Some things to talk about as Michael Bourn signs with Cleveland...
1) Brett Wallace's swing
Today is sort of the leftover news from Sunday and Monday. But, better late than never, which is why we're talking about Brett Wallace and his new swing. Do you know what new hitting coach John Mallee said about Wallace?
"(Wallace is) a monster," Mallee said.
In case you missed the Mike Fast interview, the Houston decision scientist was very complimentary of Mallee and his methods. If Mallee believes Wallace has turned a corner and tapped into the "potential" he's exhibited since being drafted, then maybe he has.
As Joe In Birmingham pointed out in the comments at some point in the last two days, getting Wallace to utilize his lower body as part of his swing has been called for basically since he was acquired. If he's fixed that, maybe Wallace will turn into the masher he showed glimpses of in the minors.
Here's what Wallace has actually done:
Following the leadership of new hitting coach John Mallee, Wallace recently made several key adjustments to his swing. His hands are slightly higher and move more before a pitch, mirroring a stance Wallace used when he was younger. The most dramatic change is found in Wallace’s legs, which are spread apart farther and display a block shape prior to a pitch’s arrival, with his left heel slightly raised.
Spring training is full of stories like this. It's hard to know if this will mean a comeback for Wallace or if it'll be forgotten once the season begins. Still, it's one more reason to be hopeful and see how the spring works out for Wally. If he hits .400 in the next month, maybe Mallee is on to something.
2) Top pick candidates narrowed down
This is a day old now, but I did want to mention this article, which says the Astros have narrowed down their choices at 1-1 to eight players. Mike Elias has also mentioned that there are no high school pitchers on the list, which means there's no Lucas Giolito in this year's class (bummer, I know).
We could speculate on who those top eight guys are, but I bet we know six of them right now. As JJO says, there is a great chance Mark Appel is one of those eight, along with the other two college pitchers and the two high school outfielders (Frazier, Meadows).
What's interesting is I think we found out something similar last season about this time, but I don't think anyone had Carlos Correa in that group until right before the draft. So, we may have five or six of the names down right now, but the mystery couple could end up being the choice at 1-1.
3) Top 2014 free agents
MLB Trade Rumors posted a list of the top free agents next winter, so let's debate who the Astros might go after (if they spend any money at all). The problem, like with all free agents, is that the entire top 10 is 30 or older. That kind of list doesn't fit with the Astros rebuilding plan, does it?
Of the players on the list, the pitchers seem the likeliest to be targets. Maybe a Tim Lincecum or a Phil Hughes could make sense next winter, but none of the options seem to be great fits. If the Yankees decide to go in another direction, maybe Curtis Granderson makes sense in center field.
Otherwise, it seems like Houston might be waiting on 2015 for more free agent signings.