Report: Colletti Repaid Kent Favor With $22M Deal!

In an interview with Jon Weisman of ESPN’s Dodger Thoughts Molly Knight, who recently published a lengthy piece in ESPN The Magazine about the McCourts divorce, reported why the Dodgers allegedly hired Ned Colletti as GM and how Jeff Kent landed a “shocking” two-year contract extension with the Dodgers in 2006 worth over $22 million at age 38.

Jeff Kent and Jamie McCourt of the Los Angeles Dodgers

(”You want me to teach women to play baseball? That’ll be $22 million”)

Weisman: “What was her (Jamie McCourt) biggest impact on the organization?

Knight: “I still have no idea. Oh, maybe the hiring of Ned Colletti. I’ve heard stories that she became close friends with Jeff Kent after he volunteered to help domestic violence victims as part of her WIN Initiative.

Both she and Frank respected Kent’s willingness to serve the community. Jeff mentioned Ned Colletti to Jamie because he knew they were looking for a GM. Jamie suggested it to Frank.

Ned killed in his interview because he didn’t ask how much money he’d have to play with. A few former execs told me all this, so take it with a grain of salt. But it starts to make sense that Kent was responsible for Colletti when you see the contract extension he was rewarded with after Colletti got there.

So because Kent showed up for Jamie McCourt’s community projects, he was able to get Colletti’s foot in the door. The same Colletti who later handed the 38-year-old Kent an outrageous, two-year, $22 million contract.

But at least Kent was injury prone and hated by his teammates!

In a post titled, “Didn’t See That Coming: Dodgers Extend Kent’s Contract,” Weisman wrote of the deal at the time:

Jeff Kent has hit 20 or more home runs in nine consecutive seasons and was the best second baseman in the National League last season. But at age 38, most - if not all - figured that after this season, he would give way to the Dodger youth movement.

The move comes as a shock, with the combination of age and recent wrist surgery raising questions about whether this would be the year Kent finally tails off, let alone 2007 or 2008.

From the Dodgers press release announcing the free money deal:

Kent said the clincher was a conference call with team owner Frank McCourt and Colletti in which McCourt reassured Kent of his desire to field a winning team.

“It’s not about the money. I’ve got enough money,” Kent said. “After I talked with Mr. McCourt last night, and I got this feeling when I spoke with him over the winter, I felt his integrity and passion to put the Dodgers back on the map as a perennial contender.”

If you aren’t cackling by now, enjoy this passage from Lasorda’s ghost-written blog about Kent and the McCourts:

I am very, very impressed with Jamie’s work ethic, creativity and commitment to excellence. I can’t say enough good things about her WIN program (Women’s Initiative and Network). On April 22, from noon to 2 pm, we will be holding a women’s clinic on the fundamentals of baseball.

It will be held on the field, and Dodgers like Jeff Kent will be teaching. Enrollment is through our website at www.dodgers.com/win.

You would be surprised to see how many teams don’t communicate effectively. Frank and Jamie McCourt embrace the philosophy of communication, and expect it from our front-office staff. They are committed to doing whatever they can to improving the fan experience.

Just like Kent, Jamie’s “WIN” program, which Lasorda linked in that post in 2006, is long gone. Unlike Kent’s bank account, the WIN project was chalked up as a total loss.

Who knew teaching women to play baseball was worth $22 million over two years?