Timeline of Zambrano's career


Timeline of Zambrano's career

Now that Carlos Zambrano has packed his bags for good, CubsTalk wants to take a look back at the last 14 years. Zambrano was one of the most polarizing players to ever come through the home dugout at Wrigley Field, but he was almost always entertaining.

1997: Signs with Cubs as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela at just 16 years old.

Aug. 20, 2001: Makes MLB debut against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, allowing seven earned runs in four-plus innings.

Sept. 20, 2001: Earns first big-league victory, pitching two-thirds of an inning in relief. He is just 20 years old.

Aug. 22, 2003: Takes no-hitter into the eighth inning against Curt Schilling and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Shea Hillenbrand singles with two outs in the eighth.

2003 postseason: Makes three starts in the Cubs' playoff run. Despite a popular myth, was not the one who convinced Steve Bartman to reach for that fateful foul ball.

July 2004: Voted to his first All-Star game.

July 19, 2004: Ejected after plunking the Cardinals' Jim Edmonds with a pitch following a homer by Scott Rolen. This would not be the last time he was ejected for throwing at batters. (See: August, 2011)

November 2004: Finishes fifth in NL Cy Young voting after posting a 16-8 record with a 2.75 ERA and 188 strikeouts. Also led the league with 20 hit batters.

2005: Records first 200-strikeout season.

2006: Earns another All-Star nod and finishes fifth again in NL Cy Young voting. Led the league with 16 wins, but also with 115 walks. Wins first Silver Slugger Award after hitting six home runs.

2007: Won a career-high 18 games. Led the league again with 101 walks. Finished fifth again in NL Cy Young voting.

June 1, 2007: Punches Michael Barrett in the face during a dugout altercation at Wrigley Field.

Aug. 17, 2007: Inks five-year, 91.5 million extension and is never the same again.

Sept. 14, 2008: Hurls no-hitter against Astros at Miller Park in Milwaukee while Hurricane Ike wages war on half the country. Hurricane Zambrano goes into hibernation until...

May 27, 2009: Ejected after arguing a close play at the plate. Screams at and mocks umpire Mark Carlson, then hurls the ball toward the left-field bleachers, making it all the way to the warning track. Proceeds to enter the dugout and takes remaining aggression out on the Gatorade machine with bat in hand.

March 2010: Declares in spring training he is a changed man and no more behavior issues will result.
June 25, 2010: Blows up on Derrek Lee in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field after a disastrous first inning. The two have to be separated and Z winds up suspended indefinitely by the Cubs.

Late 2010: Goes 8-0 down the stretch with a 1.41 ERA in 11 starts.

February 2011: Announces again in spring training he is "cured" after anger-management therapy.

June 5, 2011: Delivers epic "We stinks" rant after Carlos Marmol blew a save against the Cardinals. Zambrano calls the Cubs a "Triple-A" team.

Aug. 12, 2011: After giving up his fifth homer to the Braves, tries throwing at Chipper Jones. He'S ejected, goes to the locker room, cleans out his locker and talks about retirement.

Sept. 2, 2011: Cubs announce Zambrano will not pitch for them again in 2011. MLBPA files grievance on behalf of Zambrano and settled dispute in the offseason.

Jan. 4, 2012: The greatest day in Cubs history. (Kidding). Zambrano - and 15 million - is traded to the Marlins for Chris Volstad.

Did we leave anything off? Provide your favorite -- and least favorite -- Zambrano moments below.

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

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