First Call: Josh Bell maintains All-Star lead; what could Penguins trade 1st-round pick for? |
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: Josh Bell maintains All-Star lead; what could Penguins trade 1st-round pick for?

Tim Benz
Pittsburgh Pirates’ Josh Bell drives in a run with an RBI single off Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin during the first inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, May 31, 2019.

In “First Call” Tuesday, the Pirates need to get fat against the Tigers. Josh Bell still leads in All-Star voting at first base, but not by much. Draft picks are good currency in the NHL. And Lavar Ball continues to act like a moron.

Terrible Tigers

Boy, the Tigers are coming to town at the right time for the Pirates.

They are really struggling. Detroit visits PNC Park with a record of 25-43. They are in fourth place in the American League Central, 20.5 games back of the first-place Twins.

And June has been brutal for Ron Gardenhire’s players. They are just 3-11 this month. During their four-game losing streak, Detroit has been outscored 32-9.

Of course, the Pirates haven’t been much better at 32-39, in last place in the NL Central.

Rock the vote

Josh Bell continues to lead all first basemen in NL All-Star voting.

The Pirates’ blossoming star is leading the National League in RBIs, is fourth in OPS and slugging and is seventh in homers and batting average.

But the race is close. He has a slight 83,651-vote lead over Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. Those are the only two first basemen with over 1 million votes so far.

Something to consider

So what could the Penguins get if they trade their first-round pick?

Based on what the Rangers just got, quite a lot.

New York acquired Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba for their 2019 first-rounder and defenseman Neal Pionk.

Trouba had 50 points for the Jets, one of only 13 defensemen to hit 50 points last season.

Trouba is only 25 and a former top-10 pick himself. He played all 82 games last year, accumulating eight goals and 42 assists, along with a plus-8 rating. His games played, assists and point totals were all career highs.

But he is a restricted free agent,and the Jets were running into salary cap concerns. The Rangers had not yet announced a contract deal with Trouba.

Granted, the Penguins have salary cap issues, too. But it’s a deep draft this year, so you can see why the 20th pick returned a player of Toruba’s caliber.

The Penguins draft 21st.

You have to be kidding

In the wake of his son, Lonzo, getting traded to New Orleans by the Lakers, Lavar Ball is taking heat.

For two reasons.

He went on ESPN on Monday and tried to make it sound like that deal was by design.

Yeah. OK. Tell me another one, Lavar.

Actually don’t.

Others didn’t like this cringeworthy flirtation Ball made with “First Take” moderator Molly Qerim.

Maybe now that Lonzo is playing in a lesser market and has already been traded once, ESPN will finally start treating him — and his dad — as being insignificant.

Which they should.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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