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Cubs outfielder Carlos Gonzalez cleared waivers and elected free agency after being designated for assignment last week, manager Joe Maddon told reporters today (Twitter link via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune).

Gonzalez, 33, joined the Cubs on his second minor league deal of the season in late May and was selected to the Major League roster just days later. Unfortuately, CarGo’s time in Chicago didn’t go much better than his brief stint in Cleveland. After hitting .210/.282/.276 through 117 plate appearances with the Indians, Gonzalez batted only .175/.306/.300 in 49 plate appearances with the Cubs. He’s punched out in 31.3 percent of his plate appearances between the two teams.

While there’s plenty of name value attached to Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star and former MVP candidate, it’s been a few years since he delivered particularly strong offense. Dating back to 2017, Gonzalez has batted .260/.328/.423 (86 OPS+) and seen his power diminish. He did enjoy a strong all-around year in 2016 and crack 40 homers in 2015, but the combined .285/.337/.522 line he put together in those two seasons is well in the rear-view mirror at this point. While another club could very well look to roll the dice on a player with such a strong track record, it seems likely that he’ll have to settle for a third minor league deal.

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Brian McGregor still has difficulty talking about his late son, Keli McGregor. The holiday season is a time when families get together, but for the fifth year Keli won’t be part of any McGregor family gathering. In April 2010, Keli McGregor, the president of the Colorado Rockies and looking as if he still could play four quarters on the football field, died in Salt Lake City while on a business trip. The cause of death for McGregor, just 48, was attributed to a rare virus that infected his heart muscle.

The report of McGregor’s death shocked baseball, the Rockies organization, the Colorado sports community and the McGregor family.

“I still can’t stop the tears when I think or talk about Keli,” Brian McGregor said. “I have a picture in my wallet of Keli, myself and Todd Helton.”

While the loss was devastating, the legacy left behind by Keli may have been the very thing that helped Brian McGregor regain his enthusiasm for life.

“Keli and the Rockies organization had a number of benefits for Children’s Hospital and they raised a lot of money to help its operation,” Brian McGregor said. “I even ended up being a volunteer at the hospital for several years.”
Growing up

Brian McGregor didn’t live a pampered early life. He walked 2.3 miles each way to attend school. His mode of transportation from Montreal to Dubuque, Iowa, to attend Dubuque University was to hitchhike.

“I had $165 in my pocket, and the bus fare was $65,” McGregor said. “In those days, I hitchhiked everywhere. It was either that or riding a streetcar or a bus.”

McGregor’s life quickened after college. He made a stop with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, turned down a chance to run his wife’s family farm in Iowa, and visited a friend in Denver to see the area.

“I wanted to be a teacher and a coach,” McGregor said.

He arrived in 1963 and found an opening on the coaching staff at Lakewood Junior High School. He moved to Arvada West the following year as assistant football coach and head track and field coach. He soon became the head football coach, and his 1972 Arvada West team won the state championship.
Baseball a family game

McGregor doesn’t minimize the impact Keli’s connection to the Rockies had on his mind-set. He had retired after 26 years as head football coach at Arvada West in 1993. He stepped aside after 29 years as track and field coach the same year.

Growing up in Canada, McGregor played football, hockey and baseball and competed in track and field. Baseball was just something to fill the summer months.

“Baseball never was a big thing for me. But when Keli became involved with the Rockies, I became very interested,” McGregor said. “I rarely missed a game.”

Keli’s death was the beginning of an unbelievably difficult time. Brian’s wife died in 2012, and in January 2013 Brian suffered a broken neck from a fall on an icy driveway.

He has since recovered, but how did he get through it all?

“I’ve got 10 grandchildren and one great great-grandchild,” McGregor replied.

He still can have a family gathering for the holidays.

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It seems like a new MLB generation is coming together in Toronto.

After the Blue Jays announced they traded pitcher Marcus Stroman to the Mets for top prospects and infielder Eric Sogard to the Rays, they called up infielder Bo Bichette, according to Sportsnet, which cited an unidentified source.

Bichette, 21, is the son of former big leaguer Dante Bichette, who was an outfielder most notably as part of the Rockies’ “Blake Street Bombers” but also the Angels, Brewers, Reds and Red Sox.

Interestingly, the younger Bichette joins a Blue Jays roster that also has Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, who are the sons of former MLB players Vladimir Guerrero and Craig Biggio.

“Growing up with the game and having that major-league taste around players, you become driven and usually have more confidence than others who have not been around that atmosphere,” a unidentified former player who is now a scout told CBS Sports.

In 55 games for Triple-A Buffalo, Bichette hit .277/.336/.477 with 16 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 32 RBIs, 34 runs and 15 steals.

While he has played mostly shortstop in the minors, he has played second base, as well.

Bichette missed six weeks earlier in the summer after his hand was broken when he was hit by a pitch, but he has been back in the Bisons lineup for a few weeks now.

“With his injury, he may start a little slow,” a scout said. “His high leg kick (while batting) will have to be altered versus major-league pitching, but he’s athletic enough to make adjustments.”

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PITTSBURGH — Rockies right-handed closer Wade Davis is going on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain, the team announced Wednesday.

He’ll be replaced in the bullpen by hard-throwing righty Jairo Díaz, who has battled injury and personal tragedy to make it back to the big leagues. Diaz was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque and added to the 40-man roster.

According to head trainer Keith Dugger, Davis’ oblique injury is not considered severe. Davis’ stint on the IL is retroactive to Sunday but there is no timetable for his return.

Manager Bud Black said that right-hander Scott Oberg, who’s served as Colorado’s primary set-up man, will be the primary closer in Davis’s absence. Oberg has been sharp, posting a 1.77 ERA over 18 appearances, with a .186 batting average against. Oberg’s weakness has been control. He has 11 walks vs. 13 strikeouts.

In addition to its bullpen shuffle, the club announced that left-handed starter Tyler Anderson, who’s scheduled to undergo surgery on his ailing left knee, was recalled from Triple-A and placed on the 60-Day IL. There is no date set for Anderson’s surgery.

Diaz, who turns 28 on Monday, has pitched exceptionally well at Triple-A, going 1-0 with six saves, a 0.45 ERA over 20 innings, with 22 strikeouts vs. only six walks. Opponents have hit just .171 average against him.

“His command has been good — strikeouts are up and walks are down,” Black said.

Diaz, a fastball-slider pitcher who’s fastball velocity sits at 95-96 but still touches 100 mph on occasion, is in a good place after a difficult road back to the majors.

“I feel really good right now, my pitch command is much better,” Diaz said. “As my command got better, my confidence got better, too.”

Diaz missed the entire 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He appeared in just four games for Colorado in 2017, but in addition to trying to rehab his arm, he was dealing with a tragic family issue. His wife, Dubraska ‘Duby’ Daiz, fought a lengthy battle with stomach cancer that eventually took her life at age 30. She died on Oct. 22, 2017. Diaz has raised their daughter, Hannah, ever since as a single dad, with help from his family.
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Now Diaz is back in the majors.

“It really feels so good to be back,” he said.

Added Black: “It’s a great day for all of us, to know what he went through and see this. There is some tragedy there. But now, to be back here with us, it’s an uplifting thing for all of us. I’m so happy for him.”

Davis, 33, is on the injured list for the first time since 2016 when he pitched for Kansas City. He was off to a strong start this season, posting a 2.45 ERA with seven saves. He’s struck out 18 while walking 10 and has not allowed a home run since Aug. 12, making his streak of 32 ⅔ innings without allowing a home run the second-longest active streak in the National League.

The Rockies officially described Anderson’s injury as a left knee chondral defect. Dugger said it is a chronic injury, not the result of a single traumatic event, such as a torn knee ligament. The knee tissue in question is the articular cartilage. According to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic website, articular cartilage is the shiny, white surface that covers the ends of most bones. Articular cartilage protects the ends of bones and allows the joints to glide smoothly with less friction. It also helps to spread the loads applied to a joint.

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I have saved an article from MLB.com for a few days now, waiting until the dust from the end of the regular season settled and well after the Colorado Rockies held their much-discussed end of the season press gathering.
That article, which you can see by clicking here, picked five teams which the author felt “seem the most poised to take a step forward in 2020 — the ones you feel like are building toward something better.” That list did not include the Colorado Rockies.

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Curt Schilling is the pitching coach the Red Sox need
going forward

Rather than the Rockies, the author picked the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels as the five teams who finished below .500 in 2019 but could also make that “step forward” in 2020.

What to expect from the Rockies’ bullpen in 2020. Is there any room for change? | The Athletic ($)

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The answers Nick Groke offers are “the same” and “no, probably not.” He takes a look at the bullpen at the start and end of the 2019 season, as well as salary obligations for next season, and concludes that there won’t be a bullpen makeover.

We sort of already knew that. But Groke also has something new here, and it has to do with who will close games for the Rockies. In August, Davis was finally, mercifully, removed from the closer role in favor of Scott Oberg. But Bud Black, according to Groke, “went out of his way to avoid saying the change was permanent. And Davis may very well start 2020 as Colorado’s closer again.”

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Honestly, I don’t put to much stock in who the closer is and focus more on getting the best pitchers in the game in the highest leverage situations. Ninth innings have a lot of high leverage situations though, and Davis should probably be a middle innings or mop up guy until he can prove that he’s rediscovered what once made him one of the best relievers in the game.

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DNVR Exclusive: This new app will change the way you watch baseball | DNVR

In this free story from DNVR, Drew Creasman talks to the developer for a new app called UmpScores. The app tracks balls and strikes for major league umpires, with a big emphasis on highlighting all of the calls that they get wrong. It can be seen as part of a larger argument in favor of roboumps. It’s something that exists in the hopes that it will soon be made irrelevant. That, at least, is the only reason I can think of for wanting to put every pitch under the microscope and placing it on the good or bad side of a ledger.

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I may be in the minority, but I don’t want roboumps. I don’t think the current system for calling balls and strikes is broken, and I don’t think roboumps will improve the game. I also take a lesson from instant replay. I was a proponent of it at the time, but then it led to unexpected consequences. The most egregious one being when a player slides to the bag, comes off it for a second, all the while the fielder — in an entirely unaesthetic action new to the game — follows him with his glove somewhere on his body to maybe get a technical out. It introduced outs that wouldn’t have been outs previous to the introduction of instant replay. On the whole, I think instant replay’s a net negative, and I think I’d feel the same way about roboumps. I’d rather take a few missed strike zone calls in stride and pay more attention to the big picture.

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The author did start his article with an interesting point, pointing out that only three teams (the Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies) finished the 2018 season under .500 but rebounded in 2019 to finish at .500 (we’re looking at you, Philly) or better.

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Additionally, the author points out that, since the start of the 2015 season, nine teams have finished the previous season below .500 and bounced back to make the postseason the following season. That includes the 2017 Rockies as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, who topped Colorado in the National League Wild Card Game that season).

After reading the article, I began looking at the possibilities of the Rockies improving by at least 10 games over this year’s final 71-91 record in 2020 to finish at least at the 81-81 mark. I also remembered the words of Colorado owner Dick Monfort, who said during the end-of-the-season press conference that, ““I don’t think we have a lot of flexibility next year of making some great big splash. Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t get creative and do some things that will help if the right deal comes along.”

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Can the Rockies improve by 10 games next season without “making some great big splash?” It’s possible if these three things happen.

Note: Later this week, we’ll pull a counterpoint and discuss the three reasons why the Rockies won’t reach .500 again in 2020.