CC Sabathia is worth every last dollar

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia is everything that A.J. Burnett is not.

Sabathia's style is cool, consistent jazz, while Burnett is inconsistent hard rock with an edge that is always a pitch away from cutting the Yankees.

After Burnett left a mess on the mound Friday night, Sabathia did his usual cleanup job, pitching with scintillating efficiency, while continuing to raise his opt-out price one strike at a time.

On his way to another All-Star Game and another huge payday, Sabathia is closing the first half looking like he will make a run at the Cy Young.

On Saturday afternoon, Sabathia became the first starter in major league baseball with 10 wins. He had a season-high nine strikeouts, walked only one and went to three-ball counts on only two other batters in his eight innings of one-run ball in the Yankees' 8-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Not since Tommy John in 1979 has a Yankees starter been the first pitcher to 10 wins in the majors.

In Sabathia's 2½ seasons with the Yankees, he has 50 wins in 85 starts. Over the past three decades, only Chien-Ming Wang has gotten to 50 for the Yankees as quickly.

In the winter of 2008, the Yankees got the grand prize and the booby prize. Burnett's $16.5 million average yearly salary is the eighth-highest for a starting pitcher in major league history. He is 30-30 with the Yankees, with too many nights like Friday. The return on that investment is not good enough.

Sabathia's average annual salary of $23 million is behind only his buddy Cliff Lee ($24M), but that will change this offseason. The Yankees should even throw in a little extra change for Sabathia performing his Skipper act to Burnett's Gilligan. And for being the main man who relaxed the Yankees' clubhouse a touch with his outgoing, even-keeled personality.

Sabathia, 30, loves being a Yankee. He has done everything right since he signed in the Bronx -- including getting that little opt-out put in his contract. It was designed to make him feel more comfortable coming to New York, but now is likely going to make him even richer when he opts in. It will be later than sooner, though.

General manager Brian Cashman reiterated Saturday that he will not break club policy to talk Sabathia out of his opt-out with an extension to his current seven-year, $161 million deal. But, barring injury, it seems unavoidable.

Last offseason, Cashman saw Lee walk away from Yankees money when it seemed preordained he would come to the Bronx. (At least, by people like me in the media, who -- in our defense -- were talking to people who worked with Lee and thought he would go for every last dollar.)

Sabathia's case is different than Lee's -- he has been here -- and it is difficult to see him leaving when you consider, excluding adding to his bank account, what is important to him.

"Winning championships and having a chance to win every year," Sabathia said. "And that is what you get here."

That will be on display Sunday when champion old-timers, like Joe Torre, Bernie Williams and Whitey Ford, come back to soak in the cheers. Fifteen years from now, Sabathia could be another one greeted like a hero upon his return.

"It definitely keeps the tradition alive here," Sabathia said of Old-Timer's Day. "You know what the pinstripes stand for and to see these guys come out and support it ... . There is really no other place like New York. We get a chance to see Whitey Ford tomorrow, Yogi [Berra], Reggie [Jackson]. It will be exciting."

One day, he may even be ahead of Ford as the greatest Yankees starter of all time. For now, he is just among them.

Sabathia (50-19 as a Yankee) has joined Ford, Ron Guidry, David Cone and Wang as the only starters in team history to get to 50 wins with 20 or fewer losses.

Sabathia will surely add to those numbers for years to come. He has done everything right by the organization. The Yankees have by him as well. So there is no reason to think he will go. He is the perfect guy for this organization, and this are the perfect organization for this guy.

Above all else that has been said about him, Sabathia is too smart to turn his back on that.