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Carlos Gonzalez signs minor league deal with Indians

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The Cleveland Indians have signed Carlos Gonzalez to a minor league contract.

If you had told me a few short years ago that CarGo would be signing a minor league deal in 2019 I’d have called you crazy, yet here we are. Two bad years and the perception — earned, I’ll add — that his numbers are primarily a function of Coors Field has a lot to do with that, of course.

While he hit .298/.350/.505 with 25 homers and 100 driven in in 2016, over the past two seasons he has hit a combined .232/.269/.334. For his career — all but 85 games of which have been with the Rockies — he’s a .323/.381/.592 hitter at home and a .251/.307/.420 hitter on the road. He has also hit 53 more homers at home than on the road in a close to equal number of games. His platoon splits are also sharp, with Gonzalez featuring a substantially higher batting line against righties than lefties, both at home and on the road.

All of which is to say: it’s possible he can hit well elsewhere, but there isn’t a ton of data to support the notion, and there is no reason to believe he can hit lefties. Oh, and his defensive reputation, burnished by three Gold Glove Awards, is overstated. Most metrics show him as a sub-par outfielder these days.

All of that being said, the Indians’ outfield is a thin gruel, consisting of Jordan Luplow in left and Tyler Naquin in right with Jake Bauers possibly featuring in the corner mix as well. Which means that Gonzalez stands a pretty good chance of making the team. If he does, he will get a $2 million deal with $1 million possible in incentives. If he does not, he can opt-out of this deal in April.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.