Author Archives: William Tasker

The case for youth at second base

Back on February 6, Brad imagined a world where Brian Roberts suddenly stayed healthy and regained some of his old form and beat all current projections. The very entertaining and well written article surmised that such a scenario could net the New York Yankees a 2.3 WAR season from Roberts. Toward the end of the piece, the author talked himself out of such a thing happening. If such a season for Roberts is as long shot as it is, why not invite both Jose Pirela and Dean Anna to Spring Training and let them fight for the position?

Brian Cashman himself hinted at such a thing happening and stated that second base is open to a “cast of characters.” Let’s make a case for the younger guys. According to MLB Depth Charts, Pirela has a Spring Training invite but Anna does not. Anna should be there in camp to see what he can do.

As Brad pointed out in his piece, most projection systems (if not all) give Roberts no shot at being anything more than a 0.2 to 0.9 WAR player.…

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Ralph Kiner and the 1955 pennant race

Most New York baseball fans think of Ralph Kiner in association with his 53 amazing years of broadcasting for the New York Mets. But eight years before he first sat behind the microphone for the Mets, he almost had an impact on another New York team. Ralph Kiner was a member of the 1955 Cleveland Indians that fought down to the wire with the Yankees in that year’s pennant race.

1955 was Kiner’s tenth and last season in Major League Baseball and it was his first legitimate opportunity to play with a team that could go all the way. Just the season before, the Indians had won 111 of its 154 games to win the pennant by eight games over a Yankees team that won 103 games. The Indians were swept in the 1954 World Series by the New York Giants in one of the biggest upsets of the century.

Despite Kiner’s prodigious career to that point, the Indians picked him up as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Toothpick Sam Jones to the Cubs from Cleveland the previous September.…

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Scrapbooking and scorecards

Long before there was the Internet or ESPN or even cable television, there were three ways for me to keep up with the sport of baseball and my team, the New York Yankees. There were broadcasts of games on WPIX: Channel 11 (or on radio), newspapers like the New York Daily News and the Bergen Record and The Sporting News (TSN). The Sporting News of my youth was an over-sized magazine printed on newspaper paper. Its arrival on Friday or Saturday was always one of the highlights of the week.

At that time, TSN really covered sports in depth and baseball in particular. Each team was given at least a full page or possibly two from journalists who covered those teams. The writing was fantastic and probably sowed some of the seeds of my own desire to write.

After I devoured that thing from cover to cover over a four or five hour period, my fingertips would be black from the ink.…

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Girardi versus Torre in bullpen use

There is a common narrative when it comes to looking back on the two great Yankee managers over the last eighteen years. The narrative goes something like this: Joe Torre burned out his bullpens and Joe Girardi‘s use of his bullpen is one of his strengths as a manager. I have heard variations of those memes over the years and wondered if there was a way to measure the bullpen usage to see how true these narratives were. Once I put together all the numbers, the conclusion I came up with is that Torre really did not earn his reputation until the last five years of his tenure.

First, let’s look at the most basic of numbers, things like ERA, WHIP and bullpen losses. Each provides some insight to the conclusion.

Joe Girardi’s bullpens have beaten the average American League bullpen in ERA every season he has been the manager. His accumulative average bullpen is then higher than the league over that time period.…

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Nova better beat his projections

I was thinking about starting a series called, “Things that have to go well.” The idea was to talk about certain Yankees players and how they have to stay healthy and play well if the Yankees are to compete in 2014. But you can probably see the obvious problem with such an idea. EVERYTHING has...

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Minor move that might be major

The Yankees signed Robert Coello to a minor league contract. Coello might be one of those nice surprises the Yankees have come up with in the bullpen the last couple of years like Kelley and brief brilliance by Eppley, Repada and Wade in 2011 and 2012. What made me sit up and take...

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Jerry Coleman’s 1957 World Series

This post initially appeared on ESPN on January 6, 2014.

Jerry Coleman, who passed away on Sunday, became one of the most popular people in San Diego while broadcasting Padres games from 1972 to 2010, a career that earned him a place in the broadcasting wing of the Hall of Fame. But when a well-known Yankee player passes away, headlines often read something like, “Yankee Great Jerry Coleman Dies.”

The truth was that Jerry Coleman was not a great. He was pretty good and he had his moments and was very good at getting on base, but the Yankees often had someone they preferred better. There were Phil Rizzuto and Gil McDougald and later Tony Kubek and Bobby Richardson. And it did not help that Coleman basically lost five years flying combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War. The JAWS system of ranking players ranks Jerry Coleman as the 231st best second baseman in baseball history.…

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Thinking about the swing men

Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs.com recently had a very interesting article about the five starter rotation myth. The most effective writing is that which makes you think and Sullivan certainly brings a perspective on a topic we don’t think about very often. While he admitted his methodology was a bit sloppy, the basic...

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Paul Blair – Yankee infielder and post season hero

In 1978, when Derek Jeter was four years old, another shortstop for the Yankees wore the number two on his uniform. That shortstop was Paul Blair. Yes, that is correct, Paul Blair. But before we get to that story, there is another story you should hear about Paul Blair’s Yankee tenure...

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