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Jake's Take: Taking a peek behind the curtain...

"King in the castle, king in the castle" -Borat

For a front office that is known for being very secretive and "poker-faced", reading an article about the Rays' plans this off-season would sound outright crazy to most fans. However, Mr. Chastain floored me today. For once, I'm actually almost tearful reading one of his articles and not due to it's similarities to an onion.

"Our defense is one area that we'd like to improve," Friedman said. "Improving our bullpen [is important] -- some of it with internal candidates, some external. And I think one of the biggest shortcomings of our team last year was our offense, but I expect that to get better as these young players mature more. So I'm not as concerned about that."

You had me at "improve", Andy, you had me at "improve"

How will the Rays go about filling those needs? According to Friedman, a mixture of acquisitions through free agency and trades can be expected.

Wait, did Chastain put together a combination of words and make into it a thought-provoking question towards Andy?

Need....air... Just kidding, but I haven't seen you do this since you took over for Smith (god rest his soul).

"We've just got to be extremely prepared in both facets and feel good about the reports we have from our scouts and our evaluations of these targeted players," Friedman said, "whether they be our own players or in different organizations, so that we can continue to improve."

Looks like we're not gonna use last year's "wait and watch" approach that we used last year in Winter Meetings.

Just so I don't just quote every paragraph for this post, Andy basically explains his "no players are untouchable philosophy" which basically is...if you don't listen to everything, you miss out on something which may become a steal and a very lopsided deal. Phew, good to hear...I think? Again he says that we're not trading major leaguers for prospects (though, I'd be okay if we got a Gavin Floyd for a Hammel/Seo/E-Jax).

Andy explains why Huff/Hall/Lugo were traded:

"The return pretty much had to be prospects because the players A) weren't necessarily marquee players, and B) we had very short amount of control left," Friedman said.

Stupid Toby, thinking he was a "marquee" player.... paint me surprised! Ow, softer brush please.

And for those few people who miss Lugo and hated that he got traded,  here's an early holiday present...kind of:

"I would say that with Lugo, we expect to monitor the market," Friedman said. "I think that if his demands are close to where they were in July [when he was traded to the Dodgers] that he will not be coming back. If the market has changed or his thoughts have changed, then it's a possibility. But one thing is, we don't want to enter into a long-term contract right now with a shortstop with Reid Brignac coming and the improvement he made defensively at short. And we like Ben Zobrist. We're not exactly sure of his role, but we definitely feel like he's part of this team."

Hahaha, gotcha...he mentioned Briggy and Zobrist, not a chance in hell Lugo's coming back!

"The process is very fluid, both the trade market and the free-agent market," Friedman said. "Timing is always a big deal and goes a long way towards deciding ultimate costs. Sometimes earlier players cost more, and later in the winter, they cost less. Sometimes it's visa versa. We need to try and keep our finger on the pulse of market dynamics. If we feel like there's a certain move that makes sense, we've got to be prepared to pull the trigger, whether it's a trade or a move via free agency."

Some Rays fan will pull out the "Same old PR, same old rhetoric" with this quote, but that's better than them not telling us anything at all. Well, for me at least, I like that to hear that the Rays know their limitations and are working around them to improve the team overall.