Open Thread: Juan Espino


(Photo via

This week will be a slow one as front offices around the league try to take a step back and enjoy the holidays, so don’t expect to see many transactions. In fact, the Yankees have made just one noteworthy move on December 26th throughout their history. On this date in 1974, they signed 18-year-old catcher Juan Espino out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent.

Espino made a slow and deliberate climb up the minor league ladder, spending two years with High-A Fort Lauderdale (1976-1977), two and a half years with Double-A West Haven (1978-1980), and two and a half years with Triple-A Columbus (1980-1982) before making his big league debut in June of 1982. He appeared in just three games that month, all off the bench, then was sent back to Triple-A. Espino resurfaced in 1983, reaching base seven times (one walk, five singles, one homer) in 25 plate appearances spread across ten games.

The Yankees sold Espino to the Indians just before the 1984 season, then purchased his rights back from Cleveland a year later. All told, he played in 49 big league games — all with the Yankees — hitting .219/.244/.238 with that one homer in 78 plate appearances. Espino spent the last few years of his career in Triple-A with the Yankees and Cardinals, retiring after the 1988 season as a .256/.335/.374 career hitter in more than 2,000 plate appearances at the minors’ highest level. Christmas week transactions, changing the baseball landscape forever.

* * *

Here is your open thread for the night. The Falcons and Saints are your Monday Night Football Game, the Nets open their season against the Wizards, and all three hockey locals are in action. Lots to relax with tonight. Talk about whatever you like here, enjoy.

Categories : Open Thread
  • mbonzo

    So 2 teams interested in Hisashi Iwakuma, gotta wonder if the Yankees are one of them. He’s got great command, the ability to strike out hitters, and most importantly, the ability to keep the ball on the ground. Since returning from major surgery, he’s posted a 2.6ish ERA in Japan over the last 4 years. He throws low 90′s but can dial it up to mid-90′s. He’d very interesting for a team like the Yanks. Again, like Darvish, all he costs is money, and this time no posting fee.

  • Chop It Up

    The Yankees purchased Babe Ruth from the Red Sox on December 26, 1919…much more noteworthy transaction than Juan Espino.

    • Plank

      Who’s that?

    • Mike Axisa

      Blame B-Ref, it says that happened on January 3rd, 1920.

      • RetroRob

        It was a sectret deal agreed to on 12/26/1919, but wasn’t announced until 1/3/1920. I guess that makes both dates correct.

  • Plank

    If Drew Brees scores less than 33 fantasy points tonight, I’ll make $800. I’d put it at about 50/50.

    • mbonzo

      I missed out on the finals last week by 6 points. This week I have 140 points. I had quite a sick team this year too.

      Sounds like its more 70/30 you in this case. I don’t think Brees can do 33 points v. the Falcons.

  • Avi

    Via Wally “the terrible” (Mathews) the Yanks aren’t expected to go after Hiroki Kuroda.

    • Mike Axisa

      ESPN NY has gotten too many reports wrong over the last year or two — especially “heard from someone close to the sitation” stuff like that — for me to post their stuff on the site.

      • Avi

        I hear you Mike. I hope they’re wrong on this one too.

      • mbonzo

        The last year hasn’t been inspiring for any writers in regards to trade rumors. I’m pretty sure Doug Seyller had more success than Jon Heyman this year.

      • Grit for Brains

        I can’t stand that stuff from ESPN….they are always coming out with “Sources:…” I’m not in the journalism field but it’s stealing I feel like from FoxSports/SI/Yahoo/whoever actually pays to have good reporters doing the leg work

      • Jamey

        I’m pretty sure “ESPN NY” exists purely to troll The Yankees anyway. The only one they took seriously was “ESPN Boston” or as it was known previously “”

    • kenthadley

      This winter has been so exciting that I’d be happy if we went after Juan Espino.

      • Plank

        How is he at framing pitches?

        • kenthadley

          Good glove, but he has a hitch in his swing.

    • Avi

      If this report is true I might start believing the austerity budget reports and the yanks staying below the luxury tax threshold. Obviously would be a radical change from how they’ve operated till now.

      • mbonzo

        You’ve fallen for Cashman’s ninja trap!

        • Avi

          Yeah I totally agree with you that all these reports are most likely a ploy. However if they really don’t offer the Kurodas and Oswalts contracts I’ll start to believe there might be something to them.

          • mbonzo

            Honestly, I’d rather not have Oswalt for the money he’ll get paid and I can certainly do without Kuroda. I’d rather see the Yanks’ farm get a chance at the beginning of the year, and if it sucks they can find starting pitchers of Kuroda/Oswalt caliber on the June/July trade market for half the price. I really don’t expect them to sign.

            Imo, this report is for next year, so they can stealthily take a starting pitcher and outfielder from the market.

    • bonestock94

      I love that he blocked me.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    I sort of remember Juan Espino, either from an actual at-bat, or just a Topps card.

    • Greg C

      I had at least 100 of his 1987 Topps cards. Had a lot of Bobby Meacham, too

  • Steve H

    For the longest time Kuroda had no interest in the East Coast and even killed a potential trade to Boston for all of 2-3 months. Now, he’s a free agent and he’s all of the sudden willing to play on the East Coast? Not sure if I totally buy it, and taking away the EC just hurts his bottom line. Maybe Cashman knows that Kuroda doesn’t have any interest in coming to NY? Maybe he’s leaking stuff out there that they aren’t interested so Kuroda doesn’t use him to try and jack up his price?

    • mbonzo

      I just think he wants the best shot at winning a World Series at his age, and the east coast has plenty of teams looking for pitching. The money doesn’t hurt either. Its pretty clear the Dodgers won’t be contender mode for a while so why not suck it up for a year on the east coast.

      • Steve H

        If he was worried about winning a title, why not waive his NTC last year to go to Boston for 2 months (when they were clearly title contenders)?

        • mbonzo

          Its a good point. Perhaps he didn’t fully understand how far out of contention the Dodgers would be in 2012. I find it hard to believe the Dodgers couldn’t find a trade partner on the West Coast for him in July.

    • Avi

      I hear you on Kuroda and the East coast. I too suspect he’s saying he’d play here cuz it’s good for business. But Cashman should have no problem letting Kuroda use him to jack up his price. Let other teams pay through the nose.

  • tbord

    That’s not Juan Espino, It’s Dave Winfield doing his best Willie Horton impression.

    • Pat D

      You dare insult Winfield?!?!?

  • Mattchu12

    I have a friend who is a big Phillies fan and he was talking about how even with the Marlins’ upgrades, the Phillies will still sit atop the NL East. Well, I was taking a look at the other teams in the East, and does anybody else think the Nationals could be take that division even without Fielder? Though I think they should definitely get him still.

    Werth, Morse, Zimmerman, and Harper could be a pretty good (and Fielder would make it pretty great i’d think) middle of the lineup, but it’s the Strasburg-Gonzalez-Zimmermann-Wang foursome that really impresses me. Thoughts on a slow news day?

    • Mattchu12

      BTW, not saying that’s how i’d stack up any of those players in the lineup or rotations, just got their names off the top of my head.

    • Mike Axisa

      I think they’re still a year away. They still won’t have Strasburg and Zimmermann at 100% next year (in terms of innings limits), and Harper may be up, but he’ll need a few hundred PA to settle in. They also need to get rid of Desmond, find a 2B, and move Espinosa to short.

      • Avi

        Yeah, Harper will play the entire 2012 season at age 19. How many 19 year olds performed at better than league average ever? How many 20 year olds did?

        • RetroRob

          Few. Achieving the majors at such a young age is a good sign of greatness to come, and significant percentage of the players who have done it have been among the best in the game’s history, but even they were not significant impact players as teenagers.

          Ken Griffey, Jr. had an OPS+ of 108 in a 127 games. A-Rod had cups of coffee at 18 and a pot of coffee at 19, before exploding on the scente at 20. Mantle played in 96 games at 19 and produced a solid .792 OPS before hitting it big at 20. Mel Ott had at .716 OPS as an 18-year-old, although was over .900 at 19. These are some of the best hitters to ever play the game, and most were plus hitters, but not great hitters at 19.

          I totally believe in Harper’s ability, and he may turn out to be one of the all-time greats, yet even if he does, he will probably be only slightly better than league average at 19…and that will be damn impressive.

      • Dave203

        I agree with Mike. I think they are 1 yr away and could easily take it in 2012, especially if the Phillies lose Hammels (hopefully). While their rotation won’t have the sexy names like Halladay, they should be quite formidable with Strasburg/Zimmerman/Gio. Put that on top of what may be the best offense in the NL East, Morse/Werth/Harper/Espinosa/Zimmerman, they can easily compete for the division.

  • John in Ithaca

    I seem to remember watching a marathon extra-innings game in 1986 between the Yankees and Mariners at the Kingdome on a Friday night. If I recall, Seattle stormed out to an 8-0 lead, and then the Yankees tied it over the course of the game, and fairly deep into extra innings, Jaun Espino hit a gapper which plated the go-ahead run to give the Yanks the win. Maybe later in that series was when Mattingly had to play third base. The Yankees might have even lost a double-header the next day to the Mariners. It’s a bit foggy between now and 1986…anyone else remember anything like this? I’m pretty sure it was Espino who won that long game in like the 14th.

    • RetroRob

      All things considered, your memory seems good here. On August 29th, 1986 (it was a Friday), the Yankees beat the Mariners 13-12 in a 3:20 game, which would have been considered a marahon back in the mid-80s. It was not extra innings, although Espino doubled to center in the 9th inning of a 12-12 game, driving in Dave Winfield for what turned out to be the winning run. The next day, the Yankees played a double header against the Mariners, which they split.

      I have to say, I have zero memory of Espino, so I’m guessing you might have been a kid back around this time. I have a better memory of individual, seemingly meaningles games from when I was a kid.

      Box score:

      • John in Ithaca

        Yep, I was 17. I was so excited when Espino got that hit!

  • John in Ithaca

    I’m remembering it wrong…. It didn’t go to extra innings…. Wow, I have some cobwebs…. And it was the Yanks that got the early lead but coughed it up….but it was Juan Espino who delivered at the end.

    Here is the link to the game I sort of remembered:

    • RetroRob

      Sorry, didn’t see your follow-on note before my post above.

  • Avi

    Baseball America’s top 10 Yankee prospects for this year and last:
    2010: 2011:
    1. Jesus Montero 1. Jesus Montero
    2. Gary Sanchez 2. Manny Banuelos
    3. Dellin Betances 3. Dellin Betances
    4. Manny Banuelos 4. Gary Sanchez
    5. Andrew Brackman 5. Mason Williams
    6. Austin Romine 6. Dante Bichette Jr
    7. Hector Noesi 7. Ravel Santana
    8. Eduardo Nunez 8. Austin Romine
    9. Slade Heathcott 9. J.R. Murphy
    10. Brandon Laird 10.Slade Heathcott

    • Avi

      I don’t see how this year’s top 10 isn’t better than last.
      Mason, Bichette, Ravel and Murphy >> Brackman, Noesi, Nunez and Laird.
      I realize the group of Brackman, Noesi, Nunez and Laird were much more likely to become MLB players than Mason, Bichette, Ravel and Murphy are right now. But the 2011 foursome has MUCH more upside.
      Give me upside or give me death.

      • Plank

        I agree I’d rather have this group, but I think Banuelos and Betances were better prospects last year than this year, especially Banuelos. Last year’s group seemed much closer to the majors, which is important, too.

    • Carl

      Sanchez and Romine drop by two spots, Heathcott down one, Brackman, Nunez and Laird drop out, Manny moves up by two.

  • Avi

    Also Noesi, Nunez and Laird are still in the Organization and collectively have more value to the Yanks and other teams now than they did a year ago. Can’t say the same for Brackman obviously.

  • Karl Krawfid

    Mariano Rivera has only given up 2 earned runs in the ALDS.

    How insane is that?

    • mbonzo

      He’s only given up 11 earned runs in 141.0 postseason IP.

      • Karl Krawfid

        3 of em off the bat of Jay Payton.

  • Brendan

    Hilarious. You could not buy a pack of ’87 Topps baseball cards without getting a Juan Espino/Yankee card

  • MelHallsBattingGlove

    Is anyone else here starting to get a little concerned about the yanks operating with a budget. I have always argued to anyone who would listen that the yankees success has had as much to with smart baseball people as it did their deep pockets. Suddenly though with a budget looming I am getting nervous that I may have been blowing a bit of smoke all those years. Not that i dont think they are a smart organization, but maybe the ratio of money to smarts wasnt quite 50/50. I have no reason to think this other than a fear that there maybe some years of mediocrity in the future (like a normal team.)

    I know i am a spoiled rotten fan, but its nerve racking a bit that it appears their biggest advantage has been taken away at nearly every turn> Guess I need people to tell me that I am batshit insane and that either this budget thing is smoke and mirrors or that the front office is still one of the best in baseball and that everything will be just fine

    • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

      Many believe the Yanks are holding out for next year’s batch of free agents, so it might be a while until questions concerning the budget are answered.

    • Bavarian Yankee

      I’m not concerned at all. We have a lot of starting pitchers in AAA that deserve to pitch in the majors and it seems like the Yanks know that too. Most importantly they seem to trust their young guys.

      Safe the money for someone like Hamels. It would be great to have Kuroda now but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the young AAA guys shines in the majors in 2012. We have those young pitchers, give them a shot. Some will likely fail but I’m sure not all of them will. Good things will happen, trust me ;)

    • MannyGeee

      As a college educated professional and grown up with a mortgage and family, I am actually worried about any institution (business, household, church group) that runs their day to day operation WITHOUT a budget.

      This will not be forcing the Yankees into the poorhouse or .500 baseball mediocrity, just make them flex their giant financial muscles differently. like different ways to scout and approach the IFA market, or reaching out further to barely tapped markets… (GUAM Babay! the next MO is in GUAM!)

      But FWIW, I hate that they have gone out publically and said that this is what they intend to do. very un-ninja…

  • Plank

    I can’t believe no one mentioned the awesome shorts in the background yet.

    • John in Ithaca

      I noticed those too. I wonder who the guy is leaning against the cage on the far right. A writer? Looks a little like an old Billy Martin but it ain’t.