Red Sox Mailbag: Bobby Valentine’s New Changes Should Strenghten Clubhouse


Red Sox Mailbag: Bobby Valentine's New Changes Should Strenghten ClubhouseFORT MYERS, Fla. – The new Red Sox era has started. With a new general manager, a new manager, a new closer and a new complex, the team is opening up 2012 with a clean slate.

As manager Bobby Valentine evaluates the position battles and lineup options, let’s go over this week’s mailbag.

Where’s Roy Oswalt??? Is he gonna be a Bosox?  -@TonyChavez34, via Twitter

Not anytime soon, Tony. On Thursday, Oswalt’s agent, Bob Garber, announced that his client intends to wait and evaluate his options, making him a hot mid-season commodity if injuries befall other starting pitchers.

Sounds like the 34-year-old is hoping to land somewhere closer to his Mississippi home, which has been his preference all along. The door to Boston has been wide open for Oswalt since day one, so if he wanted to come there wouldn’t be this discussion.

For now, it seems unlikely he’ll come aboard unless the Red Sox start the season off hot. If they show the potential to contend for a World Series, Oswalt could sacrifice his geographical desires.

With how openly critical Bobby V was on ESPN of so many Sox players, why on earth was he picked as manager? Last option?  -@TrafficDanM, via Twitter

The difference between Valentine and the other candidates interviewed was that Valentine was a member of the media last season. As an analyst for ESPN, it was his job to offer his opinions of players –– whether harsh or not.

His previous obligations can’t be held against him and even Carl Crawford understood that concept. That’s why the left fielder laughed off any notions of a rift with Valentine.

Aside from Valentine’s baseball acumen, Red Sox management knew he would bring immediate, national attention to the club. So far, he’s accomplished that goal.

What about the Red Sox trying to get Pat Venditte from the Yankees? He is intriguing and his numbers in the minors are pretty solid, yet the Yankees clearly don’t rate him considering they didn’t protect him in the Rule 5 Draft and haven’t invited him to Spring Training, surely he is at least worth a look as another bullpen arm? -John

The last time the Red Sox and the Yankees made a trade was Aug. 13, 1997, when Boston shipped Mike Stanley to New York. There’s a reason why these two rivals don’t do much swapping together.

They’d hate to help each other, so I wouldn’t expect any type of deal between them anytime soon.

Why the heck did they send [Marco] Scataro packing when the shortstops they have just don’t flow my boat. And giving [David Ortiz] a one-year deal incentive? I will always remain faithful but are the Red Sox that poor?  -Jim Mitchell, Taunton

At the end of last month, Ben Cherington said they traded Scutaro because they believed the combination of Mike Aviles and Nick Punto –– and possibly Jose Iglesias –– could match the production of their predecessor.

Defensively, his assertions are accurate. Punto has the same lifetime fielding percentage as Scutaro, while Aviles’s career total is just .001 percentage point below the pair’s output.

In four years in the majors, Aviles is also a lifetime .288 hitter and has notched a .419 slugging percentage, both higher averages than Scutaro, Lowrie and Punto have owned.

What are the veteran players saying if anything about the rule changes Bobby Valentine is reportedly making?  -Ryan Jacobsen, Neenah

Let’s make it clear that Valentine hasn’t directly announced any rules, except for one –– traveling to spring training games. Earlier this week, he said players would take the bus together to those matches as opposed to driving separately.

The big possible rule change to keep an eye on is whether Valentine intends to allow alcohol in the clubhouse. He’s already made a decision on that, but as of Wednesday, he hadn’t told the players of his decision yet.

As a result, many players won’t have an opinion on it yet. In the grand scheme of things, the new bus rule is a slight tweak. That said, it’s establishing the groundwork for fundamentals and team building, so it’d be hard to expect that anyone would be harshly against it.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag. Photo by AP/David Goldman

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