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Steinbrenner assesses state of Yanks

Steinbrenner assesses Yanks

NEW YORK -- Hal Steinbrenner regularly travels to the Bronx and holds court with his general manager and field manager, but with July 31 quickly approaching, their conversations may be taking on a more urgent tone.

The Yankees' co-chairman spent the better part of an hour meeting with Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday discussing a variety of issues, but mostly expressing optimism that the team has a solid run left to make.

"We're looking at every possibility, as we do throughout the year," Steinbrenner said. "We're hesitant to give up too much good young talent, particularly for somebody that may only be with us a couple of months and [we] might not be able to sign them long-term.

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"It's a balancing act, and we're doing the best we can. We're very much in it still. We're all still confident."

Steinbrenner usually meets in Girardi's office, scheduling casual three-way meetings to touch upon matters on a biweekly basis. The Yankees entered play on Wednesday in third place in the American League East at 48-42, 7 1/2 games behind division-leading Tampa Bay.

"I'm not trying to use excuses," Steinbrenner said. "We've had our issues with starting pitching and our issues in the bullpen at times, and had our issues with hitting. But we've had a lot of injuries across the board. Some of them, like [Brian] Bruney's, are just crazy injuries. It's tough. We've got to get healthy."

Cashman said that the Yankees are "trying to push [themselves] back up to relevance again." Though he characterized the non-waivers trade market as "developing," two major deals for starting pitching were completed this week, with CC Sabathia moving from the Indians to the Brewers and Rich Harden traded from the A's to the Cubs.

Steinbrenner said that the Yankees were involved on some level in discussions for both players, but they were not willing to part with the types of prospects that would have been required to put either player in pinstripes.

"We talked to all the teams and we tried to get an idea of what it is they want," Steinbrenner said. "We tried to get an idea of just what our chances would be to sign any one of those players to a long-term deal. Everything gets weighed into the equation, and we make a decision. We just felt it wasn't best for the organization to do anything with those two."

Cashman said that the Yankees would remain connected to pursue any outside reinforcements that make sense, and he referred to Harden and Sabathia specifically as two that did not, for various reasons.

"The two that just came off the board -- Rich had been available and had a specific price for quite some time, and Sabathia developed rather late in the last month," Cashman said. "Those weren't surprise deals. In other cases, it's an emerging market where some teams are still assessing what they want to do and should do, the direction they should take. We'll stay in touch."

The Yankees' stated goal from Spring Training onward has been to contend for a World Series title in 2008, while not sacrificing their chances to accomplish that same goal in '09, '10 and beyond. Girardi said that "nothing magical" had been discussed in this most recent meeting.

"Now is no different than it was two weeks ago, a month ago -- how do we get better, and things that we need to improve on," Girardi said. "Obviously, you're always trying to upgrade your team if it's possible. Sometimes you think about doing something, and sometimes it doesn't happen.

"I'm not saying that we're actively seeking something or not actively seeking something, but sometimes something just happens. But right now, we're playing with the guys in that room, and I like the way we're playing right now."

Steinbrenner said that he would defer topics such as Jason Giambi's looming free agency and Cashman's own contract status until the offseason, but acknowledged that the Yankees could have a lot of changing faces after this campaign concludes. Giambi is but one of several prospective free agents, a group that also includes Bobby Abreu, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte.

"This is New York, and the fans deserve a team with marquee players," Steinbrenner said. "We all understand that. I think where we want to end up is a tremendous mix of young talent and veterans.

"The veterans, the free agents, they cost money, and we realize that. We are going to have a lot of money coming off the payroll, and that's going to give us some options. Believe me, we're going to use a good portion of it to get this city the team it deserves and to try to improve in the areas that we need."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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