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Rays on the ropes: The Hot Stove Season nears for Astros fans

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Astros fans may be ambivalent to the outcome of the World Series, but the fact that it's one Phillies win away from completion should have everyone excited. Why? So Hot Stove Season begins when the World Series ends.

We have a lot to be excited about for this Hot Stove Season and even though there are no games being played, the rumors, rumblings, and eventual transactions from around the league will shape the destiny of the Astros heading into 2009. We all know that this is a flawed and far from complete team, so what Ed Wade is allowed to do to shore up some of our flaws will dictate our mood for the 5 months we follow this team.

Pitching is an obvious need. Right now we've got Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Backe, and Brian Moehler under contract. Finding a cheap platoon for Bourn would be extremely valuable and help in his development -- it would be especially awesome if this player got on base a lot. There are a few ways we can pursue pitching: big name Type A, a good, but not great Type B, a bevy of injured, but rehabbed legends, or just has been's and never-were's on the scrap heap. We could also hope that Arias and Paulino contribute in a positive and significant way, which would decrease our demand for starting pitching.

Here's a list of all the FA available this off-season.