William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

Seven (straw) arguments for Ellsbury leading off

I am saving you folks a bunch of time making comments by admitting up front that I am creating a flawed statistical argument to support a personal bias and belief. I want Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off for the Yankees. That is what he was signed to do and that is not what he is doing. And since I am not a statistical genius like many of my colleagues here, I can only create weak statistical arguments to support my biased belief. I bet you have never seen an opening paragraph like this one before.

At least I am being honest here. Like many Yankee observers in 2014, I am extremely surprised by the offensive efforts of this team. Offense was not supposed to be a problem this year. And yet it is. The team is 22nd out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored. The team has a 93 OPS+. The offense more resembles last year’s ragtag outfit than a team that was “fixed” in the off season by some key upgrades.…

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Tanaka out of whacka

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps our expectations were too high. There were all kinds of predictions about what kind of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka would be once the Yankees pulled the trigger and signed the Japanese ace. Certainly, Brian Cashman tried to temper expectations by insisting he signed a Number 3 starter. But then Tanaka was lights out for his first fourteen starts and was 11-1. And expectations suddenly turned to the belief he would win every time he pitched.

Instead, Tanaka has lost three of his last four and fans are left with an expression of watching a fireworks display with no big finale. Naturally, not all of those losses were his fault. If you give up only two or three runs, you should have a reasonable chance to win and the Yankees’ offense wasn’t there for him. But the last two games have been concerning as the hits are starting to pile up and the strikeouts are trending down.

In Tanaka’s last two starts, he has given up more earned runs than he has recorded strikeouts.…

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Game 82 – Bolster our Kuroding hopes

The New York Yankees are doing a great job of bolstering the hopes of the teams beneath them in the standings, allowing the Red Sox and Rays to beat them at home, the place that to paraphrase Madonna, “Used to be their playground.” And with the Blue Jays and Orioles politely waiting for the aging Yankees to keep up, the old team bends with hands on its knees and waves them on with a gasp for air..

Ah, there was a lot of pathos in that first paragraph, eh? The, “Eh,” is for our Canadian friends on their big holiday today. The Blue Jays already won on Canada Day, so enjoy a frosty beverage and enjoy the fireworks. Yankee fans, meanwhile, will watch the long, lanky, lefty pitcher (alliteration!) on the other team today and wonder how Brian Cashman can somehow pry him away without much to offer in trade value.

Heck, maybe the team will win tonight and blow some thrills the fans’ way.…

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How MLB.tv and stat sites turned me into a pessimist

This is going to sound a lot like whining. And I apologize in advance. And I know that I am supposed to be more journalistically inclined. But I am not. If I was getting paid to write, I would do that. But there is a reason on my other writing home that the word, “Fan,” is in the title. I have always written about the game from a fan’s perspective. And right about now, this team from the Bronx has me about as pessimistic as a fan can be.

Our own Matt Bove and Kevin Ducey made me think about this new realization about my world view as a fan. This was our recent Twitter conversation:

There was more to the conversation but the gist of it was about my pessimism and Matt trying to get me to stop being that way.…

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Game 69 – Please don’t whack Tanak

The New York Yankees are back home at Yankee Stadium after a successful road trip (anytime you win more than you lose with a West Coast swing is a good thing) that did have its share of ugh moments. And the pitching match-up is a potentially sparkling arm party. The Yankees, of course, host the current...

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An interview with Rudy May

A little while back I signed on Twitter and there in my notifications was a note that Rudy May followed me. That Rudy May!? Sure enough, it was the former pitcher. He was one of my favorites during his years with the Yankees and so I wrote an article here about him. Mr. May was kind enough to tweet me that he enjoyed the article and so I became bold and asked him for an interview. He kindly accepted and we recently had an hour conversation that I thoroughly enjoyed. Rudy May is a delightful guy.

I searched the Web to see if anyone else had interviewed Rudy May recently and I found Jeff Pearlman’s great interview back in January for Mr. Pearlman’s site. The last thing I wanted to do was to cover the same ground. But I did start the conversation bouncing off one of the answers to Mr. Pearlman’s questions. The rest flowed from there.

IIATMS: Mr. May, I read with interest your comments about how you loved Earl Weaver.

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Game 67 – Secret elders from a gentle race

Before the Yankees began this West Coast road trip, both the team and its captain were receiving heavy criticism and debate. The team has won four straight and Derek Jeter has picked up nine hits and two walks in the four games and scored five times. Could these secret elders from a gentle race be on a roll?

The heading is in honor of Scott Kazmir whose name always reminds me of Led Zeppelin and a song title with a similar name. Kazmir has long been a familiar foe to the Yankees and has faced the team nineteen times in his career. Kazmir is having a great season and his peripherals are fantastic.

The Yankees counter with Hiroki Kuroda who pitched pretty well his last time out in the now famous game where the Yankees went one for seventeen with runners in scoring position. Kuroda should benefit from the large dimensions of the Oakland Coliseum and the super large foul grounds.…

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Don Zimmer The Catcher

The passing of Don Zimmer this week hit me pretty hard. I moved to New England in 1975 and watched a lot of Red Sox games and he became a sympathetic figure to me for the collapse of his Boston Red Sox and for the booing he received even if it meant my favorite team won during those years. And then with the Yankees for those glorious championship years, I really felt that he made Joe Torre a better manager and I enjoyed the way Derek Jeter rubbed his head and the laugh invoked by the action. I wanted to write some sort of tribute for the man I did not really know but had developed a fan fondness for, cemented when he stood up to Steinbrenner and told him to stuff it. But what could I write that hasn’t been written a hundred times by writers all over the country?

All the aspects have been covered—his managerial years, his championships with the Dodgers as a player, Bill Lee, the Red Sox, his run with the Yankees and his final years becoming a beloved figure in Tampa.…

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Game 58 – El Nuno verses Jesse Chavez

There is nothing like home cooking for the Yankees. Errr…maybe not. Maybe more than two runs would be good…just to change things up a little. With Vidal Nuno on the bump for the Yankees, more than two runs might be downright necessary.

Nuno’s home / road splits are not pretty and batters are putting up a .998 OPS against him at home. Even more surprising are his splits against left-handed batters. You would think as a lefty Nuno would be putting those batters away, but the opposite is the case, Lefty batters are hitting to the tune of a 1.155 OPS against him. Eek! Hide the children! All nine of the home runs he has allowed this season have been at Yankee Stadium and his strikeout to walk ratio is cut in half at home.

See Katie Sharp’s excellent article for more about Nuno and pitching at Yankee Stadium.

Jesse Chavez was an early surprise for the A’s but has run into some harder times lately.…

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