John Hirschbeck leads All-Star game umpiring crew

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Sadly, the All-Star game festivities will have to go on without Joe West this year.

MLB just announced the umpiring assignments and baseball’s biggest instigator did not get the call. Instead it’ll be 30-year veteran John Hirschbeck as crew chief calling balls and strikes, along with Wally Bell (first base), Larry Vanover (second base), Paul Emmel (third base), Rob Drake (left field), and Chad Fairchild (right field).

Baseball Writers Association of America president and A’s beat reporter Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle will serve as one of the official scorers.

And while they’re not technically umpiring the All-Star game, I’m confident that West can still find a way to eject someone, Bob Davidson can find a way to call a balk, and Angel Hernandez can botch a replay call.

Former Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos signs a minor league deal with the Dodgers

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Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.

OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.

It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.