Lars or Tex?

    .304/.404/.480

     Lars Anderson is the reason that the Red Sox passing on Mark Teixeira, or simply being outbid, does not mean they are not winners. 

     Do I want Mark Teixeira to wear a Red Sox uniform?  Yes, I do.  Having a great switch-hitting presence right smack dab in the middle of that lineup might very well give them the best lineup in baseball.  Assuming of course that Ortiz can show some resemblance of his past self (close to it anyway), and that Lowrie can be merely average in the batters box.  But eight years and $175 million comes with a great deal of risk, just as every other large contract in comparison.  Less risk for a hitter, but still, the risk is there.  And if there was no one down on the Red Sox farm being developed, and developing rather nicely, than Teixeira would be much more of a need, rather than a luxury.  But if the rumored contract is accurate, then it isn’t as if they are being handed Big Tex for Christmas.  They must fork over a pretty-penny in order to receive his services.  And then they must hope he ages well, and still produces some at age 36 (the end of the deal).  Teixeira should be “productive” at the end (almost definitely a lesser version of his current self), but no one can foresee what will actually end up happening.

     But back to Lars.  Before the 2008 season, Keith Law ranked Anderson #28 on his “100 Best Prospects” list.  #28 is really good, by the way.  Anderson was second among 1B, so since Law makes adjustments for position, maybe even more so than most, Anderson really does score highly in his opinion.  Here is the excerpt that Law posted:

The Sox ponied up for Anderson late in the 2006 draft, and he already
is a better prospect than either of their first-round picks from that
year. He is a left-handed hitter who projects to hit for average and
power with great OBPs. His plate discipline and pitch recognition are
outstanding for a prospect of any age, much less a soon-to-be
20-year-old in high Class A ball. He has a simple swing and takes a
direct path to the ball, so he can let it travel and use the entire
field. He shows plus raw power in batting practice, and he has room to
fill out and become a 30-plus home run hitter once he changes his
approach to pull balls middle-in, but that might not come for another
year or two. He also is a good defensive first baseman and a
fringe-average runner. A big year at Double-A would push him up to the
top 10 for next offseason.

     Those numbers at the beginning of my article?  They are Anderson’s overall minor league numbers to this point in his very young career.  As you can see, that patience that Keith is referring to is very much a reality.  The majors aren’t the minors, but if he can take a walk there, he will be able to take a walk when he steps up a level.  Law states that, “His plate discipline and pitch recognition are outstanding for a prospect of any age.”  That quote sums up part of what the Red Sox love, so his approach is right in line with the big league club that he intends to play for.  And although a .480 slugging doesn’t JUMP off the screen, that may be because of his development, or because of the league/park that he plays in.  The minors apparently are much harder to detect how much stadiums and/or quality of opponents (league) impact a player. 

     Mark Teixeira is a proven player, who if not great, is really really good.  If the Red Sox sign him, preferably for eight years or less, than I will gladly ride along.  2009 looks great with Tex.  But I do not object to a “down” year for the Red Sox.  And by down year, I mean an offseason of a few low risk players being signed and then most likely 88-94 wins.  With the team that the Red Sox have now, they will remain competitive, Tex simply makes them better, and potentially the favorite.  Without the switch hitter in the lineup, they will be serious contenders, but not necessarily the favorite.  Although I would still be confident that they have enough talent to take the necessary steps to another World Series. 

     Theo has done a great job, with many resources (can’t be ignored), in developing a lot of depth, leading to many options.  Even if they signed Tex, then they could trade Anderson (perhaps for a catcher?), or any other need they must address.  Or they could save Anderson for 2011, the year after they can part ways with Ortiz, and let Anderson DH.  I know that forcing a prospect into being a DH may hinder his overall development, as he would not be improving defensively at all, but the way the team would be set up, Anderson could be the DH for a good seven years if he stuck around with the club. 

     Lars Anderson would be much better on the wallet as well, which cannot be overlooked.  If they saved on Tex, they could spend $20+ million a year elsewhere, on some other need.  It isn’t as if missing out on Teixeira is a lost cause.  It could create other opportunites down the road that not many outside of the organization could even think of.

     But again, is Mark Teixeira someone that I would want playing for my team?  Sure.  Who wouldn’t want the guy?  But the Red Sox are coming off two World Series championships in five seasons.  They do not need to go after the high priced free agent, when simply being patient (which isn’t the easiest thing to do) could pay off big, too.  So go after Tex if you wish Theo, we would all be happy to have him, but if the contract ends up something like 10 years, $200 million, then I will not show any ill-will toward you turning your cheek and looking forward.  The Red Sox are good already, and good is pretty good last time I checked.
      

2 Comments

Tremendous post as usual.
I would like to say more since I’m still completing my final papers for this term of school but:

Since you’re in Boston you’ll know this better than I do. What is the fallout of the Hanley Ramierz trade? Surely it is mostly positive considering what you got in return, Lowell and Beckett, ended up being a huge part of your World Series run in 2007, but Boston fans will miss out on watching one of baseball’s greats grow up in Red Sox. Could the possibility of losing another wonderful prospect sour Epstein the way my team, the Blue Jays, should feel soured by the loss of good prospects? (Tulo, Carpenter, etc)

I am in Orlando now, but I am fine with that trade. Josh Beckett is among the better pitchers in the game, and Mike Lowell has been a pleasant surprise. And the Red Sox won a ring with both of them playing important parts. No Hanley is disappointing, but it isn’t as if they got two “busts” in return. Beckett is still young too, which is another plus.

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