Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m wondering when the Dodgers will get around to having Billy Ashley bobblehead doll night.
The TV situation
I hope you didn’t get too excited Tuesday when Time Warner Cable cut its asking price for SportsNet LA — which telecasts Dodger games — by 30%. The first reaction is “Great, finally some movement. Now if the cable/satellite providers bend a little, we can finally watch Vin Scully again.”
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely they are going to bend. And with good reason. Carrying the Dodgers channel would still cost about $3.50 a month per household. They would have to either eat that expense, or raise your cable or satellite bill to defray that cost. You might think “Hey, I’ll pay a couple of bucks extra a month to watch the Dodgers,” but not everyone wants to watch the Dodgers. And in a time when many people are dropping their cable or satellite TV entirely, that’s a risk few pay-TV companies are willing to take.
And, the fact that the decrease is only good for one year makes the proposal not as wonderful as it first seemed.
Time Warner Cable added to the pressure Tuesday by pointing out how this will be Scully’s last season, and even got L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to talk about it, with the mayor saying “If nothing else, let's do it for Vin Scully."
It’s a smart move by Time Warner Cable, as they look like they are willing to compromise and can now paint the pay-TV companies as the bad guys. Most people won't look at the substance of the offer and will just look at the "Time Warner Cable gives a little" headline. Bill Plaschke has a great take on the offer here.
Even baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred weighed in, saying: “The Dodgers' massive fan base deserves to be able to watch Dodger games regardless of their choice of provider. The situation is particularly acute given that this is Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully's final season. Time Warner has made a significant economic move that I hope will be accepted by the providers."
This just adds more ammunition to the wish that pay-TV companies would offer a la carte services, where customers pick exactly what channels they want, paying a small fee for each channel.
But no matter how you slice Tuesday’s news, it’s still unlikely those of us who don’t have the ability to get Time Warner Cable will be able to watch the Dodgers this season.
Break a leg
The injuries continue to pile up for the Dodgers, with the latest being Andre Ethier, who has a broken right leg and will be out until June. Ethier was going to be the starting left fielder. So what do the Dodgers do now? Their options are:
- Platoon Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke in left field.
- Make a trade
- Put Kiké Hernandez in left until Ethier comes back.
As far as a trade, there aren’t a lot of teams that are in a hurry to help the Dodgers out, and a trade partner would probably demand a top prospect. So a trade would not be wise.
Putting Hernandez in left robs the team of his versatility. With Justin Turner coming off of knee surgery, Hernandez will more than likely be needed to spell Turner at third, and maybe even platoon with Joc Pederson in center.
That leaves option 1, platoon Crawford and Van Slyke. Crawford is a wonderful 3 for 27 this spring and had his worst season as a pro last year, when he hit .265 with a .304 on-base percentage. Of course, the year before he hit .300 and who knows if he can stay healthy. But I think he is worth giving a chance. Maybe the realization that this could be his last real shot to prove himself worthy of his ginormous contract will spur him to be the type of player he was with Tampa Bay, where he was a four-time All Star.
Ethier’s injury also means it is imperative that either Pederson or Yasiel Puig play up to their capabilities. A slow start by both of them, combined with Ethier’s injury, could put the Dodgers in a hole they can’t climb out of.
Ethier’s injury also opens up a roster spot for Trayce Thompson, son of former Laker Mychal Thompson. Trayce Thompson can play all three outfield positions and will probably make the team as a backup until Ethier is ready to return. My big request of management: Please don’t look at this as your big chance to bring back Chris Heisey.
The Dodgers unveiled six new menu items they will offer at home games this year. I’m not sure, but I believe they all come with their own self-cholesterol test and defibrillator paddles.
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