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

VMart and Donnie Baseball

(Syndicated from The Flagrant Fan)

Victor Martinez is having a remarkable offensive season. And it isn’t just the 31 homers and 31 doubles and the .333 batting average. What is remarkable is that in the inglorious age of the strikeout, Martinez has only struck out 40 times all season. He is on pace to finish with 43 strikeouts. When considering that remarkable number, it made me curious as to how many times since 1961 someone has hit over 30 homers with less than 45 strikeouts. So I went to my trusty baseball-reference.com and checked it out.

First of all, why did I only go back to 1961? Good question. The answer is that 1961 was right around the first time when the strikeout rate averaged five strikeouts per team per game (1959 to be exact). And even going that far back is problematic. The average strikeout rate in 1961 was 13.2% compared to it being 20.3% this season. If you go back further than 1961, then a low strikeout rate with a lot of homers just wasn’t that remarkable.…

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Will Kevin Long be the sacrificial lamb?

For those of us who watch almost every game, the entire 2014 season has been a series of games with one common theme: A total lack of offense. A full fifty of the team’s games have featured a lineup that scored two runs or less. That is a full 31% of a season’s games, never mind that the season isn’t over yet. In contrast, the Orioles (congratulations) have had five such games. Fifty…five. With a disappointing season following an active off season big with the check book, who will pay the price for such a performance? Will it be the hitting coach, Kevin Long? Should it be?

Let’s look at some more putrid numbers. In the Yankees’ last seven days, they have registered the following triple slash line: .174/.244/.284 with a .201 average on balls in play. Take that same slash line over the last fourteen days: .194/.256/.321 with a .220 BABIP. Take it even further to the last 28 days: .228/.290/.373 with a .254 BABIP.…

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Game 148 – ESPNing

The Yankees try to delay the inevitable with the Baltimore Orioles on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

The Lineups:

New York Yankees:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
  2. Derek Jeter – SS
  3. Brett Gardner – LF
  4. Martin Prado – 3B
  5. Brian McCann – C
  6. Mark Teixeira – 1B
  7. Chris Young – DH
  8. Stephen Drew – 2B
  9. Antoan Richardson – RF

SP – Hiroki Kuroda

Baltimore Orioles:

  1. Nick Markakis – RF
  2. Alejandro De Aza – LF
  3. Adam Jones – CF
  4. Nelson Cruz – DH
  5. Steve Pearce – 1B
  6. J.J. Hardy – SS
  7. Kelly Johnson – 3B
  8. Nick Hundley – C
  9. Jonathan Schoop – 2B

SP – Chris Tillman

Enjoy the game!

 

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First pitch does not exist for Mark Teixeira

Diagnosing a problem happening with a member of the Yankees is pretty much a moot point right now. But sometimes, an observation has to be tested simply out of curiosity. My observation is that Mark Teixeira never, ever swings at the first pitch and it is usually the best pitch he sees in an at bat. The numbers back up the observation and they are not pretty.

Most assume correctly that Mark Teixeira’s batting average has shriveled up like a cold cut left out in the open air because he has not adjusted to the shifts deployed against him. His .237 BABIP attests to his inability (or lack of interest) in adjusting to the shift. But the shift being deployed in baseball is just the most visible sign of how much statistics and the trending they bring has changed the game. Number crunchers working for teams look for any trends that can be exploited. With Teixeira, it’s not just the pull tendency, but also his first pitch strategy.…

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Game 146 – Big day for Bryan Mitchell

After a brutal eleven innings of Yankee baseball this afternoon, at least the nightcap of the double-header will feature the first Major League start for Bryan Mitchell. If you love prospects getting their first real opportunity, then this game is for you. Bud Norris will go for the Orioles.

The bad news is that the Yankees will not have David Robertson or Dellin Betances available out of the bullpen. They both threw a lot of pitches in the first game as Girardi tried for the Hail Mary that fell harmlessly in the end zone. There is much more bad news, but let’s just let it be and root for the kid to pitch well.

The Lineups:

New York Yankees:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
  2. Derek Jeter – SS
  3. Brett Gardner – CF
  4. Brian McCann – 1B
  5. Chris Young – LF
  6. Stephen Drew – 2B
  7. Ichiro Suzuki – RF
  8. Zelous Wheeler – 3B
  9. Austin Romine – C

SP Bryan Mitchell

Baltimore Orioles:

  1. Alejandro De Aza – LF
  2. Steve Pearce – 1B
  3. Jimmy Paredes – 3B
  4. Nelson Cruz – RF
  5. Delmon Young – DH
  6. David Lough – CF
  7. Caleb Joseph – C
  8. Ryan Flaherty – SS
  9. Jonathan Schoop – 2B

SP – Bud Norris

Not exactly a crack lineup there on either side.…

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Koji Uehorror – Yankees walk it off in the ninth

The Yankees appeared to be heading to another frustrating loss and Koji Uehara trotted in from the bullpen to protect a 4-3 lead. Three batters later, Mark Teixeira had tied it with homer and after a Brian McCann (hard hit) line drive out, Chase Headley hit a bomb to the third deck to win the game in walk-off fashion. Headley was met at home to a frenzied celebration and a Gardner Gatorade bath.

Uehara is really struggling right now and his big out pitch, the split-fingered fastball, is just not sinking and when that pitch doesn’t work, it becomes a batting practice fastball. Living in Maine with the blackout rules, I had to watch the game on NESN and the post game show featured Dennis Eckersley savaging Uehara. Hey, the guy won them a World Series last year, lighten up!

The game to the ninth inning was pretty tough to watch. Stacey Gotsulias was hurling epithets all over Twitter and who could blame her.…

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The expandables: Who will the Yankees call up for September?

We are two days away from that wacky time of year when team active rosters can expand from 25 to any amount from 26 to forty. If your team is out of the chase, you can call up a bunch of prospects you want to look at, but as Joe Girardi has said in the past, September is not the time for auditions when in a race to make the playoffs. While the Yankees are currently racing like Jeff Gordon trying to make the last four laps on bald tires, they are still giving it their best shot. That said, don’t expect any fun prospect porn from the Yankees.

First of all, you can only bring up players from your 40-man roster (I’ve read the actual MLB rules here and they are a bit ambiguous). So those of you hoping for a fun glimpse of Rob Refsnyder or even Pat Venditte will be disappointed unless the Yankees clear room on the 40-man roster.…

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Game 127 – Here we go a-Carrolling

The Yankees need to win on Joe Torre Day, right? Well, they didn’t win on Paul O’Neill Day. But the team does have a two-game winning streak thanks in part to some of the parts Brian Cashman brought in at the trade deadline. Once the Torre festivities are over, it will be Hiroki Kuroda versus Scott Carroll.

Once upon a time, a day game with Kuroda on the mound at home meant nothing but good things. But Hirok has not been quite the same pitcher. He sports the 16th lowest strikeout percentage of 96 qualified starters this season. Not being able to finish off batters compared to past years has been a problem.

Scott Carroll continues to be a nice story of a guy who pitched for years and years in the minors and finally got his shot. His actual performance has been up and down and he has been lit up pretty well in his last three starts.

Derek Jeter gets the day off and Stephen Drew will handle short.…

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1994: The Yanks coulda been a contenda

I really enjoyed Domenic’s piece yesterday about the 1994 Expos and Yankees playing each other in the 1994 World Series. As Domenic mentions, much has been written about the 1994 Expos and how the labor stoppage not only killed the Expos’ greatest chance at post season history, but perhaps killed the franchise as well. While the Yankees franchise has survived the labor unrest quite well, the team was poised to erase twelve years of post season inaction and it was quite possible the Yankees’ great dynasty at the turn of the millennium might have started two seasons earlier. What if the 1994 Yankees were able to complete that 1994 season?

The more I thought about this piece, the more variables I came up with. I am not going to present simulations. Number one, I’m not that savvy. Number two, Bill James did that for us back in 1995. What interests me more is the individual seasons it cut short and whether the team would have actually made it to the World Series.…

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