The Yankees concluded their scouting meetings last month with a clear itemization for the offseason, which was -- way above all else -- to retain CC Sabathia before he hit the open market and then to obtain another high-end starter.

It mirrored where the Yankees were after the 2008 season -- minus a ton of desperation. Remember, those Yankees had failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1993 and were heading into a new stadium with the heftiest ticket prices in baseball history.

That put a premium on the 2009 Yankees being of championship timber even beyond their familiar fanaticism. Thus, they were willing to pay whatever necessary to secure Sabathia -- and to include an out in his contract after three years -- plus close their eyes to A.J. Burnett's flaws and pay him like a no-doubt No. 2 starter.