The New Orleans Zephyrs finished the 2008 season 66-75 with a crazy 11 inning win as Hurricane Gustav closed in on the Big Easy. The Zephyrs finished their two-year run as a Mets affiliate with a 141-144 record and the American South Division Championship in 2007.
On April 5th, 2007, in Nashville, the New Orleans Zephyrs began their time as a Mets affiliate with a 4-1 win in a game started by Philip Humber. Anderson Hernandez played shortstop, while Ruben Gotay was his double-play partner at second base. The real excitement for the team appeared to be in the outfield, where Carlos Gomez was in center, Ben Johnson roamed in right, and Lastings Milledge waited in the wings. However, those three talented players almost never played together thanks to injuries, and big league call-ups necessitated by other big league injuries. The ’07 team made a late run, capturing the division before reaching the league finals.
So on April 3rd, 2008 the Zephyrs hosted the Nashville Sounds to begin their second year as a Mets affiliate. Anderson Hernandez, leading off and playing shortstop, was the only repeat starter from the previous year. Now, he had Argenis Reyes as his double-play partner and Fernando Tatis, to his right, at third.
It’s impossible to write about a AAA team’s season without discussing the interactions with the big league club. Usually, it’s the players who move up and down, but not for the Mets in 2008. Following Willie Randolph’s dismissal in June, manager Ken Oberkfell and pitching coach Dan Warthen were summoned to fill similar roles for the big league team to be replaced by Marty Scott and Rick Waits.
This Zephyrs team though made a strong run in the early part of August only to run out of gas. The Zephyrs fought back from 11 games back on July 30th to rally within four games of the first place after sweeping four games from Memphis concluding on August 11th. The Iowa Cubs then beat the Zs in seven straight games ending any hope the Zs had of a post-season berth in 2008.
The Mets and Zs were a marriage of convenience for two seasons. The Mets did little to help the team win, leaving the Zs with a shorthanded roster for the majority of the season. That’s over now. The Buffalo Bisons will demand better starting in 09.
I’ll be commenting on some individual player seasons here later in the day Thursday. Right now, the list includes: