Changing of the guard spells trouble for Yankees

Yanks headed downhill after missing playoffs this season

The New York Yankees’ 2013 season was filled with nothing but injuries, heartache and memories of years past.

For the first time since 2008 and for just the second time in 19 years, the Yankees will be absent from this year’s playoffs, which got underway Tuesday.

The big question is, how? The Yankees began the season with baseball’s highest payroll. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez played in 44 games and made $29 million this season while the Houston Astros’ total payroll was $21 million.

Think about that for a minute.

The Yankees spent more on one player than a team did on its entire roster. In fact, they had four players that made more than $21 million this year. And the Yankees still missed the playoffs.

The end of an era is here for the Yankees.

Yankees’ fans can reminisce for a moment about the last 19 years of winning baseball.

Nineteen years ago, Bill Clinton was president, “Seinfeld” was the most popular television show and O.J. Simpson was on trial for murder.

With Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte now retired, let’s think back to the 1995 Yankees, a team that featured Rivera, Pettite, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada as rookies.

Those are huge names in Yankees’ history, especially to younger fans.

When the 2014 season starts, Jeter will be the only Yankee left from that group. But Jeter played only 17 games in 2013 and batted .190. He looked slow and might not have been completely healed from the ankle injury he suffered in the 2012 American League Championship Series.

Jeter isn’t the only problem going forward for the organization, either. The lack of quality young players in the farm system and a dearth of major league-caliber pitchers is a huge issue.

CC Sabathia is 33 years old and has pitched close to 3,000 innings in his career between the regular season and postseason. He is no longer an ace. He finished 2013 on the disabled list and had a season to forget with a 14-13 record and 4.78 ERA.

The 2014 Yankees will look completely different. Rivera and Pettitte retired. Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are free agents.

All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano is a free agent, as well, and has the right to take his talents elsewhere. Cano is over 30 and a long-term contact would be foolish considering that is exactly what has killed this franchise recently.

Curtis Granderson is also a free agent along with veteran players Ichiro Suzuki, Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner.

The Yankees are washed up. Period. It’s sad to admit, but a difficult decade similar to that of the 1980s could be on the horizon.

All the free agency spending over the last 15 years has finally caught up to the Yankees. They need to rebuild the entire franchise from the bottom up.

Manager Joe Girardi is also free agent. Rumors are circulating that he could become the next Chicago Cubs manager. He might skip town just like Joe Torre did before him.

Good riddance. The outlook looks bleak for whoever manages the Yankees next season. At the very least, the team needs a manager who wants to be there.

The last 19 years were special for Yankees’ fans. Now the team needs to move on and start fresh.

This is an end of an era. Get used to it quick. The pain is just beginning.