It’s shaping up

The Sea Dogs opening day roster is beginning to crystalize. And it promises to be a strong one- maybe even stronger than the club that captured Portland’s first-ever Eastern League crown last season. A trade the Red Sox pulled off yesterday with the Orioles could reap instant dividends here at Hadlock Field. In dire need of a seasoned backup catcher, Baltimore acquired Alberto Castillo, a non-roster player from Boston. In exchange, the Birds parted with their 2006 Minor League Player-of-the-Year, outfielder Cory Keylor, who hit .294 with ten homers and 68 RBI with the Double-A Bowie Baysox. ‘Dogs broadcaster, Mike Antonellis says Keylor just might open the season here in Portland!

In other moves Tuesday, Boston optioned relievers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen to Triple-A Pawtucket. Hansen, who shined in brief stints as a Sea Dog, has been inconsistent in two, partial seasons with the big club. This spring he’s been downright dreadful. Hansen said yesterday he “is letting the team down” and welcomes the chance to work his way back to the majors with the Paw Sox.

In other news, Jon Lester will start the season in Greenville, South Carolina. Terry Francona says the plan is for Lester to make four starts for the Class-A Drive and build up his pitch count, before the club evaluates the young lefthander’s next step on the road back from chemotherapy treatments.

On the Sea Dogs calendar, with Opening Night and the gala championship ring ceremony just eight days away, a couple of items of note.  On Monday, April 2nd the team is due to arrive in Portland. We’ll post the complete roster here in the next couple of days. Wednesday night, April 4th is the annual ‘Welcome Back Dinner‘ to benefit Youth Alternatives. Tickets are still available.

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Show #5

A trimmer ‘Big Papi’, a bigger Hanley Ramirez, and a sleeper pick for this year’s Cy Young hardware in the Junior Circuit. Just some of what Mike Antonellis is serving up, direct from Fort Myers, in this episode of Dog Cast. Enjoy Show #5 Red Sox Nation!

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Show #4

The radio voice of the Sea Dogs joins us from balmy Fort Myers (sure, rub it in, Mike!). Mike Antonellis plays pepper with us about Hanley Ramirez, the log jam in the ‘Sox outfield, and the sudden retirement of Chris Durbin.  Here’s show #4.

And you can stay up-to-the-minute on all the Red Sox news from Spring Training with Mike’s daily blog, “Turning Two.”

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Show #3

Exactly two weeks to go until Opening Night at Hadlock Field. It’s the second (official) day of Spring here in still snowy Portland, Maine. Warm up with this feature on how the ‘Dogs have been striking out cancer in kids – to the tune of $3 million dollars! Show #3 comin’ at ya…

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Short and (not so) Sweet

So much for our so-called clout. The announcement out of Theo’s (can we still call him, wunderkind?) office late Tuesday was a terse one. Gabbard’s departure leaves 40 in the big league camp. Not one of them a pitcher more worthy of being in Boston’s starting rotation than … awe, as Joe Schultz might put it, tell your stats to shut up! Oh well, at least the countdown here in still-snowy Portland says only 15 days, 8 hours and change ’till our Sea Dogs take the field to receive their 2006 EL championship rings and crank up another season.

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Another pitch for…

Kason GabbardYou guessed it. I’m here to tug on your pant leg again about Kason Gabbard. Another stellar three frames of work Sunday versus the Orioles’ mostly “A” unit allowing one stinking hit that bounded 20 feet over Mike Lowell’s head (there’s enough concrete on the infield of that Fort Lauderdale diamond to make it an excellent mob burial ground), two Ks, no walks. The cunning lefty’s ERA dips to 2.70 in Grapefruit League play, and yet we’re still hearing that Gabbard is ticketed for Pawtucket in two weeks. Yeah, yeah we know the reasons. Too many horses in the rotation already. More off-days on the early season sked don’t necessitate taking six starters north. Yada, yada. Now listen up Red Sox Nation. Dog Cast is not without influence over a certain member of the front office. If you think as we do that Kason deserves to be (need we remind you again about his performance last September?) in a Boston uni come April, give us a shout. E-mail us at gabbard @ penguin pods dot com and we’ll make sure that Mike Hazen, the Red Sox Director of Player Development hears your plea. We can do quite nicely without elder statesman Timmy every fifth day, don’t ya think?

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Nowhere Man

Anybody else miss this far-too-short-lived TV series from the mid 90s? Bruce Greenwood starred as Thomas Veil, a writer whose entire life is erased by mysterious forces – or so the UPN/Paramount show bio read. We’ll never know if Veil stopped the identity degaussing process in time to reclaim his life, and I’m starting to believe the same about one member (for now) of the Red Sox pitching staff.

Kason GabbardKason Gabbard burst on the Fenway scene late last season at a time when injuries forced several new faces into the rotation. In early September the lefty notched his first victory in the Bigs, mixing his sinker/curve in a nifty three-hitter over seven shutout innings as the Red Sox edged the White Sox, 1-0. In all, the 24-year old Gabbard appeared seven times, four starts, and posted an impressive 3.51 ERA. Mere weeks after helping the Sea Dogs climb back into Eastern League fight, Kason Gabbard, it seemed, had arrived. Even the Rem Dawg was cautiously optimistic that Sox brass’ perception of Gabbard had been elevated.

Fast forward to yesterday. Gabbard started and put up three scoreless frames vs. the Pirates, yielding but one hit. Boston lost 3-2, but Kason certainly thinks he’s made a case for full time status in The Show. 

“My confidence is through the roof right now,” Gabbard said. “I know I can pitch up here and I just need to work on some little things to obviously stay up here.”

His skipper had high praise.

“I thought it’s the best arm speed he displayed yet,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’s getting better. I was really impressed.”

So what’s the problem? Numbers. Beckett, Schilling, Dice-K, Papelbon, Wakefield. How does Gabbard stand a chance of breaking into THAT rotation? Answer. He doesn’t. How do you send him back to Triple A? Why? What’s to prove? Ah, I hear you. Boston bullpen, right? Listen closely as our new pitching coach John Farrell rattles off the 12 man staff most likely to head north in about 15 days. No mention of Gabbard.

See. He’s our Nowhere Man, and as ‘Bull Dog’ on Frasier would say, this is total b.s.

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