Matt Kemp had been benched the past two games. While his performance may be lower than everyone's expectations, 19 HR, 67 RBI, .263 and 16 SB would hardly be considered awful first two thirds of a season.
If you were with us last year you probably remember the now infamous comment by reader Chuck Savnil of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida regarding Matt Kemp and his fantasy frustrations with Joe Torre pinning Matt Kemp so far down in the Dodgers batting order.
"Even though he's been stuck in the 6/7/8 position all year, now that interleague play has begun, Joe Torre's dream has finally come true. He batted Matt Kemp ninth today. Clearly Kemp viciously sodomized Torre's daughter, or Torre, or something."
Despite Joe Torre burying him in the line-up, Matt Kemp was one of the most productive offensive players in all of baseball last year. His line of .297 / 26 HR's / 101 RBI / 34 SB / 97 RS / SLG .490 was a fantasy players dream.
This year things clearly got off on the wrong foot as the Dodgers started off slowly and Matt Kamp was quickly made the scapegoat.
Are the Dodgers simply jealous that Kemp gets to go to Cabo San Lucas with Rihanna and make like Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee for the world to see?
Last night Kemp was back in the line-up and went 3-5 with a home run and 4 RBI. Before the game however, his agent, former major league pitcher, Dave Stewart spoke with Bill Plaschke of the LA Times and discussed the treatment of the star in Dodger blue.
After listening to what some of Stewart has to say, one wonders if Kemp is long for the City of Angels.
"It's almost like it's open season on Matt, and it's not right. It's a bunch of back-seat crap. I'm almost to the point--and maybe so are the Dodgers--where I'm thinking that this just isn't going to work. The Dodgers have gaps on this team, and maybe they could fill them by trading Matt. It could be good for the team, and good for the player. It's very, very difficult to play under the circumstances that Kemp is playing under. The thing we have to look at is, is there going to be a fit? Is he going to be able to get past the public scrutiny? Matt has to wonder, 'If these guys don't like me, how can I play for them?'"
In particular, Kemp's camp isn't please with the way the Dodgers' coaching staff and front office have publicly criticized Kemp.
"Everything was fine until suddenly [coaches Bob] Schaefer and [Larry] Bowa start getting on him publicly. On those great Dodger teams of the past, you would never read about a player being trashed like Matt's been trashed. When Larry Bowa played, he would never accept a coach talking about him in the newspaper like that, but they want to Matt to accept it? Yes, it affects the player, it has to affect the player. All this external crap coming from Schaefer and Bowa, why would you want to play for somebody like that?"
I'm going to have to take Kemp's side on this one. He's not a team troublemaker and the public criticism and lack of respect he's been given as a front line player has been way over the top.
While Dodgers GM, Ned Colletti, may have stated that he has "no plans to trade him" and added "he's got a chance to be one of the best players in the history of the franchise," Ned should realize that the damage has now been done and Kemp and Stewart are already planning for who Kemp will play for when he becomes a free agent.
Before this year, Kemp and the Dodgers were able to agree on things as they signed a two year deal worth $11 million (including incentives) avoiding arbitration. The agreement leaves the 25 year old with one more year of arbitration-eligibility following the 2011 season before he potentially becomes eligible for free agency after 2012.
If the Dodgers are not careful with the way they treat their young star from here on out, they risk losing a nice chunk of their future as Dave Stewart is also the agent for Chad Billingsley and you can be sure he's not going to let the same thing happen to both his clients. - Keith A. Baker
Keith is a sports agent in Stamford, Connecticut. His goal is to offer a unique insight to the world of sports. Comments in his columns are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect the views and opinions of his firm or his clients.
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