Having missed out on Cliff Lee, and badly in need of starting pitching, the Yankees aren't going to get the next best pitcher available.
Despite a report two weeks ago that Zack Greinke would waive his partial no-trade clause to go from the Royals to the Yankees, two people who have dealt frequently with Greinke said he would not want to play in New York. (One theory is that the willingness to go to New York was put out there to lead other teams interested in Greinke to believe they were competing against the Yankees.)
On a media conference call Tuesday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman repeated over and over: "Plan B is patience."
But his most telling quote may have been: "It doesn't have to happen in the wintertime."
In other words, the Yankees might open the season with the question-filled rotation they have now and add a big arm in July.
Cashman noted that he has to be patient because the baseball world knows the Yankees wanted and needed Lee and will now jack up the cost -- dollars in the case of free agents, players in the case of trades -- to try to take advantage of Yankee desperation.
"There's more time on the clock left now, and we'll try to use that time wisely," Cashman said. "We're not down and out at all. ... One player doesn't dictate -- in this sport anyway -- what happens.
"There's a lot of different ways to climb that mountain. One route has now been closed off. We've got to climb back down the mountain and get a new trail. Simple as that."
Under other circumstances, the Yankees would open up the minor league coffers for Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Kansas City has acknowledged it will listen to offers on Greinke, but it goes beyond that; expect Greinke to be traded this winter.
One person characterized Greinke as "fed up" with the Royals -- who have a bright future, with a great deal of talent moving up through their system, but are 439-656 (.401) since Greinke's big-league debut on May 22, 2004. That's almost seven years of a 97-loss pace.
Kansas City may be wary of what happens to Greinke, who is a free agent after 2012, when he loses interest; over his final 13 starts last season, he was 4-5 with a 5.07 ERA.
So it all adds up to a trade. Just not to the Yankees.
Any discussion of Yankees and Greinke (yes, ANY discussion) has to include Greinke's battle with social-anxiety disorder. And while Greinke overcame his issues after sitting out some of 2006, he still is unsuited to the New York fishbowl.
In Kansas City, Greinke does media interviews only on the days he pitches. That's on a team with two beat writers.
The Yankees have ELEVEN beat reporters. That environment CAUSES social anxiety.
(Texas seems a possible destination for Greinke, since the Rangers have a deep farm system and the Royals seek a lot of talent for him. But before losing out on Lee, Texas had yet to make an offer close to what Kansas City sought. One source said the Rangers on Monday night made a push for Matt Garza but it fell through; the Rays denied it.)
OK, so Greinke is out for New York. What's left?
Tampa Bay seems willing, if not determined, to trade Garza. But within the division, after losing Carl Crawford to Boston? Doubtful.
Philadelphia needs to move Joe Blanton to free up some payroll. His career American League numbers: 47-46, 4.25 ERA, 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings (seventh-lowest of any pitcher with 700 AL innings since 2004).
Free agents? Pretty safe bet that neither the Yankees nor Carl Pavano want a reunion. So it's either taking a flyer on an injury bounce-back candidate -- Brandon Webb, Chris Young, Jeff Francis -- or someone from the third tier, like Freddy Garcia (who did have 12 wins in 2010).
Standing pat doesn't seem like an option, unless Cashman wants to co-opt Theo Epstein's "bridge year" model.
How badly do the Yankees need a pitcher? In 107 games last season started by pitchers other than Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia, Yankees starters were 40-39 with a 5.07 ERA.
"There are players in the marketplace, currently, that can assist there," Cashman said.
"Can (the rotation) be improved upon? Yes. Will it be easy to do so? No. We're up for that."
And Pettitte has yet to decide whether he's retiring; after the Yankees were eliminated by the Rangers, he sounded like he was leaning toward packing it in.
Cashman said Pettitte's message to the Yankees has been, "Please don't count on me because I don't know what I'm going to do just yet."
Now Pettitte can either say (1) show me the money or (2) screw it, I'm not coming back to play for this team.
Cashman said Lee's decision to go to Philadelphia doesn't affect Pettitte, whose only decision is whether he wants to keep playing.
"I think the pull of potential retirement is a little stronger than normal," Cashman said. "I can't tell you he's going to pitch again or not. It's really a very personal decision he's going to have to make."
Asked his priority now, Cashman declined to answer, other than saying, "There are certain areas that are easier to address than others."
So a reported deal with free-agent catcher Russell Martin could be the start of the real Plan B: forget trying to add a significant starter and improve other areas instead.
An official from another team guessed that instead of a starter, the Yankees would try to construct a deep bullpen, including multiple left-handers.
"They're still a good team," the official noted.
"I don't think we have a lot of holes," Cashman said. "We just don't."
The Yankees will have to keep reminding their fans of that.
FanHouse TV's Steve Phillips discusses the implications of Cliff Lee's deal with the Phillies.