Thursday, February 21, 2008

The State of Jeff Kent

Another year, another season where this might be Jeff Kent's last. At 40-years-old and entering his 16th season as a Major Leaguer, he certainly has seen his fair share of ups and downs. He came close to winning a ring with San Francisco in 2002, and is starving to finally get one.

While there's no disputing his will to win, the stigma of being a "locker room cancer" continues to follow him. It's hard to forget last September when the Dodgers were down and just about out. As he lashed out at his team, he appeared to be singling out the youngsters when he said,

"We have some good kids, so don't get me wrong. But it's hard to translate experience, and I don't know why they don't get it."

He continued on by saying,

"It's just a lot of things. It's professionalism, it's knowing how to manufacture runs, it's knowing how to keep your emotions in it."

Fast-forward 6 months later, and now it's a different tune being sung. He now said that it was all a misunderstanding, and he wasn't singling anybody in particular out. He just wanted to win.

"Gentlemen, my frustration doesn't lie with anybody, they lie with wins and loses," said Kent, who turns 40 next month. "You don't win and anybody that's not frustrated, they shouldn't be playing the game. My frustration was not with a player or management, and therein lies the frustration."

Ok, I can certainly agree with him that everybody should want to win. Kent signifies that more than anybody. But, it's hard to believe that his "frustration doesn't lie with anybody." It sure didn't seem that way at the time. I can't blame Matt Kemp and James Loney for taking exception to that.

But, that was then, and this is now. Now, the Dodgers are a much better team. While they still lack punch to a degree, signing Andruw Jones won't make it nearly as bad as it was last year. The back end of the rotation is also stronger. Then again, getting rid of Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson will make any team better.

I still love watching Kent's hustle and desire no matter what the score is. I know his range has been decreased according to the "experts" that somehow measure that type of stuff, but he gives it his all. At the end of the day, despite the negative vibe he can give off, I'd still want him on my team.

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