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The Rays Tank: Friedman Couldn't Find A Catcher, Feels Bullpen Is Strong

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Jose Molina #8 of the Toronto Blue Jays bunts during MLB game action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim September 22, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jose Molina #8 of the Toronto Blue Jays bunts during MLB game action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim September 22, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
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The Rays started loading up the truck for Spring Training yesterday, effectively signalling the end of the off-season and the beginning of the slow march to the regular season. As if to drive home the point, Andrew Friedman made an appearance on WDAE 620 last night, and some of his answered made it sound as though the team is already looking ahead and has stopped actively shopping for a final few parts.

Marc Topkin has a full list of the various things Friedman said, but here are some of the especially interesting bits:

* They targeted a few catchers they felt would have fit in well but those deals didn't work out and while they are "a little uncomfortable" pairing veteran Jose Molina with an inexperienced partner, either Jose Lobaton or Robinson Chirinos, they feel they will be better overall behind the plate in 2012 than 2011.

* He feels the bullpen has "a lot more depth" than last year, and could see one-two "really good arms" being sent to AAA.

* The competition between shortstop candidates Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez has already started in winter workouts and is "going to be a lot of fun to watch.''

So yes, congrats to Sternfan and everyone else that was convinced the Rays were looking for another catcher to pair with Molina. It didn't work out, but it does sound like the Rays tried.

As for the final two points, there were a handful of articles written yesterday about those very topics. Brad wrote about the Brignac/S-Rod shortstop competition over at SBN Tampa Bay, looking at various projections for the two of them. And over at FanGraphs, I wrote about how moving Wade Davis to the bullpen actually makes a ton of sense considering his major-league body of work. Davis to the 'pen would mean that someone like Brandon Gomes or Jake McGee would start the season in Triple-A, but those are the breaks. As Friedman noted, the Rays have a ton of bullpen depth right now.

Oh, and over at Baseball Prospectus, Max Marchi discussed Jose Molina's value and all the different ways he can contribute to the Rays. Should I be scared or impressed that the saber-sphere somehow anticipated Friedman's comments? Weird.