Aramis Ramirez is your guy. He can bat 5 behind Howard and this lineup will have opposing pitcher with brown stians on their pants and not from sliding. Recent rumors seems to point to him returning to the Cubs, So you will have to act fast and spend cash. The second tier here is a big drop off to guys like Tony Graffanino or Aubrey Huff. Aaron Rowand or Ryan Madson could bring you Adrian Beltre from Seattle as they seem ready to make some changes and have been unhappy with him.
As I noted yesterday, I think we are stuck with Burrell. You need a trade for a right fielder. What can Rowand and Mathieson get you? Trot Nixon is also a possibility. He's a tough guy and good in the clubhouse. The fans would love him. I also think you need a guy who can play a little first base to give Howard a break now and then. If the proposed Seattle firesale materializes, find out if Ichiro is available. He could play right or center and bat anywhere in the lineup. Of course everyone else will want him.
If you aren't bringing Leiberthal back, what is the plan? The A's have cooled on Daric Barton and he has had a few off-field issues, but umm, THE GUY CAN PLAY. He would be a young guy who could play a number of positions and could very well be the catcher of the next 5-10 years. You've got some flexibility here with here with Coste and Ruiz, so take a chance. Make a deal. the guy is in the minors, the A's are tough to work with, but that's why we are paying you.
I think it's time to go with youth here. My space here is limited, but I think you need 2 arms. There are a million guys available out here, but even if you go with the youth, go back and get Rheal Cormier. The guy can still pitch and leftys in the bullpen are like gold. Whatever you do, don't lose Geary. Charlie
The guy lost us at least 4 games I can think of this year. There's your wildcard. Yeah the guys seemingly like playing for him, but they would prefer a parade. Make a change. Dusty Baker? Joe Girardi? I think you can do better, but both are available.
You need to make some moves, or this is another .500 team next year. Your fans will be in open revolt if you don't make some moves. Your players will follow. You've had success as a GM. We believe in you. Bring us the parade!!