Scene: A Hollywood set with faux wood-paneled walls, painted white with free-form day-glo colored blotches used as decoration. Three Sky Blue barstools sit on one side of a partition while a single Spring Green barstool awaits a person on the other side of the partition.
Cheesy 1970s game show music fades in and tacky audience clap track follows a few seconds behind. A man with a cream colored leisure suit walks out onto the stage holding a microphone longer than his arm and is followed to a podium in the corner by a single spotlight.
The music fades out and the man starts talking...
Flip: Hello everyone. I'm Flip Weebank. Welcome to another exciting episode of the General Manager's Dating Game, the show where we try to pair up one executive with the player of his dreams. But to find that perfect match, the GM must wade through a group of three likely free agent candidates while factoring in his current roster, his team's pressing needs and the potential fall-out from the Lunatic Fringe if he makes the wrong choice.
Today we have a special show for you on the fringe, one that is going to create more friction than a Hot Stove in December. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to today's mystery contestant - Brian Sabean.
Free agent Number One is a 40-year-old basher from Phoenix. Please welcome Steve.
Free agent Number Two is a 5-tool player prone to injury whose agent is the most hated man in baseball. Please say hello to JD.
Free agent Number Three is actually a right fielder, but his Bay Area ties and low-risk, high-reward potential make him a continuing topic of discussion Please put your hands together for Jermaine.
Brian: Free agent #1, if I were to put Free agent #3 in my outfield, what would the fan reaction be?
Steve: Well, Brian, do you remember Kevin McReynolds? Audience laughs... Either that or you could just slap one of Michael Tucker's spare jerseys on that guy. No one would notice.
Brian: Thank you #1. Free agent #2, what would happen if I put Free agent #1 in my outfield?
JD: Well, Brian, I am a God-fearing man and cannot allow myself to degrade other people. But I can say that you would make a killing selling your outfield to Geritol. Plus, to get him, you'd have to outspend the Tigers. There are only so many 3-year deals you can hand out to the 40-something set before at least one set of dentures bites you in the ass.
Brian: Thanks #2. Now, #3, can you tell me the fan effect of having free agent #2 in my outfield?
Jermaine: Well, Brian, for the 85-to-100 games you'd have him each year, he would be a good fit. But if you want to spend 162-game-a-year money on a 100-game-a-year ballplayer, that's your choice.
Flip: OK Brian, now onto your final round of questions.
Brian: Thanks Flip. Free Agent #1: My ultimate goal is to get a World Series ring in the next two years, but my boss likes to make things difficult. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, how can you help me reach my goal?
Steve: Well, Brian, I really enjoy getting outrageous contract offers from teams that have no chance for the postseason during the life of my contract, but I really want to win it all again. I would be willing to accept a third year on my deal but reduce the total cost of my contract. Plus, with me on your team, you wouldn't have to worry about me killing your playoff hopes with huge grand slams late in the game.
Brian: That's good. #3, what could YOU do to help me reach my ultimate goal?
Jermaine: Well, Brian, I would be willing to take a 1-year deal with an option for year 2 just like every other right fielder you've signed in the past decade. Plus, being fully recovered from my freak injuries, I would hit 20-25 home runs a year, giving you a legitimate #5 hitter.
Brian: OK, #3 that's good. Finally, #1, can you tell me what it is you would do to help me achieve my goal while staying under my boss' constraints?
JD: Well, Brian, I would love to -
JD's microphone suddenly turns off and a man dressed in an expensive suit with money dropping out of every pocket comes running out to the studio floor. He grabs Flip's microphone and commands that every camera in the studio focus on him and him alone. He starts talking...
Hello. My name is Scott and I "represent" JD in all matters. Right now, I am instructing my client not to answer that question. He does not play games and make concessions for anyone, especially when I can hire an army of statisticians to draw any conclusion that will get my client top dollar. This charade is over. If you want to choose Free agent #2, you can do so through my office.
Scott hands the microphone back to Flip and drags JD off the set like a 4-year-old after being told he could not have that new toy.
Flip: Well, Brian. You have to make your choice. Will it be Free agent Number One, Free agent Number two and his overbearing Gorilla agent, or Free agent # 3?
Stay tuned to the offseason madhouse for the stunning conclusion.