What shall we do? Darwin faces a lot of tough decisions.
In the pitching department, John Smoltz is down and Jose Contreras has been yanked from the rotation. The clubhouse's mood when Contreras starts had become intolerable, with the big Cuban's bad body language bringing the whole club down. So, enter Chad Billingsley with another chance at winning a rotation spot, and an open audition in the meantime while Smoltz is on the mend.
So far, Yovani Gallardo (12.00 ERA) hasn't been the answer. The club will next audition Dustin McGowan and see how that fares. In any case, things are hardly optimal.
All of those gray clouds pale, however, in comparison with the travails that the offense is experiencing:
Eric Chavez, it seems, will soon be lost for the year. Chipper Jones is having his bi-annual time on the DL that seems to always cost him about a fifth of the season. Utilityman Billy Hall is nursing a sprained ankle and will miss at least 10 more days at well. And David Ortiz? I've had to quit playing him in the field altogether. He was never a good 1B, but now, with all the aches and pains he's trying to play through, it just isn't realistic to trot him out there.
Perhaps most galling, however, is the 32 (count 'em, THIRTY-TWO) errors at short committed by Carlos Guillen. You might say, shoot, go ahead and bench the guy, you've got to have defense at short. But Guillen is my best hitter for average by far, one of my run producers, and Khalil Greene (a slick defender) is hitting below .200.
The only good news in all of that is that Darwin can move Lance Berkman to full-time 1B duty and maybe give Lastings Milledge or Corey Patterson some playing time. Perhaps we will move Guillen to third and see how that goes until Hall gets back, but right now we just aren't scoring runs like the other clubs in our division.
Now, Darwin has tried to improve itself. We've had deals in the works for veteran catching and utility types, trying to add some speed and some versatility. But there seem to be snags everywhere, and less than 10 games left till the trading deadline. We aren't the only desperate club by a long shot, but there is definitely more pressure on us this year knowing we have a real chance at a playoff berth and not wanting to blow it!