Giants probably not a playoff team without Melky Cabrera

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With Melky Cabrera done for at least the rest of the regular season after testing positive for enhanced testosterone levels, the Giants may well fall short of the playoffs this year. Though perhaps that’s for the best, given that the cheater is a big reason they’re tied for the NL West lead at the moment.

Cabrera has hit .346/.390/.516 with 11 homers, 60 RBI and 13 steals this season. That .906 OPS was good for eighth place in the National League. It was also 97 points higher than his 2011 mark with the Royals and 177 points higher than his career mark of .729 entering the season.

Baseball-reference WAR places Cabrera as the NL’s fourth-best position player this season. Fangraphs WAR rates him the 11th best.

Needless to say, the team’s fallbacks don’t compare. Nate Schierholtz will be missed, since he was included in the Hunter Pence trade. Gregor Blanco, whose role was reduced when Pence arrived, figures to see a lot more action now. He’s hitting just .232/.329/.343 for the season, and he’s at .137/.297/.196 in 51 at-bats since the All-Star break. Justin Christian figures to return to the majors to replace Cabrera on the roster.

Perhaps the Giants will go get Alfonso Soriano from a Cubs team perfectly willing to cover a big portion of his salary. He’d replace Melky’s power, though not his on-base ability. Aubrey Huff, on the DL with a strained knee, could factor into the mix in left next month, but it’s nothing the Giants can count on.

The Giants simply can’t afford any drop-off and still expect to reach the playoffs. They’re tied with the Dodgers for the NL West lead, but the Dodgers are playing better baseball at the moment. Their 64-53 record is tied for fifth-best in the NL. As things stand now, both the Braves and Pirates have better records in the wild card spots, with the Cardinals just a half-game behind.

Cabrera will be eligible to play beginning with the Giants’ fifth game of the postseason if the team does advance, but that would turn into a farce if it happens. It’d be another black mark for baseball if Cabrera could get a PED suspension and still be a postseason hero in the same year.

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.