Links 12-08-2009: Minor signings, Francona speaks, ZiPS likes Scutaro, Kelly is a pitcher

The Red Sox signed two lefties to minor league contracts this weekend. 25-year old-to-be Fabio Castro has bounced around a bit, and you already know Kason Gabbard. The 5-7 Castro throws a 90-mph fastball, a good curve and a changeup; he has exhibited passable peripherals (for a lefty) and keeps the ball in the park. He figures to provide LOOGY depth at Pawtucket a la Javier Lopez, while Gabbard will be stashed away as an emergency starter.

Terry Francona gave an interview this weekend, touching on various topics. He reports that David Ortiz has lost 10-12 pounds and is serious about bouncing back in 2010; Jason Varitek is fine with his switch to a reserve role; and Daisuke Matsuzaka is taking his offseason conditioning seriously, committing to three weeks at API in Arizona. He is psyched about his new shortstop and gushes praise for Marco Scutaro.

Speaking of the shortstop-of-the-year, the popular ZiPS projection system (admittedly produced by a fellow Red Sox fan) is bullish on Scutaro for the duration of his contract. How does .297/.376/.420 sound for next season? I’ll take two, please.

Sox prospect Casey Kelly has decided to focus exclusively on pitching, giving up his dream to play shortstop in the Major Leagues. Given the track record so far, it seems like he has made the right choice. Kelly will be invited to Spring Training next season, meaning that the Sox would at least consider giving him a roster spot if he earns it. More likely, this is just to get him a bit more seasoned with an eye to bringing him in full-time in 2011. Looks like Kelly will not be traded unless someone offers a name like Felix Hernandez in return. That’s a good thing.


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