Notes: Cabrera on the market?

Notes: Cabrera on the market?

NEW YORK -- General manager Brian Cashman has made it clear that pitching prospect Philip Hughes is as close to untouchable as any player in the Yankees' farm system.

But what about Melky Cabrera?

According to a Major League executive, the Yankees and Pirates have discussed a deal that would send the young outfielder to Pittsburgh in exchange for outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and first baseman/outfielder Craig Wilson.

Pittsburgh originally asked for Hughes earlier in the season, but the Yankees told the Pirates that the right-hander was not available.

"If this was July 31," Cashman said, "I'd be very comfortable saying no to everything that's been put in front of me."

It is unlikely that the Yankees would part with Cabrera given his improved play this season, but it remains a possibility. The Pirates are believed to have made an offer to the Yankees last week for a package that included Cabrera, but New York declined.

Cashman said that he is in no hurry to make a trade, but with the trade deadline less than three weeks away, it wouldn't be surprising to see New York upgrade its outfield.

"All that matters to me is making the right move," Cashman said. "I don't think how the team plays will dictate anything. I think it depends on the taste of the opportunity; I've had opportunities, but none of them have made sense."

"We still have time to figure out if we need support somewhere to fill a hole -- if there is a hole," Joe Torre said. "Right now, the only position we change personnel on a regular basis is right field."

Cabrera has started 53 games in the outfield for the Yankees this season, batting .275 with three homers and 28 RBIs. Just 21 years old, Cabrera would be an ideal fit for Pittsburgh, which would love to shed the remainder of Burnitz's $6 million salary.

Burnitz, who is hitting .228 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs in 246 at-bats this season, would also be owed $500,000 for being traded. The 37-year-old Burnitz has hit more than 30 home runs five times during his career, also topping 100 RBIs four times. He has a $6 million option for 2007, but it can be bought out for $700,000. P /> Wilson, 29, is hitting .268 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs in 231 at-bats for the Pirates this season. He is owed the remainder of his $3.3 million contract and will be a free agent after the season.

Wilson, the longest-tenured member of the Pirates, said it would be bittersweet to see his career in Pittsburgh come to an end in the next few weeks.

"It's also a little exciting," Wilson admitted. "In the event that that you do get traded, it's going to be to someone who is in a spot to contend. It would be something a little different from what we're used to here in August and September."

Missing Jose? When the Yankees traded Jose Contreras to the White Sox for Esteban Loaiza at the trade deadline in 2004, it looked like a pretty even trade.

Contreras had gone 15-7 in parts of two seasons with the Yankees, and was 8-5 with a 5.64 ERA in 2004, while Loaiza was coming off his second straight All-Star appearance.

Loaiza was a disappointment in his two months with the Yankees, while Contreras went on to become one of the best starters in baseball. Contreras entered Friday's start on a 17-game winning streak dating back to last August.

"I felt that for him to be successful, it was going to have to be somewhere else, based on the journey he had taken with the Yankees at that point in time," Cashman said. "Sometimes you need to change scenery to get yourself going again, and I credit Jose Contreras for getting it back on line."

"Unfortunately, things weren't happening here at the time we needed something to happen," Torre said. "I'm happy for him; he's a good kid. At the time, we were just looking for someone with a little more experience."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen agreed that Contreras would have had a hard time putting it together in the Bronx, as the pressures that come with playing for the Yankees are unlike any other.

"Contreras is a different type of kid," Guillen said. "[In Chicago], he gained confidence. When he was doing well, everybody was pushing for him. When you play for New York, it's must-win or must-boo, because if you don't perform, you're out of there in a hurry. We can't afford that. If you don't perform for the White Sox, we have a little more patience because of our budget."

First things first: Jason Giambi was in the lineup at first base on Friday night, but Torre said that he will probably use Giambi as the designated hitter more often than not during the second half of the season.

Torre wanted to get both Aaron Guiel and Bernie Williams in the lineup on Friday, so he sat Andy Phillips and used Giambi at first base, penciling Williams in as the DH.

Giambi, who has historically posted much better numbers when playing in the field, has posted a higher average at first base (.275) than as the DH (.244), but his power numbers haven't been affected. In 142 at-bats as a first baseman, Giambi has 13 homers and 35 RBIs; in 123 at-bats as a DH, Giambi has 14 homers and 37 RBIs.

"I think he's over the fact that his numbers are supposedly better the other way around," Torre said.

Bomber bites: Hideki Matsui continues to do his rehab work at Yankee Stadium, targeting a return to the Yankees in mid-to-late August. "He's been working nonstop," Torre said. "I understand he's confident that he'll be back next month, and if that's the case, that's fine." ... Octavio Dotel will pitch in a Minor League rehab game on Saturday for Class A Tampa in the Florida State League. "If everything goes right, he'll be back in no later than two weeks," Cashman said. "It could be earlier; we'll see." ... Kevin Reese suffered a shoulder injury on Thursday night while playing for Triple-A Columbus. Cashman described Reese as being "banged up" but said the club was still awaiting test results to determine the severity of the injury.

Quotable: "I hope we can thank him in October. Of course, he could be thanking himself." -- Torre, on Guillen managing the American League to a win in the All-Star Game, earning home-field advantage in the World Series

Coming up: The Yankees and White Sox continue their three-game series on Saturday, as Mike Mussina takes on Mark Buehrle. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. ET.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.