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.

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. Instead, whether it was Tony Pena or Joe Girardi or John Ryan Murphy–someone called for the slider. Not only was it the dumbest selection to throw to Reynolds, but it was as poorly executed as physically possible.

Sure, it is easy to second guess. Sure, it is easy to be a television manager. But this one got me steamed. Here, for your edification is the location of the pitch. A picture here does not paints a thousand words.

Warrens Pitch to Reynolds

 

The pitch looked like a fairly good one since it was down and out of the strike zone. But I watched it. The slider just rolled up there like some kind of dying  quail. Reynolds did not miss it because it was a poor pitch that should not have been called thrown at the worst possible time. Ballgame. Continue reading Short grouse about that last pitch

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. Please remember that we are still dealing with small sample sizes and judgments are hard to make until much more of the season goes by. But as of now, Yankee DHs have a total OPS of just .686 compared to an overall league OPS of .707 (all positions).

Again, you would like a position placed in the lineup solely to hit at least being better than the league average. The .686 OPS at the position places the Yankees twelfth in the American League out of fifteen teams. Twelfth is not good enough.

A lot of the blame falls on Alfonso Soriano. He has played 22 games at the position. Carlos Beltran sorianohas been there eight times, Brian McCann twice and Jacoby Ellsbury once. Yes, McCann is one for eight at the position, but you can hardly blame him for eight measly at bats.

The problem is that Soriano does not like the position. He made it clear in the spring that he prefers to play in the field. And thus far, he is living up to his dislike. As a DH, Soriano has the triple slash line of .214/.269/.381. He does have three homers from the position and has driven in nine. But his .650 OPS at the position pales with the short sample size of his OPS when playing in the field.

When Soriano has played in the field, his batting average is .286 and his slugging is .476. His strikeout rate as a DH is 29.7% and is 19.0% when playing in the field. So what do you do about all of this?

The opposite of Soriano is Carlos Beltran. Again, there is full disclosure here that the sample size is very small. But in Beltran’s eight games at DH, his triple slash line is: .290/.303/.581. Okay! Those are the numbers you want for a DH.

There is not that big a difference putting either Beltran or Soriano in the field. Beltran is way past the time of being a good outfielder. He has looked quite leaden out there. But he is about a run better than Soriano, who isn’t very good in the field at this stage in his career either.

You have to keep Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield because they save quite a few runs out there. And we can dispense a bit with the notion that Gardner should sit against lefties. Gardner is actually hitting much better against left-handed pitching than he is the other way around.

If you play Gardner and Ellsbury every day (well, duh), then the RF/DH is between Beltran and Soriano. Currently, the ratio is 8/22 in games at the DH position for the two respectively. Perhaps it would help to split them evenly. Put Beltran at DH half the time and Soriano at DH half the time. Soriano will be happier and perhaps more productive and Beltran does not suffer offensively. You can sit one of them occasionally and get Ichiro Suzuki some reps in right field too.

Alfonso Soriano does not like the DH position and it is showing in his production. While the sample sizes are still small, the Yankees need the DH to be productive. Perhaps splitting Beltran and Soriano’s reps at the position at a 50/50 split instead of the current 8/22 would help. Soriano will be happier and hopefully more productive and both are bad in the outfield anyway. The position is doing better than last season. But below league average is not acceptable. Continue reading Designated hitter again a problem for the Yankees

Brett Gardner and weird plate discipline numbers

Joe Girardi made a lot of people happy yesterday by placing Brett Gardner at the top of the lineup. Unfortunately, he struck out in three of his four plate appearances. His lone contact of the game was a first pitch weak ground out to the pitcher. That first pitch swing in the first inning of the game was a fairly unique event for Gardner. When you dig deeply into Gardner’s numbers, a lot of weirdness comes up. For example, Gardner still makes a lot of contact when he swings. His 5.5% swing and miss rate is still very good compared Continue reading Brett Gardner and weird plate discipline numbers

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.

In all, eleven of the Yankees’ games this year (out of 26) have been started with a temperature of less than 60 degrees. That works out to 42.3% of the team’s games. Seven of the team’s ten home games have been played with a starting temperature of less than sixty degrees. And I think most would agree that home is where the Yankees make hay. You have a hard time making hay when the ground is frozen.

The average temperature of those eleven games under sixty degrees has been 51.5 degrees. And in many cases, a strong wind has been present as well. Poor Brian McCann must be wondering why he didn’t bring thermal undies north with him from Georgia.

So has it all affected the Yankees’ bats? To be completely open and honest here, the numbers I am going to present could have a ton of other factors including the caliber of pitching faced, absences from the lineup, bad luck, etc. But whether there is a coincidence factor or not, the Yankees have not fared as well offensively in the cold as in the relative warmth.

In the eleven games the Yankees have played with less than a start temperature of sixty degrees, the team has averaged 3.9 runs per game, 8.1 hits and 2.7 extra base hits in an average of 36.9 plate appearances. In the fifteen games where the starting temperature was above sixty degrees, the Yankees have averaged 4.44 runs per game, 9.56 hits and 3.38 extra base hits in an average of 38.81 plate appearances.

There have been three occasions where the Yankees collected more than ten hits in the eleven cold games (27.3%). There have been six such occasions in the higher temp games (40%).

Again, there might be a whole lot of other factors going on here and the temperature could be meaningless. Much more work would need to go into the quality of the starters and pitching staffs they have faced in either warm or cold cases, etc. But my instinct here is to feel that the numbers do show at least some ice upon Yankee bats for a good chunk of their games.

Things have been particularly cold at Yankee Stadium and the bats should warm up there. Thus far, the team has a higher batting average and on-base percentage on the road than at home. The slugging is higher at home and thus the OPS slightly higher. But the Yankees should rock the home park and haven’t yet.

All of this is pretty good news considering the team’s record and where they are in the standings. Then again, the cold hasn’t exactly been kind to the Red Sox and Orioles either. Continue reading Yankee bats are cold…literally

Short-term winning Yankee pitchers

The history of the New York Yankees is littered with pitchers who put together a winning percentage of .600 or better because the Yankees have won so many games over the team’s history. There is Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry, CC Sabathia, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Orlando Hernandez, Andy Pettitte and even Don Larsen, to name a few. But what about those pitchers who only pitched a season or two for the team and yet had very good success? After setting some criteria, there were nine that are featured here today.

The criteria was this: The pitcher had to make at least fifteen starts, but less than forty. They had to have an ERA+ of 100 or better to be at least league average or better. And they had to have a .600 winning percentage or better. With that set as the parameters, nine pitchers came into focus and are listed below by rWAR:

Jack McDowell: Jack McDowell was a first round draft pick by the Chicago White Sox in 1987. He would have three great seasons for the White Sox from 1991 to 1993 where he was in the top ten in voting for the Cy Young Award. He won the award in 1993 for his 22-win season.

McDowell had one season to go to become a free agent and the White Sox traded him to the Yankees for Lyle Mouton (the player named later) and Keith Heberling, a promising young pitcher who flamed out early in the minors and never made it to the big leagues.

In McDowell’s one season for the Yankees, 1995, and he was arguably the Yankees best pitcher that season. He went 15-10 with a 118 ERA+ and led all Yankee pitchers in rWAR. Unfortunately, he made two starts against the Mariners in the playoffs and pitched poorly, losing both games. The Yankees let him walk. That was pretty much a good thing because McDowell’s career washed out after that.

Joe Cowley: Joe Cowley signed with the Atlanta Braves in 1976. After toiling for the Braves in the minors for eight seasons (with a brief cup of coffee in the Majors), he was granted free agency and signed with the Yankees after the 1983 season. See his picture as a Yankee here.

Pitching for the Columbus Clippers in early 1984, Cowley went 10-3 for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. The Yankees called him up to make an emergency start on July 16. The Yankees won the game, 9-8 but Cowley only pitched five innings and did not factor into the decision. He would pitch four games in relief, winning one and losing one and had one “hold.”

The Yankees put him in the rotation on August 3 and he won eight straight decisions! He would finish the season at 9-2 making him 19-5 overall for the season.

Cowley was given a rotation spot in 1985 and went 12-6. That was the year the Yankees fired Yogi Berra and gave Billy Martin one more shot at it. The Yankees won 97 games that season, the closest they came during the 80s to a playoff spot.

Cowley was traded after the 1985 season to the White Sox for three minor league players who did not amount to anything. He had a decent season in 1986 for that team and they in turn traded him to the Phillies where he bombed out and was finished in baseball at the age of 28. Was he another Billy Martin casualty?

Joe Cowley, in his brief Yankee career went 21-8 with a 104 ERA+.

Jon Lieber: Lieber was originally drafted by the Royals (second round) but they traded him to the Pirates before he reached the Majors. He pitched five nondescript years for the Pirates before they traded him to the Chicago Cubs. He had a decent five-year run with the Cubs and was a solid starter for them. But he missed the entire 2003 season with injury and became a free agent.

The Yankees signed him to a one-year deal and it was a good signing. He gave the Yankees a solid season in 2004, going 14-8 with a 3.71 FIP. He was the only reliable starter at the time of the playoffs and pitched three times in that post season. He pitched very well for the Yankees in those three starts, but we will not discuss that playoff season any further.

Lieber left after the 2004 season and signed a contract with Phillies where he pitched for three seasons. Only his first one there was good. His last season was with the Cubs in 2008.

John Candelaria. The Candy Man had a long, nineteen year career where he won 59.2% of his decisions and had a 3.41 ERA. He compiled 40.1 rWAR for his career putting him strongly in the Hall of Very Good. His tenure with the Yankees was brief and was during the turbulent 1980s so few might remember him today.

The Yankees signed Candelaria as a free agent before the 1988 season and he pitched very well that season despite the Yankees finishing fifth in the division. He went 13-7 with a 3.38 ERA (3.20 FIP) in 24 starts. He had two shutouts and completed six games that season. He even pitched one game in relief and picked up a save.

He started the 1989 season at 3-3 and wasn’t doing as well but after ten appearances, was traded to the Expos for Mike Blowers. Blech. Candelaria was only used in relief by the Expos, a role he would adopt for the rest of his career. He finished his Yankee career at 16-10.

Don Gullett. You have to wonder how Gullett would have fared with today’s modern medicine and treatments. He was a highly successful pitcher who won 68.5% of his career decisions and five World Series rings between the Reds’ Big Red Machine years and the Yankees two-year reign in 1977 and 1978.

But he could not stay healthy and flamed out at the age of 27. His two Yankee seasons were his last and when they could get him on the mound, he won. Gullett gave the Yankees thirty starts over those two seasons and would go 18-6 in his Yankee career. He was 14-4 in 1977 and was a huge part of the Yankees’ season that year.

Unfortunately, Gullett pitched three times for the Yankees in the 1977 post season and pitched poorly, losing two of those starts. You have to wonder what might have been…

Dutch Ruether: Walter Henry “Dutch” Ruether was another pitcher with Reds and Yankees ties, but pitched for the Yankees 51 years before Gullett. Ruether had a brilliant season for the 1919 Reds and went 19-6 with a 1.82 ERA and then won a game in the World Series (yes, the Black Sox series) as the Reds won the championship. He had another terrific season for the Reds in 1920 and then they inexplicably traded him to the Brooklyn Robins for Rube Marquard, a once brilliant pitcher whose best days were behind him.

Ruether would have decent seasons for the lowly Robins who then traded him to the Washington dutchSenators. He pitched well there for a year and a half before that team traded him to the Yankees in 1926 for the stretch run. Ruether made five starts down the stretch in 1926 with mixed results. He then lost his one start in the 1926 World Series the Yankees lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.

He would have a much better season in 1927 as he went 13-6 in 26 starts for that great Yankees team. His ERA that season was 3.38, good for a 115 ERA+. He did not pitch in the 1927 World Series as the Yankees swept the Pirates in four games. Strangely, Dutch Ruether was done and never pitched again in the Majors. Perhaps it was not that strange. Ruether was a Californian and as such, he pitched the rest of his professional career in the Pacific Coast League, which paid well back then.

Ruether not only had a .625 winning percentage as a short-term Yankee, but finished with a .591 winning percentage for his career.

Vito Tamulis: Vitautris Casimirus “Vito” Tamulis is probably the most obscure name on this list. He pitched one game in 1934 and then spent a large part of the 1935 season with the Yankees. Both of those seasons featured Yankee teams that came in second place.

In his one game in 1934, he had a dream MLB debut and on September 25, 1934, he shut out the Philadelphia Athletics with a seven-hitter.

In 1935, Tamulis would pitch 30 times, nineteen of them starts. He would finish the season at 10-5. He vitohad three shutouts and nine complete games. His ERA wasn’t great, however.

Tamulis got sick after the 1935 season and never pitched again for the Yankees. In fact, he would not pitch in the Majors again until 1938 when he had three decent seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers (again with a winning percentage better than .600). He would fade into obscurity after that. For a somewhat interesting read on Tamulis, go here.

John Montefusco: “The Count” was a colorful figure and is another pitcher who ended his career with the Yankees. He had bright moments during his career that started with the San Francisco Giants but very few of his twelve seasons saw him stay healthy the entire way. One of those seasons were 1982 and 1983 where the first year and most of the second were spent with the San Diego Padres.

The Yankees were in a bit of a pennant race in 1983 (that fizzled in the end) and at the end of August acquired Montefusco from the Padres for what later turned out to be Dennis Rasmussen and Edwin Rodriguez. The Yankees got Rasmussen back a year later in a trade that ended Graig Nettles‘ career as a Yankee.

Montefusco gave the Yankees exactly what they wanted in that 1983 stretch run. He made six starts and went 5-0. The following season, Montefusco could not stay healthy and only made eleven starts the entire season and went 5-3. His final two seasons of 1985 and 1986 were filled with many days on the DL and very few appearances. But The Count’s 10-3 record as a Yankee starter get him into our list.

Doc Ellis: As colorful as Montefusco was, he does not hold a candle to Doc Ellis, one of the most colorful and scandalous players to ever play in the Majors. His one full season and three short starts the next season for the Yankees in 1976 and 1977 were terrific, but brief. The trade that brought Ellis, Ken Brett and Willie Randolph to the Yankees for Doc Medich was probably one of the best trades the Yankees ever made.

Doc Ellis went 17-8 for the 1976 Yankees with an ERA of 3.19. 1976 was the year that the Yankees got back to the World Series for the first time since 1964. Ellis helped get them there. And he pitched a brilliant game against the Royals in the ALCS to help get the Yankees past that team to the World Series. But, alas, his one start in the World Series went badly as the Big Red machine swept the Yankees in four games.

Ellis was off to a very good start after three games with the Yankees in 1977 but must have worn out his welcome by then and he was traded along with two other players to the Oakland A’s for Mike Torrez. Torrez worked out pretty well for the Yankees in 1977.

Ellis made seven really bad starts for the A’s and then they sold him to the Rangers, where he had a very good rest of the season. However, that was his last hurrah as he was never again an effective pitcher in the Major Leagues.

And that’s the list of short-term Yankee winners. There are sure to be others missed by the narrow criteria set here. But these nine pitchers had brief but shining moments from a team that made a lot of pitchers look good. Continue reading Short-term winning Yankee pitchers

Yankees pester Lester, win, 9-3

The New York Yankees did not take long to mess up Jon Lester‘s game plan. The team scored two runs off of the Red Sox hurler before anyone was out in the first inning. The Yankees scored two more in the third and put the game away in the fifth with four more. Masahiro Tanaka pitched very well again besides back-to-back solo homers by David Ortiz and Mike Napoli in fourth. Tanaka went 7.1 innings, gave up seven hits and no walks and struck out seven to earn his third win. Lester dropped to 2-3. Jacoby Ellsbury heard some boos Continue reading Yankees pester Lester, win, 9-3

History by the fours

Since today was a day off in the current 2014 New York Yankees season, I thought I might take a look at the past versions of the Yankees during all of their “4” seasons. This entry will look at every Yankee season that ended with a four and present the best pitcher and batter of that particular season. We begin with the 1904 New York Highlanders.

1904. The New York Highlanders were managed by the 34-year-old Clark Griffith who also pitched ches100+ innings that season and went 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA. The team won 92 games and finished a game and a half behind Boston. The best player on the team was pitcher, Happy Jack Chesbro. Chesbro had his best season and led the league in games pitched, starts, complete games, wins, innings pitched and had the lowest hits per nine allowed in the league. He went 41-12 with a 1.82 ERA (2.19 FIP) and completed 48 of his 51 starts. His ERA was fifty percent better than the league average. He also batted .237 with thirteen extra base hits!

Chesbro is probably a marginal Hall of Fame entry. He was inducted by the Old Timers Committee in 1946. He died in his home state of Massachusetts in 1931 at age 57.

The best batter on the team was another marginal Hall of Fame player, Wee Willie Keeler, who batted .344 with 186 hits. But he only put together 222 total bases with his 186 hits.

1914. The 1914 Yankees were a terrible team that finished 70-84. Frank Chance was the manager chanceand for you trivia buffs, he was the manager of the last Chicago Cubs team that won the World Series in 1908. This was Chance’s third season at the helm of the Yankees and he could not repeat his success in Chicago. With 20 games remaining in the season, he was replaced as manager by Roger Peckinpaugh, the team’s 23-year-old shortstop!

There wasn’t a best offensive player. The team came in last in the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. The best player, therefore, was pitcher, Ray Caldwell, who went 18-9 with a 1.94 ERA. It was Caldwell’s best season though he did have four good seasons in his twelve-year career. He was traded to the Red Sox in 1918 and finished his career in Cleveland.

1924. After winning the World Series in 1923, the Yankees finished two games behind the Washington Senators in 1924. The best player on the team was Babe Ruth, as you could have probably guessed. Ruth played every game that season and in between irritating manager, Miller Huggins, finished with 46 homers and an OPS of 1.252! Ruth hit 46 homers. The rest of his mates hit 52 combined.

The best pitcher of 1924 was Herb Pennock. Pennock is another one of those players who sneaked into the Hall of Fame based on his success pitching in front of great Yankees teams. In 1924, he went 21-9 with an ERA of 2.83.

1934. The 1934 Yankees were a team in need of a transition. Babe Ruth was 39 and in his last season as a Yankee. He was not that much of a factor. The team, now managed by Joe McCarthy, finished seven games behind the Tigers and came in second place despite 94 wins.

Lou Gehrig was still firing on all cylinders, however, and had another great season in 1934. His triple slash line was .363/.465/.706 and had a 206 OPS+. He hit 49 homers and drove in an incredible 166 runs and scored 128. He was the Triple Crown winner and led the league in fourteen categories. Unbelievably, he did not win the Most Valuable Player Award, which went to Mickey Cochrane.

The Yankees’ best pitcher that season was Lefty Gomez, who was almost as good on the mound as Gehrig was at the plate. Gomez went 26-5 that season with a 2.33 ERA. If Saves had been recorded back then, he would have had two of those too!

1944. Joe McCarthy was still managing the Yankees in 1944 and would for two more years after that. But the 1944 Yankees were just north of ordinary and won 83 games, good for just a third place finish. To give you an idea of the team’s fortunes in 1944 and 1945, arguably their best player during both of those years was Snuffy Sternweiss.

Sternweiss, a second baseman, hit .319 in 1944 with 205 hits that included 35 doubles, 16 triples and eight home runs. He scored 125 runs and stole 55 bases. He would come in fourth in MVP voting. Once the war ended, Sternweiss never again approached the kind of numbers he compiled in 1944 and 1945.

The Yankees’ best pitcher that season was Hank Borowy. Borowy was another player who benefited borowyfrom the war years and never duplicated the successes he had from 1942 through 1945 after the war was over. He went 17-12 with a 2.65 ERA. After starting 10-5 for the Yankees in 1945, he was traded to the contending Chicago Cubs (for $97,000!) where he went 11-2 down the stretch. He started and lost the deciding Game Seven of that 1945 Series. Alas. If he had not, we might not have the lovable loser label on the Cubs to this day.

1954. This post is starting to really bother me because I have not presented one “4” team that has won the pennant. The 1954 version was no different as it was one of only two Yankee teams of the 1950s that did not win the pennant. But you can hardly fault this team for coming in second because they won 103 games! It was the year the Cleveland Indians went crazy and won 111–only to lose the World Series in one of the biggest upsets ever.

Mickey Mantle was just 22-years-old and made $21,000 in 1954. He had his first very good season, but it would only be a starter for some of the seasons he put together in the following years. He batted an even .300 with an on-base percentage of .408 and a slugging of .525. He hit 27 homers and drove in 102 runs and scored 129. It was also the year that Casey Stengel put Mantle in the lineup as the starting shortstop in the final game of that season.

The 25-year-old Whitey Ford was the Yankees’ best pitcher of 1954. He went 16-8 that season with a 2.82 ERA. A 24-year-old Bob Grim actually had a better record at 20-6 that season, but Ford has more complete games, a better ERA and more shutouts.

1964. Hey! A year the Yankees won a pennant! But it was also the end of the dynasty as the team would not go to those heights of glory again until 1976. The 1964 Yankees lost a heart-breaking World Series and it was Mickey Mantle’s last season as a superstar. His manager that year was his old friend, Yogi Berra, who really got the shaft by not winning that World Series. How do you get rid of the manager who just took you to the World Series!?

Mantle, now making $100,000 a year played 143 games and hit 35 homers and drove in 111. He batted .303 and led the league in on-base percentage and OPS that season. He came in second to Brooks Robinson for the MVP. Elston Howard also had a great offensive and defensive season that year.

Finally free of Casey Stengel and that manager’s penchant for playing percentages and match-ups, Whitey Ford had one of his best seasons. He went 17-6 with an ERA of 2.13 (2.45 FIP) in 244+ innings. Though to be fair, Ford had won the battle for the right to pitch as much as he wanted as early as 1961. Ford was 35-years-old and would have one more great season in 1965. Jim Bouton also had a great year in 1964.

1974. The 1974 Yankees came in second place, two games behind the Baltimore Orioles. It was one of the years the team played in Shea Stadium. The team was managed by Bill Virdon and it was after this season that the Yankees broke my heart and traded Bobby Murcer for Bobby Bonds. It still hurts today.

The best offensive player for the Yankees that season was arguably Elliot Maddox. Maddox finished the season with a .303 batting average and a .395 on-base percentage and led the team in rWAR (if it had been around back then). Ron Blomberg had a higher OPS and OPS+, but he only came to the plate 301 times that season.

Pat Dobson and Doc Medich both went 19-15 that season with a ton of innings pitched. But Dobson hd a better ERA, FIP and WHIP. Sparky Lyle was also unbelievable that season with a 1.66 ERA in 114 innings pitched.

1984. Twenty years after he managed the Yankees in 1964, Yogi Berra got another chance and got his heart broken by George Steinbrenner the year after. The team finished in third place in 1984 and were never really a factor. But that was the season of the great Don Mattingly / Dave Winfield batting race that I have already chronicled here.

The best pitcher for that season for the Yankees was the 45-year-old Phil Niekro who went 16-8 in 31 starts and finished with a 3.09 ERA. Dave Righetti also had a great year as the team’s closer.

1994. This was the blight year that never ended. Well…it did end after August 11, but not properly as the strike killed the season and there was no post season. Many talk about the strike and how it cost the Montreal Expos. But it also cost the Yankees who had a six and a half game lead in the AL East when the season ended.

Don Mattingly might have had his chance at the World Series had not the season ended and was having a good season. Wade Boggs was having an unbelievable season, easily his best as a Yankee and it ended early. But the real star that season was Paul O’Neill, who was leading the league in batting when the season ended at .359 and had a .460 on-base percentage at the time!

Another casualty was Jimmy Key, who was 17-4 when the season ended. He ended up coming in second in the Cy Young Award and lost out to David Cone, who was then pitching for the Royals. I need to write about Jimmy Key real soon as he was one of the most underrated pitchers in recent history.

2004. Ten years ago, Ah, the painful memories. They shall go unspoken. To paraphrase the biggest songs in recent times, “They could have had it all-a-a-all.” The hurt goes deep and is still seared in the memory.

The offensive player of the year is a real toss-up. I could make arguments for Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. They were all terrific that season. A-Rod led all players in rWAR though.

The rotation that year was not good with the exception of the brief and bright flame of Orlando Hernandez. You would have to give the best pitcher of that season to Mariano Rivera who saved 53 games and had a 1.94 ERA. He just could not save the 170th game of that season.

There you have it folks if you made it this far! There are the “4” years throughout Yankee history. How will this “4” year turn out? All we can do is wait and see. Continue reading History by the fours

The Girardi name game

If you have not read this article by Daniel Barbarisi this morning, it is well worth a look. The article is all about how Joe Girardi gives all his players nicknames. You will want to read it just to figure out why Dean Anna is called, “Raccoon.” The article received a lot of traction in our staff e-mails this morning and I decided to play this Girardi name game for our staff generals and soldiers. Here is what I came up with.

Some of them are not real original, but then again, some of Girardi’s are either. “Jeets,” is rather bland is it not? Therefore Stacey Gotsulias simply becomes, “Gots.” Without further ado, here are the rest of our staff in Girardi form:

  • Jason Rosenberg = “Skip.”  I’d call him, “Rosie,” but I like writing here.
  • Larry Koestler = “Coast.”
  • Moshe Mandel = “Mosh.”
  • Brien Jackson = “Jackie.”
  • We’ll just call Michael Eder, “E.”
  • Tamar Chalker = “Tam.”
  • E.J. Fagan already has one in, “EJ.”
  • Brad Vietrogoski = “Veet.”
  • Domenic Lanza = “Major,” as in Major Domo.
  • Joe Ferraiola = “Fur.”
  • Susan Lulgjuraj is already, “Sooz.”
  • We have three Matts so the first one (Bove) is, “Bover.”
  • Matt Seybold = “C.”
  • Matt Imbrogno = “Imbee.”
  • You haven’t met “Deuce,” yet, but you will.
  • And I guess I would be, “Bilbo,” since I have furry feet and eat six times a day.

But what about our regular readers. I hesitate here because I don’t want to offend or leave anyone out. But since we are playing Girardi, why not include a few of you.

  • Professor Longnose = “Knows.”
  • chrisN = “Christen.”
  • not Montero’s dad = “Nottie.”
  • roadrider = “roid.”
  • Frank = “Frankie.”
  • I don’t think you can improve on Derpy.
  • Mean Mr. Mustard = “Meanie.”
  • philc49 = “Philcee.”
  • mikefoxtrot = “Foxy.”
  • Hawaii Dave = “Hula.”
  • yankeerudy = “Rudy.”
  • uyf1950 = “Huey.”

I know I am forgetting way too many of you. So join in the party and create your own or fill in others I missed. Maybe we should do Yankee beat writers too. Bryan Hoch could be, “Hochy.” Anyway, I’m sorry the game is rained out tonight, but as always, we’re glad you stop by often and read our stuff. And Happy Tax Day. Ugh. I had to go and ruin it… Continue reading The Girardi name game

Game 9: Tanaka’s home debut

Masahiro Tanaka makes his Yankee Stadium debut tonight for the New York Yankees as the team plays the third game of its series against the Baltimore Orioles. The new pitcher for the Yankees has a tough test against a very good lineup.

Here are the lineups:

Baltimore Orioles:

  1. Nick Markakis – RF
  2. Delmon Young – DH
  3. Chris Davis – 1B
  4. Adam Jones – CF
  5. Matt Wieters – C
  6. Nelson Cruz – LF
  7. Steve Lombardozzi – 2B
  8. Ryan Flaherty – SS
  9. Jonathan Schoop – 3B

SP – Miguel Gonzalez

New York Yankees:

  1. Brett Gardner – CF
  2. Derek Jeter – SS
  3. Jacoby Ellsbury – DH
  4. Carlos Beltran – RF
  5. Brian McCann – C
  6. Alfonso Soriano – LF
  7. Kelly Johnson – 1B
  8. Brian Roberts – 2B
  9. Yangervis Solarte – 3B

SP – Masahiro Tanaka

Some things to look for:

  • Matt Wieters has an eight game hitting streak and loves hitting at Yankee Stadium.
  • Leading off the game or an inning, Brett Gardner is 0-11 with three walks and five strikeouts. He has a 36.9% K rate since moving into the lead-off spot. Certainly small sample size, but something to keep an eye on.

The Game starts at 7:05 and is being televised on YES. Continue reading Game 9: Tanaka’s home debut