The Latin Link: Here’s a dream team at a discount


Starlin Castro leads the way for the all-Latin fantasy team. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Everybody loves a bargain, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re grocery shopping, buying insurance or looking for a car. It’s just human nature to want to get the most for your money.

If you own a Major League Baseball team, it’s not easy to be frugal. The minimum wage for a player is now $480,000 per season. There’s no such thing as cheap labor. There are, however, some good deals out there if you do your homework.

I’m not big on fantasy sports, but if I were a general manager of an MLB team, I would draft the best overall athletes who wouldn’t break the bank. And I would probably pick Hispanic players, since they have a strong work ethic and would understand my economic values. So, anybody who makes over $1 million is off limits.

My infield would be rock solid. I’d have Eduardo Nunez (Yankees) at third base and Starlin Castro (Cubs) patrolling shortstop. On the right side would be Jose Altuve (Astros) at second base and Cuban-American slugger Yonder Alonso (Padres) on the corner. Tutoring these kids would be old pros Wilson Valdez (Reds) and 44-year-old Omar Vizquel (Blue Jays). Could any GM ask for a better security blanket?

My all-Venezuelan outfield would have some serious wheels, with Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra (Diamondbacks), Gregor Blanco (Giants) and Jose Tabata (Pirates) roaming the grounds. Another speedster, Alejandro De Aza (White Sox), is a Dominican who could crash the party in center field.

The catching depth would be amazing. The rotating starters would be Wilson Ramos (Nationals) and Carlos Santana (Indians), who can also play first base. Backing up this pair is Jesus Montero (Mariners), the primary designated hitter.

Assembling the pitching staff would require some creativity. With Michael Pineda on the DL, Ivan Nova (Yankees), Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio (Rockies) would be part of the rotation as right-handers. Dipping into the minor leagues, I would select Manny Banuelos (Yankees) and Martin Perez (Rangers) as my southpaw “diaper dandies.” Banuelos was born ready and is being nursed along too slowly by his “uncle,” Brian Cashman. Perez is already polished as well, with a Johan Santana-like change up. Looking over the flock would be veteran Livan Hernandez (Braves), teaching the kids all the secrets of the trade.

Neftali Feliz (Rangers) would be the closer out of the bulpen. But if he served the team better as a starter, Plan B would be “closer by committee,” a la Tony La Russa. Among those candidates include Antonio Bastardo (Phillies), Alexi Ogando (Rangers), Manny Acosta (Mets) and Fernando Salas (Cardinals). Winning the job as a lefty specialist would be Jose Mijares (Royals). Other relievers ready for a call up from the farm include Luis Ayala (Orioles), Javy Guerra (Dodgers), southpaw Cesar Ramos (Rays) and Randall Delgado (Braves), who could also make his familiar emergency start.

Among the others waiting in the wings might be infielders Ruben Tejada (Mets), Cesar Izturis (Brewers) and versatile Jonathan Herrera (Rockies). Jesus Guzman (Padres) could be useful as another DH, and Francisco Cervelli (Yankees) is certainly serviceable as catching fill in. Sorry you got dissed again, bro.

So, where would this scrappy bunch play their home games? How about San Antonio, Texas, a city that already supports a major sports franchise and has a population that is 58 percent Hispanic. Or perhaps Mexico City, a site that has been considered for an expansion team in the past.

Alright, I know my club wouldn’t be the best that money can buy. But I’m damn sure they would be competitive and very exciting to watch. Most importantly, I stayed within a tight budget.

Hey, this fantasy stuff is pretty fun!

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