• Jun

    Out of the Park 9.0 Review

    Out of the Park 9.0 Review


    In year’s past, I’ve always had Jon Wilt review the new OOTP release since he’s a big fan of this baseball simulation series, but I thought it would be interesting to get a novice user’s view like myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve played OOTP in the past. In fact, over the last three years I’ve been playing with OOTP 5.0, slowly but surely playing a season with the 1980 Oakland A’s.


    I know over the last few years the OOTP series has made some changes with mixed results, but last year’s 8.0 release was given some great reviews and by accounts the series is back as the best baseball simulation around.


    So let’s give this thing a look.


    First off, in year’s past, one of the concerns with the series is the amount of time and effort it took to get started into a simulation. When you bring up the game for the first time, you are immediately given a splash screen with links to an online tutorial, videos and forums. I downloaded a 167MB flash file video for a historical league and it gave a nice overview on how to quickly get started.


    Although you can start in any year throughout history with all of the teams and players, I decided to go with a new 2008 game option. After about two minutes, I was staring at my Baltimore Orioles Home page on March 23, 2008. The first thing I noticed was an e-mail at the bottom that announced me as the general manager with a “confidential source” within the organization saying, “Pente brings a fresh outlook to the organization.” Sorry Andy MacPhail, but it’s my show in the world.


    The game comes loaded with the 2008 opening day lineup, or so it says, but the Orioles 25-man and 40-man rosters were off. Lance Cormier was in the rotation, Roberto Novoa, OF Mike Rodriguez and catcher Chris Heinz were on the 25-man roster and there were a bunch of guys not on like Matt Albers, Guillermo Quiroz, and Randor Bierd and were somewhere in the minors. After spending about an hour putting the major league and minor league players at their respective levels and even positions occasionally, I was ready to go. If you are not anal retentive like me with this stuff, you’d be ready after five minutes.


    OK, now my first decisions. I immediately released Steve Trachsel and sent Luis Hernandez to Norfolk and replaced them with Alex Cintron and Garrett Olson. Loewen is in the opening day rotation so we’ll see how long he lasts.


    Ok, I set my lineups, my pitching staff, and my minor league lineups and rotations so I’m ready to go. In case you were wondering, you get seven minor league teams from Norfolk to the GCL O’s to maintain if you like. The rosters come with most of the Orioles minor leaguers already although you have to work a little to put them on the right teams to start the year.


    Already I can tell there are so many options that I can’t begin to explain them all. The menus are laid out very intuitively giving me quick access to stats, lineups, transactions, minor leagues and scouting reports, along with front office tasks like trading players, finding free agents, and even setting my ticket prices and promotions.


    Let’s auto play this thing for a month to see where we’re at. Its auto set to automatically interrupt my autoplay if several things occur like if a player is hurt for more than three days or if someone is eligible to come off the disabled list or if I get a personal e-mail from a player, GM, or scout.


    Before the season starts I get a note from the owner saying he expects the team to play .500. Also, Baseball America announces its top 100 prospects and Jay Bruce is the number one prospect. Matt Wieters was the top Orioles prospect at number 12 overall in case you were wondering.


    Ok, before the season started I lost Tike Redman to the A’s on a waiver claim. Oh well, somehow I’ll have to move on.


    Alrighty then, its opening day and Jeremy Guthrie will take on Scott Shields and the Tampa Bay Rays. After a quick look at the lineups I adjusted the play by play speed to fast and off we go.


    Let’s see if this sounds familiar. Guthrie goes seven strong innings allowing just one run but the Orioles only manage two runs. Sounds like enough except for the fact that George Sherrill blows it in the ninth and Chad Bradford and Randor Bierd combine to allow two runs in the tenth. The Orioles push across one in the bottom of the 10th, but fall short 4-3 in the season opener.


    I don’t know about you, but I’m already hooked.


    Each day is simulated including all the minor league games. Each day takes about 10-15 seconds but of course that could be slower or faster depending on your system.


    On the second ay of the season I checked through the players designated for assignment and found shortstop Bobby Crosby was DFA’d by Oakland. I’m not asking why, but I put in a claim and I just solved my short term shortstop problem.


    A few weeks went by and nothing big happened. I got a personal note from Alex Cintron asking me if I had some time because he’d like to talk about an extension (I didn’t answer him), but then it happened. On April 27th, Adam Loewen herniated a disc in his back and is out at least four weeks. Somewhere Sports Guy is heard saying, it doesn’t matter, Loewen will still be an ace one day. Either way, I put him on the DL and brought up Radhames Liz from Norfolk where he had a 1.57 ERA.


    At the one month mark the Orioles sat at 14-15 and in 4th place. Amazingly, the last place Rays were just 13-15 with the Yankees leading the league with a 18-11 mark. A quick look at the league statistics found Markakis leading the American league with a 1.148 OPS while second in the league to Joe Mauer (.416) with a .407 average. Markakis and Luke Scott were tied for fourth in the league with seven home runs each. BTW, Scott bats fourth in my lineup. Markakis was named the AL batter of the month.


    Ok, onto May, and it took 8 days before the sim was stopped thanks to a personal message from Melvin Mora telling me he’s open to an extension. Uh, I think I’ll tell Melvin I’m a little busy with some scrap booking or something and we’ll have to talk later.


    More realism on 11 May. Radhames Liz was injured and had to go on the DL, but the realistic part was when I looked into Triple-A I saw that Hayden Penn was out with a back injury. Imagine that, Penn losing an opportunity. Luckily for my, Troy Patton is not out for the year in this simulation and he’s pitching well. Welcome to the rotation Patton.


    On the 16th of May I got a nice little scouting report on the Nationals from my advance scout. He gave me the match ups and highlighted some players watch out for. Liz and Loewen came off the DL and I optioned Liz and put Loewen back in the rotation by dropping Olson to the bullpen. I also demoted an ineffective Matt Albers and promoted Jim Johnson.


    At the two month mark the O’s have fallen to a 24-32 record good for last place in the AL East. Markakis now leads the AL in batting with a .354 average with Mauer right behind him. Brian Roberts is second is stolen bases with 25 behind Jacoby Ellsbury’s 28.

    BTW, my short term shortstop solution hasn’t worked out. No wonder Oakland DFA’d Crosby. He’s put up a .568 OPS. I’m going to give the job to Cintron for awhile and see how that works out.


    In June, I finally received my first trade proposal when the Red Sox offered me Sean Casey and a minor league third baseman for Freddie Bynum, who’s not been hitting in Norfolk. Kevin Millar has struggled all year so why not? I made the trade.


    On June 15th the amateur draft occurred and I had the opportunity to draft 30 rounds of players. Each player had a detailed scouting report along with current ratings and potential ratings. I took my scouting director’s recommendation to take a power hitting college second baseman with the 4th overall pick over a power hitting high schooler and a few pitchers, but I really didn’t spend a ton of time with this before let the computer simulate all 30 rounds. There seems to be a lot to this so when I have more time I may do a lot more with this feature.


    Yikes, another 10-17 month for my Orioles and we’re now 34-49 and in last place. I wonder if I can fire myself and hire Andy MacPhail to run things? Of course it doesn’t help that Adam Jones is batting .198 with .562 OPS and Brian Roberts is batting .237 with a .675 OPS. On the pitching front, Daniel Cabrera is 2-10 with a 5.87 ERA and the computer is not buying the sudden Jim Johnson turn around and has him with a 8.35 ERA and 12-1 BB:K ratio.


    Onto July and after turning down several trade proposals, the All-Star team was announced. Apparently each team does not need at least one representative because no Orioles were selected. Markakis has been struggling of late and he’s down to .308 with a .879 OPS, but he would have been the best selection.


    On the 21st of July, Pittsburgh wanted Alex Cintron for some reason so I ended up trading him for Chris Duffy and minor league third baseman Tom Hagan who was tearing up Double-A. I also had to throw in McDonough grad and current Frederick Keys outfielder Paul Winterling.  Why not?


    Ok, I’m a seller here at the trading deadline so I shopped several veterans around to see what I could get back. Amazingly, the Red Sox needed an outfielder so they offered me Jon Lester for Jay Payton. Took me about three second to find the trade and accept buttons on that one.  I traded Aubrey Huff to Boston for a top first base and pitching prospect, both with five star potential and then sent Chad Bradford to Cleveland for outfielder Ben Francisco and a 20-year old pitching prospect.


    On the 29th of July and before I could shop him, Brian Roberts damaged his meniscus and is out 3-4 weeks. I brought up Scott Moore who had been hot of late and he’ll get the majority of the playing time at second base.


    Two more injuries to Melvin Mora and Dennis Sarfate had me digging into Norfolk. Mike Costanzo and Randor Bierd get chances. On August 20th Adam Loewen hit Boston’s Manny Ramirez and caused a brawl. Loewen and Ramirez were both quickly suspended for 5 games.


    Despite all the trades, my Orioles went 14-13 in August and are 28-25 the last two months. Now that September has arrived, it’s time to expand the roster. I brought up Lester, Moore, and Francisco Cabrera.


    As each of the minor league seasons wrap up a nice little scouting report is finalized. Also, players like Bowie’s 35-year old Julio Manon retired after the minor league season was through.


    As the final month went on Brian Roberts came up hurt again which gave another opportunity to Scott Moore. Washington continues to try and dump Aaron Boone on me with their fifth trade proposal. I wish there were a way to put him on a not interested list.


    As the season wraps up, my 61-year old manager at Delmarva retired. He was highly rated in developing hitters so he’ll be missed. No, the managers and coaches are not real, but they do have an entire history to them as well as developmental ratings which can effect how your minor leaguers develop.


    Well, the season is finally over and the Orioles finished 73-89 in fourth place one game in front of the Toronto Blue Jays. Nick Markakis led the team with .801 OPS, batting .299 with 17 home runs and 79 RBI. Luke Scott led the team in home runs (25) and RBIs (92). My short term shortstop Bobby Crosby hit .212 with a .574 OPS. Guess I should have stuck with Cintron. On the pitching side, Jeremy Guthrie went 9-9 while leading the team with 145 strikeouts and 195.2 innings pitched. Garrett Olson made 22 starts and 16 relief appearances going 11-10 with a 3.48 ERA. Brian Burres was 12-10 with a 3.73 ERA and closer George Sherrill collected 25 saves and a 2.25 ERA.


    The Minnesota Twins ended up beating the Yankees in the playoffs who beat the wildcard Red Sox. They ended up winning it all by beating Atlanta four games to two.


    I was given a score of 22 out of 100 which is not good for my first season, but considering I was just trying to shake this thing out, that’s not too bad I guess.


    Overall, this game is about as realistic as it gets for baseball simulation fans and I highly recommend it to any baseball fan. This game is much too deep for me to go into every feature but let me say this is clearly the best version of OOTP I’ve ever played and if you want to waste some serious time enjoying yourself with a baseball simulation, get this game now.


    For more information on the game and how to purchase, go to http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/cms/index.php?page=ootp-baseball

























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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.