By Brian Mesenger
I’ve had a great time getting familiar with OOTP 19 over the last few weeks while thinking of what kind of historical challenge I would like to take on.
Growing up in the Cleveland suburbs, I’ve always been a huge Indians fan. As a teenager in the 1990s, I watched John Hart build the Tribe into a team that could compete for a World Series championship. They came so close.
I’m going to take on my first challenge in OOTP by stepping into Hart’s shoes in 1992, after the Indians had already made a key move in adding Kenny Lofton to a talent pool that already included Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga, and Sandy Alomar at the major league level with Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez close to being ready to join them.
I like the idea of having that core already together and seeing if I can add the pieces to put them over the top. For the most part, that’s going to mean attracting pitchers in free agency or finding the right way to use some other assets in trades.
The rotation in 1992 had Charles Nagy and that’s about it. Do I follow Hart and go after veterans similar to Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, or Jack Morris as I build into the mid 1990s? Do I try to add and develop some young talent instead? A young Paul Byrd is in the minors. Keeping him around may make sense.
I also love the idea of seeing what Steve Olin could have become as a closer without the tragedy that took his life.
Having a young Kenny Lofton on the same team with Alex Cole, who was coming off of two productive seasons, is also intriguing. I’ve always had a theory about building a team around speed at every position except the traditional power spots like the corner infield. Can Lofton and Cole coexist for a bit? I like the idea of a double-leadoff theory with Lofton leading off and wrapping around in the nine hole.
Another key to this challenge as I take this team beyond the 1990s is trying to find a way to keep Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome together into the early 2000s and still produce a good team. What would the Indians look like with them staying in town?
In my day job, I work as a senior corporate accountant. I love numbers and budgets, and the depth of OOTP in managing salaries and deciding where to spend your money is extremely attractive. As I write about the challenge I’m taking on, I’ll try to take a deep dive into how best to make decisions regarding money within the game.
I’d love to hear from people who have taken on similar challenges. Any advice as I get ready to play ball this week?