PORTLAND – Five years ago, the Portland Sea Dogs were preparing for the playoffs that would end in Portland’s first and only Eastern League championship.

Now, the Sea Dogs are trying to avoid producing the worst record in franchise history.

That 2006 team brought a lot of joy to Hadlock Field, but believe it or not, the 2011 Sea Dogs may be just as valuable to the Boston organization.

Of that 2006 team, only one remains with the Red Sox: center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Another was the backup catcher for one year, in 2008, and then was released: George Kottaras.

Others had brief stays in the majors before being traded, released or granted free agency. The exception is Tommy Hottovy, who has been on and off the Portland roster for six years but made his major league debut this year. He is now back with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Two trades were big at the time: David Murphy, in the 2007 Eric Gagne deal that did not work out for Boston; and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen, in the 2008 trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and brought Jason Bay to Boston.

In the 2006 season, Murphy and Hansen were promoted to Triple-A, as was pitcher David Pauley, who later pitched a handful of games for Boston before moving on.

Of the 24 players on the playoff roster, 12 were gone by the spring of 2007 via minor league free agency, release, part of minor trades or retirement.

The difference between the 2006 and 2011 teams is that the championship club featured several minor league free agents, older players who may not have a future in the majors but could still produce for a minor league team.

The 2011 team was homegrown. Of the team that began in April, only reliever Santo Luis was not drafted or signed by the Red Sox — and Luis eventually was released.

The team was young. Only two everyday players and one starter had a full year’s experience at the Double-A level.

From this team, Hottovy and catcher Ryan Lavarnway have reached the majors.

Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin, pitcher Alex Wilson and third baseman Will Middlebrooks have been promoted to Triple-A. Middlebrooks has had a breakout year (.302, 18 home runs).

In Portland, outfielder Alex Hassan has developed into a prospect and will certainly be in Triple-A next year.

Three players — catcher Tim Federowicz, outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang and pitcher Stephen Fife — were dealt in a trade that landed lefty starter Erik Bedard in Boston.

It is possible Lavarnway and Middlebrooks will someday be Boston teammates.

And it is not a stretch to think Hassan and Wilson could join them.

That’s a lot of quality players coming from a last-place team. Unfortunately, the quality could not overcome Portland’s overall inexperience, especially on the mound, and a below-average defense.

No title in 2011. But the mark of a successful team will be how many alumni make it to Boston and how many were part of useful trades.

TWO FORMER Sea Dogs made this year’s Eastern League all-star team: Chiang and Middlebrooks.

Chiang played 88 games before being traded, batting .340 with 76 RBI, 18 home runs and a 1.050 OPS (combined slugging and on-base percentage).

Middlebrooks played 96 games for Portland before his promotion, batting .302 with 80 RBI, 18 home runs and an .865 OPS.

THIS WEEK features a three-game Red Sox-Yankees series at Fenway Park, Tuesday through Thursday, and the Sea Dogs’ final four games, Friday through Monday, Sept. 5.

With the Yankees in town, the Jimmy Fund is holding its annual radio-telethon Tuesday and Wednesday, benefiting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Just a reminder that the Sea Dogs’ Strike Out Cancer in Kids promotion, benefiting the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, is ongoing. For more information, go to the community heading on www.seadogs.com.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases