About William Tasker

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.

Maxwell > Jones > Wise > Ichiro

Ichiro has basically replaced Dewayne Wise on the Yankees’ roster. Wise had 63 plate appearances before he was DFA’d, just two more than Ichiro. Wise’s OPS was .778 compared to Ichiro’s .635. And Wise had more pop and was more of a deep threat AND he was a better outfielder at this stage in their relative careers. The difference is that the Yankees did not consider Dewayne Wise an every day player and certainly, playing Wise against lefties was not a good idea. But then again, neither is playing Ichiro against lefties.  There is this assumption that Ichiro Suzuki is a hitter feared by pitchers. That hardly seems true anymore. Wise was better than this current Ichiro.

And before Wise was another outfielder that got away. His name is Justin Maxwell who had a fantastic Spring Training for the Yankees. The guy just looked like a ballplayer. And though Spring Training means very little, Maxwell looked like the best player on the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees lose to Tigers again, 6-5

Both pitchers started the game with three effective and scoreless innings. The Yankees got two hits in the top of the second off of Tigers’ starter, Rick Porcello, but an Eric Chavez double-play ball kept those hits from doing any damage. Curtis Granderson struck out in the first and the third. Phil Hughes looked on fire the first three innings. His fastball gave him two strikeouts to lead off the bottom of the first and then threw a wicked inside fastball to Miguel Cabrera and the great Tiger hitter fouled out. Great inning. In the second, Hughes worked easily around a single. Great inning. Hughes worked again around a single in the third and looked in complete control. Then the Yankees scored. Dang.

Derek Jeter led off the top of the fourth with a bounding single through the left side of the infield. But Robinson Cano grounded into a double play. For the second time in the game, Mark Teixeira beat the shift with a screamer to right for a single.… Click here to read the rest

Granderson’s worrisome second half

In the second half, Curtis Granderson’s triple slash line is: .225/.289/.461. That covers the last 22 games and gives him a second half OPS of .750. In the five games in August, his slash line is: .200/.304/.350. Based on those two sets of numbers, it’s pretty safe to say that he is scuffling at the plate. Lately, Joe Girardi has installed Granderson into the lead-off spot. Why exactly? Granderson has not gotten a hit to lead off a game yet.

All of this is sort of important as it seems that Curtis Granderson is one of the keys to whether the Yankees win or not. Call it a coincidence, but in games that the Yankees win, Granderson has a .965 OPS. In games the Yankees lose, Granderson has an OPS of .651. In those losses, Granderson has struck out in 36.5 percent of his plate appearances. In high leverage situations, he has struck out 25 times in 80 plate appearances or 31.5 percent.… Click here to read the rest

Freddy Garcia does something remarkable

There is a lot of scientific stuff in the article about spin and the smooth part of the ball and the seams. The bottom line, it seems, is that Garcia at times throws a pitch that moves in the opposite way normal versions of the split-fingered pitch should move. According to the article, one physicist spent hours looking at the pitch frame by frame from video and even wrote a scientific paper about his findings. That link can be found within the article noted.

The article and the findings by the physicists does perhaps explain how Freddy Garcia can strikeout 6.2 major league batters per nine innings despite having absolutely nothing on the ball and a fastball that, on a really good day, can reach 87 miles per hour. Getting swings and misses is more than just speed. It is also throwing a pitch the batter does not expect with movement the batter cannot detect. The article quotes Chris Stewart and Russell Martin and they confirm that Garcia does throw this remarkable pitch with somewhat regularity.… Click here to read the rest

August 3, 1998

The game featured a pitching match-up of Orlando Hernandez and Mike Oquist. Hernandez was in the middle of a run that would make him the toast of New York. The Yankees had signed the recent 32 year old Cuban defector back in March and Hernandez entered this contest with a record of 5-3. He would only lose one more game the rest of the season. Mike Oquist was heading in a different direction. Oquest was a 32nd round draft choice of the Orioles way back in 1989 and beat the odds to pitch in the majors beginning with the Orioles in 1993 and later with Oakland starting in 1997. Oquist entered this contest having coughed up six runs a piece to the Red Sox and Blue Jays in his previous two starts.

The temperature was a warm 87 degrees with a light breeze.  Tim Tschida was the umpire behind the plate and a little more than 18,000 fans showed up to watch the contest.… Click here to read the rest

A historical perspective on Jeter and Cano

One of the ways fun is had from this seat is using the stat sites to make lists. Just yesterday, a list was created to find the ten worst wOBA scores for Yankees since 1961 with a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances. The thought was that 1,000 plate appearances gave the player at least two equivalents to full seasons to prove how bad a hitter he was. The data includes the time with the Yankees only and not with other clubs. The list came out to look like this from lowest to highest:

  1. Fred Stanley – 1,157 plate appearances, .269 wOBA (1973 – 1980)
  2. Gene Michael – 2,659, .270  (1968 – 1974)
  3. Alvaro Espinoza – 1,528, .270  (1988 – 1991)
  4. Jake Gibbs – 1,795, .274  (1962 – 1971)
  5. Sandy Alomar- 1,005, .278  (1974 – 1976)
  6. Bucky Dent – 2,429, .282  (1977 –  1982)
  7. Bobby Richardson – 4,217, .286  (1961 – 1966) **started career in 1955
  8. Bob Meacham – 1,591, .288  (1983 – 1988)
  9. Tony Kubek – 2,251, -289  (1961-1965)  **started career in 1957
  10. Horace Clarke – 5,143, .289  (1965 – 1974)

As you can see from that list, only Gibbs was not a middle infielder.… Click here to read the rest

What to expect from Casey McGehee

So what do we expect from McGehee? That is hard to peg as he has been a National League player for his entire career. He has played for the Cubs, Brewers and Pirates. McGehee was acquired mostly to serve as a stopgap for Alex Rodriguez at third with A-Rod out for six to eight weeks with a fractured bone in his hand. McGehee will likely platoon with Eric Chavez at third and the duo will give the Yankees very good defense at that corner no matter who plays. McGehee has had very positive fielding metrics the past two seasons. He had a low fielding percentage in 2011 with twenty errors, but his overall fielding was still regarded as above league standard.

So, McGehee will hold his own on defense. What about offense? His splits the last couple of seasons have strongly favored his right-handed bat against left-handed pitching. But his overall career numbers show a much closer balance between the splits.… Click here to read the rest

Nova flames out. Yankees lose to O’s, 11-5

It seemed from this angle that the game’s balanced changed with Mark Reynold’s at bat in the top of the second. Nova had started the inning by allowing consecutive singles to Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Nova then blew away both Lew Ford and Wilson Betemit on strikeouts. It looked like he was going to get out of the inning as he had Mark Reynolds, one of the most prolific strikeout batters in history, down 0-2 in the count. Nova and Martin had a little conference to decide what the next pitch would be. It would be a terrible decision. Nova threw the flattest of sliders and Reynolds punished it for a ground rule double to left. Here is pictorial proof of how bad that pitch was (from Brooks Baseball):

From there the floodgates opened and Nova could not hold back the flood. Omar Quintanilla singled to score two. Nick Markakis singled and J.J. Hardy walked to load the bases.… Click here to read the rest