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.

Rolling the dice with David Robertson

Until today, there has been very little discussion of the impending free agency of David Robertson. Which seems strange considering that the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera has had a brilliant first go of it as the Yankees’ primary closer. To be frank, not a lot of discussion has occurred in my own household which features two diehard fans of the team. But then ESPN.com’s Buster Olney dropped this bomb in his daily Insider (requires subscription) column:

David Robertson hasn’t had any talks with the Yankees about a long-term deal even though he’s months from becoming a free agent, but it may be that the team’s strategy with him is fairly cut-and-dried. 

Robertson is a dominant reliever, with 63 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings and just 10 walks in his first season as the Yankees’ closer. He’s 29 years old. The Yankees could simply give him a qualifying offer of $15 million, which is easier for large-budget teams to do.

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Game 98 – Lats, bats and those Rangers cats

When you looked at a schedule for the coming season way back in March, you might have circled this series against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium III. You (nor I) never would have guessed the Rangers would have the worst record in the American League when they arrived in the Bronx. The Rangers have given up more earned runs as a pitching staff than any other American League team. This is like the Rick Helling Rangers much more than any of their teams in recent seasons.

Take tonight for example. The Rangers are starting Miles Mikolas who sounds more like a Tolkien elf than a big league pitcher. Mikolas has made three starts and has given up 24 hits in 14+ innings. He has great control, but has been getting cuffed around so far. But as the Yankees have shown this year, beware of mediocre pitchers!

The Yankees have their own question mark on the mound in Shane Greene.… Click here to read the rest

Seven (straw) arguments for Ellsbury leading off

I am saving you folks a bunch of time making comments by admitting up front that I am creating a flawed statistical argument to support a personal bias and belief. I want Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off for the Yankees. That is what he was signed to do and that is not what he is doing. And since I am not a statistical genius like many of my colleagues here, I can only create weak statistical arguments to support my biased belief. I bet you have never seen an opening paragraph like this one before.

At least I am being honest here. Like many Yankee observers in 2014, I am extremely surprised by the offensive efforts of this team. Offense was not supposed to be a problem this year. And yet it is. The team is 22nd out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored. The team has a 93 OPS+. The offense more resembles last year’s ragtag outfit than a team that was “fixed” in the off season by some key upgrades.… Click here to read the rest

Tanaka out of whacka

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps our expectations were too high. There were all kinds of predictions about what kind of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka would be once the Yankees pulled the trigger and signed the Japanese ace. Certainly, Brian Cashman tried to temper expectations by insisting he signed a Number 3 starter. But then Tanaka was lights out for his first fourteen starts and was 11-1. And expectations suddenly turned to the belief he would win every time he pitched.

Instead, Tanaka has lost three of his last four and fans are left with an expression of watching a fireworks display with no big finale. Naturally, not all of those losses were his fault. If you give up only two or three runs, you should have a reasonable chance to win and the Yankees’ offense wasn’t there for him. But the last two games have been concerning as the hits are starting to pile up and the strikeouts are trending down.

In Tanaka’s last two starts, he has given up more earned runs than he has recorded strikeouts.… Click here to read the rest

Game 82 – Bolster our Kuroding hopes

The New York Yankees are doing a great job of bolstering the hopes of the teams beneath them in the standings, allowing the Red Sox and Rays to beat them at home, the place that to paraphrase Madonna, “Used to be their playground.” And with the Blue Jays and Orioles politely waiting for the aging Yankees to keep up, the old team bends with hands on its knees and waves them on with a gasp for air..

Ah, there was a lot of pathos in that first paragraph, eh? The, “Eh,” is for our Canadian friends on their big holiday today. The Blue Jays already won on Canada Day, so enjoy a frosty beverage and enjoy the fireworks. Yankee fans, meanwhile, will watch the long, lanky, lefty pitcher (alliteration!) on the other team today and wonder how Brian Cashman can somehow pry him away without much to offer in trade value.

Heck, maybe the team will win tonight and blow some thrills the fans’ way.… Click here to read the rest

How MLB.tv and stat sites turned me into a pessimist

This is going to sound a lot like whining. And I apologize in advance. And I know that I am supposed to be more journalistically inclined. But I am not. If I was getting paid to write, I would do that. But there is a reason on my other writing home that the word, “Fan,” is in the title. I have always written about the game from a fan’s perspective. And right about now, this team from the Bronx has me about as pessimistic as a fan can be.

Our own Matt Bove and Kevin Ducey made me think about this new realization about my world view as a fan. This was our recent Twitter conversation:

There was more to the conversation but the gist of it was about my pessimism and Matt trying to get me to stop being that way.… Click here to read the rest

Game 69 – Please don’t whack Tanak

The New York Yankees are back home at Yankee Stadium after a successful road trip (anytime you win more than you lose with a West Coast swing is a good thing) that did have its share of ugh moments. And the pitching match-up is a potentially sparkling arm party. The Yankees, of course, host the current leaders of the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Masahiro Tanaka will need to keep the big boys of the Blue Jays’ lineup in the park, one of the few things he has had trouble doing at home. Runs might come at a premium as the Blue Jays throw out a nice arm in Marcus Stroman. Stroman can run afoul of pitch counts or he could completely shut down just about any team. It depends on the night.

Some pre-game notes: Francisco Cervelli will be back in the Yankees’ dugout (can we get a sardonic yay?) as he came off the DL and John Ryan Murphy was sent down to Triple-A.… Click here to read the rest

An interview with Rudy May

A little while back I signed on Twitter and there in my notifications was a note that Rudy May followed me. That Rudy May!? Sure enough, it was the former pitcher. He was one of my favorites during his years with the Yankees and so I wrote an article here about him. Mr. May was kind enough to tweet me that he enjoyed the article and so I became bold and asked him for an interview. He kindly accepted and we recently had an hour conversation that I thoroughly enjoyed. Rudy May is a delightful guy.

I searched the Web to see if anyone else had interviewed Rudy May recently and I found Jeff Pearlman’s great interview back in January for Mr. Pearlman’s site. The last thing I wanted to do was to cover the same ground. But I did start the conversation bouncing off one of the answers to Mr. Pearlman’s questions. The rest flowed from there.

IIATMS: Mr. May, I read with interest your comments about how you loved Earl Weaver.Click here to read the rest

Game 67 – Secret elders from a gentle race

Before the Yankees began this West Coast road trip, both the team and its captain were receiving heavy criticism and debate. The team has won four straight and Derek Jeter has picked up nine hits and two walks in the four games and scored five times. Could these secret elders from a gentle race be on a roll?

The heading is in honor of Scott Kazmir whose name always reminds me of Led Zeppelin and a song title with a similar name. Kazmir has long been a familiar foe to the Yankees and has faced the team nineteen times in his career. Kazmir is having a great season and his peripherals are fantastic.

The Yankees counter with Hiroki Kuroda who pitched pretty well his last time out in the now famous game where the Yankees went one for seventeen with runners in scoring position. Kuroda should benefit from the large dimensions of the Oakland Coliseum and the super large foul grounds.… Click here to read the rest