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

Nick Swisher and breakup syndrome

So, why won’t Swisher be a Yankee next season? First, he is going to ask for a contract he deserves which will likely be for four or five years at $15 to $17 million per. Secondly, the Yankees have other deals to get done and will not consider Swisher at that kind of money when 2014 already has a hard cap of $184 million. And last, have you heard any words from guys like Brian Cashman or Boy Steinbrenner stating they would like to keep the guy? Both have stated that Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are priorities. The latter of those two might be working his way out of that stance, but still. Nobody has come out and said that Nick Swisher is a priority or even something to the effect that it would be nice to have him back.

Swisher has to know these things. And it has to suck for him personally. He likes being in the center of the baseball universe.…

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Good old Andy

Andy Pettitte lost his last post season start just recently against the Orioles. It was his eleventh post season loss and brought his overall career post season winning percentage down a peg to “just” .633. If he wins, it will be his twentieth post season win and will pad his record that no one is likely to ever match. He is as synonymous to the post season as the Yankees are.

Is his post season record overrated? Perhaps a tad. His post season ERA is 3.83. The overall numbers won’t grab you by the throat. 6.7 strikeouts per nine with 2.5 walks. He has allowed 9.3 hits per nine innings with a 1.352 WHIP. There is nothing there that is spectacular. His post season “heroics” are likely the same result as Derek Jeter‘s. If you have enough reps doing a certain thing, there will be great things that happen that people remember. That doesn’t make him a lock. But it does mean that he ‘s done this more than anyone else.…

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The Lineup – who says we all have to agree here?

The Yankees have lived and died with this cast of characters all season either hitting homers or stranding runners. It has been a season as hard on the emotions and nerves as any in recent memory. These are the guys you have paid millions of dollars to have in your lineup. These are the guys you nursed along through injuries to be healthy for this moment. You continue to live and die with them. Doing so this season has led to a first place finish in the division and to a fifth game, winner-take-all scenario. The odds are about 50/50 no matter who the Yankees trot out there. Despite swinging air balls the entire second half, Curtis Granderson did hit 20 homers in that same time frame. Do you really want to sit that kind of possible explosion? Are the Orioles going to sit Mark Reynolds because he has struck out 37 percent of the time this series? Heck no.

And the reason is that despite all the air swings, Reynolds can win the game with one swing.  …

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The Granderson problem

Granderson’s struggles are palpable. His second half had these putrid numbers: .212/.278/.480. The Orioles’ starter tonight is Joe Saunders, a left-handed pitcher. Granderson’s strikeout rate the entire season against left-handers is 31.9 percent. And again, Granderson has struck out six times in this series in twelve plate appearances. It seems that Granderson is always in an 0-2 or 1-2 hole. It seems that he cannot stop himself from swinging at a ball outside the strike zone for the third strike. It seems that at this point of the proceedings, a Russell Martin plate appearance is much more appealing.

So what should Joe Girardi do? Andruw Jones is not on the roster, nor should be. And even with his struggles, Granderson drove in 56 runs in the second half and led the Yankees in that category for the season. Without him in the lineup, the Yankees do not seem so circular or scary. But with him in the lineup, there has been a black hole where his name is penciled in.…

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Somebody has to win

One team has to win and one team has to lose. That is the nature of the beast. And perhaps many of you will think me soft for even caring what Orioles’ fans felt right then. Except I (we) have been where they are. I remember how it felt after Dave Roberts stole that base. I remember that Gonzalez bloop over a drawn in Yankees’ infield. It hurt, man. It hurt so bad that words cannot express the disappointment and shock. And so a moment of sympathy was felt for the fans of the Orioles and later, those of the Tigers. Getting to know so many people on Twitter and to see them dying a little bit inside at the results make those feelings stronger. The souls of fans in other cities become real people and not just nameless blobs of humanity.

Of course, there is no way I would trade places with them. That was a most satisfying win for someone who sips from his Yankees’ coffee mug every single morning.…

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Peeking inside the narrative

We live in an age of instant data. Numbers are at our fingertips in an instant. And we can often build a case for just about any narrative we want to make. Post season statistics, especially offensive ones, have to be taken with two very strong reminders. The first is that the offensive statistics are extremely small sample sizes. Orioles’ fans and writers could be blasting Adam Jones right now because he is batting .091 in this post season. But if you are reminded that Jones’ post season is only thirteen or fourteen plate appearances deep, what conclusions can you actually draw from that?

The second reminder is that batters have to hit against pitchers. That sound simplistic but it is amazing how much that simple fact is overlooked. The Jones in our example has had to face some of the best pitching in baseball. The teams that make the playoffs would not (in most cases) be there if they did not have strong pitching.…

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Alex Rodriguez is beyond redemption

The heading on this piece sounds harsh and it was not meant to be. A-Rod had his 2009. That was the last season that he was the former Alex Rodriguez, the superstar version. And he came up big in that post season. He performed in that post season the way you expected a superstar to perform. He is beyond being a superstar now. Now, Alex Rodriguez is just a better than good player. And that is all the Yankees need and expect him to be. And as such, the meaning of the heading is that he is beyond his capability to be the big bat that hoists the Yankees on his shoulders and leads the team to glory.

For those that focus on the money Alex Rodriguez makes, let it go. That money is a sunk cost and yes it is a problem because of 2014 and the hard cap that Boy Steinbrenner is dictating. But there is nothing the Yankees or Alex Rodriguez can do about that.…

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