Timeline of Zambrano's career

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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.

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Theo Epstein’s embrace-debate management style means the Cubs are constantly running through different scenarios, trying to balance their win-now urges against what should be a very bright future in Wrigleyville.

The financials, the human intelligence and the analytics are all factored into the equation, which leads to this question for Epstein’s cabinet: Is there a point where the Detroit Tigers kick in enough money and the prospect cost becomes so low that Justin Verlander makes sense for the Cubs?

The Cubs haven’t definitively answered that question yet or completely ruled out the idea, a team source said Tuesday, cautioning that the defending World Series champs are still more likely to add a reliever before the July 31 trade deadline than acquire a frontline starting pitcher.

“Always looking to make the team better,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 7-2 win over the White Sox kept the Cubs in a virtual first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. “Always. That’s what a GM and a president does. But I like our guys.”  

Verlander would obviously benefit from a move to the National League and feel energized in a pennant race. The Cubs could rationalize this as an immediate boost and a long-range solution while preparing for a 2018 rotation without Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

Imagine the buzz from Kate Upton’s fiancée walking into the clubhouse and making his first start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform. Verlander and Upton have been spotted enough times at Chicago Cut Steakhouse that his no-trade power might be the easiest hurdle to clear in a deal of this magnitude.

Verlander’s overall numbers are ordinary this season (5-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.444 WHIP), but trending in the right direction. The Cubs would go into it knowing that they wouldn’t get the same guy who won 24 games and American League MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.

The Tigers also can’t just give away a franchise icon who finished second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting and has a 3.39 ERA in 16 career playoff starts

The Cubs are trying to see around corners and anticipate what the team will look like in 2018 and 2019 – when Verlander will make $28 million guaranteed each season – and what might be available in trades and on the free-agent market during those transaction cycles. Verlander is also owed the balance of his $28 million salary this season and has a $22 million vesting option for 2020.

Even if the Tigers pay down some of that commitment, that’s still a ton of exposure with a guy who has roughly 2,500 innings on his odometer and will be 35 years old around the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training next season. That’s also when the Cubs will begin the second half of Jon Lester’s $155 million megadeal – for his age-34, -35 and -36 seasons.

After stunning the baseball world with that blockbuster White Sox trade during the All-Star break, Epstein talked about how Jose Quintana’s reasonable contract – $8.85 million next season plus team options for 2019 and 2020 worth $22 million combined – creates room for another star player.

As great as Verlander has been throughout his career, are the Cubs really ready to pour that money back into a player who was born in 1983? And meet Detroit’s asking price in terms of prospects?

And go against the buy-low philosophy that attracted the Cubs to Arrieta, as well as the ageism that makes them reluctant to reinvest in their own Cy Young Award winner? And potentially close off opportunities to sign free agents from the monster class coming after the 2018 season?

Probably not, but the Cubs haven’t shut down the Verlander discussion yet.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Jordan Bernfield (ESPN) and Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap to talk Game 2 of the Crosstown Series.

Later, the group previews Bears camp and what's going on with the Cavaliers.

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: