New York Daily News

Cash feeling Bronx decline


BRIAN Cashman’s rather coarse words regarding Alex Rodriguez notwithsta­nding, is anyone really surprised the GM is a bit cranky these days? His team continues to fall apart on him, mostly in terms of age and injuries, and Cashman is not only faced with potentiall­y missing the playoffs for only the second time since the Yankees’ postseason run began in 1995, but then what?

Maybe Wednesday’s news that Mark Teixeira needs season-ending wrist surgery didn’t provoke the same reaction as A-Rod’s now-infamous tweet from a day earlier, but it’s crushing to an organizati­on that already has too many question marks for 2014.

And then on Wednesday night Andy Pettitte didn’t quite put to rest any fears that age may be catching up with him, giving up four runs in the third inning of an 8-5 loss to the Rangers.

It was the fourth time in his last five starts that Pettitte has surrendere­d at least four runs, as his ERA rose slightly to 4.22.

Though he toughened up to at least survive six innings, five of them scoreless, Pettitte continued his recent trend of paying for mistake pitches in big spots, an ominous sign for a pitcher whose ability to wiggle out of jams has always been a trademark.

More ominously considerin­g he has carved out a reputation as a stopper over the years, Pettitte has surrendere­d leads in five of his last seven starts.

None of that bodes well for the Yankees making a big second-half run this season, since they’re going to need dominant starting pitching to overcome a lineup that started the day ranked 12th in the AL in runs scored.

It’s still possible that returns from injury by Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and, yes, A-Rod, could jump-start the offense, but at this point, the way things have gone this season, you’ll have to see it to believe it.

But beyond the doom and gloom is the bigger picture: suddenly you can’t look at these Yanks without thinking Cashman has quite the daunting task ahead of him.

That is, finding a way to field a championsh­ip-caliber ballclub next season and beyond despite the likelihood of a reduced payroll and very little immediate help coming from the farm system. Consider the difficulti­es ahead: n Jeter turned 39 on Wednesday, and his delayed return from a broken ankle makes it highly questionab­le that he can play an effective shortstop next season.

Teixeira was already in something of a decline offensivel­y, as his average fell in recent years, and next year he’ll be coming back at 34 from the most difficult of injuries for a hitter. Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who had the same surgery last year, hasn’t been the same.

Pettitte could be headed back to retirement, the way he looks lately.

Granderson, out almost all season with unlucky hit-by-pitch broken bones, is headed for free agency and probably won’t be resigned. Robinson Cano wants $200 million as a free agent, and though he’s not having a superstar season, he’s the Yankees’ only star in his prime.

CC Sabathia may or may not be an ace anymore, as he deals with reduced velocity, likely the result of throwing 2,674 innings in the big leagues.

Mariano Rivera, lest we forget, is retiring.

Then there’s A-Rod. Does he have anything left after a second, more serious hip surgery? And if he has used PEDs for as long as the various evidence suggests, is he strong enough mentally, as well as physically, to produce in his late 30s without help?

Much as the Yankees would love to be rid of A-Rod and his contract, for this season at least they desperatel­y need him to return to the form he showed last season before he broke the bone in his hand in August and then injured his hip, whenever he did that.

With or without his steroidtai­nted third baseman, Cashman has a huge job on his hands: first trying to patch together a team good enough to at least stay in the race in the balanced AL East this season, and then working around a presumed $189 million payroll — and all of the aforementi­oned hurdles — next year to field a winner.

Is it possible, then, the GM’s overreacti­on to A-Rod’s tweet was a window into his state of mind these days?

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