Credit: Associated Press
CC Sabathia. What to do…
There’s no doubt we would not have celebrated a World Series championship in 2009 if not for the efforts of one Carsten Charles Sabathia, Jr. For the first three years of his contract with the Yankees, he was the epitome of an Ace. I would never want to dismiss the contributions he has made to the Yankees organization or the value he has held as a leading voice in the clubhouse.
The times they are a-changin (with a hat tip to Bob Dylan). Sabathia is now 36 and is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was. He’ll be 37 in a couple of months, and despite his long talks with Andy Pettitte, he has not successfully made the transition to an older pitcher. I was fooled for the first couple of starts this year, but we’ve seen the real Sabathia over the last few starts…and it hasn’t been pretty.
At age 32 and before, CC could be counted on for double-digit wins every year. From age 33 forward, last year’s 9 wins has been the season high. Betting whether or not Sabathia passes last season’s win total is not a bet I would make even if I was using your money. Pro Sports can be illogical at times when certain players start because of high contracts or past performance even though there are younger, more talented players waiting in the wings. Years ago, a friend told me that baseball players should be paid a flat base salary and then commissions for production. Applying that to different positions and players is much easier said than done, but the core logic that players should be paid for today’s production (not yesterday) makes so much sense to me. We’re in the final year of Sabathia’s contract with $25 million remaining. Does Sabathia deserve a spot in the rotation simply because he is the team’s highest paid player? If he is not producing, then no. Why pay money to lose when you can win?
In looking at the Yankees rotation, if they made a trade for a frontline starting pitcher, who do you pull? At this point, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino are locked in. The latter two have shown signs of being a part of the next championship run. Jordan Montgomery has been a very pleasant surprise who will continue to get better. So, realistically, the loser would have to be Sabathia. I don’t know that I’d pull Sabathia for Chad Green or Luis Cessa, but Chance Adams is charging fast for the Major Leagues. He may not be ready now, but his time is rapidly approaching. If the Yankees go out and trade for someone like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, I’d gladly part with Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and others to bring the talented young pitcher to the Bronx. For Sabathia, I’d pull out a Michael Kay line, “See ya!”.
There’s no way that Sabathia is pulling on the pinstripes in 2018. We are approaching the point where every start could be his last in the Bronx. If he continues to thwart winning streaks, then it is time to cut our losses. Swallow the remainder of the $25 mil and move on.
Thanks for the memories, CC. We’ll save you a place for Old Timer’s Day…
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News
I have mixed feelings about Aaron Judge’s appearance on the May 15th cover of Sports Illustrated. I grew up at a time where it was a curse to appear on the cover. So, I still have those thoughts in the back of my head even if bad things never happen. I have been quite pleased with Judge’s season so far and he gives New York a potential superstar. But admittedly, I liked it better when Judge was able to out-produce expectations. With heightened expectations, can he sustain the production? That will be one of the keys for the rest of the season. We’ll inevitably hit a stretch where he can’t (hit). The ebbs and flows of Baseball ensures that everyone stays humble. So, for now, congrats Aaron, but please hit a homer on May 16th (Yankees are off on the 15th) so that I know the SI Cover is not a jinx.
I’d like to send out thoughts and prayers to Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, whom the Yankees faced on April 22nd in an 11-5 victory over the Pirates. He underwent surgery for suspected testicular cancer earlier this week. Hopefully it was caught early and he’ll make a full and complete recovery. Taillon is one of the game’s promising young talents and I look for many future years of his participation. All the best to Jameson on his road to a winning recovery. Here is a tweet that he sent out after the surgery:
I think all Baseball fans support Taillon. Well written words by the tall young right-hander. Here’s looking forward to the day that he is able to take the mound at PNC Park again.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s hose the ‘Stros!
In life we do not always get what we want. I wanted to take the three game series in Pittsburgh but it was not meant to be. Former Yankees starter Ivan Nova set the tone from the start of Sunday’s game when he struck out the side in the first inning en route to Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory over the Yankees. The loss gave the series to the Pirates, 2 games to 1.
Give Nova credit, he pitched very well against his former club. He went seven strong innings, surrendering only four hits and one run. The one run came courtesy of a Jacoby Ellsbury home run in the seventh inning. For the season coming into the game, Nova had walked just three batters. He only walked one on Sunday but the batter was a guy who hadn’t picked up a bat since his high school days (Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery). For the game, Nova struck out seven, picking up his second win of the year.
The Yankees had their chances to win the game. They had a runner at third in the eighth with two outs, but Starlin Castro struck out. In the ninth, they loaded the bases but the game came down to light-hitting shortstop Pete Kozma, who had pinch run for Chris Carter the prior inning. After Aaron Hicks had struck out, Kozma came to bat with two outs, but grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the game. It’s unfortunate that Hicks was not able to come through as it placed the game in the hands of a career .221 hitter.
Kudos to Jordan Montgomery. After the game, he admitted that he didn’t have his best stuff. Loading the bases in the first inning with no outs, he escaped with only one run across home plate. He would go on to pitch six innings, allowing only two runs. Pirates were able to get seven hits off him. He walked two batters while striking out five. The two walks proved costly as both batters eventually scored (the only runs the Pirates would score in the game). Montgomery’s ability to throw a “quality game” despite not having his pitches speaks volumes about the heart of this pitcher. I am anxious and excited for his next start.
Even though the Yankees lost the series to the Pirates, they were in all three games and could have won either of the losses. As the younger guys gain more Major League experience and assuming the veterans continue to hit, the Yankees will begin to win these types of games with greater frequency. The bench is going to look much stronger soon when Didi Gregorius returns and Ronald Torreyes retakes his utility role from Kozma.
Sadly, Greg Bird was not able to get untracked in Pittsburgh. His 0-for-3 day dropped his batting average to .104. I still think he is very close so hopefully Fenway Park will ignite his bat. If not, we’ll probably start to see a few more Chris Carter starts at sprinkled in at first in the coming days.
I am glad that we’re headed back to American League parks so that Matt Holliday can knock the rust off and resume his role as the team’s designated hitter. His offensive capability is too great to be limited to pinch-hitting in National League cities.
The Yankees have today off and will begin a three game series in Boston tomorrow against the Red Sox. The Red Sox are coming off a 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday that kept the Yankees 1 1/2 games behind the O’s in the AL East. The Red Sox (11-8) are just a 1/2 game behind the Yankees (11-7). The Orioles play this evening (at home against the Tampa Bay Rays) so they could extend their AL East lead to two games. Or going the ‘glass is half full’ route, drop back to only a one game lead.
The Yankees have a chance to make a statement in Boston. While they may or may not win the series, they need to prove that they can hang with the Red Sox. Boston won the head-to-head battle in 2016, 11 games to 8. The Red Sox swept the first season series last year (April 29th to May 1st). It would be great if the Yankees could return the favor. My primary goal for the series is three competitive games with the Yankee hitters attacking the strong Boston rotation. If they can get to the Boston bullpen early, I really like their chances. The last run through the Yankees starting rotation was mostly a collection of off-nights so hopefully this run through the rotation will yield superior results. So begins the Battle of the AL East…
Have a great Monday! Rest up and be ready to take charge on Tuesday!
Credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images
What a difference a day makes!
Chris “All he does is hit home runs”¹ Carter made my Saturday a fun day after Friday night’s loss. Michael Pineda, like CC Sabathia the day before, did not have his best stuff and only lasted five innings. I had felt prior to the game that Pineda needed to be at his best with talented young right-hander Jameson Taillon on the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but fortunately, the Yankees were able to get to Taillon (thanks Starlin!). The game was tied at 5 in the eighth when Chris Carter came to the plate to pinch hit for Dellin Betances. The inning had looked like it would be over quickly when the first two Yankee batters flied out (if Bird’s fly could have gone just a few more feet…). But an error by Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier allowed catcher Austin Romine to reach base and shortstop Ronald Torreyes followed with a single. Carter is paid to do one thing and against Pirates reliever Felipe Rivero, he did it. His beautiful swing was met with “it is high, it is far, it is gone!”. The Yankees had taken a commanding 8-5 lead.
The Yankees would score a couple more times that inning, thanks in large part to another error by the Pirates, but the signature moment was the ninth inning even though the game was already out of reach for the Pirates. In what is becoming a typical day at the office, Aaron Judge got all of an Antonio Bastardo pitch to send the ball screaming 116 mph for a ‘no doubt about it’ home run. When all was said and done, the ball had traveled 457 feet. It is starting to feel like not a question of ‘if’ Judge can hit a ball 500 feet, but ‘when’. Five batters, including Matt Holliday, have hit longer home runs this year (a total of five feet separates the leaders) but it’s only a matter of time before Judge takes charge of the Statcast leaderboard.
Credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images
The Yankees won the game, 11-5 . They head into today’s game with a chance to take the series against an old friend, Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova. Jordan Montgomery, wearing Nova’s old jersey number, will take the mound for the Yankees.
Despite the win, the Yankees failed to gain any ground on the Baltimore Orioles (12-4) who took another game from the Boston Red Sox. So, the Yankees remain 1 1/2 games out of first with an 11-6 record. I get the feeling that the Red Sox (10-8) will be playing like a wounded dog when the Yankees get to Fenway Park on Tuesday.
I was glad to see manager Joe Girardi put Aaron Hicks in Saturday’s lineup. He acknowledged that he needs to find ways to put Hicks’ hot bat into the game. But really, left field is the only viable solution. The $153 million man is actually producing in center (he’s still dead to me despite the .323 batting average) and Aaron Judge is becoming a marquee event in right. Despite Chris Carter’s home run, I still think first base should stay exclusively with Greg Bird. I know that he’s only hitting .111 after another 0-for-4 performance, but he seems to be hitting the ball well even if they are going for outs. It is only a matter of time before the balls start falling in (or leaving the park). I think he’s close to catching fire.
I always keep an eye on former Yankees to see how they are doing. I guess it is a Jay Buhner/Fred McGriff disorder, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for former Yankees prospect Rob Segedin. Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deal that originally brought Ronald Torreyes to New York, the third baseman recently got another call up to the Dodgers when they placed former Yankees pitcher Rich Hill on the DL. Two days later, Segedin was on the DL himself with a strained right big toe. The taste of the Major Leagues can be so elusive for many and it certainly is for the 28-year-old former Yankees third round draft pick.
Credit: David Crane/Southern California News Group
Have a great Sunday! Let’s hope this is another Fun Day!
¹A nod to Buddy Ryan’s infamous quote “All he does is catch touchdowns” in reference to Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter.
Okay, it was not quite that bad. Still, it was a disappointing loss. It would have looked so much different if Greg Bird had homered in the third instead of pulling it foul. He had another chance to do damage in the fifth, but was unable to push any runs across (although he did reach on a fielding error which allowed Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge to score). He finished the night 0-for-4, dropping his batting average to .122. When he does start hitting, he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.
The Yankees lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-3, and fell 1 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s beat the Boston Red Sox, 2-0, behind a stellar pitching performance by Dylan Bundy. With the Red Sox loss, the Yankees maintained their slight hold on second place.
This was a winnable game. Even though it was an off-night for starter CC Sabathia, he kept the team in the game and lasted five innings. We cannot expect the vintage Sabathia every outing. He is, after all, a 36 year old who had to reinvent himself. This is not 2009 even if he lulled us into that thinking with his first couple of starts.
It’s hard to put a finger on any single reason for the loss. Bird’s slow start. Sabathia’s underwhelming performance. Chase Headley’s base running skills. Starlin Castro’s fielding. Aaron Judge’s six men left on base. It was just one of those nights. Shoulda, coulda, woulda…but it didn’t happen.
Oh well, today is a new day. Michael Pineda takes the mound against Pittsburgh’s talented young righthander, Jameson Taillon. Pineda will need to bring his ‘A’ game but if he has truly turned the corner, I am sure he will. With Baltimore and Boston looming next week, the Yankees cannot afford to stumble in the Steel City.
Let’s re-set this post’s image…
The Yankees need to figure out a way to get Aaron Hicks into the lineup. Limited to pinch hitting, he did single in the eighth last night. I hate rehashing why the Yankees should trade Brett Gardner, but I keep watching the San Francisco Giants and their troubles with left field. Their starting left fielder, Jarrett Parker, is out for a couple of months with a broken right clavicle. They signed Melvin Upton, Jr to a minors deal following his release by the Toronto Blue Jays, but he had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb so he is down for a couple of months too. In last night’s loss to the Colorado Rockies, they were playing journeyman Chris Marrero who has struggled to find a home in the Majors for the last few years. Marrero did homer but he is only batting .152 (5-for-33). I’ve always thought Gardner would be a good fit in San Francisco. The Giants have the prospects for a match. The “reach for the sky” choice would be 23-year-old RHP Tyler Beede, but GM Brian Cashman would have to include more than Gardner to make it happen. Gardner would be easier to trade if he wasn’t hitting only .192. His bat will come around so when it does, Cashman should get Giants EVP-Baseball Operations Brian Sabean or GM Bobby Evans on the phone to strike a deal.
Credit: Getty Images
It’s good to see shortstop Didi Gregorius in rehab games. On Friday night, he was 2-for-3 with six innings of work for the High A Tampa Yankees. He’s on track to return to the Bronx the beginning of May. I am sure that he’s motivated to be back for the two game series in Cincinnati beginning on May 8th as the Reds are his original team. Of course, that’s also true for a certain flame-throwing closer as well as a YES Network announcer who proudly wore #21 in the Bronx for a few years.
Speaking of numbers, Rickey Henderson, Tino Martinez, and Robinson Cano should be very pleased to hear that their former MLB jersey has cracked the top 10 for most popular jerseys sold…thanks to Gary Sanchez. According to MLB.com, Sanchez has the ninth most popular jersey, ahead of the Los Angeles Angels star outfielder, Mike Trout. There were four Cubs, two Dodgers, two Giants, and no Red Sox in the Top 8.
Have a great Saturday! Yankees, just bring it! We want one for the win column!
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
The Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox both won Thursday, so the Yankees find themselves a 1/2 game behind the O’s this morning. All three teams have ten wins, although the Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox have four, five and six losses, respectively. Surprisingly, the Tampa Bay Rays have nine wins albeit with eight losses. The biggest surprise is the cellar dwelling Toronto Blue Jays at 3-12. It’s still very early with 147 games yet to be played for the Yankees but crucial games are on the horizon.
The AL East is the only division in baseball with at least four teams over .500 although just one game separates every team in the AL Central with just a single win needed to put the bottom of the division at .500. Again it’s early, but the AL East is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball at this point.
The next week will be a challenge for the new and improved Yankees. When they complete the current three game set in Pittsburgh, they’ll head to Boston for three games beginning on Tuesday. They are certain to face Red Sox ace Chris Sale who pitched yesterday and gave a performance that justified Boston’s decision to give up their best hitting and pitching prospects over the winter. Although he didn’t figure in the extra inning decision, he went eight innings, allowing no runs and four hits. Walking only one batter, he struck out thirteen. Unfortunately, he’s in prime shape for his next start.
After the Boston series, the Yankees return home to face the Baltimore Orioles. Not to look too far ahead, but these series are followed by the Toronto Blue Jays, the World Champion Chicago Cubs, and arguably baseball’s hottest team, the Houston Astros.
Next week’s schedule represents the most difficult stretch the young Yankees have faced this year so it will be interesting to see how they respond. The Red Sox and Orioles begin a three game series tonight so on the bright side, they can beat each other up before the Yankees face them.
I am hopeful that Greg Bird’s bat starts coming around before the team gets to Boston. Aaron Judge has the “wow” factor with his behemoth home runs in games (and batting practice) but Bird remains the team’s best hitter (potentially) even if the stats don’t show it yet. I remain convinced he’ll soon be raising eyebrows with his hitting prowess but it would be nice if his offensive show could begin sooner rather than later. Maybe it’s waiting for him at Fenway Park.
Based on stats, Chase Headley is arguably the current best hitter with a .396 batting average. He’s off to a great start and admittedly, I didn’t see this coming. We’ll see if it is sustainable, but for now, he’s a vital part of the lineup. I wish I felt as good about Jacoby Ellsbury. Even though he is hitting .302, has stolen four bases and has been Joe Girardi’s clean up hitter of choice in recent games, he just doesn’t do it for me. Too often, and this is a very generalized statement without digging into the actual stats, it seems like he is underperforming in critical situations. I really have to wonder if an outfield of Aaron Hicks-Brett Gardner-Aaron Judge is better than Gardner-Ellsbury-Judge. The way Hicks is hitting right now, it is. Gardner is hitting worse than Ellsbury but this probably gets into a debate about who do you trust more.
Being in Pittsburgh tonight means that Matt Holliday’s bat takes a seat on the bench with no DH. This probably puts even more pressure to get Hicks into the lineup, especially with the pitchers taking at-bat’s. Both Gardy and Bird need to start mixing in a few hits.
Have a wonderful Friday! Let’s make this two in a row tonight!
With the impending returns of shortstop Didi Gregorius and catcher Gary Sanchez within the next few weeks, the Yankees have some decisions to make. Granted, Kyle Higashioka goes back down to AAA to become the starting catcher for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, retaining his seat at the table (the 40-Man roster). But for Pete Kozma, the future is less certain.
There’s no reason to protect Kozma on the 40-man roster. It is possible that the Yankees stash him at AAA when Didi returns for insurance, but, realistically, why? As I type this post, shortstop Tyler Wade is the top hitter for the RailRiders with a .386 batting average (17-for-44 in 11 games). He has also stolen 6 bags. With Ronald Torreyes moving back to the super-sub role, Wade represents the greatest shortstop insurance going forward. Therefore, if it’s my call, Kozma is DFA’d upon Didi’s return. If he clears waivers, assign him to AAA. If he is claimed, so be it. It’s no great loss. The downside to assigning Kozma to AAA is the fight for playing time with Wade. So, I’d probably just cut him outright and send him on his way.
The decision then becomes what to do with the 40-man roster spot vacated by Kozma. It probably doesn’t make sense to give it to Wade (not yet anyway). I could see the Yankees giving it to a pitcher like Tyler Webb to be part of the bullpen shuttle throughout the summer. The harder decisions about the 40-man roster will have to be made after the season and before the Rule 5 Draft in December. For now, the roster decisions are about who can help us today, not tomorrow.
I know that we didn’t quite make it, but there is something about a ten-game winning streak that I’ve always loved. It cures all ails. It is so fun to go more than a week without feeling the agony of defeat. The Yankees missed making it ten-in-a-row by two games but it was still a fun ride. The sad part is that with a few clutch hits here and there and no error by the aforementioned Kozma, the Yankees probably could have extended the win streak to nine. But as they say, that’s the way the ball bounces, so I guess I’ll just have to look forward to the next streak to achieve my self-fulfilling objective for ten.
Coming into the season, I really had my doubts about Luis Severino and his ability to be a quality major league starter. I was starting to feel that his stuff played best in the bullpen. At a quick glance, his stats do not tell the story. He is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts. It sounds very pedestrian, but then you look at 20 innings pitched (an average of nearly 7 innings per game) with 27 strikeouts. More impressive is his 0.80 WHIP (14 hits and 2 walks). He is currently behind only five pitchers for the lowest WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). The only pitchers with better WHIP are Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins (0.45), James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners (0.57), Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros (0.62), Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (0.70), and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox (0.74). Severino is in very good company. I know it’s just three starts but this is a significant improvement over last year and it does appear to be sustainable.
Credit: Noah K Murray/USA TODAY Sports
Thanks to the improved performances of both Severino and Michael Pineda, there is reason for optimism with every starter in the rotation. This also supports that the Yankees could have another extended winning streak coming their way in the not-so-distant future. Good times at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees signed LHP Nestor Oronel, 20, to a minor league deal. The Pittsburgh Pirates released Oronel after three years in March. My first thought was that Oronel is just fodder for minor league starting pitching depth. But being a lefty and only 20 years of age (he doesn’t turn 21 until December) leads me to believe that he might be viewed as a reclamation project.
Gleyber Torres has been placed on the 7-day Minor League DL with his shoulder injury. Manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday that he just has some inflammation in the shoulder and shouldn’t be down too long. So, it does sound as though the team (and Torres) dodged a bullet, and he will be back in the Trenton Thunder lineup soon.
The Yankees returned to the win column with Wednesday night’s win over the Chicago White Sox, 9-1. Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff, but he still went 7 innings, giving up only a single run. He struck out 6 and walked two while scattering six hits. The Yankees need this guy to be hitting on all cylinders, and he’s getting closer. It was a great offensive night as every starter had a hit, and the team was homer happy with four.
The Yankees only allowed former closer David Robertson to get one save opportunity as they took the three game set from the White Sox, two games to one. At 10-5, the Yankees are percentage points behind the Baltimore Orioles (9-4). They lead the third place Boston Red Sox by a game, although the Red Sox can cut the distance by a 1/2 game with a win today (an off day for the Yankees). Since the Orioles also play today, the Yankees could either be 1/2 game behind the O’s at the end of the day or they could be the AL East Leaders.
Friday, the Yankees head to Pittsburgh for a weekend series with the Pirates. Like the White Sox, the Pirates feature a few former Yankees. Catchers Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, and Pitchers Ivan Nova and Wade LeBlanc. You could loosely throw Gerrit Cole into the category although he was never officially a Yankee. He was a former top draft pick who never signed. Although Nova wears Andy Pettitte’s number (46) for Pittsburgh, his first start against his former team will pit him against his old number (47) when he matches up with Jordan Montgomery on Sunday.
The Yankees deserve this day off. They’ve exceeded expectations and have been a very exciting team to watch. It’s amazing to think it’s only going to get better when Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are back and Greg Bird is hitting like we know he can.
Have a great Thursday! One in row, Baby! Let’s make it two on Friday!
But at least it wasn’t for BIG money…
Good for Ivan Nova to get his new contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. All things considered, I am still glad that he is an ex-Yankee. Even though the Yankees are in desperate need of help in the starting rotation, I wasn’t looking for a reunion with the right-hander.
One headline I saw did strike me as odd. It basically said that Nova had signed but not for big money. 3 years, $26 million. Maybe it’s just me, but $26 million is definitely “big money”. Okay, if Nova pitches for Pittsburgh like he did after the trade from the Yankees last year, he’ll be a bargain. But still, receiving more than $8 million per year is still a heck of a lot of money for a historically inconsistent pitcher.
But the more telling headlines are about how great Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage is. The so-called “Pitch Doctor” is getting the credit for Nova’s turnaround performance in Pittsburgh last year. The underlying tone of the message is that the Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild is inadequate. If Searage is so great, perhaps the Yankees should find a way to pry him from the Pirates.
I know that Rothschild has a good reputation, but at some point, someone has to be held accountable for the inconsistencies of the Yankees starters. Masahiro Tanaka rebounded to have a very solid 2016 campaign but the work put up by Michael Pineda continues to be frustrating to say the least. Luis Severino was dreadful as a starter. I can’t say that I’ve ever looked at Rothschild as an “amazing” coach. It would be nice to have one of those for a change.
Kevin Long is an excellent hitting coach. Yet, when Yankees hitters couldn’t hit, he lost his job and now flourishes in Queens. He remains better than the Yankees current array of hitting coaches. I personally felt that Long was a better hitting coach than Rothschild is a pitching coach. Long was held accountable and so too should Rothschild. The Yankees have too much at stake with their young, unproven starters to fail miserably because they didn’t have the right guy at the helm.