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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Perspectives: The Yankees' Rubicon Moment

by Paul Semendinger

January 11, 2024

***

If the Yankees don't go all-in to improve the starting rotation, they are very very very foolish. One might even call that decision cowardly. If they leave this team as it is, or only acquire marginal talent, they'll have marginal results. Failing to acquire the necessary talent will show, clearly, once and for all, that the Yankees are not as committed to winning as they always say they are.


The 2024 season, in a big way, is the Rubicon moment for Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman. Prior to this year, for a great many years, they have toyed with making the big decisions that will set this franchise in the direction to win championships. They have waded into the river, but they never crossed it. They've come close a few times, but never committed fully. They have always retreated to the safer banks on the other side.


If they don't cross the river this year, the Yankees probably won't get a chance again for a long time. The Yankees will either be the team that goes for it, or not. After this year, it is very likely that the team's current championship window will close. Many an army has lost a battle or a war because they were unable or unwilling to move forward. It takes tremendous courage to cross the Rubicon. In many ways the easier path is to stay on the opposite shore and to hope for good to come. (The Yankees can hope that all the returning players who were injured or ineffective last year suddenly regain their health and productivity.)


It's also easier to stay on the opposite side of the river and make excuses:


"We offered an extra opt-out."

"If you look at our deal, in one way (though not in actual dollars) it was better."

"We wanted to trade for that player, but the other team asked too much..."


In short, winners get the job done, losers make excuses.


If they cross the river, they might win a championship, or many, in the upcoming years. There, of course, is no guarantee of that success, but boldness has power. That power creates energy and excitement and fun. Cowardice creates the opposite emotions.


If the Yankees do not acquire the pitching they need, they can be assured that they will not win in 2024. If the Yankees fail to commit for 2024, they will guarantee that the team will suffer many more years of mediocrity and possibly (probably) failure.


Another few years like the ones previous will assuredly tarnish the Yankees brand for a very long time. Another few years without a championship will also tarnish and completely destroy the legacies of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman. In short, plainly and clearly, they will never be seen as winners - rather they will be known as the men who helped destroy the Yankees' winning history.


If the Yankees don't contend in 2024, because they did not properly address the team's biggest needs, I can see Juan Soto leaving for greener pastures. Why wouldn't he? I think it's also all but certain that Gerrit Cole will opt-out. As we know, the Yankees can override Cole's opt out by giving him one more year, but if they're not going to be truly serious about putting a winning team on the field, why would they invest in an extra season of Gerrit Cole - and the seasons leading up to that point? It would make no sense.


Imagine the 2025 Yankees without Gerrit Cole, Juan Soto, Gleyber Torres (a free agent after this year), and Anthony Rizzo (who also has an option after this season). The Yankees of next year could look very different - and not better in any way. Without those players, they'll be a much worse team. That is why this year is so critically important. The future is now.


I'm not convinced, based on weeks of inactivity, and after they lost out on Yamamoto (because they were not willing to make the biggest offer - no matter how anyone wants to spin that), that the Yankees' brain trust truly understands this. If the Yankees don't win in 2024, it's likely that they won't win for a long time to come.


This is the Rubicon year, once and for all. The Yankees will either stand strong and cross the river or they'll cower on the other side. History isn't kind to cowards. History won't be kind to the Yankees if they fail to acquire the necessary talent for this coming season.

***


When the Yankees are active, the off-season is fun. I love when the Yankees trade for and sign big name players. When that happens, the Yankees create excitement.


The Yankees have succeeded this off-season, over the last many weeks (it's been well over a month since they traded for Juan Soto) in taking all the excitement that trade created and dampening it.


This is also something that I don't think the decision-makers understand. At all. They have a bad approach and they continually take a step, or more, backwards, after they move slowly forward. The progression is continually in the wrong direction.


***

The Rubicon is flowing in front of the Yankees.


Will they cross the river in hopes of success or will they pitch their tents, again, on the far side and watch as others claim the glory that could have been theirs? We will find out soon.

***

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88 Comments


rooters1
Jan 19

Excellent artcle. If it turns out that Cashman stopped bidding to save money, he should be fired ASAP. Enough of this shit. No one cares how much you spent if you WIN. But stopping short to look smart or save a few bucks is unforgiveable. Cross the Rubicon, Hal. Take it all on your shoulders. You and your franchise will be richly rewarded.

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Ron Vazzano
Ron Vazzano
Jan 12

great at discussing rivers. So what is ALL in at this point? Stop with the metaphors...speak!

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Jan 12
Replying to

Hi Ron,


Welcome to the site.


I encourage you to read through our archives - we've been doing this daily since 2017.


In short, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon thrusting Rome into a Civil War, which he won, and seized power.


Since then "crossing the Rubicon" has been a metaphor for making a momentus decision.


My point in this article is that the Yankees have not been willing to make that big move. They flirt with it... they go partly in... but they have not gone all the way for a long time. The result, year-after-year is a flawed team that fails to deliver a championship.


This eveing we seee the Yankees signed Marcus Stroman. They might be willing t…


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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jan 11

As far as people saying that the Yankees don't want to pay so much for the pitcher they covet because that would mean that they won't have the funds to pay Soto, perhaps the Yankees can take a page out of the Dodgers book and offer a "deferred payment" contract to free up the money to keep Soto. I think a pitcher would agree to that, because obviously, that pitcher would rather keep Soto hitting FOR him, by allowing his new team to pay all they need to in order to keep him, instead of taking up enough salary that the team can't make Soto the best offer, and then that pitcher has to face Soto with Soto hitting AGAINS…

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jan 11
Replying to

I agree. The "deferred payment" is the perfect solution to this. The Dodgers and Ohtani have shown the baseball world how to not let one player signing prevent another player signing. All players want their new team to surround them with the best players possible, and this allows the team to do so. Not doing deferred payments was the Padres biggest mistake when they gave those giant contracts to Machado, Boegarts, and Tatis Jr, and that's why they had no choice but to trade Soto and to lose Snell and Hader to free agency.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jan 11

What is happening right now with the top available free agents left (most seem to be represented by Scott Boras) is that a "staring contest" is going on, and each side is willing to hold out until the other side "blinks".


Scott Boras is willing to wait as long as necessary, even through the start of spring training, for an interested team to "blink" and pay the "overprice" (both dollars and years) that he is asking for these top remaining free agents that multiple teams want. He will hold out, because he figures eventually, at least one interested team is going to want to finalize their off season shopping, upgrade themselves, and fill their biggest need before the start o…


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Patrick Kissane
Patrick Kissane
Jan 11

MLB has 3 outfielders as the top 3 prospects.

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