Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans Zephyrs’

A Zephyr Can Beat A Grizzly, But The Grizzly Will Put Up One Hell Of A Fight

This would have been a much bigger story if the home team had won, but I still find it fascinating that Fresno entered the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday trailing New Orleans 14-1 before putting eight on the scoreboard and almost making a game of it.

The Zephyrs dominated early, building a 13-0 lead by the middle of the fifth.  Five players had two or more hits, led by rightfielder Brett Carroll (4-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3B, 3 RS – not often that somebody misses the cycle by a double), starting pitcher Willie Collazo and reliever Brett Sinkbeil combined for eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball, and it looked like one of those nights that, if you’re associated with the Grizzlies, you write off as a loss and focus on the next one.

Then Carlos Vazquez replaced Sinkbeil to start the ninth.  He walked the first two batters he faced, the third reached on an error to load the bases, and the fourth, Jesus Guzman, hit a grand slam to centerfield to make it 14-5.  Vazquez walked the next batter before finally recording an out via strikeout, then gave up another homerun, to Matt Downs, to make it a 14-7 ball game.

That’s where it was decided that perhaps this just wasn’t Carlos Vazquez’s day.  He was pulled in favor of Chris Mobley, who promptly allowed a single and a double to put two men in scoring position with still just one out.  A visit to the mound settled him down, however, as he got Clay Timpner to ground out for the second out (as the inning’s seventh run scored).  A single made the score 14-9, but with a runner on first and two down, the rally was just about dead even before Nate Schierholtz lined out to short to end the game.

One good inning doesn’t erase eight bad ones for the Grizzlies, but at least they ended the day with something positive to fall back on.

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You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

I’ve learned a lot about minor league baseball this season, but the most interesting might be something I just discovered about ten minutes ago: major league teams and their minor league affiliates are like the characters on Friends* – sooner or later, they all end up dating one another.

*Yeah, Friends.  My pop culture references are so timely.  The backup example was Beverly Hills 90210.

Almost immediately after the season ended, what I’m assuming is a yearly affiliate shift began to occur.  And the more I read, the more I began to understand the tectonic nature of these relationships.  For example…

  • Last Thursday, the Cleveland Indians announced that they had signed a four-year player development agreement with the International League’s Columbus Clippers .  The Clippers were Washington’s AAA affiliate for the past two seasons.
  • Two days later, the Nationals signed a two-year deal the Syracuse Chiefs, also of the International League.  (Washington also extended existing deals with Class A Hagerstown and Class A Short-Season Vermont; both extensions are for two years.)
  • Two days after THAT, the New York Mets signed on with Buffalo, the International League team that had been cut loose as Cleveland’s affiliate.
  • In order to make the move to Buffalo, the Mets pulled out of New Orleans, clearing the way for division rival Florida to slide in for a two-year deal with the Zephyrs.
  • Florida’s shift to New Orleans meant that the organization pulled out of Albuquerque, where nearly 600,000 fans passed through the gates last season.  Taking their place?  The Los Angeles Dodgers organization, which returns its AAA affiliate to the place it called home for nearly three decades.
  • At the AA level, Los Angeles is returning the favor, moving from Jacksonville to Chattanooga, which allows Florida to take over the Suns franchise.  The Dodgers’ shift displaces the Reds, who were the previous tenants in Chattanooga.

Those are the major crazy, circular moves that have been announced over the past week or so.  MiLB.com has also reported on a number of other affiliate changes:

This is making my head hurt, and these aren’t even all the changes that were made.  I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but I just sort of stopped caring about decent sentence structure there after awhile; there are only so many ways you can say “shift” or “move”.  One thing is clear to me, however: we gots some work to do on our “MiLB Teams” page.

Spotlight on AAA Ball – 4/17/2008

The International League is celebrating 125 years of baseball this season. The 2008 class of the IL Hall of Fame will be the first to receive a statuette called “Curtain Call”, meant to honor the contributions made by HOF-worthy players. I think it’s kind of cool – like the baseball version of an Oscar. [MiLB.com]

Hey, Look! Jeff Weaver’s back! And he’s going to be a Nashville Sound (Brewers)! I don’t know if you remember the guy who tried to sell Weaver on ebay. I am not shitting you when I say that guy was in my fantasy baseball league at work. Oh, how we laughed. Weaver Returns [MLB.com] Weaver sold on eBay [SmartMarks]

As we track prospects, we hear a lot about the Louisville Bats (Reds), with their dynamic duo of Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey lighting up the minors and waiting for their turn in the bigs. Those guys are interesting enough, but I also like to hear about the strivers who hang on for years and do anything to keep playing. Here’s one such story, about a Kentucky native who left the U.S. to play ball in Japan, and now he’s back home. [Louisville Courier-Journal]

Take in a Columbus Clippers (Nationals) game on April 25th, and you’ll get a free baby tree in celebration of Arbor Day. That’s pretty cool. [Clippersbaseball.com]

Things might not ever be like they used to be in New Orleans, but this photo spread from the N.O. Zephyrs definitely gives a ray of hope that there are still good times to be had in the Big Easy [Zephyrs Photo Gallery]

That’ll close out another week of updates from around the minors. We’ll be back with A-ball on Monday.