First Call: Pirates’ price for Felipe Vazquez becoming clear; robot umpires debut | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: Pirates’ price for Felipe Vazquez becoming clear; robot umpires debut

Tim Benz
1398300_web1_GTR-Bucs19-070819
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez pitches during the ninth inning against the Brewers Sunday, July 7, 2019, at PNC Park.

In “First Call” Wednesday, we catch wind of what the Pirates’ asking price is for Felipe Vazquez. It’s “Tacko Time” in Boston. And robot umpires make their debut.


Fishing for Felipe

We’ve talked about what it would take for the Pirates to get Madison Bumgarner if they stay in the playoff race.

But what would it take for them to part with Felipe Vazquez if things go south between now and the July 31 trade deadline?

The Dodgers are said to covet Vazquez. MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi seems to have an idea who Neal Huntington may want in return for his closer.

Those four players are — in order — the top four prospects in the Los Angeles system.

Keibert Ruiz is a catcher. He’s at Double-A Tulsa. Gavin Lux plays shortstop and second base. Dustin May is a 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher. Those two have split time between Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Will Smith has spent all year in Oklahoma. He catches and plays third base.

I’m on record saying that I wouldn’t trade Vazquez. But a haul like this would tempt me. Especially if May is one of the players coming back.


Team Tacko

Celtics rookie Tacko Fall is quickly becoming a sensation in the NBA rookie league.

He’s the 7-foot-7 center the Celtics drafted out of Central Florida. And he has become an instant hit with the fans.

With plays like this, you can see why.

His free throw technique is amusing to say the least, as well.

And if you don’t chuckle watching people try to take charges from him, you are dead inside.

Via Yahoo.com, Fall has been averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds and a block in 10.5 minutes per game and was a plus-18 and plus-9 against Philadelphia and Cleveland, respectively.

Pass the salsa. I’m all in on Tacko.


Kanter’s cheat day

Meanwhile, another Celtics center, Enes Kanter, posted video of his diet “cheat day.”

It’s not so much a cheat day. It is more like him eating as if there is an eighth day in the week.

My two takeaways from that video are:

1. Thankfully, at least he didn’t involve the sushi with that mess.

2. I hung with him until he drenched the hot dog/pizza/burger trio with mayo. That’s a crime in most countries, isn’t it?


Some love for the Dukes

The Duquesne basketball team got a little national praise this week.

Jon Rothstein, College Basketball Insider for CBS Sports, ranked his top incoming freshmen for the A-10. He lists two of Keith Dambrot’s players among the best of the bunch.

James Ellis sat out last year after playing at Westinghouse. He’s a 6-foot-11 center with a 7-foot-6 wingspan. He was named the City League Player of the Year, plus garnered first-team all-state recognition in Class 3A after averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds, and seven blocks.

Northwestern, Penn State and VCU were also recruiting Maceo Austin. He’s a 6-foot-4 guard from Mercer County basketball power Kennedy Catholic.


Tracking TrackMan

The Atlantic League All-Star game used robot umpires to call balls and strikes.

Or “TrackMan” if you want to be more specific.

Here’s how it looked.

According to ESPN.com, “umpire Brian deBrauwere wore an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket and relayed the call upon receiving it from a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar.”

Players seemed to notice the natural delay in the call. “One time I already had caught the ball back from the catcher, and he signaled strike,” said pitcher Daryl Thompson.

The umpire has veto power in case the system completely misses a call. The pitchers were quoted as saying high strikes were called far more often with the TrackMan system in place.

It’s going to be implemented leaguewide over the next few weeks.

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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.