The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner in Thursday’s paper, with more speculation about the future of Yankee GM Brian Cashman.

The most pressing question around the Yankees is whether the team will make the playoffs. The second biggest source of intrigue might be whether Brian Cashman wants to remain the general manager.

Several Yankees officials, who were speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about a colleague’s contract status, said they believed Steinbrenner probably wanted Cashman back. Steinbrenner, at 75, has not made a splashy firing for years, and he has a strong comfort level with Cashman.

Steinbrenner knows he can berate Cashman orally, but Cashman also knows when to push back, a trait Steinbrenner admires. The softer side of Steinbrenner considers Cashman, a Yankee for nearly 20 years, to be part of the family.

Nobody in the organization seems to know what Cashman is thinking. The general assumption is that George Steinbrenner, the principal owner, will want to retain Cashman, but it may not be up to him.

Cashman’s contract expires Oct. 31, the day after a possible seventh game of the World Series. The Yankees could be deep into their off-season by then, or they could be preparing to ride a float down the Canyon of Heroes. Nobody seems to know where Cashman will be that day, or if the outcome of the season makes a difference.

In the event Cashman decides to toil elsewhere, there is no shortage of bright minds for George Steinbrenner can call upon :

1) Syd Thrift. Still alive, apparently.

2) Gerry Hunsicker. Supposedly grew tired of Drayton McLane’s tight-fistedness in Houston and already has experience not getting proper credit while working in New York.

3) Dan Duquette. How better to stick it to Boston than to engineer the public rehabilitation of their reveiled former GM?

4) Jeff Wilpon. If paying through the nose to finish 5th isn’t enough to kill Fred Wilpon, stealing his heir and putting him in charge of the Yankees should do the trick.

5) Dallas Green.