"They don't give us enough credit, I don't think," Sabathia said. "Everybody keeps talking about Boston now, Seattle now with Cliff and Felix [Hernandez], but I think we've got some pretty good guys in our clubhouse that can match up with anybody.
"They never talk about me or A.J. [Burnett] or [Andy] Pettitte. I guess we like it like that. We'll just keep sneaking up on people."
The next time the burly Sabathia sneaks up on someone may be the first, as he jokingly admitted, but that doesn't take away from the respect the Yankees have for what their division rivals in Boston have accomplished so far.
"They're obviously trying to improve their club," manager Joe Girardi said. "Signing a pitcher the caliber of John Lackey is big. He's a tough pitcher. We had a chance to see him last year, and he's tough. They get a very good center fielder, or if they want to move him to left, in Mike Cameron.
"They have tried to improve their club, and you're never sure how things are going to shake out or the health of your club. But they picked up two pretty good players, and let's not forget about Marco Scutaro, who had a very good year last year."
Knowing that they will be opening the season on the evening of April 4 at Fenway Park, the Yankees have been keeping tabs on the Red Sox's moves as they try to steal away the American League East title.
"Boston is always going to make really, really good moves," Alex Rodriguez said. "I think Lackey is a great competitor. He's a great addition for them. We had great additions last year, and we continue to have great additions this year, too.
"That's what makes the rivalry great. I think it's going to make it an even more exciting summer, because they're a better team now."
The Yankees have been busy as well, retooling their lineup by pulling off a three-team, seven-player swap that netted Curtis Granderson from the Tigers. The club is now moving closer on a one-year deal with designated hitter Nick Johnson.
"I've been watching a lot this offseason, to be honest with you," Sabathia said. "I guess in offseasons past, I didn't want to watch because we got put out of the playoffs. But since we won it, I've been watching pretty much what's been going on. I watched the whole Granderson deal unfold. It's exciting, especially being in this organization where we're always making moves and always getting better."
"It's exciting, especially being in this organization where we're always making moves and always getting better."
-- CC Sabathia
For Sabathia, it was reinstalling the fellow left-hander Pettitte on a one-year contract that fired him up.
"I'm excited," Sabathia said. "I texted him a couple of days ago and just told him I was glad he's coming back. I'm getting excited to have him back for another year and see what we do."
Additionally, absolutely no tears are being shed that Roy Halladay has been subtracted from the AL East. The Yankees can finally grab their passports for a flight to Canada without fearing a visit from the good Doc, now that he has shifted to the National League with the Phillies.
"It seemed like you'd face Toronto six times during the course of the year, and you'd face Roy at least five times," Girardi said. "You never missed him. He's very tough. There's a chance we're going to see him in Interleague [because] we get the Phillies again. He's a great pitcher, and I'm sure the Phillies are very excited to have him."
If the season started today, the Yankees would have Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in consideration to be in the rotation, with Chamberlain finally free of all innings limitations shackles now that he has graduated from the development program. Hughes will have limitations, as he did not reach 150 innings in 2009.
New York will probably continue to look for pitchers to join a mix that also includes Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre, but Sabathia said that he could see a rotation that includes Chamberlain or Hughes -- both of whom have drawn interest on the trade front this winter.
"I think that's up to the organization, but both of those guys are capable of stepping in and having good years, especially being at the back end of the rotation," Sabathia said. "We'll see what happens, but both of those guys have the ability to be in a Major League rotation."
Rodriguez said that it has all made for compelling offseason theater, but he declined to pick an early winner between New York and Boston.
"It's not Spring Training yet or Opening Day," Rodriguez said. "I think right now there's several moves still to be made to our roster. They've definitely proved themselves as a very good team."