Please Explain: Kemp Benched Again

Despite my pleas of the previous two posts, Matt Kemp still didn’t get to start last night. When he finally did get into the game, it’s not like he contributed too much – just a home run and a fantastic catch in RF. That’s probably enough to earn him a spot in today’s lineup, right? There’s no earthly reason to keep him out yet again, is there?

Well, Tony Jackson’s got today’s lineup (hat tip to Tony, who’s been beating the official blog to the punch lately with the lineups), and you’re not going to like it:

Dodgers:

Furcal. SS
Pierre. LF
Ethier. RF
Kent. 2B
Loney. 1B
Martin. C
Jones. CF
DeWitt. 3B
Billingsley. P

Why is Kemp sitting again? At this point I’m not even so upset that Pierre is in, because there’s every reason to be down on Andruw Jones at the moment. But I really don’t care which of Jones and Pierre is sitting right now, as long as Kemp is playing. Sure, he had a rough few games to start the year – he’s now 6 for his last 12, with a homer and a triple, and a great play in RF.

What really worries me is this: he’s been sitting in favor of Pierre against right-handed pitchers. As soon as Chris Young left the game last night in favor of lefty Glendon Rusch, that’s when Kemp hit for Pierre. Is Torre really going to make this a strict left/right platoon? In my previous post, I showed stats which pointed out that Kemp doesn’t really have much of a split in his career thus far, but more frightening is the fact that there are obviously a much greater amount of right-handed pitchers in the league than lefties. Is Kemp really only going to get to play against lefties? The man who just may be our most talented hitter is only going to start less than half the time? This is not good.

Also: maybe we should just let Derek Lowe play CF on his days off? 2-3 last night with 3 RBI, while Jones put up another 0-fer. Oh, and the 8 innings of 1-run, 4-hit ball: that’s not bad either.

Edited to add: I can’t actually fault the inclusion of Juan Pierre here, as he’s had pretty decent success against Greg Maddux (.364/.400/.455) in 28 at-bats. Again, my point was that Kemp should be playing no matter what right now, and if this is a good game for JP to be in (especially with 3 LHP lined up in the next 4 games), then today’s a day to bench Andruw Jones. Kemp and Jones each have under 10 at-bats against Maddux lifetime, which isn’t much of a sample size.

Edited again to add: it’s time to retire the “Trade Juan Pierre” banner in favor of “Play Matt Kemp!” Pierre’s not going anywhere anyway, especially until Jones shows us anything in CF, and letting Kemp play is more important. Also, to complete the Stephen Colbert jokes after giving Tony Jackson a tip of the hat, a stern wag of the finger to Sons of Steve Garvey for forcing me to see that Photoshopped “Matt Kemp in a bikini” abomination every time I Google Image Search him. Thanks, guys!

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg


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