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.

No, Henny Penny, the sky is not falling

Baseball has a long schedule. And 37 games out of 162 hardly make a case. Last year’s World Champion, St. Louis Cardinals were four games over .500 after 130 games last season. In 2010, the World Champion, San Francisco Giants were a game over .500 after 78 games. And guess what, the 2009 World Champion, New York Yankees were just 20-17 after 37 games and were in third place, four and a half games behind the division leader. Sound familiar?

Just about every area of this current Yankee team has concerns. Yes, the team cannot seem to win unless they homer. Yes, the rotation has had its struggles. Yes, injuries have affected the bullpen and the outfield. Yes, the team is old. And yes, the team plays in a tough division filled with good teams. And don’t think those Red Sox are dead yet. But every season is different and poses new challenges and problems. This current team has not had a hot streak yet.… Click here to read the rest

Kuroda spanked. Offense tanked. A Yankees loss in the dome

In the game thread before the game, it was mentioned that Hiroki Kuroda needed to keep the ball inside the ballpark. Mission so not accomplished. Kuroda, who has struggled in the first inning, set the Blue Jays down in order in the first and struck out two. But in the second inning, Edwin Encarnacion singled, was forced out at second by Brett Lawrie. After Colby Rasmus struck out and Lawrie stole second, J.P. Arencibia hit a 3-2 pitch just over the wall in left. That was just the beginning.

In the third inning, Kuroda easily got the first two outs. A two-out double to Eric Thames was followed by a walk to Jose Bautista. That brought Edwin Encanacion to the plate. Kuroda left a 1-0 fastball over the plate and Encanacion belted it into the second deck in straight away center field. The Yankees were down, 5-0 and the game was essentially over.

Jose Bautista completed the scoring against Kuroda with one of the hardest hit balls I have ever seen.… Click here to read the rest

What is Cory Wade’s magic?

Perhaps magic is a poor word choice and I am already regretting using it. “Stuff” is closer to what I am looking for and why Wade has been so successful. Part of the answer is fairly simple: Control. During Wade’s Triple-A career, he walked only 1.8 batters per nine innings. That pattern has definitely been evident in his time with the Yankees as he finished with a 1.8 walks per nine innings last year and is only sitting at 1.1 per nine this season. As Rivera proved, the less  fewer base runners you put on with freebies, the easier it was to get the other team out. But what is more perplexing is the strikeouts.

Cory Wade was never a big strikeout guy in the minors. His career Triple-A strikeout rate was 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings. While that isn’t overly dominant, combined with his walk rate, the rate gave him a really nice strikeout to walk ratio. Suddenly, in 2012, Wade has become a bit of a strikeout machine as he has struck out 20 batters in just 17 innings pitched.… Click here to read the rest

Is Granderson that bad a center fielder?

According to Fangraphs, currently, Curtis Granderson is the worst fielding center fielder in baseball with a UZR of -9.7. Baseball-reference.com pretty much agrees and assigns him a -6 runs lost in fielding thus far. Baseball Prospectus has him at -2.7 thus far but rated him in the “horrendous” category last year. In fact, Fangraphs rates only Angel Pagan worse than Curtis Granderson if you combine last year with this one. What gives here? Is Granderson that bad?

A loss of range seems to be behind a lot of the B-R evaluation. That site says that Curtis Granderson’s range in center field was 2.81 as recently as 2008 and was above 3.00 in years previous to that. This year, Granderson’s range is rated at 2.16 or below league average. Has he lost that much of a step as a player? But then you get a play like this. Granderson’s stolen base totals are down and he only has one triple. So maybe his wheels aren’t what they once were.… Click here to read the rest

Happy Andy Pettitte Day

We all know what the heart wants. The heart wants this to be a festival for Mothers Day with nostalgia meeting current needs. Heck, if Phil Hughes can pitch seven-plus innings and only give up a run, anything seems possible. But this is the Andy that gave the Yankees nineteen post season wins. He was there for every one of the five championships since 1996. Now he is back like the return of an old war hero. His return is like putting on your favorite pair of jeans. The heart wants the outing to be a celebration of all those good times and all those memories.

But this is not Old Timers Day. This is not a guy trotting out to the mound so that we can get misty-eyed and nostalgic. This is a guy going to the mound when every game counts in a tough American League East where at least two teams and possibly more are going to give the Yankees every run for their money they can devise.… Click here to read the rest