Red Sox Mailbag: Bobby Valentine Connects Well With Players by Using Hands-on Approach, Speaking Japanese


Red Sox Mailbag: Bobby Valentine Connects Well With Players by Using Hands-on Approach, Speaking JapaneseFORT MYERS, Fla. ?? The spring training games are finally starting. With a tune up against Northeastern and Boston College on Saturday, the Red Sox will open up its Grapefruit League slate of games against the Twins the following day.

After an unofficial "B" game on Thursday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he's still working on developing his managing rhythm with Tim Bogar, Alex Ochoa and Jerry Royster.

As they work out those kinks, let's take a look at this week?s mailbag.

Do you agree that Bobby V. is a good leader and the Red Sox' only leader? -Christopher, Boston

Valentine should connect well with most of his players. His goofy, energetic and hands-on approach has been well received by some of the players that I have spoken with this spring training.

But I definitely wouldn't say he's the only leader. Dustin Pedroia has displayed leadership qualities in the past and his name has circulated in the discussion as a candidate to fill Jason Varitek's role as captain.

Throughout the spring, David Ortiz has stepped up as an example, especially when he delivered a speech to the team during its opening meeting. Don't be surprised if Adrian Gonzalez takes a leadership torch too, now that he enters his second season with the Red Sox.

Do you think we could trade Josh Beckett for 2 or 3 top 100 prospects after this season? Considering the free agent class coming up for pitching, I think this would be a great move, now that Beckett is aging. This would also free up a huge amount of money. What do you think?  -Jack Delaney, McKinney, Texas

Not going to happen. Beckett enjoyed a career year when it came to earned run average, posting a 2.89 ERA ?? that's with his September struggles ?? in 2011. He?s not that old, just 31 and turns 32 in May. He has a lot of mileage left in him.

The Red Sox signed him to an extension in 2010 that lasts until 2014, so barring any unforeseen moves by management, I expect Beckett to stay in Boston regardless of the free agent class ahead.

Not sure if this has been asked before. With Bobby Valentine being accustomed to the Japanese game, do you think that Dice-K will have a good year under the new skipper? -Michael, Jupiter, Fla.

I'll say this ?? as an ESPN analyst, Valentine criticized the Red Sox for restricting Daisuke Matsuzaka and preventing him from using the entire arsenal of pitches that made him feared in Japan.

During the first week of camp, Valentine said he wouldn't put any limitations on what Matsuzaka could or couldn't pitch. After speaking with Valentine ?? in Japanese, I may add ?? during a meeting, the pitcher expressed satisfaction with the discussion.

Because Valentine understands the culture and style overseas, I think he can better connect and communicate with Matsuzaka. That doesn't mean the pitcher will produce better results.

It always helps when you can directly and specifically explain changes or suggest recommendations to one's choosing as opposed to relying on an interpreter. Ultimately, Valentine's background could bode well for Matsuzaka.

Apparently there is still a player to be named later, do you think they could get anyone like Starlin Castro or Matt Garza because Theo Epstein is clearly a HOF; maybe they could make a deal like getting castro for punto, maybe?  -Matt, Framingham

It's over, Matt. Let it go, just let it go. The compensation for Theo Epstein was like pulling teeth and the Red Sox wound up coming away with pitching prospect Chris Carpenter.

The player to be named later won't be anyone notable. At the end of the day, Red Sox ownership made the mistake of allowing Epstein to walk away prematurely without compensation. They acknowledged it and have paid the price for it. End of story, my man.

Who do you think the one surprise player that breaks camp with the team?  -@AdamV2326, via Twitter

As the reigning Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, Alex Wilson showed promise last season. After compiling a 10-4 record and a 3.11 ERA between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, he could be someone to keep an eye on for a bullpen job.

Down the road, Juan Carlos Linares is a player worth monitoring. Before his season-ending ankle injury last May, the outfielder displayed power in Pawtucket and had already impressed then-manager Terry Francona.

With all the questions in the outfield, he could sneak into the mix.

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.

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