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.

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Sox 5, Yanks 4 in 11 innings

Wow. That game was just – wow.¬†Jason Bay comes up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Mariano Rivera, against whom he was 0-4 lifetime with 2 strikeouts. The score? Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. But then he drives a cutter high and deep, but towards the deepest part of Fenway – oh no, it’s going to be caught. It sails back, back, and, somehow,¬†clears the fence by a matter of inches. Everyday Jason Bay sends it to extra innings, and in the 11th, Kevin Youkilis hits a walk-off homer. If there was ever a symbol (since *ahem* 2004) for the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, this game was it. The Yankees came into town with all their shiny new free agent acquisitions and self-confidence, and, somehow, some way, Boston wins it against the Sandman. I know it’s early, but that kind of game is why I watch baseball. Read more of this post

Welcome back, Kason

A year and a half ago, when the Red Sox traded away Kason Gabbard in the Eric Gagne trade, there was quite the uproar amongst the Red Sox faithful. Gabbard, who had made some successful spot starts in 2007 was seen as a potential rotation booster. Things didn’t go too well in Texas, and with their young superstars ready to rise up this year and next to the Majors, the Rangers saw him as expendable – and Epstein pounced on the opportunity, reacquiring Gabbard yesterday for cash considerations. Gabbard is a bit of a soft-tosser and injury-prone, but he has shown a penchant for winning, and has a great attitude. He has been assigned to Pawtucket and will provide more pitching depth (of the left-handed variety). I wonder if more cash-strapped teams will do deals like this as the year progresses and ticket sales continue to suffer? Read more of this post

14-7: Buchholz, Sox sweep Rangers 8-3

In the annual early Patriot’s Day game, Clay Buchholz (1-1) faced his former teammate Kason Gabbard and worked through some early jams to earn his first win of the season, and a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. A costly error and some defensive gaffes cost the Rangers, as they fell 8-3.

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