Dr Bill,The shooter has the better position, clearly, playing the cue ball to the bottom rail is fruitless and incorrect. If at all possible you must try to play the cue ball up table in some fashion. Steve's option with kicking to the top right quadrant of the table is an option that I would strongly consider especially if i'm playing an opponent who isn't a strong ball striker. Even then if my opponent is a fairly strong ball striker Steve's option is still viable because of the risk/vs return value the option has.
Another option that I see that is also available is playing through the 11ball and going up table with the cue ball. This option will leave your opponent with a fairly simple return off the 4ball but his return could possibly leave you with a good return off either the 4ball or 7ball. Also playing off the 11ball could leave your opponent with a return off the 6ball, this return plays much more difficult than the return off the 4ball for your opponent which puts him in a ..'must perform" situation.
The reason you must go up table with the cue ball is because you are giving yourself a chance to further develop your position with little to no risk, and could possibly find yourself in a very advantageous position if your opponent doesn't execute his return shot well. Remember that in positions like this one playing your shot where the cue ball is left on the bottom rail is surrendering your position.
Hopefully I have instilled some strong principles in strategic play when balls are configured close to the way they are here.
I think I understand what you are suggesting. Since my opponent has contributed to accumulating my side with balls in an attempt to replay his defensive position in front of my pocket, the best thing to do is to force him to perform from the worst possible position, locked to the top rail. I suppose i've been focused on evaluating MY risk-vs.-reward scenarios, but the dimension I should add to my gave is evaluating HIS risk-vs.-reward scenarios too. Thinking this way, I now see a bunch of options.