Matt Kemp is not having the season he or I would have liked him to have. I took him with the first pick in my fantasy baseball league, and my current spot in the standings reflects his drop in production from last year. Kemp is striking out a lot more when he is up at the plate, but also off the field, where he and his agent, Dave Stewart, can’t seem to find the right things to say to the media.
Beyond negotiating a good contract for a client, and unless the client has a separate public relations firm that is omnipresent and answers all questions presented by the media, the agent will serve, at least to a certain extent, as the mouthpiece for the client. All agents understand that a way to drive up the relative value of a player is to make owners and General Managers perceive that there is a lot of interest and options on the market for the player. The way to generate this perception is by either getting direct quotes from decision makers or for the agent to create the scenario himself. The wrong way to do it is by alienating the player’s current team’s fanbase at the same time. That’s what Dave Stewart is getting close to doing.
Dave Stewart recently sent the following note to The Los Angeles Times:
“Do you think for one moment I care about the town of L.A. or the fans there? He’s [Kemp’s] going to be a great major league player. 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.”
I would think that Stewart should care about the town of L.A. and its fans, since their purchases of Dodgers tickets and Kemp merchandise helps to pay his client, and in turn pay Stewart’s commission. The town’s love for Kemp additionally boosts the likelihood that he receives any type of regional endorsement opportunities. While the city and team pays the bills, why alienate them in such a way?
Backed into a corner, I am not surprised that Kemp shrugged off Stewart’s statements and told the Times that they could write whatever they wanted. I also would not be surprised if rival agents start whispering into Kemp’s ear things that Stewart would not be to happy about. The statements made to the L.A. Times does nothing to help his client and may only hurt the chances that they have a longterm agent/player relationship.