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Kason Gabbard Goes Full Circle

It's not every day that a Class AAA addition turns heads, but that's precisely what happened on Thursday, when the Red Sox acquired left-handed pitcher Kason Gabbard from the Rangers for straight cash considerations.

As many may remember, Gabbard pitched for the Red Sox in 2007 before being a centerpiece of the team's trade with the Rangers that brought Eric Gagne to Boston. While Gagne's stay in Boston was both short-lived and disastrous, Gabbard's tenure in Texas started with a bang but petered out in 2008, when he went 2-3 in 12 starts with the Rangers, with a 4.82 ERA. His struggles were partly due to injury and partly due to ineffectiveness, but the combination forced the Rangers to attempt a conversion to long reliever this year and, when that move didn't work out, to dump him altogether.

That being said, his return to the Red Sox organization could be a bargain basement stroke of brilliance. The Sean William Scott lookalike was more comfortable than Kevin Millar in a Barcalounger during his first stint with the Red Sox, and even with Boston's perceived depth of starting pitching, Gabbard could play a role down the stretch. He's left-handed -- a strength given that Boston's only established lefty is Jon Lester -- and he could provide a spot start or two if when one of the Red Sox' rotation starters needs a breather down the stretch.

In the meantime, Gabbard can try to rediscover his control and poise. As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson noted, Gabbard allowed six runs in a single inning during his most recent outing for Texas' Class AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City. That's likely the blow that made him a toxic asset for all clubs except Boston, for whom he was such a great role player in the past.

So, this is a win-win for the player and his once and future team, right? Sure, though Clay Buchholz is probably the one guy who won't be smiling ear-to-ear. The organization's top pitching prospect (though he's only that by a whisker above Michael Bowden) has been hot for a return to the big leagues, and his spring training form seemed to indicate that it wouldn't be long before he was back. With Gabbard -- who is only 27 -- back in the fold, Boston suddenly has another body to use in a fill-in role and give Buchholz more time to pitch in Class AAA and build more consistency, something that's been desperately lacking in Buchholz's first brief stints in the major leagues so far.

What do other people think about the Gabbard move? Is this as one-sided as it seems to be to me? Or is Gabbard really and truly cooked, with Boston handing away money for nothing?

By Cameron Smith  |  April 24, 2009; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  Rangers , Red Sox  
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Next: The Paul Byrd Watch Begins


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Posted by: salawhite08 | April 25, 2009 3:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Cameron, and Sala, too.

Gabbard and Devern Hansack are essentially the Sox replacement level pitchers at Pawtucket. They've both had some work at Fenway and been effective at times. Gabbard's big issue has been injuries throughout his career, and the Sox think he can serve as a fill in if they canget him healthy.
When the Sox waived Hansack off the 40 man, they thought he would not get claimed because he has been fighting an injury too. he is supposed to resign and stay in Pawtucket. The Hansack 40 man roster spot went to Jeff Bailey, who was called up to fill Chris Carter's (yes, that Chris Carter) role as back up corner outfielder and 1st baseman. Bailey is not a CF, so Jonathan Van Every, a AAAA CF, was also called up to replace Baldelli. Nice roster maneuvers.

This is not so much at Buchholz's expense. Buchholz and Bowden are competing with Smoltz, Wakefield, Penny, and Masterson for the non-Lester / Dice-K / Beckett slots. The spot starts could still go to Buchholz or Bowden, depending on rest and health, but Hansack, Gabbard, and maybe Zink and Tazawa are alternative spot start options, not long term rotation regulars.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 25, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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