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

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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Thoughts on the Red Sox series

The Red Sox have a terrific infield defense. Dustin Pedroia at second, Adrian Gonzalez at first, the combination of Mike Aviles and Pedro Ciriaco at short and Will Middlebrooks and now Nick Punto at third are all having terrific seasons in the field. But Middlebrooks is gone. Kevin Youkilis is gone.  Pedroia, for all his accolades, has given the Red Sox only 2.4 batting runs all season (due in part to nagging injuries).  Aviles has a .285 on-base percentage. Despite his Yankee-killing, Ciriaco has walked twice in 112 plate appearances and Punto, who is useful in doses, is an offensive pit as a regular.

Carl Crawford, despite some offense this season once he came off the DL, has not looked like the same player he was in his Tampa days. Plus, Crawford has only walked three times in 125 plate appearances. A decision will be made today, apparently, to see if he is going to be shut down for the rest of the season.…

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Counting on Kuroda

Let’s start with those Yankee Stadium concerns. Um…there are not any Yankee Stadium concerns. Kuroda is 8-4 at home with a 2.22 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio is higher at home. He gives up less home runs at home. Batters have a combined OPS of only .589 against Kuroda in his fifteen home starts. In fact, it is a much scarier proposition when Kuroda pitches on the road this season where he is a mundane 3-4 with an ERA of 4.23. Kuroda has allowed nine homers on the road in ten starts and only eight at Yankee Stadium in fifteen starts. Let’s just say that Kuroda feels pretty good pitching at home.

The concern that Hiroki Kuroda would have difficulty in the meat grinder of the American League was well founded. The recent trade deadline deals concerning Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster and Zack Greinke have proved again (it seems) that the American League is a much tougher place to pitch than in the National League.…

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Bullpen falters, Yankees lose, 10-6

The Yankees took the opportunity after winning the first three games of this series to rest Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano against the lefty Holland. Russell Martin was the designated hitter to give the game a real Spring Training feel. Cano is dealing with a stiff neck and sat out his second straight game. The makeshift lineup seemed no match for Derek Holland during the first five innings. Meanwhile, Ivan Nova looked like Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  At times, Nova seemed dominant and at others like he had no idea where the strike zone was or how to command his pitches.

Nova gave up two quick runs in the first inning. After Elvis Andrus grounded out, Michael Young singled, Josh Hamilton doubled to the wall in left and then Adrian Beltre singled to score both Young and Hamilton. Beltre gave Nova a break by trying for second and was thrown out easily.

Nova then pitched four scoreless innings and three of them were in order.…

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