This Week in Boston Baseballing, Dec. 6 – 12

A very quiet Winter Meetings session for the Red Sox. Boston’s front office flew down to Disney World in relatively good shape and left Orlando yesterday in essentially the same state. The team’s most significant activity over the past few days was a reported minor league deal with 37-year-old Japanese submariner Shunsuke Watanabe.

The AL Managers Luncheon Photo
Check out Joe Maddon’s hair hat.

Mike Napoli Re-Signs with Boston
As it turns out, failing his physical last winter will net Mike Napoli some extra cash. The 1B/DH re-upped with the Red Sox for two years and $32 million, a $3-mil per year raise over his initial three year, $36 million deal originally signed at the end of the 2012 season.

It’s hard to fault the front office for being overly cautious when Napoli was first diagnosed with a degenerative hip condition when he went in for a physical last winter. With a year’s worth of intel to work with and little else on the market, the Red Sox pay extra for their caution, but have a better knowledge of how Napoli fits on the team in 2014-2015. Everything turned out pretty well for both sides in the end.

Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles Want to Play the 2013 Red Sox
From BostInno’s Hayden Bird:

Hiroshi Mikitani, the owner of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, is apparently a little taken aback by the claim from the Red Sox that they are world champions. Given that Major League Baseball teams are based in only two countries, it is admittedly difficult to claim such an international prize as the title “world champions” implies. And since Mikitani’s Golden Eages won the Japan Series earlier this year, he feels that the two champions should meet to decide the rightful world champion.

In January 2006, MLB’s 2005 World Series champion White Sox actually did play Bobby Valentine’s Chibe Lotte Marines in a seven game series and dispatched their Japanese counterpart in five games.

Schilling To Provide Color on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
Aw fuck.

The Team Expands Its Fenway Liquor License
You’ll now be able to buy beers up until the end of the 7th inning no matter how damn long the game has already been under way. The ruling is of course a landmark for fans attending Red Sox-Yankees games, which typically run longer than any other matchup in the majors.

From MassLive:

The Red Sox will now be allowed to sell alcohol until the conclusion of the 7th inning, regardless of how long the innings last. Prior to the ruling, alcohol sales at Fenway concluded two hours after first pitch or at the bottom of the 7th inning, whichever came first. The commissioners said that the 7th inning stoppage of alcohol sales would create more consistency in the sale of alcohol because the two-hour mark in some games can come as early as the 5th inning.

The Matt Kemp Rumor Mill
In his preview of the Winter Meetings on Grantland, Jonah Keri broached the subject of Boston meeting with the LA front office in Orlando to discuss a Matt Kemp trade:

Boston is the team most frequently linked to Kemp. The Red Sox lost Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees, and might not yet be willing to give Jackie Bradley Jr. the starting center field job. Of course, one big reason the Red Sox just won the World Series is that they dumped a quarter-billion dollars in contracts on the Dodgers in August 2012; it might be counterintuitive for Boston to turn around and take a huge contract back from the same trade partner.

Kemp is reportedly off the market as of this writing. Which definitely means he’s still on the market.

Jon Lester and a Contract Extension
The Herald’s Scott Lauber has Cherington publicly acknowledging that the team is exploring a contract extension beyond 2014 for Jon Lester. Lester turns 30 in January and, since he’s a pitcher, it’s not unreasonable to think his best years are still ahead of him. Using Philadelphia’s six-year, $144 million deal with Cole Hamels in 2012 would be by far the largest contract for a pitcher in team history.

Frozen Fenway Will Include a Sledding Hill
Obviously the proceeds from this endeavor will help the Sox pay Masahiro Tanaka, right? MLB didn’t take into account the unbalanced profitability of the offseason sledding hill paradigm when it implemented a $189 million luxury tax threshold. This is a market inefficiency that Boston is poised to exploit.

fenway sledding hill

Artist rendering from, as supplied by the Red Sox.

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