October 22, 2014

The Real Jeff Kent Shows Himself to the Media and Fans

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent announces his retirement ...

Now I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting out of Jeff Kent today, but the emotion that came out of the future HOFer as he fought back tears was pretty surprising.  Imagine the kind of clubhouse force the guy could have been if he had let his guard down like this amongst his teammates.  From Plashke’s column in tomorrow’s paper:

So there was a heart in there after all.
Saying hello just in time to say goodbye.
“I hope it’s not a bad thing,” he said of his emotion.
It’s a sad thing, knowing now that he could have perhaps used some of this passion to have more impact as a leader.  It’s a frustrating thing, to think of all those years that teammates and fans never really knew him.
But, in the end, perhaps, it’s an understandable thing, a man doing what he felt was necessary to stay tough in a game where six months of nightly public pressures can tear at even the strongest of souls.
“Jeff felt when he let his guard down, he lost his edge,” said his wife, Dana.
On Thursday, after 351 career homers, most ever for a second baseman, that guard came down.

I hope KLAC-AM pulls up some of the Jeff Kent imterviews from the old Simers/Rogan morning show during the Dodgers offseason.  I swear that was the only time (other than today) that you heard the “real” Jeff Kent come out.

Now the real question is whether the baseball writers penalize him for being such a pain in the ass all of these years.  I certainly hope not; in my mind, Jeff Kent is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

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!

Thank God for Jeff Kent!

So if the Hiroki Kuroda rumors are true, Ned Colletti deserves a pat on the back for a job well done. Andruw Jones plus Kuroda is a big, big improvement over last year’s signings of Juan Pierre and Jason Schmidt. Kuroda and his career 3.69 ERA should settle in nicely behind Penny and D. Lowe in the rotation. Billingsley and Schmidt can bring up the rear and that equals a nice starting five. Fortunately, Mark Hendrickson was cut loose.

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!