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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.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]