Anybody out there want to be a general manager? What the heck. We'll hire you.
Why not? After all, in this great modern world we live in, you no longer need to have been a scout for 30 years to get a GM gig. You don't need an assistant GM title on your business card anymore, either. And best we can tell, it's even OK if your career hit total is the same as Jessica Simpson's.
Clearly then, it's only a matter of time before some team out there takes the plunge and hires a fan to run its team. So why not us? We love to be ahead of the curve here at ESPN.com. So we've done it. We're going where no team has dared to go.
We've allowed you, our readers, to play GM, in a special this-week-only offer. We've been collecting your trade proposals. By the hundreds. By the thousands. By the, uh, wastebasket full.
And now that we've looked over the submissions, it's your time, your moment, your 12.6 seconds of fame.
We've selected a group of the most (pick one) intriguing, feasible, thoughtful, insightful and (because we couldn't help ourselves) downright hilarious trade ideas we've received. Then we ran them past scouts and front-office people for a reality check.
So now that that process is complete, here it is, for entertainment purposes only -- an inspirational December edition of Readers Make The Trades.
Don't Try This At Home Division
Here's an example of how the GM business is not conducted, from a reader we're just conjecturing could be a Yankees fan (possibly):
Yankees send Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Jorge Posada, third-base prospect Eric Duncan and dollar bills to Cardinals for Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Yadier Molina and Jason Isringhausen.
When we dangled that goofy brainstorm in front of our panel of trained professionals, the laugh track sounded like the Seinfeld episode when George Costanza was dragging the World Series trophy from the back of his car in an attempt to get fired by the Yankees.
"I think the Yankees might make that deal," one executive said, with a chuckle, "if the Cardinals would just put [Scott] Rolen in it."
"Couldn't the Yankees get a couple of pitchers thrown in, too?" said one laughing AL official.
Hoo boy. You folks need to behave, or we're never going to do another one of these columns again for the rest of our career. Understood? Fine. Let's move on.
Barry Zito Division
You can't do a column like this without including at least one juicy Barry Zito deal. So here come two for the price of one.
Option 1: From New Yorker Kevin Barrett -- Mets trade pitcher Aaron Heilman and outfield prospect Lastings Milledge to Oakland for Zito.
OK, now we're talking. The A's are telling teams they're not interested in dealing Zito, "for now." But they've also said, according to an official of one club that has talked to them, that they might hum a different tune "if it's a can't-refuse type deal."
Well, that Mark Teixeira swap might just qualify -- from the vantage point of A's GM Billy Beane, at least. The trouble with this trading stuff, though, is that two teams need to be on board. And Texas couldn't be further off that board if you moved it to Tanzania.
There isn't "anything you could offer them that would make them move Teixeira," said one AL executive. "So that deal is total fiction."
That Mets trade, on the other hand, might get both teams' attention. Heilman and Milledge aren't quite in Oakland's "can't-refuse" category. But they are in the "have-to-think-about-it" category. So the big issue here is: Would Mets GM Omar Minaya make this offer, not knowing whether he could sign Zito beyond next year?
"I thought Omar said, after they traded all their other prospects, that they're not trading Milledge," said an official of one team. "Of course, he probably said the same thing before he traded Gaby Hernandez [for Paul Lo Duca] and Yusmeiro Petit [for Carlos Delgado], too."
Miguel Tejada Division
We don't think Tejada is going to get traded. And most of the Tejada e-mails we perused consisted either of rumors that are already out there or deals the Orioles would laugh about from now to pitchers-and-catchers day. But how about this idea?
Would either side consider this trade? Well, the key word there is "consider." Would they consider it? Yep. Make it? Dubious.
The Orioles do need a closer. And if they do trade Tejada, according to one team that has window-shopped for him, they want "a marquee name" back. Lidge qualifies, even if he's a ninth-inning marquee name, as opposed to a cleanup-hitter marquee name.
But an official of another club said there's only one kind of star Baltimore would take for Tejada -- and that's another big bat, period. They want "the same type of player back." Otherwise, they can't justify it -- no matter how much Lidge might turn their heads.
OK, so how about Houston's end? The Astros have actually told teams they would be "open-minded" about dealing Lidge, even if they'd enjoy it as much as they liked making about 200 consecutive outs with men on base in the World Series.
But if they do trade Lidge, it would have to be for offense -- and, according to one NL executive, "a bona-fide star" who plays every day. We'd say Tejada fits that definition. Wouldn't you?
The Astros, in general, are reluctant to take the defensive hit they would inflict on themselves by moving Everett for just about anybody. But if the new shortstop were named Tejada, that wouldn't involve much suffering.
So now that we've gotten you interested, here's the biggest reason this deal will never happen: Ever-frugal Astros owner Drayton McLane would be a good bet to land in intensive care after he peruses Tejada's contract ($48 million owed in salary for the next four years, plus a sizable remaining chunk of a $12-million signing bonus).
Some of the most fun proposals we got involved the Cubs. But we're tossing out the stuff that can't possibly happen and examining a couple of lower-level ideas that seem, at least on the surface, to be almost reasonable:
Hmmm. What do we make of these? Well, the first deal doesn't work for several reasons: (1) The Cubs want to add a left-handed-hitting outfielder, and Michaels doesn't qualify; (2) The Cubs aren't one of the teams that has shown much interest in Michaels this winter: and (3) the Phillies are looking for a pitcher who can fit their rotation right now for Michaels, not a guy with a chance to be a No. 2-type starter down the road.
"To be honest," said one front-office man, "Rich Hill is worth a lot more than that. Everyone in baseball was asking about Rich Hill at the winter meetings. So he's not getting traded for a fourth outfielder."
All right, so that's out. But how about the Vidro deal? That one would work for the Cubs, because they've been looking to export both Patterson and Walker -- and Vidro, if healthy, would be a middle-infield upgrade. But ask yourselves this: Why would the Nationals ever make that trade?
"If they move Vidro, and he's healthy, they wouldn't do that if they're not getting pitching back," said an official of one team that has talked with Washington. "So that one makes a lot of sense for the Cubs -- and not a lot of sense for the Nationals."
Texas Two-Step Division
We keep waiting for the Rangers' next deal. And so, apparently, do the readers. Here are a couple of trades our amateur GMs came up with:
That Pittsburgh deal is a fun one to kick around. But it sure isn't happening. In case no one noticed, Oliver Perez had a 5.85 ERA this season. But the Pirates are marketing him as a No. 1 starter. So this trade breaks down right there.
"If you could guarantee me Oliver Perez would win 16 games next year instead of six, I'd make that deal," said one member of our panel. "But this guy is way too loose a cannon to give up what they're asking for him."
Deal No. 2, on the other hand, is far from crazy. In fact, there are rumblings it was even discussed at one point. The Cardinals have been trying to sign a free-agent starting pitcher to make Marquis expendable. And they can't trade him until (or unless) they do.
But if they could afford to give up Marquis, Mench is exactly the kind of young outfield bat they've been looking for in return -- and Marquis is precisely the kind of pitcher the Rangers have been trying to get back if they deal Mench.
"Now that," said a scout, "is a pretty reasonable proposal."
And they said it couldn't be done.
Johan Santana Comic-Relief Division
Ah, just when it looked as if we'd injected some sanity into these proceedings, you folks went and fell right off the wagon.
We'll start with this burst of insanity:
"I have a question," said one member of our panel when we laid out this deal. "Was this person in Antarctica last season (when Ortiz was going 5-11, 6.89)?"
We'll take that as a "no way" and move on to the single most crazed proposal we came across from any of you GM wannabes -- and we quote it verbatim:
"I would like to see JOHAN SANTANA TRADED TO THE CARDINALS FOR ALBERT PUJOLS. I think Pujols is the most overrated player in the history of baseball. I live in St. Louis and I watch Pujols choke more in clutch situations than any other player on the team. I want the Cardinals to get rid of his salary and start to play some other bum in his position! What are the chances of this trade going through???"
Hmmm. What are the chances, huh? What's zero times 1 billion equal? That would be the chances.
"You might want to ask Brad Lidge whether Pujols ever comes through in the clutch," suggested one of our trained professionals, helpfully.
We're not going to identify the reader who sent us this deal, in order to allow him to lead a healthy and happy life for many more years. But when one ESPN.com employee noticed this e-mail address ended in "midwestbankcentre.com," his observation was: "Albert Pujols must have taken all his money out of that bank, don't you think?"
Well, that's about as logical an explanation for this abomination as any. But even if that were true, let this be a lesson to every one of you aspiring GMs out there in cyberspace:
When it comes time to make a deal, you can't allow your emotions, your frustrations, your personal biases or your accumulating gambling debts to influence your baseball decisions.
If you don't want to get fired within the first 15 minutes, you must make the very best judgments you can make for your team, regardless of any extenuating external circumstance -- even if it may just have thrown you into Chapter 11.
So we'll ignore those last two knucklehead ideas and commend you folks for an amateur-GM job well done. Feel free to start sending out those resumes and GM job applications. And if you ever get hired, remember this:
The only thanks we ask is that you leak every single trade you ever make to us before you announce it.
Randy Johnson (103), Mark Mulder (97), Andy Pettitte (91), Tom Glavine (88) and (surprise) Jamie Moyer (87). Tied with Zito at 86 is David Wells. One behind: Mark Buehrle, with 85.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.