April 20, 2014

Jeff Kent Rides Off Into the Sunset – On His Own Terms

So today the long-expected news of Jeff Kent’s retirement came true.  And I’m a little sad about it.  Say what you want about Kent causing clubhouse friction at the end of the 2007 season (something he never really recovered from) the guy played stellar baseball for the Dodgers at a position that was a notorious weak spot before he arrived.  Listen to the names of the starting second basemen from 2000 to 2004: Mark Grudzielanek (2000-2002), Jolbert Cabrera (2003), Alex Cora(2004).  Say what you want, Kent was consistent – and in a good way.  The guy played hurt and left it all out on the field.  I really think it’s awful the way last season ended for Jeff with the whole Vin Scully thing and then subsequent shunning that resulted..a situation that was magnified by Jeff’s unique personality.

I looked back, and here’s what we said about Jeff Kent in December of 2007:

One signing that hasn’t gotten nearly the amount of publicity it deserves due in recent days is the return of Jeff Kent. This guy is a gamer, a future HOFer and exactly the type of player that the Dodgers need. He’s the linchpin of the infield and a fantastic role model for kids playing any sport. I think the friction with the Dodgers’ “kids” at the end of last year was definitely an issue, but the fact of the matter is that the Dodgers need someone who won’t take any crap and is willing to come out and hustle every day. Sure, Kent likes to be by himself in the clubhouse and isn’t one to socialize with his teammates, but in past radio interviews I’ve heard with him on KLAC-AM with Times columnist T.J. Simers,he’s always said it’s not because he’s anti-social, but that in order for him to be successful he needs to keep his game face on every single moment that he’s at the park. He’s afraid that if he lets his intensity level down before a game that it might carry over on to the field. Knowing that only makes me respect the guy more. He knows what works for him and he’s sticking with it. After all, he’s the all time leader in home runs for a second baseman and led the Dodgers with 20 HRs at the age of 39.

One last thought on Jeff: I really think the combination of Kent and Joe Torre will go a long way in establishing some much needed clubhouse chemistry and keeping the younger guys in check. At the very least, you know Jeff was psyched to hear about the Andruw Jones signing!

Ok, so we were a little off on the Andruw Jones front, but I’m looking forward  to hearing what T.J. has to say about Kent’s retirement.  The two genuinely seemed to get along and while the radio show wasn’t that great, Simers was able to get the best interviews I ever heard from Jeff Kent.  Can’t wait to hear what Kent has to say tomorrow at the retirement ceremony.

Jeff, congratulations on a fantastic career with the Dodgers and others.  We’ll miss your bat and we’ll see you in Cooperstown!

Comments

  1. jeff kent is a red-asses d-bag that benefitted greatly from his position in a lineup during his SF days. Granted he did still put up the numbers but with his surly attitude, lack of team-first attitude, and his general disdain for media, fans, and teammates it’s hard to like him. Probably slides into the Hall after a few tries.