CC Sabathia has been one of the few New York Yankee free agent signings over the last five to 10 years that have not received an ounce of criticism.
His 40-15 record over that span has a great deal to do with it, but it is also his workhorse mentality that makes him a well-liked figure.
His 237.2 innings led the team in 2010; so did his 290 pounds. This young man from California has from time to time been mistaken for a left tackle, not a starting pitcher.
Luckily for the Yankees, Sabathia can stay on the mound and fire strike after strike, hitting corners and fooling opposing batters.
But this offseason, after having his knee surgically repaired, Sabathia and the team decided it was time for him to get serious about losing weight and relieving some of the pressure off those courageous knees.
Recent reports have shown that the Yankee ace has lost 30 pounds this offseason and is working towards being in the best shape of his life.
So what does this mean for the Yankees? Production. Last year, Sabathia was an All-Star, had his first 20-win season and finished third in the Cy Young voting.
I would not be surprised if we found out that Sabathia lost 10 of these 30 pounds just sweating after hearing the news that Andy Pettitte would not be back for his 17th season. For all of the work that Sabathia did last year, he will need to be equally as good, if not better than he was last year.
It is not about how much money he makes or the status he wishes to achieve pitching in New York; it is simply about wins and losses and what it will take to win the much-improved AL East. Sabathia knows that he will need to be stellar against the lefty-heavy Boston Red Sox, who refueled with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in addition to David Ortiz and J.D. Drew.
What makes the lefty so special is that he goes about his business start after start without getting overly emotional or psyched out. He is now the leader of the pitching staff, which includes young hurlers Phil Hughes, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova. He will need to guide them through tough times and get them past the tough New York media.
Everyone knows about the Yankees offense and the ability to put runs on the board, but come crunch time, pitching and defense win championships. Sabathia is well aware of what it takes to be the best, and now that he is 30 pounds lighter and poised for another great season, both he and the Yankees are in good shape.