Having already made several expensive free-agent acquisitions in recent years, only to fail in the playoffs, L.A. spent the winter shoring up some weak spots and making a couple of major trades. They sent Matt Kemp to the Padres and got back a new starting catcher in Yasmani Grandal. Trading Kemp opened center field for top prospect Joc Pederson. Then they shipped Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and others to the Marlins for a number of young players, one of whom (Andrew Heaney) they then sent to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, who will replace Gordon at second base. Hanley Ramirez was allowed to depart via free agency, and the Dodgers sent a couple of prospects to the Phillies for Jimmy Rollins, to replace Han-Ram.
Whew! Got all that? Maybe you do, but once again, most Dodger fans will not be able to see their team on television because most Los Angeles-area cable/satellite providers still aren't interested in carrying the Dodgers' new TV channel:
Under an accord valued at $7 billion to $8 billion, Time Warner Cable became the charter distributor of the Dodgers' SportsNet LA and set about pressing other pay-TV providers in the region to charge all of their subscribers $4-plus a month for games. That's more than the New York Yankees charge for the YES Network, according to researcher SNL Kagan. DirecTV, Charter, Dish, Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc.'s U-verse and Cox Communications all refused. As a result, only local subscribers of Time Warner Cable and tiny Bright House Networks can legally see Dodger games. The Angels, the region's other Major League Baseball franchise, are carried locally by 21st Century Fox Inc. and are available on all of those systems. Neither side has been willing to budge.
It will be interesting to see if and/or when this dispute ever gets settled. It has implications for a possible Cubs channel a few years down the road. As one industry executive said a year or so ago: "The Dodgers already had a perfectly good channel. Why did they need another one?"
The Dodgers' rotation is their strength, led by Clayton Kershaw, who's awesome until he sees uniforms with red birds on them in October. Added to the trio of Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu is free agent Brandon McCarthy, who was bad for the Diamondbacks but much better for the Yankees last year. The Dodgers also took a chance on oft-injured Brian Anderson. Kenley Jansen, who was outstanding as closer last year, had foot surgery and probably won't be ready until May. Joel Peralta, who has been a decent setup man for several years, could close, though he's never really done that and will be 39 before Opening Day. L.A. could turn to Brandon League, who has been a closer before, or J.P. Howell, until Jansen returns.
The Dodgers will be in the hunt all year and are the likely favorites to win the N.L. West again.
They'll travel to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in a four-game set June 22-23-24-25 and host the Cubs at Dodger Stadium August 28, 29 and 30.