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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

At this rate, Brian Cashman might as well give Joe Pepitone a call

General manager Brian Cashman of the Yankees speaks

General manager Brian Cashman of the Yankees speaks to the media after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays was postponed due to rain. (July 8, 2011) Credit: Getty Images


How bad must Johnny Damon feel right now?

After he hit the airwaves last month to openly campaign for a temp job with the Yankees, Damon's offer was virtually ignored by his former team, the one he helped win a World Series in 2009.

Two weeks later, Brian Cashman is turning to Twitter to look for reinforcements.

What's next? Craigslist?

While there are no current listings for infielders in the jobs column, it would fit nicely in the category between human resources and Internet engineers.

Two big pluses for Cashman: First, it's a timesaver. No need to track down all of those retired players hacking away on the golf course or kicking back on fishing boats.

And second, Craigslist is free, which, as we all know by now, is perfect for the budget-conscious Yankees.

Cashman described Monday's trolling for Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones as an example of thinking "outside the box" in his efforts to minimize the damage created by the injuries to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira.

We'll agree with him there.

The Yankees got lucky when Andy Pettitte came out of retirement last March to help fortify their rotation. But 40-somethings who spend their time at the driving range instead of a batting cage do not represent a reliable talent pool for restocking a team's roster.

In Cashman's defense, this has been a particularly unlucky spring training for the Yankees -- even before he fractured his leg in a skydiving accident.

Losing Granderson and Teixeira -- two of the younger, healthier guys on this team -- is not easily absorbed no matter how much depth an organization has.

The problem for Cashman is that the team is about as deep as an episode of "The Bachelor" when it comes to major league-ready youngsters -- and with more drama these days. From Alex Rodriguez's PED limbo to Mariano Rivera's farewell tour to Cashman rolling around in a wheelchair, the attention really hasn't been focused much on actually playing the game.

Maybe that's good. As it looks now, the Yankees still are down an outfielder, a first baseman and roughly 70 home runs from those two players.

The timing was atrocious; as much as the Yankees had grown tired of Nick Swisher, the versatility he brings at two positions would have been helpful right about now.

But Swisher was too pricey at $56 million, and Cashman whiffed on a number of other flexible backups during the offseason when Eric Chavez signed a one-year, $3-million contract to play for the Diamondbacks and Raul Ibañez got $2.75 million from the Mariners for one season. The Yankees are so desperate for an outfielder that Cashman couldn't wait to snap up Ben Francisco in what seemed like minutes after the Indians released him Monday.

This is a very unusual predicament for Cashman to be in. With so much discussion about getting below the $189-million luxury tax threshold for 2014, it's almost as if the Yankees forgot they're going to need players, too.

The other tricky part is that Cashman doesn't want to make any longer-term commitments -- i.e. significant trades -- because he plans on getting Granderson and Teixeira back in a relatively short period of time.

With Granderson, that shouldn't be a problem. A fractured forearm is an easy thing to heal. All it needs is time to mend and a period to get his strength back.

For Teixeira's strained wrist tendon, it's not quite as straightforward. A strain is actually a small tear, and those can be more difficult to manage.

So where can Cashman go for a quick fix to help the Yankees navigate through a treacherous first six weeks of the season? The Francisco signing shows what he will have to pick through as teams begin to pare down their rosters in the final days of spring training.

There will be players available, but it's tough to figure out that list with any certainty until Opening Day draws closer and position battles around the majors are won or lost.

The Rockies are a team with a surplus of first basemen -- some with hugely bloated contracts, such as Michael Cuddyer, who has two years and $21 million left -- but many decisions are yet to be made.

And if all else fails, there's always Tino Martinez.

New York Sports