Last week saw the release of OOTP14, the latest in Out of the Park Developments excellent baseball simulation series, and ever since then I have been playing it. The game is a definite upgrade from last season, but also I played as the Yankees, I played as the Pirates and I played as the Braves, but I never played as the Brewers. The reason is simple: I don't know what the hell is going on with them or what to expect from them. The scoreless streak, the winning streak, Yovani's DUI and the basic roster construction just don't make a lot of sense to me and I don't know how to make this team better. So how do I manage that team? Do I call up Hunter Morris, DFA Alex Gonzalez and/or Yuniesky Betancourt and ship Axford out of town? Do I Stand Pat? Will any of it even matter?
The truth is I don't know what will happen which makes this, not my favorite, but definitely the most intriguing Brewers season I can think of in a long time. For Doctor Who fans, it's much more Clara than Rose Tyler. Or for people who've actually had sex, it's much more LOST than NCIS. Or for people who aren't good with analogies, it's a mystery that won't be solved over night.
Before we get started I want to note that I added some mods to my game from ootpmods.com that gave the game a more real feel. Instead of the generic logos I now have official MLB logos for every team and it really helped me feel like the game was more real. Definitely worth the minute or two it takes to set them up.
We start with the same Opening Day roster that the Brewers used (even going so far as to match the 40 man roster), set the same lineups and pitching staff and simulated up until today. The results? Pretty much the same.
Or not. Is this what would have happened if Aramis Ramirez didn't get hurt? Would the addition of Ramirez in the lineup everyday have pushed Yuni to a .380/.392/.640 slash line? Would seeing that line shock the Cardinals so much that they would then suck? Umm, probably not. Much like a plumber being able to score with a hot chick like Princess Peach, this is pure fantasy. Still, I'll take it.
Our first injury! I decide not to overreact and just call up Josh Prince and give those starts to Schafer/Davis. Also, apropos of nothing I filled a minor league coaching vacancy with a former Brewer (and future Homestander Blatz from the Pabst) Turner Ward!
Oh, look a new email.
Dream on dude.
At the end of April we sit at 15-11 with a one game lead in the NL Central over the Cubs with every other NL Central team being one or two games under .500 at the moment. This might not seem like the best testimony to the reality of the simulation, but it's only April. Anything can happen.
Things are going pretty well until the 9th and this happens:
Or to look at it another way:
Luckily (?) Mark Rogers had recently returned from injury and was on rehab assignment so I was able to bring him up. I also took this opportunity to send down Prince in exchange for a healthy Jeff Bianchi, giving us MOAR SHORTSTOPS and adding Hunter Morris to the 40-man roster. Not calling him up yet as Yuni's OPS is somehow still over .900 and Hart is back in two weeks. We currently sit at 18-15 in first place with the rest of the Central continuing to suck.
Luckily, Hart is almost ready so I don't need to do any major roster moves. My lineup going forward goes against everything I believe in as I re-insert Hart at 1B and then let Khris Davis and YUNIESKY BETANCOURT split starts in RF. This is actually happening. I'm managing a first place team that starts Yuni B in the outfield. For real.*
(*=Not for real. Games are not real life.)
After going 12-16 in May, the Brewers now sit at .500 and have fallen into third place in the NL Central. Only a half game behind the Reds and Cubs (seriously, this game loves the Cubs.) I decide to let the computer handle the draft because if reading message board reactions to the Kyle Lohse signing has taught me anything it's that this year's draft is ruined and the Brewers are screwed forever because of him. (Screw you, Kyle.)
We remain relatively healthy for June without much to report on. Alex Gonzalez and his .567 OPS complained about not being apart of the starting lineup, which I will deal with later, but other than that nothing too exciting. Unless you count Yuniesky Betancourt having a batting average over .300 on June 1st, but that's more shocking/disturbing than exciting.
A 13-14 record sees us fall to a game and a half behind the Reds. Not panicking... yet.
A great feature added for OOTP14 is a more advanced International Free Agent system. Teams have an international budget with penalties for going over. I like to sign as many IFAs as possible though because I kind of suck at drafting. Your scouting director will find players throughout the year, but all the good players appear when the International signing period starts on July 1st.
July brings us a healthy Carlos Gomez which means that I need to make room on the roster for him. I suppose that I could send down Logan Schafer or Khris Davis, but I like them in the roster spots that they have. I suppose I could demote Jeff Bianchi who still has an option left, but I like his defense. Instead, I'm just going to play the numbers game and get rid of the worst statistical player on the team.
REMINDER: Alex Gonzalez was the Opening Day 1B for the Brewers. I don't think the world was annoyed by this as I was, but this is immensely satisfying for me.
With our best possible lineup intact (including Yuniesky Betancourt starting at 3B vs. RH,) a surprisingly solid rotation (3.78 ERA, 5th in NL) and a downright awesome bullpen (2.97 ERA, 3rd in NL) I think this team is ready to make a run. NL CENTRAL TITLE HERE WE COME!
The All-Star rosters are announced and despite Aoki's .316 average, Ryan Braun is the only Brewer on the roster. (Braun would go 1-for-3 in an NL win. world series homefield plz.) This is only the second worst thing to happen this month as the Brewers have gone 4-1o to start the month and are now 7 and a half games out of first (and 9 and a half out of the second Wild Card.) What the hell, guys? If things don't change soon we might be sellers at the deadline. Corey Hart is so upset about this he got a tattoo of a sad panda.
The Brewers go 4-6 after the All-Star break and I decide this team needs a shakeup.
First, I remove Jim Henderson and his 4 blown July saves from the closer role. Axford has a 7.15 July ERA, so he's not replacing him. Unlike the actual Brewers I don't sign domestic abusers so K-Rod is out. Instead, I'll go with Brandon Kintzler because... well, who else am I going to go with?
Second, I'll do something that most Brewers fans dream of at least once a week.
Haha just kidding. Actually, I'm going to do this:
Will that turn the season around? Probably not.
Did it feel good? Yes. Very much.
Narron takes over on a interim basis and Cecil Cooper is added as a bench coach based on Rule One of the Milwaukee Brewers Coaching Rule Book: "When in doubt, 1982 Brewers."
The move works as the Brewers win their next two games and now sit at the trading deadline with a 50-57 record, 8 1/2 games behind the Reds. We don't do much at the deadline as we keep Hart, but do make one minor move: trading away Mike Gonzalez for a prospect. This allows up to call up FRANKIE DE LA CRUZ. YOLO.
The Brewers finish the month 10-17.
After starting out the month 4-3, we get some news that puts a dent in any 2013 playoff hopes we may have had.
I use this opportunity to call up SCOOTER GENNETT because all he does is hit, but my excitement for this is brief as just a few days later the world ends.
I call up Caleb Gindl and... who cares. Nothing matters. We're 8 games under .500, 10 and a half games out and Ryan Braun (and his league leading OPS) is done for the season. Baseball is stupid and I hate it.
(I really did play 2013 all over again. We won 86 games and I traded for Justin Morneau at the deadline, but we missed the playoffs. BASEBALL!)
OOTP14 is the best baseball simulation out there today and will take up way more time than you would like it to. Which is to say, it's awesome.