I don't care so much if Matt Kemp makes the All-Star game. I really think he should, and I actually I really don't want to see him lose to any of the candidates in the fan vote, among them a spam-eating cry-baby diva jackass, an over-hyped strikeout machine Snake, and a Giant ( spit! ) with a cutesy nickname. But if he loses out I'll have forgotten about it a week later. It's an exhibition game. Who cares?
I care a lot more about Kemp's other battle, the one he's going to be waging most of the rest of the season, I fear. The battle to stay in center field.
Why would Kemp have to vacate center field? He's been great there defensively, after all, and with the bat he's been the Dodgers offensive MVP of the first half. So why? Why? Juan Pierre. Juan bleeping Pierre. And not because of any talent Pierre possesses, but because of a talent he doesn't possess.
When Pierre plays in place of Manny, there is no problem. Pierre slides into left field and Kemp stays in center. Given that Manny has only played in a third of the team's innings so far, maybe we can leave it at this. Pierre will get all the playing time he deserves, and more ( far more! ) just subbing for Manny. But let's be serious --- we know Manny is going to eventually get into playing shape ( or Torre will stop being so damn cautious ) and then Pierre will have to find more of his outfield innings at someone other player's expense.
That player will probably be Ethier, most of the time, and not Kemp. Ethier is batting 0.250, while both Pierre and Kemp are batting over 0.300. Never mind home runs or ability to wear a batting helmet without having to have a cap underneath it, even if that cap is red and the visual result is hideous and soul-crushing --- and never mind slugging percentage and career averages or anything else --- Pierre will have to play because he has a shiny batting average and he "makes things happen" and he's done everything the Dodgers have asked of him without complaining very much and he's a hard worker while Ethier is a lazy drug cheat --- er, wait, that's Manny, but Ethier will have to stand in for him because of course Manny has to play!
So, okay, Pierre is going to sub for Ethier way more than he should, and that is going to truly suck, but what does that have to do with Kemp? Well, you know what it has to do with Kemp, but I'm going to draw this out in agonizing description just so we can all see how stupid this is --- if Pierre subs in for Ethier then Kemp will have to move over and play right field, because why? Why? WHY? Because Pierre has an arm made of Nerf foam and he can't make the throws from right field, and left field is taken up by some guy with goofy Sideshow Bob hair who also happens to be an amazing hitter, so Pierre has to go into center, even though his arm really isn't strong enough for center field either. Really, it's not. He can't make the throws a center fielder needs to make. Let's not pretend he can. He can barely make the throws a left fielder needs to make. This is awful. Because of Pierre's limitations, Kemp has to move over if Ethier sits. Even if Pierre was marginally better than Ethier on offense ( and he's not ) you still wouldn't choose Pierre over Ethier because it will just cripple the team's outfield defense. It will destroy it.
And, of course, sometimes Pierre will start in place of Matt Kemp. Even though Kemp is better than Pierre offensively and defensively, without question. Does Kemp ever need a day off? Does he? He's not a catcher. He's a young star outfielder. Unless he gets injured, he needs at most three or four days off in the entire season. He probably doesn't need any days off. So why would you ever sit him? But it will happen, and not because Kemp needs the day off, but because Pierre needs to play. Why does Pierre need to play? Because we're throwing a pity party for him, and every terrible announcer from Fox Sports is invited.