Cole Hamels. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Cole Hamels. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Remember a few years ago when Arizona was floating out Justin Upton in the offseason? He was the then-23-year-old, super-talented outfielder who had already put in two full seasons of star-level production.

Upton also had just signed a six-year extension for $51.25 million, making him a reasonable investment all the way through the outfielder’s 2015 season (when he would be 28 years old).

No deal was done, with then-Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers asking for three significant players in return.

Moral of that story: you never know unless you ask.

It sure seems like this is the way things are trending in regards to the Phillies’ approach to trading Cole Hamels.

According to a source familiar with the Phillies’ thinking on the matter, Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro and his club have been “unrealistic in their expectations” in regard to a return on Hamels.

The Red Sox are still are keeping an eye on Hamels’ availability, with a report from CSN Philly stating that the Rangers, Cardinals, Padres and Red Sox are the “primary suitors” for the lefty.

It seems clear the Phillies won’t deal Hamels unless they get the haul they’re looking for, with the pitcher owed $96 million over the next four seasons. If the Red Sox make a move, Hamels would surely ask them to exercise the fifth year option — pushing the deal up to $110 million — since the Sox are on his no-trade list.

Amaro has to hit a home run on this deal, and he knows it. That’s why the asking price. But the caveat to waiting things out is any risk the Phillies run in regards to an injury to the 31-year-old.

Hamels has been sturdy, making at least 30 starts in each of the last seven seasons, but as the Phillies learned in the Cliff Lee situation, such runs can easily come to an abrupt halt.

The Red Sox are also in a position where they can let a more palatable deal come to them, with a collection starters the organization feels comfortable heading into spring training with. There are also a myriad of starters with one year left on their current deals, making the acquisition of such a frontline starter potentially more reasonable closer to the non-waiver trade deadline.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

While John Farrell‘s statement on MLB Network Radio Wednesday offered some enlightenment in regards to the status of the Red Sox‘ second baseman — revealing that Dustin Pedroia had been cleared for baseball activity — for the 31-year-old it was old news.

“If [spring training] started tomorrow, I’€™m ready,” Pedroia said by phone. “I’€™ve got all my strength back. I’€™m lifting like a maniac. I’€™m pretty excited. Last year at this time I couldn’€™t hit yet. It’€™s obvious a lot different offseason this year than last year.

“I’€™m full go. I’€™ve been throwing, hitting, taking some ground balls. I’€™m ready to go. … I’€™m done with the rehab. I haven’€™t missed a beat. I haven’€™t had my strength like normal for few years. I’€™m excited.”

Pedroia has settled into his usual offseason routine. Wednesday it included the usual weight lifting and a visit to his Arizona home’s batting cage to continue his hitting
(which he has been participating in since just before Christmas).

This time, the day also included a trip to the store to buy his 5-year-old, Dylan, catchers gear. (“This guy rakes,” Pedroia said of his oldest son’s hitting skils.)

“Every day of my life is pretty good,” he explained.

These days, in this offseason, seem a bit better than years past if no other reason than Pedroia feels back to normal. After undergoing surgery on his left wrist in September, he has given himself enough healing time to hit the ground running come mid-February for the first time in the past few years.

With hand, wrist and foot injuries, Pedroia’s offseasons have been uneven of late. Last year, the Sox’s World Series run, coupled with thumb surgery and early-season injury, had the infielder playing catch-up until ultimately shutting down his season with a month to go.

“It’€™s been a while,” said Pedroia of having a semi-normal offseason. “You go through times you have some injuries, have to have some surgeries, things like that. You just have to prepare the best you can. When we won the World Series I had surgery and there’€™s time you have to rest and recover, so I got a late start and it caught up with me. Now I’€™m full steam ahead. I’€™m ready, I feel strong and there’€™s nothing I’€™ll be thinking about when I get on the field other than winning games.

“I never worry about if this is going to be my best year. Every year I try and come out and win games. As far as I’€™m concerned. I’€™ve had two good years and both years we’€™ve won the World Series. That’€™s what you play for, that’€™s what we all play for and that should be everybody’€™s mindset coming in. If we lose our last game we don’€™t accept that. That’€™s the way I’€™m going to look at it and that’€™s the way all the guys are going to look at it.”

And just in case it wasn’t clear …

“I’€™m ready to go, dude,” Pedroia concluded.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

All eyes will be on how Hanley Ramirez handles himself with Red Sox. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)We don't know if the end result of the puzzle will be better or worse. But we do know the pieces will be a whole bunch different.

It’s nice to know some things remain the same when mapping out a baseball season.

In this case, it’s ESPN using the matchups between the Red Sox and Yankees for two of its first five Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts.

ESPN released its early-season schedule for the broadcast — which will include Curt Schilling this season after the pitcher took last season off due to cancer treatments. It is the following (with all games starting at 8 p.m. ET):

April 5: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester‘s debut with the Cubs)
April 12:Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
April 19: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
April 26: New York Mets at New York Yankees
May 3: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

Of course, when it comes to the Red Sox playing these games, the next question always trends toward what the next day looks like.

As for the April 12 tilt, that will lead into the Red Sox’ home opener, which starts at 3:05 p.m. against the Nationals. The May 3 game in Boston is followed the next day by a night home game against Tampa Bay.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

According to a major league source, Dan Butler — who was recently designated for assignment by the Red Sox in order to make room for Craig

Dan Butler

Dan Butler

According to a major league source, Dan Butler — who was recently designated for assignment by the Red Sox in order to make room for Craig Breslow on the 40-man roster — has been traded to the Washington Nationals.

In return for the 28-year-old catcher, the Red Sox will receive 27-year-old pitcher Daniel Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum does not need to be placed on 40-man roster, although the former Xavier University product is scheduled to become a minor league free agent at the end of the 2015 season.

Rosenbaum has served as starter in the minors for the Nationals, going 8-10 with a 3.94 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Harrisburg in 2012 before totaling a 3.87 ERA in 28 Triple-A starts in ’13.

He made just four starts for Triple-A Syracuse last season.

For Butler, its’ a fresh start, although the Nationals already have four catchers on their 40-man roster, with Wilson Ramos and Jose Lobaton at the top of the depth chart.

Butler recently talked to about the opportunity that could spawn off of the Red Sox decision to DFA the backstop. (Click here for Butler’s comments.)

The Boston Globe was first to report the trade.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Daniel Nava is ready for what is currently an uncertain future. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)Daniel Nava understands his lot in life.

It’€™s a conversation that usually makes switch-hitters cringe.

Why don’€™t some of these guys just give up the practice of hitting from both sides, and focus on the skill-set they excel at?

Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

It’€™s a conversation that usually makes switch-hitters cringe.

Why don’€™t some of these guys just give up the practice of hitting from both sides, and focus on the skill-set they excel at?

Initially, former Red Sox outfielder Bobby Kielty would bristle at such an idea until he finally committed to exclusively hitting from the right side. Jason Varitek never abandoned switch-hitting even though his career batting average was 30 points better as a righty (and 50 points higher his final four seasons).

Daniel Nava, however, doesn’€™t mind broaching the subject. And for good reason: he’€™s actually thinking about making the switch away from switch-hitting.

“Oh yeah,” said Nava when asked Monday by phone about if he had contemplated hitting exclusively from the left side. “I didn’t think about it too much in 2013, but then last year I definitely thought about it. I’ve talked with [Red Sox hitting coach] Chili [Davis] about it before when I struggled in 2011. I asked him what he thought I should do because sometimes I felt terrible from one side. He told me you never feel the same on both sides, but there’s definitely a side I had more of a challenge with.”

For his career, Nava is a .293 hitter from the left side, while totaling just a .203 batting average as a righty. Last season it became even more extreme, with the outfielder managing a .293-.159 split.

In the final three months of the ’14 season, Nava hit .321 from the left side, among the best in the majors over that span.

And now, with the Red Sox flush with righty-hitting outfielders, the 31-year-old is on the verge of embracing what is working for him.

“I have thought about it. Is it something I’m going to do? I don’t know. It’s a tough thing to do,” he said. “[Shane] Victorino did it a couple of years ago, just dropping it. It definitely runs through my head. It’s definitely something I’m considering doing, but at the same time it’s something I’ve never done. Would I even be effective lefty on lefty, or would it be better hitting against lefties from the right side. I would have to go out and give it a test run.”

Despite the numbers, Nava’€™s hesitancy is somewhat understandable. It has been quite a while, after all, since he stared down a lefty pitcher as a lefty hitter.

“Probably Little League,” he said when asked the last time he didn’€™t hit from both sides of the plate. “I’ve been a switch-hitter my whole life. Hopefully I raked in Little League, but I don’t’ really remember.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford