For months now, we've been reading constant calls to DFA this player or that player. Now that July 31 is astern, we're hearing daily cries to put one player or another on waivers.
Note - the following paragrah is background information before I get into the main discussion:
I am going to start by saying I have been very critical of Jim Hendry. I think he spends too much money on mediocre players who draw little interest elsewhere, which contributes a lot more to the Cubs' payroll being inflexible then contracts to legitimate contributors. I was ok with the Soriano deal, because they needed to change the perception of the Cubs not being interested or able to get the big names. Yes, Beltran would have been a better move, but at the point in time when Soriano was signed - not before or after - it wasn't the worst thing in the world to do for the franchise. The deals of J.Jones, Miles, Perez, Rusch, etc., thinking Gathright, Izturis, etc. could be contributors are the decisions that bother me.
Having established that I'm not impressed with Hendry as a GM, I will say that I don't think the man is an idiot. There are certain things that all GMs do as a matter of course, and I'll get into that later.
Now the main point:
This is not fantasy baseball, Pursue the Pennant, Strat-O-Matic or any other simulated baseball game of your choice. No one is going to trade their good players for the Cubs' crap, nor should anyone expect to be taken seriously if they suggest such a deal is viable.
DFA is not a wonder drug that cures an underperforming team's ailments. You don't prescribe the DFA pill to a player and have him magically get better. You also don't DFA a player in the first half of his first season of a multi-year contract, unless he has done something so egregious as to make a continued relationship with the team untenable. It simply is not realistic - if you do this, you are likely on the hook for the entire remainder of the contract, less the prorated share of the league minimum IF someone else picks that player up. A trade is still possible, but it is very much a buyer's market.
On to the flavor of the day: Put them on waivers! That'll clear up payroll!
Virtually every player is put on waivers immediately after the trading deadline. Despite what the cerebral likes of Rob Dibble might think, in addition to being noted in numerous articles, it's common sense. This is where the Hendry part comes in. I don't think he's a great GM, but he's not stupid and would not be negligent as to forget to do this - AND HE HAS A STAFF THAT WOULD REMIND HIM.
If you wait until now to put someone on waivers, it's a stronger signal that a deal is imminent - and a signal that someone else might want to think about making a claim if they want to block a deal that would make the team ahead of them stronger. By placing everyone on waivers right away, it makes it less likely players would be claimed, thus more likely to make deals.
Some of you will cry, "Billy Wagner!" Well, he was on a rehab assignment. I'm not saying ALL players are placed on waivers, but most are. You can pull the waivers back if someone makes a claim, so there is no risk in doing it.
Waivers are not used during the season to send a message to players. Say again: Waivers are NOT used during the season to send a message to players.
To everyone who chooses to disagree with the above, and thinks this is a clever new way to dump Soriano, I ask you: WHO THE HELL IS GOING TO CLAIM HIM? If the Cubs don't think that he's worth keeping, do you honestly believe that someone else is going to be stupid enough to take on that contract, given how he has looked most of this year? Really? REALLY?
I'm just as frustrated as the rest of you with how the Cubs look. And I think Al would say that suggestions on improving the team should be part of what BCB is. But the same non-starter suggestion dozens of times a day . . . it's just not going to happen.