Cashman (and maybe Levine) met with Cliff Lee’s agent

Brian Cashman confirmed that he met with Darek Braunecker about his client Cliff Lee today, adding that he’s “going to meet with [Braunecker] as much as I can.” Team president Randy Levine is believe to have attended the meeting as well. When Levine gets involved, that means things are about to get serious, though no money was talked about this meeting. The Rangers, meanwhile, were planning to offer Lee just four guaranteed years, a far cry from the six that it will likely take to get him signed. That doesn’t mean they won’t increase their offer, but I take it as a good sign for the Yankees if Texas was only willing to start the bidding that low.

Open Thread: Winter Meetings Day One

(Photo Credit: me, yo)

That’s the setup in the media room at the The Dolphin in Disney’s Complez in Orlando, where this year’s winter meetings are being held. Earlier today Padres GM Jed Hoyer sat up there and explained his reasoning behind the Adrian Gonzalez trade, and before that Pat Gillick thanked a laundry list of people after being announced as the newest Hall of Famer. Unfortunately Derek Jeter‘s press conference will not be held there tomorrow, the captain wanted to do it Tampa. All of the beat writers are driving out there in the morning, but us lowly bloggers are staying in Orlando. One of our perks, I guess.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The Jets are at the Patriots tonight in a game with some serious AFC East ramifications. If that doesn’t do it for ya, the Devils and Knicks are in action as well. You guys know the drill, so have at it.

Yankees ‘considering’ Matt Diaz

Via Ed Price, the Yankees are “considering” free agent outfielder Matt Diaz for a platoon (a.k.a. the Marcus Thames) role. There’s no indication that they’ve actually made him an offer or anything like that, just that he’s crossed their minds. Joe took a brief look at Diaz last week in his non-tender guide. Diaz would be a fine choice, thought it sounds like the competition will be stiff.

Cashman confirms that Pettitte is leaning towards retirement

Bob Klapisch drops a December bombshell. The Yankees, he says, “heard from friend of Pettitte’s that he’s [definitely] retiring.” The club received this news three weeks ago, and they are officially “still waiting on his decision.” We’ve heard numerous conflicting reports on Pettitte this winter. Just a few weeks ago, Ken Davidoff said the lefty was “leaning toward” a 2011 swan song, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Pettitte hangs it up this year. Either way, Cliff Lee stands to benefit, but don’t jump off that bridge until we hear it from the mouth of number 46 himself.

Update (3:26 p.m.): NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra chimes in with an opposite view. He says, “Source close to Pettitte tells me that while you never know with Pettitte, the expectation is that he’s coming back.” All we know is that we don’t know anything yet.

Update by Mike (5:40pm): Brian Cashman told reporters this afternoon that last he heard, Pettitte is leaning towards retirement. Apparently Andy first mentioned it to the GM after the season, which is the first time he’s done that.

It’s good to be Cliff Lee

Braunecker and A.J. at the 2005 Winter Meetings (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The winter meetings are just about six hours old now, and sadly the Yankees have yet to sign Cliff Lee. In fact, they haven’t even made an official offer yet. It’s okay though, because Jayson Stark says the Rangers haven’t either. Darek Braunecker, Lee’s agent, spoke to reporters for a few minutes in the lobby of The Dolphin not too long ago, and said that he is still trying to set up a schedule to meet with teams this week. “[It’s] too early to say,” said Braunecker when asked if his prized client would sign this week.

Lee is actually out on some deer hunting trip this week, but his agent will obviously keep him abreast of any major developments. Braunecker has all the leverage right now given the other (read: uninteresting) pitchers still available on the free agent market and he knows it, giving his approval of Jayson Werth’s monster deal and saying that it’s “good to be Cliff Lee.” He also emphasized that his client has proved “he can pitch anywhere,” which he has over the last two-plus seasons.

The slow-developing market for Lee isn’t terribly surprising, but as fans it’s rather annoying. We want some movement on this front and we want it now, but it’s in the best interests of Lee’s camp to be patient. Once Carl Pavano comes off the board the free agent pitching market will be simply atrocious, and the trade market doesn’t offer many alternatives. Shaun Marcum is a quality pitcher, no doubt, but the Brewers had to surrender their top prospect to acquire him. Quality pitching does not come cheaply, and for Lee the price will only go up the longer he waits.

I suspect that we’ll see some very serious progress with the former Cy Young Award winner this week, whether it be in the form of an offer or two or ten or an outright agreement. Remember, Braunecker is an agent and every single word that comes out of his mouth is carefully designed to benefit his client and nothing else. This thing will get settled soon enough, the Yankees will make sure of it.

Update: An of course two seconds after I post this Buster Olney reports that the Yankees will meet with Braunecker about Lee today. They also met with him in Arkansas last month, as you remember.