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Tiger Woods Wins 75

This weekend something really awesome happened. Tiger Woods won his 75th golf tournament. There was a time when a Tiger tournament win would have been par for the course(excuse the pun) and the number 75 would have been just another chip shot on the course to greatness. But that feels like a life time ago. It’s been three years since we’ve seen that dominant Tiger we all knew back then. Now its a rarer thing to see him win. In fact its a rare thing to seem him even competitive. Just his last tournament he missed the cut. Rory McIlroy is now golf’s little darling. Most importantly golfers aren’t afraid anymore. And I think that’s a good thing.

My grandmother didn’t like Tiger Woods. She didn’t like anyone who won all the time.(On her list of unlikables was Duke men’s basketball team, The Lady Vols, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and Michael Jordan) I on the other hand was a huge Tiger fan and I still am. Setting aside the right and wrong of his actions and any conversations about sex addiction I’ve been a bit saddened by his fall from golfing grace. Tiger was a symbol of hard work paying off. He was the ultimate domination of a sport. I fed off hard work guys who crushed the competition. I wanted so much to be like them. Then again back then I was a fan of  Superman too. As I grew older however the idea of a perfect specimen with no flaws grew kind of boring. So I began to dislike superman and he really became the butt of a lot of my jokes. I grew to love Greek tragedies, flawed heroes, and stories of redemption. So when all the dust settled from Woods personal life I latched on to the story of a man’s fall from grace and his attempt to rise again.

I remember a point last year watching a tournament and thinking to myself that I hadn’t seen Woods that happy in a long time. He really does seem a bit happier to me. He’s not dominant but he at times is competitive. He has a new young rival with whom the old him is often compared. He’s human again. In a lot of ways its been great for golf. Everyone is waiting to see when the “old Tiger” will come back. Every shot, every lead, and every win makes for more drama as does missed fair ways, blown leads, and missed cuts. Throughout it all though Woods seems… okay. He has less tirades and less explosions than i remember. He’s quick with a joke about his play and always has an eye on the future. He may not be a better golfer but in a lot of ways he seems to be a better man. Closer to the man we dreamed he was.

I like Tiger’s win. I hope its the sign of greater things in the future. I still think he’s one of the best in the world. Woods himself was quick to squash any conversation about “The Old Tiger” explaining that he’s just a different guy with a different game. I totally agree we’ll never see the old tiger again. But all things considered I’m ok with that. For now I just love that Tiger one his 75th and did it with a smile on his face.

After reworking the rotation there were two positions I was really committed at shoring up. I wanted a new catcher and a new second basemen. I had an idea who I might get for each position. What surprised me is I didn’t give up any of things I thought I would was really wanting switch up.

Royals send:
Jason Bourgeois, CF, 30, 2*/2*
Justin Trapp, SS, 21, 1*/1*

Astros Send:
Jose Altuve, 2B, 21, 4*/5*

First I decided to approach Houston about Acquiring Jose Altuve. I love this guy. He’s a small second basemen like I was and he hits for average. That was the man reason I targeted him I wanted at a guy who could get on base and show a bit of speed. His speed is not as good as Bourgeois admittedly but I like his age and over all he’s better and more useful. Oddly however when I started the season the manager did not have him as the starter. He deferred to Chris Getz which is even more strange when you consider we have Giavotella a fine major league ready prospect in his own right in the minors. I actually wanted to build this trade around Getz with that in mind but Houston didn’t find him as desirable as Bourgeois.

The next trade had several false starts. I wanted Brian McCann. I wanted a good catcher and there were not a lot of great young options there. My idea was to build this trade around Alex Gordon but the more I tried to work this deal out the more hesitant I became Lt’s look at McCann and Gordon and I’ll explain why.

 

 

 

My hesitance begin with this. McCann in my opinion has been a top three catcher in baseball since his rookie year but he also has a history of injury. Granted you have freak injuries such as his scratched cornea a while back but still its always something. Then there is the fact he is 28 in a game that is not kind about age and he happens to play a position that ages really quickly. On the flip side Gordon has had a disappointing career to say the least but he is on the up swing. While also 28 he plays left field and shouldn’t hit an age wall like McCann. The final thing was I wasn’t sure I would want to resign McCann when his contract ends. He’ll be thirty and I’m sure he’ll want a five year deal. The contract he has now is over $8 mil this year with an option for 2013 valued at $12 mil. He could be asking for upwards of $18 mil when it comes time to resign. I am trying as best I can to build a firm foundation and I was not sure signing McCann was that. That being said I felt week at catcher so I pulled the trigger.

Royals send:
Jarrod Dyson Cf, 27, 1*/1*
Max Ramirez C, 27, 1*/1*
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B, 33, 1.5*/1.5*
David Lough LF, 26, 1*/2*
Alex Gordon LF, 28, 4*/4*

Braves send:
Brian McCann C, 28, 5*/5*

I also made free agent offers to Vladimir Guerrero, Jeff Larish, and Jason Kendall. I made the Guerrero offer when I noticed Bryce Harper had been bumped to the majors and was starting. I figure Guerrero might give him more time in the minors. I made the Larish offer purely to trade him. I made the Kendall offer because he’d make a great back up to McCann. That along with the Roy Oswalt of was the end of my preseason. Next are games.

 

I am a huge Braves fan and I host an internet sports radio show(plug) and I use that show to let every one know how big a Braves fan I am. So I had this brilliant idea I’d get Jason Heyward and finish out my outfield trio. I had already acquired Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in previous trades(click link for trade details.) so Heyward would solidify that. It was a deal I had just done in my last Royals dynasty but I could not remember what I traded. This deal in my head though would see me send Alex Gordon to the Braves as the main part of the deal. Frank Wren was having no talks of this deal getting done. They were asking for more than I was willing to give up. But something fun came out of the conversations. I got fixated on the idea of getting Julio Tehran. That was a deal the Braves were willing to do but looking back I paid a steep price.

Royals send:
Jose Mijares RP(L), 27, .5*/.5*
Jake Odorizzi SP(R), 22, 1*/3.5*
Aaron Crow MR(R), 22, 3*/3.5*
Wil Myers RF, 21, 1*/4*

Braves send:
Julio Teheren SP(R), 21, 5*/5*(I think my scout will adjust soon)

It’s always tough for me to give up Odorizzi but it inevitably happens every play-thru I do.  I almost always get a pitcher in the deal also. I think he’s got a really bright future just not on this ball club. Crow on the other hand is a guy I always trade away without much second thought. He was in my minor leagues as a starter but it looks like the Braves have designs on him being a reliever. I’ll be interested to see how he develops. I rarely see him become a dazzler but when he does I always feel the bite a bit. Especially since in last years OOTP baseball he did have a really sound career for me eventually I even traded him there but he was good.

Myers almost meant this deal didn’t happen. He’s rated well and while I haven’t actually started my season here yet he has hit 36 home runs in the minors in real life. I trade Myers a lot but never check back up on him. I really wanted to give him a shot. In the end the prospect of having a young front-line pitcher won out though.

The number on Teheren here are a bit skeptical in my opinion. Still I like Teheren a lot and I feel he can start this year. If growing pains get to be too much I’ll send him back down for a bit. He seems like he could be a good starter from day one however which would be nice in this rotation. Makes me a bit anxious to see him get a good shot in real life.

The next deal I made by shopping starter Luke Hochevar around. Colorado offered me Chatwood and I adjusted the deal a bit till we got something I liked.

Royals send:
Brett Eibner CF, 23, .5*/.5*
Adalberto Mondesi SS, 16, .5*/1*
Derrick Robinson CF, 24, 1*/1*
Clint Robinson 1B, 27, 1*/1*
Luke Hochevar SP(R), 28, 2*/2

Rockies send:
Nolan Arenado, 3B, 20, 1.5*/4.5*
Tyler Chatwood SP(R), 22, 2.5*/4.5*

My side of the trade isn’t interesting at all. Mostly scrubs and a pitcher I had no want or desire of who at 28 has probably reached his peak Getting Chatwood as a replacement for him is nice. My scouting report sees him as a future one or two starter. I see him as more of a solid three.  Which is fine by me. He has a fragile injury history which has me a bit concerned but we’ll have to see.

Arenado is who I’m really excited to get. A solid third base prospect with some good defense already in tow. If Moustakas struggles I may give him a look in the majors this year. If Moustakas does well however it might make for a tough choice one day.

The next deal that happened started when I decided to shop Jeff Francouer. Honestly he strikes out way to much for my taste. I want a higher average and my outfield  was beginning to get a bit crowed. Texas bit and offered me an offer. Here’s how it turned out.

Royals send:
Jack Lopez SS, 19, .5*/1*
Rey Navarro SS, 22, 1*/1*
Yuniesky Betancourt , SS, 30, 1*/1*
Jeff Francouer, RF, 28, 3*/3*

Rangers Send:
Neftali Feliz SP(R), 23, 2*/3.5*
Martin Perez SP(L), .5*/4*

When the Feliz trade got offered there were two reasons I wanted more. 1) He is  injury prone and I have really bad luck with injury prone guys. 2) I’m not sure whether he should be a closer or a starter. (I ended up having him as my opening day starter.) 

It will be interesting to see if he stays healthy this year(As you can tell he didn’t). More importantly at what point if at all do I try him in the pen. I honestly feel he could be a very effective starter for me if given the chance.

I was really excited to get Perez. I think his pitches alone make im a work while pick up. All three look like they will be good to great pitches but also his stuff movement, and control all project to be good in the future. He started in the minors but as you can see at some point he got called up. I really wanted that development time for him.

Jonathan Broxton was another contract I really wanted to see gone. I am a huge Jonathan Broxton fan. He grew up only three hours from where I lived(side note: I grew up in Broxton, GA). I love the players from my state.(Many of which I’ve seen and some of which I have played with or against). I also thing he is a really fine pitcher. That being said I don’t really see us competing for the play-offs this year. So I was really set on freeing that money up. At the same time I wondered if I could get a good reliever back who was a bit younger and cheaper. The answer is a mixed bag but one I love.

Royals send:
Louis Coleman RP(R), 25, 1*/2*
Jonathan Broxton, 27, 4*/4*
$1,000,000

Braves send:
Jonny Venters, 27, 4.5*/4.5*

Venters is only a little less than a year younger than Broxton but the I did make an improvement and I shed cap space. All in all I like the deal. I originally wanted Craig Kimbrel but the price was too steep. That being said I love the addition of Venters. I think his stuff is virtually un-hittable and if we do find ourselves in a position to compete I honestly believe he can hold down the bullpen even better than Broxton. I will have to deal with arbitration though and I hate paying for relief pitching so I may deal him in the next couple of season just to save cash. Also who knows when he’ll hit the age wall.

The final pitching trade came after I started writing this post. Chris Sale kept coming up when I shopped various players and I began to wonder what the was the least valuable trade I could offer to add him to my team. Coming into the season I knew little about him but his names been all over baseball this year so I thought I might give him a try on OOTP. The deal I ended up with worked out well for me.

Royals send:
Jonathan Sanchez, SP(L), 29, 1.5*/1.5*
Mitch Maier, CF, 29, 1*/1*

White Sox send:
Chris Sale, SP(L), 4*/4.5*

Truth Be told I liked Sanchez’s stuff looking back on it just not his price or age. Sale is only a guy I’ve really heard about. If my scout is to believed his pretty much the pitcher he’s going to be right now. He looks pretty good. We’ll have to see how he deals with the rigors of starting this season.(fun note Sale lost his first game and Sanchez pitched a No-Hitter)

I would have a pic here of my starting rotation but it’d be really confusing now that I have played some more and gotten some new additions. But after this trade it looked good. I immediately put an offer out there for Roy Oswalt too with the intention of trading him but the more I thought about it the I felt I might benefit from keeping him. I will list who I added to recap.

Added:
Julio Teheren SP(R), 21, 5*/5*
Nolan Arenado, 3B, 20, 1.5*/4.5*
Tyler Chatwood SP(R), 22, 2.5*/4.5*
Neftali Feliz SP(R), 23, 2*/3.5*
Martin Perez SP(L), 21, .5*/4*
Jonny Venters, CL(L) 27, 4.5*/4.5*
Chris Sale, SP(L), 23, 4*/4.5*

Lots of young pitching with room to grow and a young third basemen who projects really well. It was a really long blog but thanks for reading. I promise I will do my best to never be this long again. It will help once I get out of these beginning of the season deals.

Alex Ingram is the host of Occupy The Game a sports radio show featured on obr.fm on Monday nights from 7PM EST to 8. He is a former United States Airman, and an avid OOTP baseball player and blogger. Add to that that he is a huge Royals fan and you’ve got a hell of a guy.

For more of his candid thoughts on the royals and updates on blog posts for this dynasty and more follow his show twitter@occupy_thegame for a more personal varied thought stream check his personal twitter@ingrammi6.

I have a new home and I’m finally coming to terms with that. I live in Boston where the Red Sox are king. My Jeter jerseys and my Yankee caps are not welcome here. As each day goes by I am getting a bit more attached to the Red Sox however. Something about watching a team flounder in the city that you live in and watching its fans suffer makes you root for them a little. Don’t get me wrong the Yankees are still my second favorite team but the Sox are moving up a bit(it’s a long road up though). But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the post traumatic stress syndrome caused  by watching the team you love collapse and how gun-shy it can make you.

I arrived in Boston last year at 11:48 PM on September 11. I almost didn’t get to take my train because I couldn’t find my ID. I probably would have given up on the city had I not been treated to the kindness of a stranger who vouched for me. I take things like that as a sign. I exited South Station in the dead of night waved goodbye to the state policemen that treated me to dinner and gazed upon Dewey Square not realizing that in one month exactly I’d go there and find the journey of a life time awaiting me. That is another story all together. That first month was different from the rest of my time in Boston. I wondered around the city each and everyday searching out new adventures. I sat in parks, went to bars, and hung out with the only friend who lived in the city. One day I was walking by Fenway and was given a free ticket to watch a game by a random fan who had an extra. We glided into park to what John Lackey pitch and of course he flubbed away a game that he had well in hand and Red Sox fans went home grumbling about their multi-million dollar paper-weight pitcher. It meant nothing to me however. Because I was a Braves fan and my team had their division well in hand and would never have this happen…. or so I thought.

I hadn’t bothered to try to watch the Braves since I got in town. I figured they’d hold on and I’d catch there play-off games in bars. My September had been hectic as I set up my transition to Boston and when I finally arrived I just didn’t feel like going out of my way to watch mostly meaningless regular season games. Then one day on a whim I checked the standings and the Braves lead had wasted away. I read article after article and check box score after box score trying to determine how this all happened. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

On the final day of the season I was floating around town aimlessly as usual. I couldn’t be bothered to watched the games because I had a bad feeling about my Braves. I wondered onto Newbury Street and a guy with a super nice car and nothing to do was parked and was listening to the Red Sox game. I listened with them and talked all the while jesting with the group about how the Red Sox would lose and miss the play-offs. Of course we all know they did and it happened in the most spectacular of ways. I was there I listened. It was incredible the emotions in that circle of people. In that circle you could find joy, anger, resignation, sadness, surprise, shock, awe, and everything in between. Then I heard it my braves had lost that day too. It was over. That was probably the moment I first started to identify with Red Sox fans.

The off-season was strange for me. I was at the media center of a political protest but I found myself everyday seeing what the Braves would do about their collapse. The answer to that query was essentially nothing. I found this strangely relieving. I felt age had a lot to do with the Braves troubles and I hoped Fredi Gonzalez had learning from his mistakes. So in my days I’d do news interviews, plan marches, and fret eviction and at night I’d think of who we could trade Jurrjens for and pray the Braves got rid of Derek Lowe(which totally happened. In the spring I joined a radio group and started a sports show. I bought the MLB TV package and watched my Braves play pretty well. I cheered the emergence Beachy and mourned his injury. I watched Uggla struggled and wondered if we could get rid of his contract. Ben Sheets was one of my favorite players and his return has made me smile. All the while in the background I saw the city of Boston come to terms with the fact that somewhere along the way they went wrong and changes were needed. September for them was just the beginning of what could be a long journey to a new type of Red Sox.

Its September again and life is way different. I  no longer wonder around the city. I walk with purpose and determination. I have responsibilities now. I do a sports radio show on an internet radio station so sometimes it seems like all I do is watch baseball. The Red Sox never looked like winning their division and the hated Phillies who led my Braves the past year are a sham of a team. The Nationals fill the hole of division rival out of reach and the second wild card gives the Braves an added cushion. Currently they hold the first wild card position with a 3 game led over the same Cardinals that took their position the year before and for the first time in my life I’m afraid for the Braves.

I’ve seen the Braves blow leads before late in the season before but something about last year was different. We had a good team that looked ready to compete and they blew it in a historic sort of way. It put the fear of god in me. Every Braves lose now makes me wonder if it will happen again. This year we have a smaller lead. Uggla is a disaster and McCann who I felt was once the best offensive catcher in baseball is struggling mightily with seemingly little rhyme and reason. It doesn’t help that this year I get to watch it all happen live thanks to my MLB TV package. The wins and loses this year mean so much more to me. As sad as I was when Beachy went down earlier in the year I’m more sad now when I see that Tommy Hanson can’t get it together. Kris Medlen has been lights out this year going 6-0 in seven starts and yet even with the relief that a start like his nine inning, twelve strike out performance where he gave up only an unearned run gives me I still in the back of my mind sit and wait for the wheels to fall off. Its maddening. I am haunted by a collapse I didn’t even get to watch.

But that’s the Journey of a life long fan isn’t. Its loving your team to an unreasonable degree. I often criticize Red Sox fan for taking it for granted that success would come and yet I did the same thing in my youth because of the Braves fifteen straight division titles. I learned my lesson after a few years of near misses and yet the second we look truly competent last year I allowed myself to fall again into complacency. Now I am on the edge of my seat begging for another taste of the post-season fearing that it will be snatched from me again. I suppose that’s why the Red Sox are growing on me. They know what it is to be bad and they know what it is to have it all and falter. I couldn’t tell you whose situation is worst this year to be honest. Part of me envies Red Sox nation and the fact they don’t have to agonize over another collapse. Yet as I listen to fans and broadcasters a like break down the teams failures I know I’m lucky.

Only time will tell if the Braves make the play-offs. Until then I’ll just enjoy Chipper Jones heroics and every win we get along the way. If this team can get hot all at the same time I think we could win the World Series. Especially with Strasburg done for the season. There will be moments I will fear the unknown and there will be moments I loathe the results but all the while I’ll keep sight of the fact its only a game. Besides it could be worse…. I could be a Mets fan.

Alex Ingram is the host of Occupy The Game a sports radio show featured on obr.fm on Monday nights from 7PM EST to 8. He is a former United States Airman,baseball player, an avid OOTP baseball player and blogger.

For more of his candid thoughts and responses to his fans on sports follow his show twitter @occupy_thegame for a more personal varied th0ught stream  check his personal twitter @ingrammi6.

I have made a decision I will change the trade settings after the first season. It never really occurred to me to do such a thing. I don’t know how that is but somehow in my head the thought never even crossed my mind. I suppose maybe it was the eagerness to get started or perhaps I just haven’t used the system as much as I should. Either way the Mike Trout trade has me a bit perturbed. That being said in some ways I really feel the Angels made me work for this deal. It was yet another trade where I gave up a lot in number of players and even a bit more in talent than I did in the Harper trade which is not surprising seeing as Trout is a more ready player.

Royals send:
Bruce Chen, SP, 34,  1.5*/1.5*
Michael Antonio,  SS, 20, .5*/1.5*
Elier Hernandez, CF, 17, .5*/1.5*
Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, 19, 1*/4*
Alejandro Viloria, SP, 16, .5*/4*

Angels send:
Mike Trout, CF 2.5*/5*

I’m so happy to have rid myself of Bruce Chen’s contract. I love Bruce Chen. He was with the Braves way back when and even though he wasn’t great I still liked him. Seeing as Kansas City is my second favorite club and I love getting the chance to watch him even if he isn’t doing well. That being said his $4 mil+ contract wasn’t doing it for me. I felt I could improve our pitching and get younger. My next trades worked on that but that is the next post.  I wanted to drop some cash and this is the beginning of that.

Now if my scout is to be believed I gave up two 4* potential prospects in this deal. If I had to pick one of these players to haunt me a bit in the future it’d be Cheslor Cuthbert.

Cheslor iis a nice 4* potential guy at 3B. He’s 19 and I always feel like teenage prospects could go either way. I like but not love his projected batting rating and he is a solid fielder. In my last couple of dynasties I saw really good third base prospects in the draft so I might be able to deal with the loss here. The thing that mad it easiest to make this deal though was the presence of Mike Moustakas. I feel he has a lot of room to improve. Even though he is only a 3* potential. I will be hunting third base prospects however.

Viloria is interesting. He has a 4* rating and ok stuff at the moment with great projections, and his pitches are already good and will continue to improve. His control and movement though will never be more than serviceable. I hate pitches like that. at to that his 44% ground ball rating and I’m skeptical of his development. He is another teenage prospect but I don’t see him being one I regret letting go. I always stock pile pitching and this franchise is no different.

Anyone else feel like Trout’s offensive numbers are a bit conservative even before this amazing season? That complaint aside I still like trout. He’s really fast and I steal a lot. Also he’s ready to play today. I kind of want to see him back in the minor leagues to work on hitting but my fans need something to root for. Trout is a good fielder and I suspect that his eye and contact projects will have him batting pretty solidly during his career. With Bryce Harper already on the club. I have a solid outfield base to build my future around if I so choose. Hopefully we can win some and have management open up its pockets to allow me to lock these guys up.

This trade was all was a definite win in my opinion.  And if the Angels are lucky it will be a win-win. OOTP doesn’t see names but it does feel weird to get Harper and Trout. That being said I am tasked with the job building a better ball club. Next piece will cover how I completely reworked pitching with three trades.

Before I start with this blog I want to point out something. There are often unrealistic trades made in OOTP of every iteration. This game improved in that area. It still from time to time occurs however. My thought is however that it is my job to work with the world given to me and build the best team possible. If a team is offering something that benefits me more than them then so be it. I’ll use my new online league to be realistic.

Now lets talk about my first trade. I mention in my intro blog how I was willing to give up players like Bubba Starling for better prospects. Well I gave up Bubba Starling in my first completed trade. Heres what the trade was

Royals Send:
Bubba Starling, CF, 19
Christian Colon, SS, 22
Yorvano Ventura, SP 20
Humberto Arteaga, SS 18
Danny Duffy, SP, 23

Nationals Send:
Bryce Harper, RF, 19

Now I feel great about this deal. In my mind this is the beginning of my future. According to the game the best prospect I gave up was Christian Colon who was touting a 2 and a half star potential rating. That being said Bubba Starling was very high on the Top Prospect ranking and a personal favorite player of mine. When you compare him to Harper however is a no-brainer.

Starling in the game really only has great speed. I never really see him break through in any of my play thrus so I feel good about moving on from him honestly.

Bryce on the other hand has really good up side. He almost always develops into a very good player and often a Hall of Famer. I want him to be the face of the franchise going forward. I still don’t see him playing for the club this season but starting next year I’d like to see him be there.

Now Criticize me if you want for this deal but I made it happen. I will say this I have been quick to give up the farm so far. One of my goals was to build prospects my first couple of trades make me wonder if I’m honoring that thought process. But more on that in the next trade post.

Let me know what you think of the deal in the comments below. I will respond.

So I have decided to do an OOTP 13 play through with the Kansas City Royals. I suppose I should explain why I picked the Royals. I’ll start by pointing out there were only four teams really in the running for this particular play through. Those teams were the Atlanta Braves, Boston Redsox, Kansas City Royals, and the New York Yankees. I grew up a huge fan of the Braves, Yankees, and Royals. I currently live in Boston and get a little fonder of the Redsox with each day that goes by. The reason I picked the Royals over the others is simple. I want to build back up their history. During my lifetime I have seen plenty of success for the other three teams. No one ever questions it when I say I love those teams. The royals how ever come with a myriad of questions and skepticism. So even if it’s for my own benefit I every year play as the Royals to start a tradition of my own.

So It’s the first season. I suppose I should set some goals for what I want. Here are my top 5 goals in not particular order:

1. Get more prospects. I don’t feel like the roster is quite there yet. I want us to be a machine when it does get there. Pumping out young talent after young talent. I don’t necessarily love the way OOTP has some of our young prospects rated so I may trade them away in pursuit of others. For example I love Bubba starling and I think in real life he’s going to be amazing. He never works out in OOTP therefore I will probably move him.

2. Acquire young major league ready talent. This one is going to be tricky. I for see myself having to give up some talent I like to get talent I want. One player I am specifically targeting is Jason Heyward. Part of this decision is personal and part of it is he plays and develops really well. Mike Trout and/or Bryce Harper are also on my shopping list. this may mean Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and some good prospect see their way out of our organization.

3. Shed some payroll. The Royals have a tiny budget starting out. I already plan to lift the player development budget so it will get a bit tighter in the first season. There are players I feel such as Jeff Francour that are signed to poor contracts. To be perfectly honest with the state of the team I’m not thrilling with Butler’s contract either.  I feel this maybe the easiest goal to achieve.

4. Add a veteran front-line pitcher. I think I already no where I might go with this one. I think I will pursue Zach Grienke.  My only problem with this is I don’t want to give up a lot to get him. I also want to be able to resign which ever pitcher I go with. I will look for other options but if at all possible I want the pitcher to be under 30 and with at the very least a five-star potential. I won’t make a desperation move though. I’m not giving up my future to make this move.

5. Play .500 ball. This may not be realistic with all the changes I plan to make but we’ll see. I hope I find a way to work it out. I will be personally managing each game. I’m pretty bad at that but I want to improve as my team improves. It could be a really tough year but I plan on sticking it out.

Anyway those are my goals going into the season. At the end of each month in the season we’ll see how I’m doing at each.

Disclaimer:I’ve never written a game review in my life so be kind. haha.

ALSO AT THE END OF THE REVIEW IS A LINK TO A PODCAST WITH BRAD COOK FROM OOTP DEVELOPMENTS.

When I first read the book Moneyball I was a bit skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I love the underdog and numbers just as much as anyone but a book about it seemed kind of dull. Surprise, surprise however, I read the book and loved it. After years of playing MLB The Show I wasn’t quite sure if a game like Out Of The Park Baseball(OOTP) was going to do it for me, but four years later I’m still playing and still loving every minute of it. The game filled a gap for me that was missing from a game like MLB The Show. I love playing franchises and while The Show has a fine franchise it isn’t nearly deep enough for me. I want that numbers experience that requires me to know the ins and outs of collective bargaining, the risks of picking a guy based on tools and not numbers, and the fun of organizing contracts to avoid future budget constraints. OOTP gave me that and every year it gets better.

Let me start by saying I can’t begin to explain to you how deep OOTP 13 is or even how much you can customize and control everything about your league and experience in the game. Do you want a 30 man roster? You got it. Do you want to mimic 1930’s financials in 2012? Go for it. Maybe you want to put certain guys into the Hall of Fame who didn’t get in? You can do that too. I could  spend all day just talking about the things you can do in the game to truly make it yours.

To begin with there are three main modes in OOTP baseball as well as a quickstart option and online for those who want to share the love. The first of the is Major League Game which sets you up with a basic MLB set up complete with players, salary fixtures, and minor league teams. One of the first things you’ll notice when you start speaks to some of the freedom you’ll have in this game. You can choose to be commissioner of your league which means you can change rules, adjust player ratings, force trades, set computer rosters, manage computer teams, and generally have run of the league. You can set it where you can’t be fired, you can as of the last update play solely as the GM, and you can even choose to start your career as a minor league manager for that extra challenge.

Once you finally enter the game you’ll notice is the logos aren’t MLB logos. This has to do with licence issues and such but one quick stop to forum and you’ll learn this is easy to mod and all the hard work in that direction has been done for you.  The games features crisp and smart menu design which is nice considering you have a world of information at your disposal. Up top you have to main widgets to click for drop down menus and on the side you have buttons that take you to some of the most frequently used screens. There is a ton of information to be had in this game but it never feels daunting. I think that is in large part because of the menu set up. Of course within these menus you’ll find your standard options like like stats and leaders, trade, roster overview, and such but you’ll also fine a prospect ranking, salary obligations. and shop a player. These are some useful items not found in every game that helps OOTP 13 stand out a bit.

Trading: I actually love trading in this game. I’ll admit you can work over the AI and sometimes I wonder if the AI has any real plan moving forward past the season you’re in and the next but I still find some trades really rewarding. If you have draft picks trading on trading gets a bit easier in some ways but very interesting on the whole. With  it off(the default) its tougher but so fulfilling. Just today I was trying to get Strasburg from the Nats and failed but felt good about my failure cause it made sense and felt real. Shop A Player is big for me. You select a player from your team it shows you   instantly players a team would trade you in a one for one deal. You can only shop three players per day but this has often been the beginning of major deals for me. If nothing else it is a good barometer for a players perceived value around the league.

Free Agency: All the rules are here. Compensation rights, A and B free agents(if you turn off the new CBA rules), the new draft compensation rules, and arbitration. This year there is an off-season section that shows you estimated free agent demands, teams interested in a player, and a ranking of how a team’s off-season is going using WAR(wins above replacement.).  Free agents have demands on how much they think they should be offered and in what structure but you can adjust it to fit your needs before making an offer. Me myself I prefer a decreasing contract(makes it easier to trade later). Free agents will think about the deal and get back to you in email about they like your offer or not. The game is smart enough to have players leverage other teams offers against your for more money. I personally find it frustrating to not know what each team is offering at any given time but it is realistic and when i get out bid at the last second i smile because its still fun. One thing that does bug me is contract demands can get pretty crazy. As the off-season goes on they usually go down but its still kind of bothersome. It often leads to really big names being free agents into spring training.

Managing Games: I’m not much of a game manager myself but when I do I enjoy myself. You set the lineup just before the game. Taking into account the pitcher handedness, playtime, perhaps match up stats, and whatever is important to you. Once actually in the game you can play pitch to pitch or at bat to at bat. There are plenty of options for telling you batter or pitcher how to approach any given situation in the game. For instance i pitch around power or high contact guys, I do a lot of hit and runs, and I steal bases. You can make mound visits which the pitcher may or may not appreciate, you can double switch, sacrifice squeeze, or do any of those other nifty things that managers do. Almost everything you need to know to move forward in a game such as pitch count is easy to see or find. If at any point you want to skip ahead you can quickly do so.

Stats: There are stats everywhere and its great. The box scores for games have various options of the amount of time they kept and along with that you can control the level of detail career stats and historical stats will be kept in your league moving forward. All you classic like homeruns, ERA, and Walks are kept and ranked. Each Player also has saber metric stats like runs created, WHIP, and VORP recorded. Minor league stats, Major League stats, and college feeder league stats are all available. I suggest to get a full grasp player around with the menus and check it all out.

Rosters: The rosters for the Major and Minor leagues are easy to view and have many filtering options. Sometimes changing filters takes a bit more time than I’d like but I’m nit picking. Players actual and potential rating can be tracked and displayed in various ways and customized just to fit your style. Almost every menu shows these rating by default when looking at rosters. Moving players between minor and major leagues is pretty simple to do on the menus and there are screens that even advice you on the process. Of course you could turn that control to your minor league managers.

Scouting and Financials: The scouting in this game is still kind of a mystery to me. I don’t know how they do it. You scout can favor ability(stats today and the natural evolution of someone that age) or tools(favors potential over stats). Not all scouts are created equally. Keeping this in mind may help you find some diamonds in the rough. The financials are pretty brilliant. The Salary Obligations screen is very useful. Attendance ratings and such are readily available information. I feel the AI in the league is often smarter than real baseball which is good and bad. The is a lack of sentimental valuer on the AI’s part which cause moments like the Yankees to trade or release Jeter before he retires which would never happen in real life. They also give you good info on the trade screen about the money ramifications for each team although in my custom leagues this always gets out of whack after about ten years.

Everything else: There are newspapers which report on everything from trade and trade rumors to a one of you players opening up a BBQ restaurant in the city. The latter of which is apart of the new interactive storylines implemented in OOTP 13. Lots of times this will lead to choices. Like a hitter complaining about playing time which forces you to make a decision to comment on it or not which in turn affects player morale and such. I love the sound of this but admittedly never seen it in action, possibly because of the way i manage my teams and the success we have. A brand new real-time simulation modes let you watch games play-off  side by side which makes for excellent drama near the end of a season. Playoff races have never felt more real in the game than they do now. When you get to watch updates from games and se and feel teams play-off chances rising or slipping away.

Historical mode allows you to do all you can in the Major League except all throughout the history of baseball. Miss the Steroid Era? Then jump back in the nineties and play as the the Cardinals. Want to down Murderers Row jump back and play the Red Sox. By default teams move and change names at all the proper times in history, and player develop on a similar trajectory. All of this can be customized to high degree which aids you if you really want to change the tide of history.

Custom Leagues allow you to create whole leagues from scratch. You can you use preset templates and even start with preset leagues from counties like Japan and Taiwan. This year it is easier than ever to create a Euro or world league with the option to pick regions for your league not just countries. I love making a Euro League based in multiple countries.

All in all this is a great game. The best part about it though is the community. There is a highly active forum that you can learn so much from just by checking it out. The developers seem pretty responsive and way more active than you’ll see from EA or Take 2.

To close out: I recommend this really anyone who loves the financials of sports. I also recommend to people looking for something different. Its a great game that gets better and better every year. Sure there’s not fancy graphics or complete player control but for anyone who thinks they can run day to day operation of there team better then the guys in charge now this is ultimately rewarding as it gets. You can do almost anything your mind can dream of for the game.

Podcast (right click the button and save link as)

Twitter: @ootpdevelopments

website:OOTP Website

The show’s Twitter: @occupy_thegame
T
he host’s twitter: @ingrammi6

Comment the blog. Tweet at the show and let me know what you think of the show and the blog. Follow me if you like. I’m getting better at blogging and tweeting more I promise.

Record: 45-45

Standings: Last in the AL East at 10.5 games back.  2 games back of the second wild card position.

Top Pitcher So Far: Darren Oliver 38 games from the bullpen, 13 holds, and a 1.30 Earned Run Average.

An Explanation of Holds:  Okay so if you have no idea what a hold is and you can’t find a synopsis on net its ok. Most baseball fans haven’t caught up on holds either. A hold is when a pitcher comes in in the later part of the game(usually the seventh or eighth inning) and holds the lead. That’s all. They pitch well enough in an inning(that is not the last inning or it’d be a save) to keep their teams lead intact.

Top Batter So Far: Edwin Encarnacion .296 Batting Average, 25 Home Runs, 62 Run Batting In.

The Blue Jays have been good not great for years now. The coming of Jose Bautista a few years back really had me believing they would finally make the play-offs but to this point it hasn’t happened. This year much like almost every team in the AL East they have bounced up and down the standings and frankly I expect that trend to continue. I could see them winning a wild card spot and by the same token I could see them finishing last in the division. Part of this line of thinking comes simply from the fact that the AL East is a tough division and the part of this notion comes from me simply feeling like that who the Blue Jays are. They are a middling team in Batting Average and On-Base Percentage but a top ten team in runs. This comes simply from the fact that they hit a ton of Home Runs. Bautista’s average is down this year but Edwin Encarnacion is playing like a hero.  There pitching however is spotty. You might have noticed I put a reliever as their to pitcher so far and not even the closer. That’s not a good sign for your staff usually. They don’t really have any pitchers that stand out. Kyle Drabek, who they got from the now famous Roy Halladay trade, has not quite panned out yet as the prospect they hoped he was when he arrived in Toronto. I find that to be the biggest hurdle to over come.  A lack of pitching especially in this division is a big problem.

Best Case Scenario: The best case scenario is they make the second wild card spot but with their pitching I can’t see them making it very far. The Playoff are all about having a few front of the rotation guys that can blow the other team away. Their offense is strong but not nearly strong enough to over come the hurdle of really strong armed clubs in the American League play-offs.

Worst Case Scenario:  I am don’t see this team finishing with a losing record so I think playing .500(read: 5000) ball is the bottom line for this team. Its definitely a step back in there eyes and not where they want to be at all but it’s no shame in this division.

Record: 46-44

Standings: 9.5 games back. Tied for 3rd in the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Conversations That Happen Every Time I Talk About the Sox:
Me: Ehh the Sox are doing pretty bad this year.
Sox Fan: Yeah but they’re getting better that’s got to count for something.
ME: Ehh.. I guess. (Pause) Hey remember when you thought John Lackey was going to be good.
Sox Fan: (sigh and nod)

Top Pitcher So Far: Felix Doubront( Much like Zobirst I’m not going to dignify his performance with stats)

Top Batter So Far: David Ortiz .316 batting average, 23 Home Runs, 58 RBI’s, .414 On-base Percentage, and 101 hits(he leads the team in all these categories)

The Red Sox are the second most confusing tale of the first half…. except we’ve seen it all before. The Red Sox started off last  this season much like I started off high school, floundering and blaming all the wrong things for their problems. But they sort of picked things up. They’re tied for 3rd in the AL East and that counts for something. They are only a game back in the wild card too. at this rate by September they should lead the wild card by about ten games and there’s no way they can screw that up right. If you are feeling like you’ve heard this story before well you have. The Red Sox are thus far following an eerily similar scrip to last season, but fear not I for see a different end. The Red Sox can flat out hit the ball. They are struggling on the pitching side of things but are 2nd in Runs, 5th in Batting Average, 6th in On-base Percentage, and 4th in Slugging Percentage. I honestly don’t expect their pitching to get much better but what it can do is be more consistent. It helps that there’s no John Lackey. While I still think pitching is the key to true sucess you just can’t ignore this line-up. Carl Crawford is coming off the disabled list with should give them an improved defense and an infusion of speed. This will be good going forward.  With a bit more consistency in the pitching department this line-up could carry them a long way.

Thoughts about the Team: If this team makes the Play-offs Big Papi Should win the MVP. No player has been more valuable to his club this year than him. I know we have a tendency to give this award to the player with the flashiest number but how good has this guy been. He deserves the award and I’m a Yankee fan. If we are really talking about who is indispensably valuable to a team Papi has to be the guy. He provides numbers and leadership to a team that many thought was missing that last year.

Best Case Scenario: They can make the Play-offs as a wild card and their offense could send them to the AL Championship Series but I think there they get out pitched. If David Ortiz wins an MVP along the way more power to them.

Worst Case Scenario: They get a big lead in the wild card and fall apart like last season. If this were the Atlanta Braves who suffered a similar finish last season. I’d rather we just not even be in the race than that happen again.

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