I have an interesting proposal for veteran Latinos with fading careers who have been shunned by the free-agent market. No worries, fellas. You can all play on my team.
Last year about this time, I compiled a list of unsigned Hispanic professionals in their twilight years, and pieced together a damn good team. So, I decided to see what I could do for an encore.
Here’s the deal. I would be the owner and manager, just like Connie Mack, with Omar Vizquel as my bench coach. The payroll would be structured with frugality in mind, with no player receiving more than a $1 million contract.
Our handful of home games would be played in San Antonio, Texas, where over 60 percent of the population is Hispanic. But we would do a lot of traveling, too; kind of a baseball version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Livan Hernandez would throw his eephus pitch, and there would be a lot of “hot dog” plays among the middle infielders. Pop-ups and fly balls would be handled with a bit of flair, just like Willie Montanez back in the day. This team would be both competitive and entertaining.
Leading the starting pitchers would be Francisco Liriano and Jonathan Sanchez, a pair of youngsters who have been hindered by injuries. But if they find greener grass somewhere else, the staff would still include Carlos Zambrano, Freddy Garcia and Hernandez. I would also give Pedro Martinez a call and maybe Amauri Sanit, an ageless Cuban who is dominating the Mexican Pacific League again this winter. Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez and Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde would anchor down the bullpen, with help from Miguel Batista and Ramiro Mendoza. Catching this group would be Yorvit Torrealba and Henry Blanco, two Venezuelans who can still get it done.
My infield would include veteran Latinos Alex Gonzalez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Placido Polanco, Edgar Renteria and Carlos “El Caballo” Lee. I would also extend an invitation to my pals Oscar Robles and former Yankee Ramiro Pena, just to give them another taste of big-league life. As for the outfield crew, Bobby Abreu and Endy Chavez would be joined by Karim Garcia and Vladimir Guerrero. Just to add some extra color, Manny Ramirez could also join the party.
Obviously, a poor journalist like myself would have a tough time bankrolling a Little League team. But what if a wealthy baseball fan like Carlos Slim saw merit in my creative idea and decided to get involved? It’s food for thought. So, stay in shape guys and keep an eye on your cell phone. You never know when it might ring.
Happy Holidays everyone!