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

Dick Howser and the 1980 Yankees

That is quite a first paragraph. But Howser was quite a story. Howser lived through the craziest years of the George Steinbrenner era. He was there during the ups and downs of the Billy Martin tenures mixed in with the Bob Lemon and Bill Virdon tenures. He finished his playing days and starting his coaching duties during the Ralph Houk era, an era that ended when Steinbrenner purchased the club. And through it all, Dick Howser kept coaching third. He did manage one game in 1978 after Billy Martin was fired and before Bob Lemon could take over. And he got his chance in 1980 to run the team himself.

The 1980 Yankees were quite an outfit. Reggie Jackson was still there along with a group of position players in their mid-thirties like Lou Piniella, Bobby Murcer, Graig Nettles and Bob Watson. But there was also an infusion of some young players like Rick Cerone at catcher and Willie Randolph at second.…

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Pondering September call ups

The first thing to keep in mind is that the call ups are limited to players already on the team’s 40-man roster. That rules out relievers that could help out like Mark Montgomery and Kevin Whelan unless they are added to the roster, which is unlikely. But Justin Thomas and Cory Wade are on the 40-man roster and could be called up to thicken the bullpen up…though not necessarily make it better.

We are sure to see Steve Pearce, just acquired back from the Houston Astros (written before he was actually called up). With Mark Teixeira due to miss some time, Pearce might see some playing time, particularly against left-handed pitching. Good old Eduardo Nunez can give the Yankees another option as he can be pushed to third against left-handed pitching to allow Casey McGehee to play first.

It seems almost certain that the Yankees will call up a catcher. Both Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli are on the 40-man roster, so which one would it be?…

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Well, that was ugly. Yanks lose, 8-5

After Sabathia worked around a Derek Jeter error in the first, the Yankees scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Jeter hit a lousy 0-2 pitch for a single and then Nick Swisher walked. Robinson Cano rolled over on a curve and hit a weak grounder to second advancing both runners. Andruw Jones rifled a single up the middle to score Jeter and send Swisher to third. Swisher would score when Curtis Granderson beat out a double play ball for the second out. Steve Pearce then popped out to end the inning.

Both pitchers had 1-2-3 innings in the second, but the Yankees would cough up the lead in the top of the third. Jeff Mathis (of all people) started off the inning with an infield single. He should have been thrown out at second when Adeiny Hechavarria grounded a ball to Jayson Nix at third. But Nix booted it and everyone was safe. Rajai Davis then swung at a pitch a foot outside and poked it to shallow right for a single to load the bases.…

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RISP failure or bad luck and good pitching?

The first one was in the fourth inning and perhaps this is a fail. There were two outs and Mark Teixeira came to the plate following Robinson Cano‘s double. As is his wont, Teixeira let a first pitch fastball right down the middle go by for strike one. That was the one good pitch he had in the at bat. Should he have gone for it? Perhaps. But he did not. Justin Masterson then executed a perfect pitch for strike three. Teixeira argued with the umpire, but it was a strike and a perfect pitch. You could call that a fail on Teixeira letting that first pitch go by or you can tip your cap to Masterson for the perfect strikeout pitch.

The fifth inning rally was a tough one to watch. With one out, Eric Chavez singled up the middle. Russell Martin singled to right. The Yankees had something going. Raul Ibanez hit a rocket up the middle. Would it have gone through the infield with the infielders shading the middle?…

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The stretch crawl of 2000

The 2000 Yankees had a team ERA of 4.76 and though that would sound worse in today’s pitching era, for the offensive years of the early 2000′s, it was good for sixth place out of fourteen teams. Andy Pettitte won nineteen games. Roger Clemens was solid if unspectacular. But it got dicey in the rotation after those two. Well, Orlando Hernandez was decent, but would end with a losing record of 12-13. After that, it cratered. David Cone simply lost it that season after being a hero so long in New York. Cone suffered through his worst year as a big league pitcher and at the age of 37 seemed at the end of his career. Denny Neagle was obtained from the Reds for a bunch of prospects that never amounted to anything for the Reds. Neagle was abysmal for the Yankees even though he went 7-7.

Other starters that year for the Yankees included a young Jake Westbrook, an old Dwight Gooden, Jason Grimsley, Ramiro Mendoza, Ben Ford, Randy Keisler and Ed Yarnall.…

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Nova slammed, Yankees lose, 7-3

The big question on everyone’s mind right now is what to do about Ivan Nova. The question came up several times on Twitter this evening. Once again, questionable pitch selection and location did Nova in. For example, in the bottom of the second, Alex Rios led off for the White Sox. Nova buckled him with a couple of curves. But then Martin and Nova decided to throw a fastball that rode high in the strike zone. Rios rifled it to right-center for a triple. He later scored on a sacrifice fly.

A similar scenario occurred in the fourth with Paul Konerko. Nova threw two curves. The first one missed just outside and the second one made Konerko look silly as he swung and missed. The third pitch? A high fastball that Konerko crushed into the seats for a homer. The three outs Nova recorded in the fourth inning were all line drives.

The killer though was the grand slam by Youkilis.…

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The Yankees’ flagging bullpen

To Girardi’s credit, he has made it work for most of the season. The Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, Boone Logan road show was given a cast of other characters like Chad Qualls and Cory Wade, etc. David Phelps was a big help too but he is now forced to make starts and has been missed. If you expose the Eppleys and Rapadas of the world, sooner or later they will get exposed as marginal pitching talents.

Then along came Joba Chamberlain. Joba was supposed to be a godsend. His big arm would ride into the corral and rescue the flagging bullpen. Reports out of the minors were that he was throwing gas and Yankee fans had visions of the 2007 Joba. It hasn’t happened. Chamberlain has had no confidence in his fastball and when he does throw it, the pitch gets whacked somewhere in a hurry. Joba has a 2.85 WHIP and has given up two homers, fifteen hits and four walks in his six-plus innings thus far.…

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Freddy and bullpen crack – Yankees lose, 9-6

The Yankees did score six runs, thanks in part to another huge night by Derek Jeter and some timely hitting by Mark Teixeira. But the Bombers did leave eleven men on base and ran into an out at home to end another threat. In the first inning, after a lead-off single by Jeter and a walk by Nick Swisher set the table, a great play by Gordon Beckham at second robbed Robinson Cano of a hit and forced Swisher at second. Teixeira, playing his first game after missing a few with a sore wrist, then singled in Jeter. Curtis Granderson walked to load the bases and Gavin Floyd was really struggling. But Eric Chavez grounded weakly to third to score Cano and after Raul Ibanez was hit by a pitch, Ichiro Suzuki could not keep the rally going and grounded weakly to second.

With two out in the top of the second, Swisher singled and Robinson Cano singled. Teixeira walked to load the bases and the Yankees had Floyd on the ropes.…

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