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Matt Kemp's agent is an albatross around his neck

Dave Stewart, a former Dodgers pitcher, says he doesn't care about L.A. or Dodgers fans. Outfielder says he has no problem with Stewart's comments.

August 22, 2010|T.J. Simers

Matt Kemp has a problem, one as big as his own half-hearted play at times and inability to hit an outside pitch — his agent Dave Stewart.

Stewart suggested recently Kemp might be better off playing somewhere else, and while most Dodgers fans have stuck by an inconsistent Kemp, here's what Stewart thinks about Dodgers fans.

"Do you think for one moment I care about the town of L.A. or the fans there?" Stewart wrote in an e-mail to Page 2.

No idea what Stewart has against L.A. because he was known in his time here to just pick someone off the street and immediately befriend them.

But now Stewart is working as Kemp's representative, which makes him Kemp's spokesman. So is this how Kemp feels about L.A. and Dodgers fans?

When Kemp was alerted about Stewart's remarks, he shrugged and said he had no problem with anything Stewart had to say.

A few hours later he was given another chance to take the edge off Stewart's comments and maybe not put himself at odds with Dodgers fans who have been asked to remain patient while he matures on the job.

"You can write whatever you want," said Kemp, and after I wrote down the comment, he took the pen and underlined it three times.

A few days ago, Kemp said he didn't want to go anywhere, but now there's the question left unanswered whether he has changed his mind and come around to his agent's thinking.

Is Stewart trying to talk Kemp's way out of town?

"He's going to be a great major league player," Stewart wrote. "It doesn't have to be [in L.A.]. …The big picture is he doesn't have to play [in L.A.]. There are 29 teams out there."

Why has it gotten to the point where Kemp has to go anywhere? The best I can figure, his feelings have been bruised and his agent, the former pitcher, is trying to back the Dodgers off the plate at a time when the player needs all the help he can get.

STEWART USED to pitch effectively with an attitude, beginning in L.A. as a Dodger but doing his best for Oakland, but now as an agent he's upset, to the detriment of his client.

Stewart, like the pitcher he was, went high and inside to brush back Dodgers coaches Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer recently for publicly criticizing Kemp.

But Stewart, like the father of a high school athlete interfering where he does not belong, was incredibly misguided, Bowa answering questions honestly like there's any chance he's going to change now, and Schaefer never criticizing Kemp publicly.

Stewart's pronouncement he cares nothing for L.A. or Dodgers fans has nothing to do with Bowa or Schaefer. Or probably Kemp, for that matter. He was upset because he was criticized on Page 2, and reacted in anger.

"You, in my opinion, are the worst part of a player talking to media," Stewart wrote. "You are pro team, and probably dislike players."

That's me — pro Dodgers and the McCourts, and anti-Kemp — maybe if you haven't done your homework. But he's paid by Kemp to know what's going on.

I have been in Kemp's corner longer than most, but not on his payroll, so everything isn't always rosy. The revelation that Kemp was selected as the Dodger most likely to win the Heart & Hustle Award was both hilarious and ridiculous, regardless of whether you are fan of Kemp's.

Kemp likes to say he's a man, but he has allowed Stewart now to do his talking for him, and for the most part Kemp refuses to take responsibility for his own shortcomings.

And so he makes it tougher and tougher to hang in there with him, Andre Ethier's progress and grit an example of what happens when a player really does apply himself.

As for Stewart, I've never met the guy and there really should be no reason to talk to him. He's irrelevant if Kemp, who is already under contract, is in control of his own career.

"You keep blaming me for all this," Stewart wrote. "You've not placed one bit of blame on the real issue, trashing the player publicly. There is the problem and you support it."

He has that right, Kemp believing the Dodgers' world has it in for him. He has so much talent, and since it's said so often, Kemp can't understand why coaches, administrators and media would criticize him.

As a result, he has regressed with the suspicion now he cannot handle pressure when thrust into the spotlight. He went into the tank earlier this season after General Manager Ned Colletti called him out in a radio interview for his shaky defense and poor base running.

When it was brought to Manager Joe Torre's attention that maybe it was Colletti's fault Kemp had faded, Torre said he wasn't buying it, adding it wouldn't say much for Kemp if he allowed that to happen.

But ever since Stewart called out the Dodgers coaches in Plaschke's column, Kemp is three for 27 with no runs batted in.

"What a joke you are," Stewart wrote while also referring to Page 2 as a coward, which is a new one. "I don't have time for you. You are no use to me or Matt."

But then he couldn't help himself.

"The best thing that I do for Matt is keep him from being like his coaches and Ned," he wrote, while indicating Kemp talks to people, but in private. "You are similar to Bowa, kiss him and then slap him …"

In conclusion, Stewart wrote, "I don't normally mix with such garbage — I came in the game when there were good writers."

Some folks are just luckier than others, I guess. But if Stewart keeps working as he does, maybe Kemp will be able to tell us if they have good writers in Kansas City.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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