So I mentioned this week that on Fridays, I was going to begin to discuss my version of the Cubs rebuild using one of the best baseball simulation games on the market today, Out of the Park Baseball. The newest version of their game is OOTP 15 and is actually on sale right now for $29.99 till June 28th. Grab a copy of it. You won’t be disappointed.

We begin our journey with a little intro into a couple changes I made to the rules. First, I have incorporated the DH rule in the NL just to royally annoy CAPS. Honestly, that’s the sole reason I did it. I also set all levels of minor league teams to begin play on April 1 and play a full 162 game season with no playoffs. The purpose of this is to really get a good feel for how guys performed over a full season. Other than that, the basics are in play so let’s begin.

Before the season even begins, I am actively looking to upgrade this offense. With the benefit of hindsight watching the real life Cubs, I know this team will hurt for offense so I immediately make a move to deal Carlos Villanueva to the Kansas City Royals for Billy Butler with the purpose of playing him at the new DH spot. I wasn’t in the mood to start the season and have to watch Villanueva so I used the shop a player tool and the Royals were offering Butler straight up. The deal ended up being Villanueva and Santiago Rodriguez for Butler and Elier Hernandez. I figure that Rodriguez probably never makes the majors and in return I get a young SS to develop in the minors. The Royals promptly placed Villanueva into their rotation in the 3rd spot. Ouch.

Other news before the season began was injury related. Mike Olt strained his quad just a week before opening day. The game didn’t tell me how he did it so I like to think it was in the gym getting ripped. He missed the first few games of the season, but has since healed and put up an 0-for-2 in his first game back. Also injury related was news that Jake Arrieta‘s injury would take a little longer to heal. He’s expected back in the rotation around the end of April if all goes well.

As far as the games themselves, the first week did not go well.

Series 1 – @ Pittsburgh

Game 1 – Jeff Samardzija got shelled, posting a 3.1 IP outing that included 7 H, 6 ER. Hector Rondon and Brian Schlitter finished the game out of the pen and the Cubs lose 7-1 despite the fact that Francisco Liriano left the game after recording just the first two outs of the ballgame before leaving the game with shoulder tendinitis.

Game 2 – Looking to rebound from opening day, it was instead a mirror image of the day before. This time Edwin Jackson was on the losing end, leaving after 4.2 IP and taking the loss. Gerrit Cole pitches 7 strong innings and gets the win.

Game 3 – Trying to salvage something from the opening series, Travis Wood takes the mound and saves the day. Great outing for him as he tosses eight strong innings before Pedro Strop comes on for the save with a blemish free 9th inning. Unfortunately, Strop would rupture a tendon in his pitching hand in his next outing and is on the shelf for the next four months. Blake Parker has been recalled to replace him in the pen, which puts Jose Veras as the closer. Offensively, the Cubs were led by Anthony Rizzo who went 2-for-5, including HR # 1 of the season. Cubs win 7-4

Series 2 – vs Philadelphia

The Cubs come home for their first series of the season and proceed to get swept by the Phillies. The offense continues to struggle early, putting up just one run in each of the three games and losing 1-2, 1-2, and 1-8 in the series. Samardzija’s second start, after a horrible opening day outing went even worse than the first outing, if that’s even possible. Final line in start # 2 for him: 0.1 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 0 K. His ERA after his first two outings, a stellar 29.46. Anyone interested in trading for him? Out of curiosity, I asked him what his price is for an extension. His response: a 3 year deal for $49 million. I’ll pass.

Other Notes

  • Seeing a need for ML ready pitching in the event of an injury, I made a minor league contract offer to Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. Both accepted and have been assigned to the rotation at AAA Iowa.
  • The White Sox made an early season trade with the Rays, dealing Adam Dunn to Tampa for Heath Bell and a minor league catcher.
  • Raul Ibanez and Miguel Cabrera both reached the 2000 career hit club.
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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail