Juan Samuel could wind up back with Philly

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No, not as a second basemen or outfielder, sadly. As a first base coach. That according to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, who notes that Samuel did not take part in the Orioles’ organizational meetings last week and may be in line to take over Davey Lopes’ old job with the Phils.

The last time I said something about first base coaches — I think I dismissed their importance — a lot of you countered with the notion that they’re important to have for base stealing purposes, as they see every opposing pitcher on every pitch, and thus are invaluable in teaching their own base runners how to read moves and stuff.  It’s an excellent and rather obvious point, in hindsight, that I’m rather embarrassed that I didn’t consider.

Which also makes me understand why so many Phillies fans were sad to see Lopes go. In his career he was an 80% base stealer. Samuel, in contrast, was only successful about two-thirds of the time. While the Phillies are perceived as a take-and-rake kind of team, the fact is that they were fourth in the NL in stolen bases in 2010, and were caught stealing fewer times than every single team in the league.  You probably have to give Davy Lopes credit for that, and you probably have to wonder if Juan Samuel — who was a less-successful base stealer than his speed should have had him being — will be able to maintain that kind of success.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.