Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Lars Anderson (62) singles against the Baltimore Orioles during the top of the second inning of a spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Zach Stewart, SP
It's just 18 innings, but this has been a weird stretch from one of the newer Red Sox around. Zach Stewart has struck out just five hitters with Pawtucket, and four of those came in his first appearance. In the two starts and nearly 13 innings since, he's punched out one hitter, walked two, but only allowed three runs in that stretch. It isn't because his grounders are working for him, either, as he's actually induced more air than ground outs in these three starts.
As said, though, it's just 18 innings, so trying to make any sense of what it means is likely a waste. He's missed bats in the minors before, and he's had brushes with sound control in the past, and by year's end, we'll likely see a Stewart that looks like the one we're used to. That being said, the real questions with his arm come into play in the majors, as that's the one level where he just hasn't put things together, in the way he has across the minors.
Alex Wilson, RP
Think Wilson's season line is impressive? Remember, for a moment, that he struggled as a starter to begin the year, before moving to relief. Then notice that, in his last 10 appearances, dating back to June 8, Wilson owns a 1.96 ERA, has struck out 17 batters in 18 innings, and has limited opponents to a .167 batting average. Things have been good for him as of late, and he's clearly adapting to his new role as reliever.
Should the next few weeks go poorly for the Red Sox, and their record doesn't look promising come the July 31 trade deadline, there's an outside chance that some veterans are sent packing. This could matter for Wilson, as it might just mean that bullpen arms like those of Matt Albers, Vicente Padilla, and others could be shipped out. This would open room for Wilson, if the Red Sox felt that it was the time for him, and it very well could be since he needs to be added to the 40-man roster by this off-season, anyway, to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
If the Sox don't sell off any pieces at the deadline, Wilson is still going to be added to the 40 at season's end, and he just might join the club in spring training with a legitimate shot of making the Opening Day bullpen. His season has been full of progress, and if he keeps it up, he just might finish with a dominating line that masks his early problems.
Lars Anderson, 1B/LF
Speaking of the 40-man crunch and the trade deadline. Lars Anderson has seemingly been passed on the depth chart by Mauro Gomez (.311/.366/.614 in the minors this year, 891 OPS in limited MLB time), and the organization has no shortage of outfielders -- in fact, there's a surplus now that Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford are coming back. The organization already attempted to move him last year -- and given his response at the time when the deal was cancelled, Anderson was open to the idea of heading to another team where he might get a chance -- so expect to see that happen again in 2012, both for Anderson's and the 40-man roster's sake.
He has not been hitting as of late, slugging just .263 in June, and it's dragged his numbers, which were slowly becoming respectable, down to very 2011-esque levels. Maybe a change of scenery can rejuvenate him, in an organization where he'll be able to have a chance. Or maybe this is just who Lars Anderson is. Either way, both parties are likely better off heading in separate directions by the end of the month.