Glendale Complex on Schedule ... We Think

There seems to be a cascading situation going on with the completion - or non completion - of the Los Angeles/White Sox complex in Glendale, Arizona. The construction manager assured the city that the project remains on schedule, and only catastrophic weather could cause a delay. But it won't be officially known until sometime in January.

The White Sox aren't expected to move into the new facility until 2010 because of issues surrounding their current lease in Tucson, Ariz.

That makes for an unsettling time in Los Angeles, Vero Beach and Baltimore, an unlikely triumvirate of cities.

The scenario goes like this: The Dodgers may want to hold spring training in Vero Beach again in 2009 if the new complex is not finished. Vero Beach officials are fretting that if the Dodgers do not open at Dodgertown in 2009, they will have no team in place to replace them. Baltimore seems interested in moving from Ft. Lauderdale into Dodgertown (Somehow Orioletown just doesn't sound right).

However, Julie Frisoni, communications director for the city of Glendale, said she was reassured once again by construction manager Tom Harrison of the M.A. Mortenson Company that the project remains on schedule. "He said that based on where they are, there is no reason they can't open in (the spring of) 2009," Frisoni said.

The Dodgers were under the impression there was a contractual deadline of December 17 for the developer to provide a "guaranteed maximum price," "I think there was a misunderstanding, and the Dodgers thought the deadline was the 17th," said Frisoni.

Meanwhile, back in Vero Beach, discussions with a possible replacement team - believed to be the Baltimore Orioles - are stalled because they aren't sure whether the Dodgers will vacate in 2009 or 2010 and Joe Baird, an Indian River County administrator who is spearheading negotiations with the Orioles, is rumored to be contemplating a legal action against the Dodgers to force them to provide a definitive answer.

Avila to be Honored
Former Dodgers scout Ralph Avila, who pioneered the idea of a developmental baseball academy and helped open the Dominican Republic to Major League Baseball, will be honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation at its annual gala Jan. 19 in Century City.

Avila and Eddie Bockman, a former major league third baseman from Santa Ana who later scouted for the Philadelphia Phillies, will receive the George Genovese scouting award. Others to be honored include Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn, Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox, former executive Bill Bartholomay and former big league infielder Tito Fuentes.

Book Looks at 2008 Dodgers
Dayn Perry, a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com and author of the new book, "Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones" has taken a look at the National League teams and this is what he said about the Dodgers:

GM Ned Colletti has given his team a bit of a makeover this winter, adding Joe Torre to the dugout and Andruw Jones to the outfield (Jones is a great bet to rebound at the plate and can still pick it in center). Both are sensible moves.

The addition of Hiroki Kuroda and the anticipated return of Jason Schmidt give the Dodgers uncommon depth in the rotation. As for the bullpen, it should remain a strength.

The offense, however, will be the key for the Dodgers. If they're to make up the necessary ground, then three things must happen: 1) Matt Kemp and James Loney must be in the lineup every day, 2) Third baseman Andy LaRoche must adapt to baseball at the highest level and 3) Juan Pierre must be deployed as nothing more than a fourth outfielder.

On the first point, it appears as the Dodgers will indeed play Kemp and Loney on a regular basis. That's essential, as they should wind up being the most productive bats in the L.A. lineup. In particular, Kemp could emerge as an All-Star in 2008. As for LaRoche, he tanked last season in the bigs, but his minor-league track record is quite impressive.

The Dodgers badly need better production from third base, and that means the pressure is on LaRoche. For what it's worth, the aforementioned Bill James expects LaRoche in 2008 to hit .275 AVG/.367 OBP/.458 SLG. That's just what the Dodgers need.

Now for Pierre. Some will look to his lofty steals total and his .293 average last season and assume he's a useful starter. He's not. His defense his roundly overrated (indirect routes on fly balls, terrible throwing arm), and he has no secondary offensive skills. Despite the high average, Pierre's 2007 OBP of .331 was below the NL average, and his SLG of .353 is plainly unacceptable, especially for an outfielder.

Now that he's no longer in center, his offensive bar is going to be even higher. So as opposed to being merely a bad offensive center fielder, he's going to be an inexcusably miserable offensive left fielder.

The Dodgers, who already have run-scoring issues, can't afford to have him in the lineup on a daily basis. They need to play Andre Ethier every day against right-handed pitching and use Pierre, regardless of his insane contract, only in blowouts and pinch-hitting situations.

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