FIRE JOE MORGAN: HatGuy: One HatWeek HatLater, Still HatBad


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Monday, August 28, 2006


HatGuy: One HatWeek HatLater, Still HatBad

This article is a week old, but I just read it today for the first time. As we've come to expect from HatGuy, it's wrong about almost everything.

Here's the title and subtitle. Yes, this is important.

119 losses? Detroit revival looks like 100 wins
After disastrous ’04, Pudge, Leyland ride Tigers' turnaround

Okay, first of all, Detroit had 119 losses in 2003. You could argue that 2004 was perhaps "disastrous," since they did lose 90 games that year, but in that case, it would certainly be no more disastrous than 2005, when they lost 91. We can agree, then, that he means "After disastrous '03." Or can we?

Also, this is quibbly, but "Pudge, Leyland ride Tigers' turnaround" makes it sound like Pudge and Leyland are riding the coattails of the other Tigers, or at the very least, that they're less responsible than certain other Tigers. This may in fact be accurate, but we'll soon see that this HatGuy thinks otherwise. "Pudge, Leyland drive Tigers' turnaround" is what he might have meant. Or not.

If the Detroit Tigers play just a little more than .500 the rest of the season, they’ll finish with 100 wins, or just 19 fewer than the number of games they lost two years ago.

Hold on. It was 2003. We've already talked about that. That was three years ago. Three, not two. This is your first sentence. Could you maybe have glanced at this page before you wrote your first sentence?

If they were playing in New York, they’d be the Miracle Tigers, and the two people most responsible for their success, team leader and veteran catcher Pudge Rodriguez and manager Jim Leyland would be posing for sculptors looking to cast them in bronze.

This from a HatMan who himself can't stop HatWriting about the Yankees. We've catalogued in this space how often this very man obsesses over Torre, Rivera, Jeter and the gang -- it's pretty much every other article at this point. And now he's going to call out the media in general for being too New York-centric?

Worse: these two men are not the two men most responsible for the Tigers' success. They just aren't.

What’s amazing is that 11 players on the team — nearly half the roster — was around for that 119-loss season in 2003.

So you admit it. It was 2003. Will you go back and change the mistakes you made earlier in the article? No? How about just the one in the subhead? How about we give you one whole week's head start? You can go back and change it anytime. This is the Internet. No one will know. Just do it.

No, you're good? Great.

That’s where Rodriguez comes in. He joined the Tigers fresh from a world championship with the Marlins in 2003. Although he doesn’t hit home runs as he did when he was younger — and, perhaps coincidentally, since baseball started seriously testing for steroids — he’s a solid, .300 hitter head for the Hall of Fame.

He's a .300 hitter head. This is a beautiful turn of phrase. He's so good, his head hits .300. In the AL, no less. Cooperstown-bound, for sure. I'm making fun of a typo, and that's dumb, but keep in mind he's already made a factual error that he himself corrected later in the article.

No one has yet come up with a formula to quantify how many wins a great catcher adds to a pitching staff.

I don't know. One? Keep in mind, in 2004, with Pudge at catcher, the Tigers' top five starters "won" (recorded a W in) 48 games. The next year, in 2005, with Pudge still the catcher, the top five again won 48. This year -- same dude is catching -- 58. The data is less than compelling.

This reminds me of that Sporting News issue last year where they claimed Brad Ausmus was the best pitch-caller or something because his "Catcher ERA" was the lowest. No matter that the men throwing the bulk of the pitches to him were Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettitte.

Certainly, in 2004, Rodriguez didn’t make much difference to a team that couldn’t buy a victory.

Right. Exactly. Now you're talking sense.

But no one doubts that a great catcher makes a difference — maybe an enormous one.

I do. I think maybe it's a non-enormous one, if there's a difference at all. The burden of proof is on you, people who believe a catcher can account for a large decrease in team ERA.

With managers, it’s also a subjective affair.

Because they don't do that much. Be honest with yourself, HatGuy. What is a manager worth in baseball? We've already established that batting order -- almost any batting order -- is virtually meaningless. What else is left?

But there’s no doubt that Leyland, who honed his skills with some very good Pirates teams back when Barry Bonds was a pup and teaming up with Bobby Bonilla.

There's no doubt that what? This is not a sentence.

Give Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski a big dollop of credit first for being able to see the promise in the train wreck of a team the Tigers were two years ago.

Three years ago.

This I agree with. Except for the use of the phrase "big dollop of credit." Wait a minute. I just thought of something. Remember that comment on a Ken Tremendous HatGuy post, oh, I think it was July 8th? Here it is again. Reader Zac wrote:

June 28, 2006, Mike Celizic writes "Sox Fans must boo Pedro heartily," and makes a choppy, hot fudge sundae/whipped cream joke:

"If anything else happens — the fans cheering wildly or the commentators congratulating them for booing boisterously or no one taking notice of the occasion at all...[I'd] be as disappointed as I’d be if I set out to construct a hot fudge sundae and discovered I was out of whipped cream."

July 7, 2006, Mike Celizic writes "Not Time for Yankees to Panic" and makes eerily similar whipped cream reference:

"It’s hard to make panic seem banal, but that’s what the Yankees have accomplished over the years... [blahblah] ...Panic should be saved for special occasions. For the Yankees, a day without panic is like a hot fudge sundae without whipped cream."

Two whipped cream jokes. And now a dollop ... non-joke. Or whatever it is. We're delving deeper into the psyche of HatGuy. And at its creamy center -- past the ornery, cantakerous crust, past the lava-y Yankee mantle, we find ... dessert.

It's all so clear now. This guy just thinks about dessert all day. That's all he wants. That's why he writes articles about baseball, a thing he doesn't care about at all. To get money. Money he can use to buy desserts. Delicious, whipped creamy dollops of desserts.

Other than Rodriguez, Dombrowski hasn’t gone after big-ticket stars, instead taking guys like Magglio Ordonez, a good hitter, but one who is in no danger of hitting even 30 home runs.

When he signed with the Tigers, Magglio Ordonez was a big-ticket star coming off of one injury-plagued year. He was almost the definition of a big-ticket star. Here were his home run totals for the five years preceding his signing: 29, 38, 31, 32, 30. He was so much of a big-ticket star he inked a contract worth $75 million over five years, with options to make it up to $105 million over seven. He's only "in no danger of hitting even 30 home runs" because he's wicked banged up now, something they certainly didn't bargain for or want when they got him for that kind of money.

You can question just how great a manager Joe Torre is with the Yankees. After all, he’s got a $194 million roster loaded with All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famers. He’s supposed to win.

But you can’t question Leyland’s greatness.

Just you watch me. This is purely rhetorical, but here goes:

Jim Leyland happened to take over the Detroit Tigers in a year when their developing starting pitchers hit their stride. Jeremy Bonderman had already been coming along nicely. He has a very neat progression of the following ERAs: 5.56, 4.89, 4.57, 3.92 (this year). How much of that 3.92 do you want to attribute to Leyland? I say almost zero percent. Justin Verlander, not on the major league team last year, came in and immediately became one of the most valuable pitchers in the bigs. How much of his 3.42 ERA do you attribute to Leyland? I say not much. Nate Robertson has been improving just like Bonderman has. ERAs the last three years: 4.90, 4.48, 4.10 (this year). Leyland? I say no.

And how about that bullpen? Jamie Walker 1.49, Joel Zumaya 2.03, Wilfredo Ledezma 2.08, Fernando Rodney 3.14, Jason Grilli 3.59. The only Red Sox reliever with an ERA lower than any of these guys is Jonathan Papelbon. Leyland's superiority to Francona, or better guys having better years?

He took a core of players who knew nothing but losing and refused to allow them to think of themselves as anything but winners.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Jason Grilli was able to will himself into having a career year. By the way, why isn't anyone talking about Jamie Walker? He's allowed six runs all year. I'd say he's a heck of a lot more valuable than a guy who hasn't played a game for the Tigers all year.

He’s climbed on them just twice, early in the season when they stumbled after starting out 5-0 and during the recent 3-9 streak. In between, he’s just insisted on playing the game right.

Again, unlike Francona, who has repeatedly been telling Manny Delcarmen to kick the baseball at the hitters' nuts as hard as he can, "rules" be damned.

He’s the AL Manager of the Year.


And, while the same naysayers who have said all year that the Tigers are headed for a fall are sure to say they won’t be able to stand up to teams like the Yankees in the playoffs,

Obligatory Yankee mention. Second of the column. Third if you count his New York rant in the beginning.

by now, it should surprise few if he proves those people wrong.

Just like two young men by the names of Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins proved people wrong when they said they could never come up with 31 different flavors of ice cream, much less actually make them.

Whipped cream. Dollop. Hats. Baseball.

(I bet he keeps ice cream in his hat. Even when he's wearing it.)

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posted by Junior  # 8:06 PM
I'm hungry.
To be fair, that first New York reference was to the Miracle Mets, who hot fudged their way to 100 victories and the 1969 World Series where they defeated a highly favored banana split in 5 games.
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