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

Long term Max Scherzer is a big risk

(Syndicated from The Flagrant Fan)

Signing any player to a long term contract is a risk. Things rarely work out for the life of the deal. Sometimes the player is so good in the first few years of the deal that the back end evens out the worth of the investment. The risk seems even larger for Max Scherzer because, first, he is a pitcher and secondly, all you have to do is look at his teammate from Detroit as a cautionary tale.

Scherzer famously turned down a large offer from the Tigers to test the free agent waters. And it seems he has set himself up nicely with another ace-like season. The financial rewards of his roll of the dice will pay off handsomely. Someone will give him the money. But will they be happy with the investment?

Scherzer’s own teammate, Justin Verlander and American League rival, CC Sabathia seem to show the risks involved with signing up a talented power arm up beyond their peak seasons.…

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Seven best Yankee off season trades since 1975

Blockbuster trades do not happen that often for the New York Yankees. Most of the off season news concerns free agents and waiver pickups. What few trades made over the Steinbrenner years seem inconsequential and the players involved quickly sink into oblivion. The last big off season trade involved sending Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. The debates about that trade have been fun. The official tally so far is Pineda with 2.7 rWAR to Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi both at -0.4 since the trade occurred. We will have to give that one a little more time before the Yankees can be declared the winner. But what were the best trades?

I am just talking off season here or that period between the end of the season and the start of the next one. Obviously, the list will not include the most recent seasons because, again, time needs to occur before you can look at a long history of what happened after a trade.…

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Fan versus the machine – 2014 hopes against the odds

Being a fan of a team and writing about that same team is a very difficult trick to pull off. The most difficult part is being objective and writing in a factual way without getting carried away by emotions. If you don’t fight the emotions, you end up writing screeds against the general manager or manager and players who don’t perform the way you expect or turn the other way and be exceeding in the praise. One way to really illustrate the problem is to look at the fan’s hopes during the season and cold, hard odds of making the wild card or winning the division as it is calculated every day by places like Fangraphs.com. It wasn’t until the end of the 2014 season when the hopes fell in line with reality.

What I did to illustrate the point was to list the day by day Fangraphs odds for the Yankees to either win a wild card spot or win the division from Game 1 of the season to Game 162.…

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Whiffing wonders – flipping a Marlon Byrd

(Syndicated from The Flagrant Fan)

Anyone who has read my stuff for a while understands that I am not fond of strikeouts. I have often jousted against the notion that an out is an out is an out. I respectfully disagree. Strikeouts give the batter no opportunity to have anything other than an out where a batted ball will give the batter a 30% chance to get on base. One of the few scenarios where a strikeout is better than a batted ball is a double play. Knowing my predilection to this part of baseball is my discovery that Marlon Byrd has done something in 2014 no player in the history of baseball has ever done before. Marlon Byrd struck out 150 times more than he walked in 2014.

Byrd had a pretty good offensive season by most standards. He had a 110 OPS+, hit 25 homers and drove in 85. In the world of the Phillies, that’s really productive.…

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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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