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A History Lesson: Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Sunday 5/16, 1:20 CT

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Optimist that I am, I was scouring the interwebs this morning for some shred of evidence that I can remain this way. It took a while, but I found this Sun-Times article about a team with which we are all too familiar:

Derrek Lee played for a team that started 16-22 and won a World Series, so he's not about to write off the 15-22 Cubs in the middle of May.

"There was no magic moment," Lee said of the Florida Marlins' turnaround in 2003. "We just kept believing in ourselves and kept playing hard. We started getting some wins, and we rolled with it.

"That team had talent, and so does this team. We just have to believe it."

He's right. The 2010 Cubs do have talent -- they have better starting pitching than that Marlins team did, and that team also had a mediocre bullpen (at least until they picked up Ugueth Urbina). The 2003 Marlins finished about league-average in both runs scored and allowed, yet won 91 games and the wild card.

There's one thing D-Lee left out of his comments. Know what the Marlins did at the precise time they were 16-22? They replaced their manager, the competent but faceless Jeff Torborg, with Jack McKeon, a crusty 72-year-old who was working in their front office and had managed his first major league game before about two-thirds of his team was born (in 1973). And there was no magic right away, either -- the Marlins went 3-7 in their first 10 games under McKeon to drop to 19-29.

And then they went 72-42 and won the wild card. They had no chance at their division title -- the Braves won 101 games. There were two 100-win teams in the NL in 2003 (the Giants were the other), but both got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The rest of those playoffs, I don't think we need to discuss here.

So it can happen. Those Marlins aren't the only recent team that's done this. But the critical thing, I believe, is that they replaced the manager. That isn't always the answer to everything, but there are many examples of teams that did exactly that and went on to the postseason. Ask the 2009 Rockies how that worked out.

It's time for Lou to go. I don't know if there's a McKeon type around, but something must be done to change the atmosphere around this team. It's still early enough to make a turnaround. Do it now.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
Cubs
vs. Ross Ohlendorf
Ross Ohlendorf
Pirates
1-3 W-L 0-1
4.88 ERA 3.00
13 SO 4
4 BB 7
5 HR 1
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ted Lilly 1-3 4 4 0 0 0 0 24.0 24 14 13 5 4 13 4.88 1.17


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ross Ohlendorf 0-1 2 2 0 0 0 0 9.0 7 4 3 1 7 4 3.00 1.56

Ross Ohlendorf started the year in the Pirates rotation, made one start, then spent a month on the DL. After returning May 10, he went only four innings (allowing one run) in his only start since coming back. His only career appearance vs. the Cubs was June 30, 2009 in Pittsburgh, when he threw seven shutout innings and struck out eight.

Coincidentally, his opponent that night was Ted Lilly, who threw a pretty good game in a losing effort. Sound familiar? Ted doesn't have a great career mark vs. the Bucs -- 4.44 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 13 appearances (11 starts) -- and was the losing pitcher May 5 at PNC, where he (all together now) "threw a pretty good game in a losing effort".

Enough of that. Time for a win.

Today's game is on WGN and FSN Pittsburgh. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Tonight's first pitch thread will be up at 1:15 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 2:15, 3:15 and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.