- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Brian Cashman has a laundry list of tasks to attend to in order to improve the New York Yankees this offseason, but he is unlikely to get to many, if any, of them accomplished at Major League Baseball's annual general manager meetings this week.
The meetings got under way Tuesday morning in the conference center of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, with the baseball media huddled in a small workroom a long corridor away in the adjoining Hilton. The GMs were expected to be in sessions all day, discussing such topics as expanded playoffs and wider use of instant replay while occasionally sneaking in trade talk during their breaks.
"I don't expect to get anything accomplished here this week," Cashman said by telephone Monday night, and again in person to a small group of reporters in the Hilton lobby later that night. The GMs are expected to be available to the media when the first day of meetings concludes at about 4 p.m. ET
The best Cashman can hope to do is lay the groundwork for deals that can be completed later this winter, as he did last year in setting out a framework with the Tigers that eventually brought Curtis Granderson to New York.
But no major free-agent signings -- the big fish this year, of course, is Cliff Lee -- are expected to be completed this week, in part because of the revised format of the meetings, and in part because Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, is not expected to be here.
And besides, most of the business Cashman needs to attend to already has been set in motion. Since the Yankees were eliminated in Game 5 of the ALCS on Oct. 22, Cashman has initiated talks with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera; broken the news to Jorge Posada that he will be a DH next season; flown to Little Rock, Ark. to meet with Lee and Braunecker; interviewed two candidates for the Yankees' pitching coach vacancy; and waited for Andy Pettitte to make up his mind.
His team's other needs -- a set-up man to replace Kerry Wood, a left-handed arm in the bullpen to go along with Boone Logan, a back-of-the-rotation starter and perhaps a major league-ready backup catcher -- will have to wait.
"We're in the infancy stages," Cashman said. "We'll have the winter off to work through all the conversations that are necessary. I'm sure it will take most of the winter. It usually does. That's what the winter's for."
Cashman has said he doesn't anticipate any drastic change in the Yankees' payroll, which approached $214 million last year. But aside from its well-known interest in Lee, the team has kept its wish list for this offseason a secret.
"There's a number of free agents who would interest me," Cashman said. "I'll keep it general. We've made a lot of phone calls and expressed interest in a number of players. Our names on the board north, south, east and west, but we'll only do something that makes sense to us. And if it makes sense to the people on the other side of the fence, then you're in a deal-making mode."
Two free agents the Yankees probably have no interest in are Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, due to perceived defensive liabilities, and Carl Crawford, the Tampa Bay Rays outfielder whom the Yankees are said to no longer see a need for, with the emergence of Brett Gardner as an everyday left-fielder, and the second-half resurgence of Granderson.
Still, there are areas of need that Cashman will seek to fill this winter. "I'd love to improve the bullpen, I'd love to improve the rotation, I'd love to re-sign Mo and Jeets," he said. "We had a good team, but there's still a lot of work to be done."
None of which is likely to get done in the next three days. All 30 of baseball's general managers will be in the same room this week, but not on the same page.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.
The general managers meetings started Tuesday, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn't expect any deals.