Big League Stew - MLB

There are so many ways that Mark Buerhle and Carlos Zambrano(notes) are different that we could fill an entire post just contrasting them.

Throwing arms, pitching approaches, backgrounds, temperaments and the geographic locations of their teams and on and on. 

However, the list of things the two pitchers have in common also requires a few bullet points. They've both only known pitching for a Chicago team, they've each thrown a no-hitter and they've both amassed more than 100 career victories as the one consistent piece in their rotations for the past decade.

Oh, and one more thing: Both men have expressed a desire to hang 'em up and retire well before their arms are shot or they approach their late 30s.

On Wednesday, Buehrle said he was still considering retiring after his contract ends after 2011. It's a plan he first mentioned during last year's spring training.

Meanwhile, Zambrano also brought up an early escape from MLB in 2009 and reiterated his wish after a win against the Cardinals a few weeks ago. 

So which pitcher will bail from the big leagues first?

If we're going from a strict contract-length standpoint, it'd be Buehrle. His contract runs through 2011 while Zambrano's goes through 2012. Ol' No. 56 would be the first to go if he's not lured back by the thrill of competition and the amount of money in a new contract.

At the same time, Buehrle has never been shy about mentioning the possibility of one day playing for his home state St. Louis Cardinals. So it's not too hard to see him signing a short-term deal for 1-2 years to fulfill that boyhood dream. That would give an opening for Zambrano to make good on his threat to retire first, even though he's two years younger (29) than Buehrle (31).

With all the cash that gets offered to good arms each winter, I'm not sure either would be able to walk away. But if I had to put money, I'd go with the unpredictable Zambrano.

What about you?

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