The Housont Astros will most likely look to retain much of their roster from the 2008 season. This is particularly true with their bullpen. Last years bullpen ended up shaping up as:
Tim Byrdak - L
Wesley Wright - L
One of the biggest surprises for Houston last year was the success of rule 5 draft pick Wesley Wright. Wright was extremely successful against lefties but not so much against righties.
However is ability to stay cool in pressure cooker situations and that fact that he is a lefty is a huge plus.
Another blessing in disguise for Houston last year was Chris Sampson's move to the bullpen. Though Sampson struggled as a starter he blossomed in the bullpen.
Doug Brocailcarried Houston's bullpen through the first half of the 2008 season, appearing in more games than any other Astro pitcher.
Though Houston did not pick up his option, and Brocail has filed for free agency, look for Houston to make an effort to keep him in an Astros uniform.
LaTroy Hawkinscame to Houston around the time Randy Wolf did and both were major reasons for Houston's playoff push at the end of the season. Hawkins wasn't succesful as a Yankee but was untouchable in an Astros uniform.
Hawkins has expressed interest in returning to Houston.
Tim Byrdak, also a left hander, was very good this year at time and very bad at others. However, his ups were more often than his downs.
His is a valuable left handed arm coming out of the pen that Ed Wade is going to try to hold on to.
Geoff Geary came to Houston in the Brad Lidge trade with Michael Bourn and Mike Constanzo. Geary was the only one of the three, Houston has already traded Constanzo, to show any consistency in their role.
I think Geary is one of the most important pieces to Houston's bullpen and I for one hope to see him again next year.
Finally, last but definitely not least, Jose Valverde. Papa Grande. Valverde began the season a little shaky but looked at some film and made adjustments. He ended up being very successful in 08, leading the National League in saves.
Unless Houston has some crazy idea for trading Valverde for starting pitching, look for him to be anchoring the bullpen again in 2009.
Free Agent Updates:
Mark Loretta, Randy Wolf, LaTroy Hawkins, and Brad Ausmushave all filed for free agency. Look for Doug Brocail to follow suite soon.
Of these four free agents I expect Houston will try and bring back Hawkins, Brocail, and Wolf.