Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was named to the National League All-Star Game today, replacing injured Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp. Ryan Braun will replace Kemp in the starting lineup for the NL.
Now, while it's all fine and dandy that Chipper is going to get his huge farewell at the All-Star Game, the National League really screwed themselves here. Jones was currently leading the NL's Final Vote campaign, which ends on Thursday. With Jones being named to the game, and thusly, pulling out of the voting, David Freese of the Cardinals is the current leader. Freese is a third baseman. Jones is a third baseman. Kemp, a center fielder, was pulled out of the game. So if Freese hangs on to the Final Vote lead, the National League will have four third basemen on the roster…and one center fielder, Andrew McCutchen.
Don't get me wrong, Carlos Beltran or Melky Cabrera will probably start the game in center…but neither has been a center fielder this year. Besides, Cabrera is an awful center fielder, and Beltran is too injured to play the position. Jones will probably play no more than an inning at third base, if he plays at all, and essentially, he's just a pinch hitter for the team.
In a game that's supposed to count, replacing a center fielder with a very limited defensive player who might not even take the field seems just a little bit silly. I feel really bad for Michael Bourn throughout this whole ordeal, who has been one of the most underrated players in baseball this year, and has now gotten screwed again. Jones was probably going to win the Final Vote anyway, so why not let him get in that way, and have Bourn replace Kemp on the roster? That way, you have an even position for position swap. Now, Bourn's only hope of getting into the game is *another* injury to a NL player, or a late surge of fan support…which he wasn't getting over the first two days of voting, because a majority of Braves fans were voting for Jones. I don't see any way that Bourn can catch Freese, from the rabid baseball town of St Louis, or Bryce Harper, currently in third place and one of the brightest young stars in baseball. That's a damn shame, because Bourn has been a fantastic player this year, and really deserves a trip to Kansas City.
Photo courtesy of Daylife.com