Matt Kemp returned to the Dodgers’ lineup last night after being benched for two games and went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs.
Hours earlier Kemp’s agent, former All-Star pitcher Dave Stewart, spoke to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times about the Dodgers’ treatment of his client, suggesting that perhaps everyone involved would be better off if the 25-year-old outfielder is traded during the offseason
Here’s some of what Stewart said:
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?'”
Stewart stressed that Kemp would never formally ask for a trade, but went on to specifically address how the Dodgers’ coaching staff and front office have publicly criticized Kemp at various times this season:
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 tend to agree with Stewart and my guess is that his comments will be taken more seriously than the usual lip-service from an agent because he pitched 16 seasons in the majors, including four years for the Dodgers. Kemp has become a scapegoat for all things wrong with the Dodgers and, while his play this season has been somewhat disappointing, he remains one of the team’s best players and certainly doesn’t deserve the level and type of criticism he’s received, not to mention the benchings.
In response to Stewart, general manager Ned Colletti said 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.” However, he also admitted that perhaps going public with criticism of Kemp was a mistake:
Our coaching staff only wants the best for the kid. Are they too hard on him? That’s a matter of opinion. But if there’s a miscommunication, we’re all adults here, let’s put everybody in a room and work it out.
Sounds good, but that probably would have been a better idea three months ago.