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

Hughes impressive, Yankees win, 2-0

This is not the same Red Sox lineup that has kept the Yankee Universe up nights over the past few years. David Ortiz is hurt, Dustin Pedroia was on paternity leave, Jacoby Ellsbury is a shell of the player he was last year, and of course, Kevin Youkilis has moved on to Chicago. But even so, Hughes was impressive. It was not until the eighth inning that Hughes allowed a lead off batter in an inning to get on base. He retired the side in order in the first three innings with only a couple dozen pitches thrown. He consistently got ahead of hitters and hit his spots most of the night.

Doubront was not as efficient as Hughes and as his wont, he was often frustrated with the strike zone being called by the home plate umpire. But he matched Hughes zero for zero in the first three innings. Only an Alex Rodriguez single in the first and an Andruw Jones walk in the second messed up Doubront’s scorecard.…

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Robinson Cano’s 2012 season

Both our eyes and the fielding statistics show us that Cano is having a great season in the field. He has become a terrific second baseman. Among second basemen, only Dustin Pedroia and Dustin Ackley rate higher than Cano in the field. Add his fielding to everything else and Cano is by far the most valuable second baseman in baseball. In the American League, he is two wins better than his nearest competitor, Dustin Pedroia. Being the best at your position is a big bonus.

How does Cano rank among all American League batters in several key statistics? Let’s take a look. He is seventh in the American League in wOBA and wRC+. He is seventh in runs created. Cano is seventh in OPS. He is ninth in ISO and sixth in slugging percentage. So, as you can see, he is in the top ten in just about all the key offensive statistics. Add that fact to his outstanding fielding and being the best player at his position in baseball and you have a pretty good argument as to why, in a Trout-free world, Robinson Cano would be the most valuable American League player.…

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Top of the eighth – Warning: second guessing inside

Now, it is just one man’s opinion, but Mr. Joe Girardi seems to be managing tighter than my budget. It is as if he has listened to these three themes all season and now believes they are a problem. By the top of the eight, the Yankees had already gone zero for ten or something with runners in scoring position. And they left ten men on base for the evening. Sure, these kinds of things happen to teams all the time, but this particular New York team is scrutinized more than any other. And because of David Phelps, who pitched well for five-plus innings, but only five-plus, the Yankees had once again to dig into their constant stream of scrap heap relievers. And because the Yankees could not plate a runner in scoring position all night, those five runs culled exclusively from homers just did not seem to be enough.

All of that sets up the top of the eighth inning.…

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From Lemon to Lemonade

Once Bob Lemon returned from three full years in the service of our country, he restarted his career with the Indians in 1946. He started it as an outfielder. His manager, Lou Boudreau, was concerned that Lemon would not hit enough to be an outfielder and after talking with several players that played with Lemon in the military, the extraordinary event occurred that mid-season, while staying with the major league Indians, Lemon was converted from an outfielder to a pitcher. He wasn’t sent to the minors to learn to pitch. He was assigned to the pitching coach and it went from there. He played twelve games in center field in 1946 and he also made 27 relief appearances and five starts. He finished with a 4-5 record, but somehow managed a 2.45 ERA that season in 94 innings.

In 1947, he would play twice in the outfield, once in center and once in right, but he was now a full time pitcher.…

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Joba Chamberlain rounding into form

From his season debut on August 1, through his ninth appearance on September 2, Joba was pretty scary to watch. He pitched nine times covering seven and two-thirds innings. In those outings, he gave up seventeen hits, five walks and two hit batsmen. Twenty-four base runners in seven and tw0-thirds innings is bad by any standard. His ERA after those outings was 10.57. Ouch. Worse still, Chamberlain was only striking out an occasional batter. He had only tallied five to that point.  His struggles prompted Joe Girardi to say that he would not use Joba any further in any situations that hinted of leverage.

And then suddenly, it started to click. On September 4, he pitched the eighth and final inning against the Rays with the Yankees down, 5-2. Joba faced the minimum of three batters in the inning and struck out two of them. He only needed eleven pitches to get the three outs. He appeared again on September 4 against the Orioles.…

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That it was the Yankees on the bad call is not the point

- If Teixeira had run through the bag instead of diving, he would have been called safe. Okay, first of all, Teixeira blew out his calf again on the play. There was no way he was going to make it running. He did the only thing a competitive player had left. He dove. It was a historic effort from the player and one that will cost him more time out of the lineup. But the major point behind this stupid argument is that if the way a player approaches first base throws off an umpire’s call, then replay should back it up if he is not trained to get it right. It was highly besides the point whether a physics study had proven that running through the base is faster than diving to get there. The point is that however a player gets there, the umpire should get the call correctly. If he cannot, then let’s look at a replay to get it right.…

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