Make No Mistake, Lars Anderson Is Only a Prospect

Daniel LyonsContributor IJanuary 26, 2009

It has been a month since the Red Sox lost out on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes. And with “Truck Day”—the Feb. 6 departure of everything from baseballs and bats to bubblegum and sunflower seeds to Ft. Myers, FL—soon approaching, Red Sox fans are looking towards the future.

More specifically, fans envision a future with someone who can fill that middle-of-the-order void where Teixeira would have fit in so nicely.

Many New Englanders will tell you the answer to that void exists a year or a year and a half down the road, in the form of Red Sox prospect Lars Anderson.

Who needs Mark Teixeira when you have Lars Anderson waiting?

Sour grapes!

The Red Sox needed Teixeira—that’s who.

Lars Anderson or no Lars Anderson, the Red Sox need a power hitter guaranteed to impact the big league roster. Anderson hit for power at AA, but that should in no way be mistaken for a guarantee. 

Beyond their interest in Teixeira, the Red Sox extended a quick inquiry to Marlins general manager Michael Hill regarding the availability of former Red Sox farmhand and current MLB superstar Hanley Ramirez. The Red Sox do not make that call if Anderson is a guarantee.

It seems the Red Sox front office realizes that.  Fans, however, do not, and they are not alone.

Certain Boston media outlets have not, by any means, blanketed unrealistic expectations, calling Anderson “more than a prospect,” and wondering what types of contributions he would make if called up during the 2009 season.

The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn went as far as to say the Red Sox should “give 'em whatever it takes [for Ramirez] from the farm system, save for Lars Anderson.”

Ramirez would have been more of a sure-fire replacement for what they failed to obtain in Teixeira; Anderson is not nearly the same guarantee. Sorry, Chad, but you make that trade (assuming Buchholz is not packaged with Anderson) 10 times out of 10.

Anderson, a 6'4", 215-pound first baseman in the Red Sox minor-league system, certainly projects to be a member of a major-league roster at some point in the next few years.

With that said, it would be beneficial for Red Sox fans to remember his success is nothing more than a projection, and dismiss the idea that he will someday make a crowded Fenway Park forget why fans and ownership ever coveted the switch-hitting, Gold Glove first baseman named Mark Teixeira.

Anderson has zero AAA at-bats on his resume, and although his frame and youth are promising, there is still a great deal of development that needs to occur before anyone should feel he is an adequate alternative to losing out on Teixeira.

Clearly, with all forms of amateur development, there are no certainties. So why can’t Sox fans remember this before even mentioning Anderson in the same sentence as Teixeira?

Anderson, currently ranked seventh on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects, could be a very good player. Teixeira is a great player right now—a guy you would not mind extending a long-term deal to.

And that is exactly what Red Sox baseball operations attempted to do when owner John Henry flew out to Texas to meet with Teixeira and agent Scott Boras on Dec. 18, 2008.

When the Yankees signed Teixeira to an eight-year, $180 million contract, there was a need for Red Sox fans to worry. Moreover, the lack of offensive power will take its true toll on the club sometime after the 2009 season, a fear that should not be dismissed based solely on Anderson’s presence in the farm system.

And while the Red Sox presently have players who could very well be clean-up hitters on many other major league clubs, Red Sox ownership and fans long for a bit more down the road, and that is understandable.

What is not understandable is why Lars Anderson is presently being pegged as the guy who can provide that “bit more.”

With the powerful emergence of former prospects Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon, it has become all too easy to predict Anderson’s skills will seamlessly translate into an overly special talent at the big league stage.

But let us not forget our past, one that includes the likes of Brian Rose, Frank Rodriguez, and Craig Hansen (and I’m sure many more during and before my time).