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The Cubs Can Help The Pirates Make History Today: Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Monday 9/7, 11:35 CT

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have lost 81 games. With their next defeat, they will be assured of a losing season... for the 17th consecutive year. That will set a major league record; the current record, that the Pirates share, was set by the Phillies from 1933-48. Not only is it a record in baseball, but it will be a record for any of the four major North American professional sports.

Just a reminder that things could always be worse. The Pirates' last winning season was their last playoff season, in 1992. Since then a steady stream of good players have either left via free agency or been traded away, including, of course, the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez. Then, just as the acquired players get to be pretty good, they're traded away (Jason Bay, for example). It's a vicious cycle that probably is doomed to be repeated for years to come. It must be really tough to be a Pirates fan; they've got one of the best of the new ballparks, but no good players inhabiting it.

The Cubs have helped out greatly in making the Pirates a losing team; since 2003 the Cubs are 68-40 (.630) against them, 20-6 in the last two years, and have won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two clubs. They're also 9-3 at PNC Park since the beginning of the 2008 season; if there's going to be any place where a miracle comeback for this year's Cubs might occur, it may as well start here in Pittsburgh, where it is raining this morning. It's supposed to clear out by game time, though, with rain being more scattered this afternoon.

If you are one of those looking forward to 2010, one of the free agents on the Cubs' radar is Chone Figgins of the Angels. Obviously, no one in Cubs management is going to say anything about him now due to the tampering rules. Figgins is a decent player, but the problem I have in signing him is this: he will be 32 in January. His main asset is his speed -- that's usually the first thing to decline. He does draw a lot of walks and has a career OBA of .362 -- but only a 98 OPS+. He can play multiple positions but has primarily played 3B for the Angels the last three years. To me, this is yet another Lou "we don't have enough of such and such" idea that hasn't been fully thought out, sort of like the "we're not lefthanded enough" brainstorm from last fall. How's that working out, Lou? I wouldn't do it.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
Cubs
vs. Daniel McCutchen
Daniel McCutchen
Pirates
10-8 W-L 0-0
3.17 ERA 4.50
123 SO 5
29 BB 2
21 HR 1
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ted Lilly 10-8 23 23 0 0 0 0 150.1 133 58 53 21 29 123 3.17 1.08


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Daniel McCutchen 0-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 6.0 5 3 3 1 2 5 4.50 1.17

Along with fellow Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen came to Pittsburgh in the Xavier Nady deal a year ago. The Pirates are, apparently, trying to corner the market on players named "McCutchen". Daniel is not related to Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen, though. Daniel made his major league debut on August 31 vs. the Reds, pitched well enough (six innings, three earned runs), but the Pirates lost.

Ted Lilly is 3-1, 3.99 in eight career starts vs. Pittsburgh. He will try to improve his 2009 road record; he's been mediocre this year (4.75 ERA) on the road, dominant at home. With all the changes in the Pirates roster, Ted hasn't faced many of them; Brandon Moss has hit him well (4-for-6, a HR).

Today's game is on WGN. Strangely, on a holiday, there is no Pirates TV -- so this game is NOT available on Extra Innings. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Once again, the overflow comment threads weren't too busy yesterday -- I assume because of the holiday weekend -- so I'm only going to post two of them today, at 12:45 pm and 2 pm CDT. If things get too busy, please post a FanShot overflow.

Discuss amongst yourselves.