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Manager Mike Quade said that in his mind the previous year’s division champs are always favored to win the following season.
“I’m an old-school guy,” Quade said. “That says Cincinnati is the favorite because they won it last year. Looking at it quickly, I think they have everybody back. They’re young, they’re talented and they won it before. Dusty [Baker] does a good job, so why not. But I’m an underdog player. So we’ll see how that all shakes out.”
Quade would not commit to an Opening Day starter Wednesday’s Cub Caravan kickoff event at Harry Caray’s. Matt Garza is in the mix along with Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.
The Cubs continue to add solid players and good makeup guys to their mix. The signing of Reed Johnson to a minor-league contract with a spring training invite brings some intangibles back to the Cubs that they lost when Kerry Wood, Mark De Rosa and Johnson went elsewhere after the 2008 season. Now with Wood and Johnson back, it appears GM Jim Hendry is addressing the status of the clubhouse as much as he is the on-field production.
Johnson will vie for the fifth outfielder job with former Tampa outfielder Fernando Perez who was acquired with Garza in last week’s eight-player trade.
Cubs broadcaster Dave Otto, one of four contenders for the team’s radio color commentator job, is part of the team’s caravan and convention this weekend. Former Cubs Gary Matthews, Keith Moreland and Doug Glanville are all said to be in the running along with Otto to become the permanent replacement for the late Ron Santo.
Finally, for late arrivals the Cubs Convention isn’t sold out. According to team officials, if people want to come to Friday’s convention opener they can expect to be able to purchase a one-day pass.