This past Thursday I had the honor to conduct a phone interview with Evan Robers, co-host of the Benigno & Roberts midday show on 660 WFAN here in New York. We discussed everything about his growing up a Mets fan, his views on the blogosphere and the current Mets off season. Evan is a down to Earth guy and answered every question as candidly as he could with the insight of a rabid Mets fan. So enjoy !
Rustyjr : Thank you for granting me this interview.
Evan Roberts: No problem at all.
RJ: So what are your views on blogs – especially those geared towards the Mets ?
ER: I like blogs, because you get different opinions on them,Cerrone ( Matt of Metsblog.com) does a good job with Metsblog, but overall I think it’s fantastic.
RJ: Do you also see us as being more positive than the mainstream media?
ER: well it matters what blog you read, the fans are going to be positive and negative. You listen to sports talk radio and you hear mostly the negative which I understand because who is going to sit on hold for forty-five minutes to be like ” everything’s great I’m happy and I’m excited !” – you know people are going to take time out of their day to say be negative so I think blogs may be positive in general but I think there is some negativity out there.
RJ: Yeah of course, especially with the way this off-season has gone so far. Are you surprised that the fan base hasn’t been so negative – except from the minority of fans that I call the ” lunatic fringe” who calls into the Fan?
ER: (laughing) Uh I’m not surprised, but it is tough to really figure out how many Mets fans are negative overall. I think the problem is when you are in a division with the Phillies and you are in a league with the Yankees, and the Mets were doing something on the level of those two teams, people were going to be upset. Obviously when you think about things rationally -which I try to do occasionally, and in this case I think I am being rational because I am cool with what the Mets are doing. You have to take a step back and realize what they are doing is long term smart as opposed to knee jerk reaction- which is what alot of fans want. But it doesn’t surprise me that Mets fans are negative, jealous. We are jealous of the Yankees, we are jealous of the Phillies and I will even admit that the night Philadelphia signed Cliff Lee – I’m jealous, I;m ticked off, I’m cursing. I’m thinking to myself ” why is our payroll only at $130 million. But when I think about it and I come to work the next day , i think about it rationally and I know there is a plan in place, and I know that my team is not close to winning, what do I expect them to do ? Spend irrationally ? But I totally understand where the negativity comes from because I want us to be as good as our division rival as well as out next door neighbor. Now the Phillies and the Yankees are the two best teams in the sport so it is easy to be very jealous.
RJ: Well you are doing a 180 degree turn from last year. Last year you were killing the Mets – so was I for the most part during the last off season when the big acquisition was Bay and the rest of the roster was filled out by Blanco, Dickey and Barajas.
ER: Yeah I wasn’t happy last year. I think the thing that made it easy to be unhappy was I thought the Mets were closer to winning than they really were . I think now if you take a step back Icould say I don’t know how really close they are and also you still had Omar Minaya making the decisions. I think most of us had lost faith in him. We can’t give Omar the benefit of the doubt last year – which is tough to do while this year it is eaier to look at Sandy ( Alderson Mets new GM) and say “I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt” . So even though they are spending less than they spent last year – and I wasn’t a big Bay guy – I was more into Matt Holiday and even though his contract turned out to be ridiculous – So I think the Mets made the right decision not signing him, but a I think Holiday was a better player than Bay and not going after pitching like John Lackey, I thought they were closer to winning than they really were and the faith that we had in Omar – we didn’t have any. It is a different year , I was negative last year, but I think it is a very different situation now.
RJ: Do you see Omar as a sympathetic figure or do you feel he made his bed and he had to face the consequences?
ER: I think it was his time to go . It is kind of like presidents. We like to judge presidents right away but the truth is you’ve got to wait a couple of generations maybe to judge how good a president was , and I do think it will take a couple of years to judge how bad or how good a job that Omar has done. I think it was his time to go, he gave out a lot of bad contracts – but – what if Wilmer Flores turns out to be a superstar ? What do we say about that then ? That’s not a Sandy Alderson thing , thats a Omar thing . What If Jennry Mejia turns out to be the best ” homegrown” pitcher we have seen since Doc Gooden ? I mean won’t we have to go back and look at Omar’s regime and conclude maybe it was better than we thought? We all know that the Ollie Perez contract was bad. We all know that the Luis Castillo contract was bad . What happened with Adam Rubin ( then Mets beat writer for the Daily News , now with ESPN.COM) was embarrassing But the jury is still kinda out on him because this farm system was pretty much built by Omar Minaya . if these guys turn out to be superstars what do we say then? So you have to be patient when you determine how good his administration was , but I think it was his time to go at that point after last year.
RJ: I definitely agree. Switching gears here with your interview of Carlos Beltran the other day were you surprised about some of the revelations that he made ?
ER: You know I think Joe was definitely more surprised than I was because I have always liked Carlos, I think he has gotten a bad rap in this town for whatever reason. I don’t know if it is because of his facial reactions or because he is so smooth in the outfield that people don’t think he cares . So when Carlos Beltran says to us ” Hey I just want to win” – that doesn’t surprise me – it surprised Joe . He has a very different take on Carlos and we have fought about it over the last couple of years , but it doesn’t surprise me because Beltran is a classy guy , he likes New York and I think he gets a terrible rap . That final out in ’06 is going to haunt him for his entire Mets career and there is alot of people who will never forgive him for that, and I think he is a team player. I think he is being very genuine when he says I want to play center-field – but I will play right field if necessary. I think that is basically what anyone of us would say if we had a job. It’s like if they said to me Evan we are going to move you to overnights.My honest answer would be “Well I like doing mid-days but whatever’s best for the team” , I have a job you know what I’m saying ?
RJ: What about the fact that he kinda threw JerryManuel under the bus ?
ER: Yeah that’s not surprising either ( laughs). I don’t know how popular Jerry was with his players, but I think when he made that comment about wanting Beltran to come back for that Yankee series, we all though he was joking. Nobody was taking him seriously. I though that was just part of his sense of humor. But when a manager is out , it is alot easier to for players to – I don’t know if it’s throwing him under the bus but – be perfectly honest about him, and we have seen this from a few players this off season.
RJ: Other than Chris Young, who do you see the Mets importing this off season?
ER: As much as I say that I am okay with the Mets not spending money, Ill give you one area that would annoy me is that if the Mets stayed away from a guy like Matt Garza because he could make more than five and a half million and he is arbitration eligible. I think that is a guy who I would likely target because he helps the rotation this year and he helps the rotation in the future. He’s a really young guy, I think he would be good in New York, I think he would be good in this ballpark. I don’t know what they would have to give up . It would be easy for me to sit here and say get Matt Garza . The Rays may say give me Wilmer Flores or Jon Neise, and I’m not jumping for that. Or give me Ike Davis – and I ‘m not jumping for that. But that’s a guy who I think would excite the Mets fan base.He is a money kind of pitcher and I feel he is a guy who helps you short term and he helps you long term. The problem with Chris Young is that it is probably to a one year deal .He’s already in his early 30′s and if lets say this is how a reclamation project works., and let’s say he has a great year, well then he is a free agent after the year and he is probably going to get paid elsewhere so I think if I were a Mets fan I would like to see something that helps us today and also helps us for the future.
RJ: It’s funny in one of my previous columns I suggested that the Mets trading Angel Pagan because I don’t see him as being anything more than a fourth outfielder to be quite honest and if you can get something back for him , maybe you could get back a Garza if you packaged Pagan with a few other players.
ER: I agree with you on that. The only problem is that we don’t have alot of depth in the outfield, I don’t think that Lucas Duda can be a everyday outfielder or if a Kirk Nieuwenhuis is ready to be a everyday player butI thought that last year when Pagan was having that year that he was having , but by the way it sounds , i don’t think they are going to trade Pagan. They will probably trade Beltran before the July 31st trade deadline and the Mets just don’t have that much outfield depth but . But hey if I could get anything significant back for Pagan, i would have no issue trading him.
RJ: In your gut do you think that either Luis Castillo or Oliver Perez will be on the Mets roster once the break spring training?
ER: I really believe what Sandy when he said that those guys would have to perform , and I was thinking about this the other day. I have a problem with Castillo being on the roster than Perez , because it is really easy to hide in the bullpen or make him a left handed reliever, and we don’t have to see the guy everyday. We don’t want to see Luis Castillo everyday. We have other alternatives for second base. I know they are ruling out Ruben Tejada- which is fine. It can be Brad Eamus who they got in the rule v draft, Justin Turner who I’ve heard many good things about him in winter ball or even Daniel Murphy , But I don’t want to see Luis Castillo , and I believe Sandy that if Oliver Perez comes into camp with a 9.50 ERA Sandy is going to get rid of him.I think the same thing with Luis Castillo but the hope is that they can have good camps and that maybe somebody gets desperate – maybe there is a injury to a second baseman and that team says ” hey we should take a flier on Luis Castillo”, but I really do think it will be determined by how well these guys do in camp.
RJ: Do you believe everything that you hear from Jeff Wilpon?
ER: I don’t believe everything that I hear from Jeff. But I do believe what I hear from Sandy though. I don’t think that Sandy is b.s.ing – but you know what ? Maybe it’s me and I want to give these guys the benefit of the doubt . Sandy hasn’t b.s.ed us yet . The Wilpon’s kinda have at times – so of course we aren’t going to believe them. But until Sandy lies to us – and he hasn’t yet – I’m going to believe him. If Luis Castillo hits .090 in spring training, and he is the Opening Day second baseman and he is still on the roster, then you know me , Joe and I will be screaming about what was Sandy talking about. As of now – maybe it’s just being naive but I’m going to believe Sandy until he crosses us – and so far he hasn’t crossed us.
RJ:Your thoughts about Pedro Feliciano possibly signing with the Yankees ?
I like Pedro – I really do . h e has been a very consistent Met for the past couple of years, I hate to see him in a Yankees uniform but with all of that said I think it is wise for the direction that this team is going to let him walk and get the draft picks for him.
In the finale of my interview with Evan, we will discuss The trade of Billy Wagner, how to handle Francisco Rodriguez and Evan’s childhood memories of the Mets.