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Cashman Back To Business Of Building Yankees

Now that New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has rappelled a 22-story building he has to get back to scaling the heights required to build another World Series contender in the Bronx.

"My priority list is pitching is everything," Cashman said. "I've been focusing on the pitching. I've been focusing on the legacy guys, but I really need to take care of our pitching."

First and foremost that means doing whatever he can to get free-agent Cliff Lee, the apple of the Yankees' eye for a long time now, to leave Texas for New York. SI's Jon Heyman sees no way the Yankees will allow Lee to slip away again.

The top difference-maker on this year's market is a proven winner who appeals to the Yankees because he dominates October and he dominates them. The Rangers are the stalking horse. The American League champions are pitching camaraderie and proximity to baseball's greatest clutch pitcher, and there are whispers around the game that Lee might prefer to stay in a clubhouse where he was comfortable and only 4 ½ from his home in Little Rock, Ark. But few believe the Yankees will lose a race for the player they've been targeting for a year. Their failure to land him at the trade deadline only makes them want him more, and the Yankees usually do not lose players they want this badly. "The Steinbrenners aren't going to let Lee get away this time,'' one competing GM opined. The Rangers are giving it a game effort, and they have a favorable tax situation (luxury and U.S. taxes) on their side, but are thought unlikely to go beyond five years for the star lefthander. It's still hard to imagine an ending where Lee isn't donning the pinstripes.

Cashman will also spend the week trying to get a decision from Andy Pettitte as to whether the veteran lefty will retire or return to the Yankees on another one-year contract.