorm isn't quelled in another month or two, it won't just be Cairo or Ondrusek who are sacrified, it won't be Masset or Stubbs, it won't be Harang or Phillips, it will be Dusty himself and his line management crew who'll be sent to hit the dusty trail.
How do you rectify this ship? If it was up to me, I'd start with defense. We're getting pinged, dinged and slinged from all corners, so it's time to hunker down in the trenches, and fight back with the one element we know is our greatest existing strength. Time to play Janish as often as Cabrera, Hanigan as often as Hernandez, and Dickerson pretty much daily while resting either Stubbs or Gomes.
I'm not advocating that Cabrera, Hernandez and Stubbs/Gomes all get benched at the same time but I'd like to see a more defense-oriented than offense-oriented lineup. Our pitching is suspect, both starters and relievers, so we have to adjust accordingly. It shouldn't hurt to make the transition with Janish, Hanigan and Dickerson all wielding a hot bat, so far in 2010.
Once the defense gels, then the other dominoes will start to fall into place. That won't happen all at once or miraculously, but this team cannot win if it's average, below-average or flailing at every phase of the game. We have the in-house potential to be the most dominant defensive team in the majors, so let's do it, let's get that one foundation stone laid.
Then we can sort out which of the many available starters are best equipped to carry us forward through the rest of 2010 and on into 2011 and 2012. The bullpen will probably always be a work in progress, as it is for most teams. The offense -- we know Votto and Rolen are golden, and so we're halfway home there as well. Better to be making some progress, however limited, than to be mired in a swamp fending off gators at every turn.