Alvaro Espinoza – 1987 Topps
March 11, 2011
Who Did He Bribe?
Here is Alvaro Espinoza’s final card as a Minnesota Twin.
He was just 24, but it could have realistically been his last card. He was a good fielder, but had no stick, and those guys were beginning to be a dime-a-dozen. He was buried behind Greg Gagne and Al Newman. He spent 1987 in Portland, hitting singles and fielding grounders. The Twins took him off the roster and the Yanks signed him as a six-year free agent.
In 1988 he hit .246 in the International League.
In 1989, he replaced Rafael Santana as the Yankees shortstop and was the regular for three years. He never had an OPS higher than .633. His high water mark in runs was 51. His high water mark in RBI was 41. He walked 14, 16, and 16 times. He stole 8 bases in three seasons and was caught six times.
He played under Dallas Green, Bucky Dent and Stump Merrill. None of those managers thought an upgrade at short was necessary. All were fired.
Later, he was a platoon third baseman (!) (with Jeff Treadway! What was Hargrove thinking?) and Jim Thome’s defensive caddy in Cleveland. A utility player and defensive replacement should have been the limit of his play.
How did he last three years as a starter? In New York? For the Yankees?
BTW, he drew one intentional walk in his career. That was in 1989, August 21 to be exact. Down 5-4, with two out (no less) Joe Morgan of the Red Sox ordered Espinoza and his .311 OBP walked him intentionally in the bottom of the eighth, to load the bases and bring up Wayne Tolleson. Ken Phelps pinch hit and walked in an insurance run as the Yankees win 6-4. To move to 57-68 on the season. The Red Sox fell to 58-65.
Who was the hurler that Morgan ordered to walk Espinoza?
Morgan decided that it was best for Clemens to walk Alvaro Espinoza with runners on second and third and two out, and then take his chances with an inevitable pinch hitter for Tolleson. And of course, Dallas Green chose Ken Phelps, who walked for a living.
Sure, Clemens wasn’t that sharp that night. But there were two outs, and Jessie Barfield moved to second on a foul pop to catcher off the bat of Bob Geren. (Quite the murder’s row there at 6, 7 and 8: Geren, Espinoza, Tolleson.) I don’t know what Rick Cerone was doing, but somehow Barfield moved up a bag.
If you can’t trust Roger Freakin’ Clemens to get Alvaro Espinoza out, then why are you managing?
Or did Morgan get a cut of what Espinoza gave the Yanks to become their shortstop?