What’s going on with Javier Vazquez?

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Under normal circumstances, Javier Vazquez would do pretty well in this weak free agent market for starting pitchers. The 35-year-old right-hander was awful over the first two and a half months this past season, but finished with a 1.92 ERA and 115/19 K/BB ratio over 126 2/3 innings in his final 19 starts. Only Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw had a lower ERA over the same timespan.

Of course, these aren’t normal circumstances.

Vazquez indicated that he was leaning toward retirement at the end of the season. He hasn’t made an official announcement yet, so his plans for 2012 remain a mystery. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com hears that the Marlins aren’t expecting him back and are looking at alternatives for their starting rotation. Meanwhile, one MLB executive told Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com yesterday that he believes Vazquez will pitch in 2012.

If Vazquez decides to return, the options will probably be pretty limited. Not because the market will be thin, but because he prefers to pitch on the East Coast in order to make it easier to travel to his home in Puerto Rico.

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.