GOOD BYE LARS AND GOOD LUCK

  The July 31, non waiver trade deadline has come and gone.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter.  This time it did.  Scott Podsednik was shipped off to Arizona with Matt Albers for former Pawtucket reliever Craig Breslow.  A loss, certainly, but Scotty “Pods” hadn’t been around that long.  The one that hit me was bittersweet.  Lars Anderson was traded to the Indians.  Lars has been in the Sox organization since Day 1.  Six years.  At one point, Baseball America rated him the top prospect in the organization.  He never quite lived up to the pressure or burden of such a billing.  You can’t judge him by that.  At age 24, Lars has a tremendous upside that I think will benefit Cleveland. 

     It was a poignant moment at Frontier Field in Rochester.  Heavy rain was falling and the guys were milling around the clubhouse, monitoring Twitter for the latest rumors.  Manny Delcarmen, the Scranton pitcher, who of course, is a Massachusetts kid with a Red Sox World Series ring was chatting with Daniel Bard and me when word about Lars got out.  Manny knows how quickly you can fall out of favor and be traded.  Sometimes it’s hard to come to grips with changing teams and uniforms.  Manny’s been gone a while now.  He knows what lies ahead for Lars.  Bard, who has struggled this season, had to be contemplating his own future, as well.

     As always, Anderson was philosophical when talking about his future.  “I’m really excited, man.  I had an awesome six years in the Red Sox organization.  I feel like I’m ready for something new.  A change of scenery is going to be good.  Something to energize me.  A place where there’s more of an opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing in the Big Leagues on a more regular basis.  All that is there in Cleveland.  It feels good to be wanted by a team and I’m excited to get started.” 

     Exactly a year ago, Anderson was traded to his hometown A’s.  When pitcher Rich Harden failed his physical, the deal was cancelled, leaving Lars back at McCoy Stadium.  It was a difficult situation for him.  One he handled as deftly as a hot smash to first base.  “There’s no other way to go about it constructively.  It stung as little bit.”

     In exchange, Boston gets a 27 year old knuckleballer, Steven Wright.  Wright converted to the knuckler a couple of seasons ago.  The Sox have tried over the years to find another Tim Wakefield with guys like Charlie Zink and John Barnes.  Nothing personal, but I’ve never been a fan of the pitch.  I can remember sitting in my crib, as a baby, just ripping Hoyt Wilhelm.  Ok, so maybe that is a bit of an exxageration, but you get the point.

     Lars leaves behind a lot of good friends.  He leaves behind a best friend, Ryan Kalish.  Anderson had to take a deep breath before talking about leaving Kalish in Boston.  “We talked about this possibility last night when he got called up to Boston.  We may never play together again.”  Anderson paused.  “Who knows?  Maybe we will.  Ryan and I will remain friends.  We’ll probably live in the same city during the offseason and train together.”

     Lars had no inkling that he’d be dealt.  Nor did he envision his landing spot.  The Columbus Clippers.  “I was completely blindsided.  I had heard nothing.  I was getting ready to play tonight.  When Arnie (Beyeler) told me, I was surprised.”

     Anderson isn’t worried about making new friends.  Playing first base comes with some advantages.  “I  get to chat with all the guys that reach base when we play them.  So we kind of know each other a little.  It’s not totally unfamiliar.”

      As I told Lars, I was having a tough time reading him.  I’m certain there had to be a range of emotions swirling around him.  He clarified for me.  “I’m really pleased with this.”  I will miss Lars.  I got acquainted with his mom Diane and his dad, George.  I even enjoyed conversations with his grandparents over the years.  I watched Lars mature from a kid into a thoughtful young man.  It has been my pleasure.  Good bye and good luck, friend.          

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