I don’t often find myself feeling sympathy for Yankee fans, but when the New York Post follows Jon Heyman’s claim that James Dolan is keen to purchase the ballclub with the above front cover, even an avowed Highlander Hater becomes queasy. And if we’re to believe the Post’s George King, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera being knocked around by the Red Sox last night could well portend the end of Joe Torre’s long tenure in the Bronx.

Yesterday, the word out of Tampa was that Steinbrenner “was very displeased” about the way his high-priced stable of talent is underachieving and was thinking about a change.

Could Torre, who is in the final year of his contract, really be fired before April is finished? Is Torre the reason the starting rotation has melted in the first month and put an alarming workload on the bullpen? Is it Torre’s fault the lineup, so potent through 19 games, has gone 20 innings without an extra-base hit?

If Steinbrenner and the voices he is listening to believe the answers are “yes,” and if the Yankees get swept this weekend by the Red Sox, it’s not out of the realm of the possibility that The Boss could make a change.

Bench coach Don Mattingly and former Yankees catcher Joe Girardi are the names you hear when potential replacements for Torre are mentioned. Working in Girardi’s favor is that he has a year of managing experience. Mattingly was moved from hitting coach to bench coach to be groomed as Torre’s successor.