Astros release struggling second baseman Bill Hall

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The Astros announced following last night’s game that they have decided to release struggling second baseman Bill Hall.

Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Hall will be placed on unconditional release waivers, clearing the way for Jason Bourgeois to return from the disabled list.

While Hall thrived as a utility player with the Red Sox last season, he has struggled miserably as the regular second baseman with the Astros. The 33-year-old has batted just .224/.272/.340 with two home runs, 13 RBI and an ugly 55/8 K/BB ratio over 158 plate appearances. Jeff Keppinger recently took away his starting job, so this is essentially Ed Wade’s way of saying “my bad.”

“I don’t know that he’s going to be able to get that opportunity here with Keppinger coming back and playing real well and Sanchez needing some time too,” Mills said. “We hope that this is an opportunity to go out and get some time and play someplace.”

It’s pretty refreshing, really. Assuming Hall passes through waivers as expected, the Astros will be responsible for his entire $3 million salary this season and the $250,000 buyout on his mutual option for 2012.

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.