By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jun 11, 2006 at 5:15 AM
No doubt you’ve heard the following, or have uttered the words yourself:

"Hey, it looks like (insert name of successful, highly-paid player whose team may be looking to trade him) is available, why not trade (insert name of underachieving, overpaid player on your favorite team) for him!"

Tune in to any sports talk show in town, or check out the message boards for the Brewers, and you’re sure to see that statement with the names Geoff Jenkins, Brady Clark, or even Doug Davis attached to the latter end.

Want some advice? Let it go.

While noble in theory, baseball fans always think a trade is the solution to their team’s woes. If a guy is struggling and another team is dangling a player that could make an impact or turn a season around, it’s natural to assume that a trade should be made.

But like most things in life, what looks simple on paper is much more complicated in practice.

Take Brady Clark, for example. The Brewers’ centerfielder has come on strong in recent weeks and owns a .286 batting average and an extremely respectable on-base percentage around .380.

Now, he may be somewhat attractive trade bait, but during the heart of his slump, the calls for his departure could be heard all over Bernie Brewer’s Kingdom.

Dontrelle Willis, the herky-jerky Florida Marlins’ lefthander was rumored to be available at the time (he's not, really) and his name was attached to more than one trade proposal.

Here’s where reality rears its ugly head.

While Milwaukee, admittedly, is a small media market often ignored by the big boys in Bristol, it’s not like we live in some sheltered society, hidden from the rest of the sporting universe like an athletic version of North Korea.

No general manager in his right mind would have taken Clark in exchange for a starting pitcher at the time. Especially an all-star caliber pitcher.  Especially an all-star pitcher who throws with his left hand.

The same goes for Geoff Jenkins, who has been the target of more than his fair share of criticism since signing a three-year, $23 million extension that will keep him with the team through next season with a club option for 2008.

Jenkins was an All Star in 2003, but has been plagued at times by freak injuries and inconsistent play. Every time he falls into a funk, or rumors circulate about another team’s desire to make a trade; Jenkins’ is one of the first names mentioned in reply.

Do you honestly think that the 2 million-plus fans that went to Miller Park last season are the only ones who know that Jenkins is a streaky hitter? Is it a national secret that the right fielder is a feast-or-famine type of guy that rarely takes a lot of walks, or that the situation got so dire that even Ned Yost -- one of the more patient managers in the game -- moved Jenkins into the No. 7 spot in the order Friday night against St. Louis?

No, it’s not. Other teams have seen Jenkins carry the team with a bat, and they’ve seen him struggle to find his stroke, as well. Add in the fact that he’s making roughly $8 million dollars this season, and it’s even less likely you’ll see him traded straight-up for a front line starting pitcher.

A trade requires two willing parties. Just because Team A has a player in the dumps does not automatically mean Team B will blindly take him, just because they want to cut salary.

You have to give up quality to get quality. If Jenkins or Clark are eventually traded, the only way the Brewers will get reasonable help for the future is if they starting tapping into the well of prospects they have in the minor-league system.

And even then, it would probably only provide short-term relief.

Is trading a guy that has the ability to carry you during a slump (Jenkins) or a guy that manages to find his way on base through any means possible (Clark), really worth mortgaging your future just to land an even more expensive player that could be gone in a year or two?

Eventually, Doug Melvin will have to make decisions regarding the future of Jenkins, Clark, and impending free agent Carlos Lee, who could be the team’s most viable trade candidate. No matter Melvin does -- and his track record has been pretty good to date -- he can be certain that there will be large blocks of fans waiting to criticize the move or pine for the next one.