In defense of Yoenis Cespedes’ disposition

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With full squad workouts kicking off for the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland today, one of the players that most fans are intrigued with is Yoenis Cespedes.

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The dynamic left fielder has been on the minds of Tigers’ fans for several years, ever since his planned jump to the major leagues from Cuba in 2012. The Tigers were a strong player for his services during that offseason until Victor Martinez‘s injury caused them to invest heavily in Prince Fielder. Then they saw him first-hand on many occasions in the budding Detroit Tigers-Oakland Athletics rivalry with contentious and classic playoff matchups in 2012 and 2013.

Now he is a member of the team, but he brought some alleged baggage with him after the December trade with Boston which brought Cespedes, reliever Alex Wilson and 19-year-old RHP Gabe Speier to the D in exchange for Rick Porcello.

This actually dates back to last October, weeks after the last-place Boston Red Sox had finished their season. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote that Cespedes was not beloved in the Red Sox clubhouse, so much so that one “Red Sox insider” said: “He marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him.”

Well, alright then. The anonymous source dooms yet another victim.

Look, no one outside of that Boston clubhouse knows if this is the case or not, but one thing that can be argued with is the validity of anonymous sources. This is a practice that plagues much of the tabloid-type journalism these days, particularly sports media members.

Columnists and analysts on ESPN, FOX, CBS, etc. will tweet something or write something that is potentially inflammatory and say “an insider” told them or a source “close” to the organization or player let the story leak. But there is no way for people to ever call this “journalist” on the story if he or she is wrong.

And that’s the problem with journalism these days. It is more about garnering pageviews than printing the absolute truth. You’ve likely heard of the old practice of waiting for a second source to report a news story, but today’s reporters don’t even wait for a first source. You want to be a real reporter, report real news–push your source to go on record. Or don’t report it.

Taking a step back from the journalism ethics class for a minute, let’s consider the source–if there is one.

Someone reporting stories from the Red Sox clubhouse? A clubhouse that was filled with chicken, beer and video games during games that ultimately caused likely Hall of Fame manager Terry Francona to move on from a franchise he brought two World Titles to after a near century drought. A clubhouse that two seasons later had a mutiny and war between star players and new manager Bobby Valentine.

So these are the people who are passing judgement on Yoenis Cespedes? After he was with the team all of 2 1/2 months?

Cespedes was not amused, as he related during the Tigers’ Winter Caravan last month.

"“I didn’t know what they were talking about,” Cespedes said through a translator. “[Boston GM Ben Cherington] met with the coaches and everything, and the report, to clear it up. But it wasn’t true.”"

The Tigers know there was never any reported problems from his days in Oakland and they expect him to mesh with the clubhouse, which has several players with high-caliber character.

Don’t believe everything you read in the press, especially when it comes back with an anonymous source. And don’t believe things that allegedly come out of the oft-dysfunctional Boston Red Sox clubhouse.

After all, a guy who drives around town in this, can’t be so bad.

Next: Tigers Platoon Situations

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