When summer turns to fall, baseball fans have a tendency to turn their eyes toward the offseason. For Tigers fans, lately it’s been only a furtive glance in September, as our team still had matters to attend to on the field, and the true focus on roster construction didn’t come until the season officially ended. This season, however, we’ve gotten a head start and speculation on who new general manager Al Avila will acquire to fill out the 2016 team is already well underway.
This annual tradition among avid fans (and if you read Bless You Boys, there’s a good chance you’re an avid fan) of playing at mock GM -- trying your hand at crafting theoretical rosters while you wait for the real one to act -- has become nearly as enjoyable as the regular season for some. At the very least it’s as good a way to while away the winter as watching those other sports. If you’re the type of person that enjoys this ancillary aspect of the game, you should know about Out of the Park Baseball.
If you don’t, it’s computer game, though that word doesn’t do its scope justice. It’s a baseball simulator, though that makes it sound boring. It’s the closest thing you and I will ever get to being the general manager of a baseball team, and it’s tons of fun. OOTP gives you complete control over any organization, with the power to hire and fire coaches, trade for players, sign free agents, assign players to minor leagues, even set the price of tickets.
You have control of hundreds of players at every level of your organization, from future Hall of Famers to the 16-year-olds in your international baseball academy. Want to go back to 2002 and see if you can rebuild the Tigers as fast as Dave Dombrowski did? You can do that! Real players, like Justin Verlander, will even pop up when they did in real life! Want to go back to 1987 and try to give the Tigers that last little push they needed? You can do that too! The level of detail and freedom in this game is truly staggering, and mentioning every feature here would take way too much space.
We’re planning on doing a more proper review of the game, but in the meantime we decided to open up a friendly contest. In the spirit of OOTP we’re going to award a free copy of OOTP 16 to the two readers that can best answer this question: If you were the general manager of the Tigers, how would you build your 2016 roster?
To enter the contest, submit a FanPost detailing a mock offseason in which you are in charge of all the Tigers’ roster moves. Which free agents would you sign, and for how much? Which players would you trade for, and who would you give up to get them? How would you fill the holes in the outfield, and revamp the pitching staff? It’s all up to you! The best submissions will be promoted to the front page of the site, as usual, so this is also a chance for you to gain great internet renown as a genius Tigers fan. Winners will be determined by the BYB staff, and the criteria are as follows:
- Roster moves should be realistic. Examples of unrealistic moves that will count against your submission include extremely one-sided trades, trades for players whose team would be unwilling to trade them, signing free agents to unreasonably short-term or low-dollar contracts, etc.
- Strength of the finished roster. We’ll analyze the team you’ve assembled and evaluate the likelihood that it would win both now and in the future. Stronger teams will be favored, but remember, your moves must make sense in the real world. No trading Andrew Romine for Mike Trout.
- Quality of the writing will be taken into account. This is still a FanPost contest, and FanPosts are your chance to be a part-time blogger. No one wants to read a sloppy list of contracts and trades you’d make without any context. Write paragraphs, use punctuation, provide a little information as to why you like a certain player and what he can provide, explain your reasoning behind your moves (but also please keep the length of the post reasonable), even inject some humor if you’re so inclined. Basically, write a blog post about a mock offseason that people will enjoy reading, and that you’d be proud to post anywhere.
What about the payroll?
Well, that’s a tricky question. The Tigers may increase payroll, and they may not. The Opening Day payroll in 2015 was about $173 million, and the luxury tax will kick in if it goes up at all. There was seemingly a hard cap at that level last winter, but there is some reason to believe that they may decide to go higher now that the penalties will be gone after next season. However, they’re not going to go full Dodgers and take on 15 big contracts, so any entry that takes that route will probably be passed over.
Let’s put it this way: if you can build a solid team with realistic moves for under $173 million, you’ll have a good chance of winning the contest. If you choose to go above that payroll, you’ll start to slowly lose some realism points, and you’ll need to come up with a stronger roster to compensate. At some point though, no matter how strong your team is, if the payroll is ridiculously high you’ll be ineligible due to unrealistic moves, even if each one is sensible by itself.
Update: A big thank you to rschutzpah for creating a great example of what we're looking for, incredibly quickly. Check out that post if you're not sure where to start (and to see that the bar has been set high right off the bat).
The deadline for your submission is 11:59 p.m. (that’s midnight) on September 27th. All submissions must be entirely your own work. If you've never written a FanPost before and need a quick tutorial (or just want a refresher on the finer points of our text editor), click here. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.