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

Don Zimmer The Catcher

The passing of Don Zimmer this week hit me pretty hard. I moved to New England in 1975 and watched a lot of Red Sox games and he became a sympathetic figure to me for the collapse of his Boston Red Sox and for the booing he received even if it meant my favorite team won during those years. And then with the Yankees for those glorious championship years, I really felt that he made Joe Torre a better manager and I enjoyed the way Derek Jeter rubbed his head and the laugh invoked by the action. I wanted to write some sort of tribute for the man I did not really know but had developed a fan fondness for, cemented when he stood up to Steinbrenner and told him to stuff it. But what could I write that hasn’t been written a hundred times by writers all over the country?

All the aspects have been covered—his managerial years, his championships with the Dodgers as a player, Bill Lee, the Red Sox, his run with the Yankees and his final years becoming a beloved figure in Tampa.…

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Game 58 – El Nuno verses Jesse Chavez

There is nothing like home cooking for the Yankees. Errr…maybe not. Maybe more than two runs would be good…just to change things up a little. With Vidal Nuno on the bump for the Yankees, more than two runs might be downright necessary.

Nuno’s home / road splits are not pretty and batters are putting up a .998 OPS against him at home. Even more surprising are his splits against left-handed batters. You would think as a lefty Nuno would be putting those batters away, but the opposite is the case, Lefty batters are hitting to the tune of a 1.155 OPS against him. Eek! Hide the children! All nine of the home runs he has allowed this season have been at Yankee Stadium and his strikeout to walk ratio is cut in half at home.

See Katie Sharp’s excellent article for more about Nuno and pitching at Yankee Stadium.

Jesse Chavez was an early surprise for the A’s but has run into some harder times lately.…

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Cardinals fan meme questioned

The New York Yankees just finished a three game series in St. Louis against the Cardinals. The Yankees took two of the three games and thus had a successful series. The two fan bases are fun to compare. You cannot deny that the Cardinals have something special in St. Louis. The sea of red is everywhere and no city supports their team better. But they also, with a few rational exceptions, do not like their team questioned in any way. Yankee fans, on the other hand, love to argue and usually do so against each other!

Last night on Twitter was a typical example. I wasn’t picking on the Cardinals, which is the funny thing. It was actually a compliment to the Yankees for the series. I tweeted:

In my mind, that is not saying anything bad against the Cardinals.…

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Comparing the 2014 Betances to the 1996 Rivera

We at IIATMS have written a lot about Dellin Betances thus far. And why not? Doing so is certainly more palatable than talking about the too many starts Vidal Nuno is getting and an offense that makes Hector Noesi look good. We’ve talked about Betances’ maturation, we’ve gushed at his strike zone charts, we’ve wondered if he was overworked and we have wondered what makes him so good. Me? I was thinking about a comparable for what Betances is doing this season. I instantly thought about Mariano Rivera and 1996.

Rivera, like Betances was deemed to be a better option in the bullpen than as a starter. And it was a Hall of Fame-making decision for Rivera. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Betances is heading for the Hall of Fame based on eighteen appearances, but he sure is bursting on the scene much as Rivera did in 1996.

One difference between the two seasons is that Joe Torre quickly saw what Rivera was doing in the early part of 1996 and quickly moved him into high leverage situations.…

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Rudy May Day

In 1980, Rudy May had a terrific season for the New York Yankees. He led the league in ERA, FIP, WHIP and strikeout to walk ratio. He came in third among all American League pitchers in WAR. But he did not receive a single Cy Young Award vote. Of course, those were the days before anyone thought anything about WAR and FIP and K/BB ratios. All the writers knew was that Steve Stone went 25-7. Two Yankee teammates of May that year also received votes in Cy Young voting, Tommy John and Goose Gossage. Rudy May‘s season was pretty much overlooked.

It is only through hindsight with the measuring tools we have now that we can truly appreciate the season Rudy May had in 1980. May pitched in 41 games, 17 as a starter and 24 in relief. He still compiled 175.1 innings that season. His final record was 15-5. He completed three of his starts, threw a shutout and chipped in three saves.…

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Short grouse about that last pitch

The Yankees were one out away from getting out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth inning. One more strike and they would have fought into extra innings with a chance to win the game. They never got the one strike as good old Mark Reynolds hit the ball into left-center for the game winning hit. Adam Warren threw the pitch and it might have been the worst 0-2 pitch in history.

First of all, Mark Reynolds had history against him. Reynolds had been in 0-2 counts 863 times in his career. After arriving at that count, Reynolds had struck out 512 times. It works out to a 59% strikeout rate in those situations. He had a .429 OPS in those situations. The odds were all in the Yankees’ favor.

Adam Warren had been throwing 95 MPH gas. A letter-high fastball would have worked. A low fastball would have worked. A fastball on the outside corner would have worked.…

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Designated hitter again a problem for the Yankees

A writer often comes up with random ideas and then says, “Yeah, let’s go with that one.” For me, today’s idea was about the Yankees and the designated hitter position. The silly part was realizing that the Yankees are in Milwaukee for a weekend series against the Brewers and will not have a designated hitter in the National League park. Oops. Well, hold on to these thoughts for later, okay? The bottom line here is that the Yankees are not getting much from the DH position thus far this season.

The good news, at least, is the DH has been better than last year. Last year was awful as the Yankees had an OPS of just .583 out of the DH position compared to the average OPS in Major League Baseball (all positions) of .706. In theory, if you designate a player to hit for you as a bonus in the lineup, you would like that player to actually hit.

With that little bit of good news out of the way, the 2014 Yankees are still below average from the designated hitter position.…

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Yankee bats are cold…literally

My overwhelming impression of the Yankees’ season thus far has been players with red noses blowing on their hands…or putting pine tar on their persons to get a grip. Ahem. This is not to say that the Yankees are the only team dealing with the elements. The entire country east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon Line has been well below normal in temperatures. I wanted to see if I could see any correlation with the cold weather and the way the Yankees have hit so far this season. I believe I have discovered anecdotal evidence of the weather hurting the Yankees at the plate.

In my thinking, ideal baseball weather is higher than seventy degrees. The Yankees have played one non-dome game where the temperature was over seventy at game time. They have had three home games where the start-time temperature was over 60, the highest being 66 degrees. All the other games over seventy degrees have been in domes or parks that can be at least partially covered.…

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