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April 13, 2005
  
Interview: Adam Rubin

Adam Rubin is the Mets beat reporter for the New York Daily News. Adam was kind enough to sit down with MetsGeek and give us his thoughts on the first week of the season.


MetsGeek.com: It’s certainly been quite a rollercoaster of a week. While the two wins have calmed most of our nerves and eased fears, is upper management worried about this team at all?

Adam Rubin: I don’t believe anyone with the team was overly concerned with the slow start, other than probably the business people who are seizing on the optimism to sell tickets. Even in the clubhouse, players remained confident, knowing they were far better than the 0-5 start indicated.

MetsGeek.com
: During a losing streak, certain obvious questions have to be asked that probably can get maddeningly frustrating to answer. Is it ever hard asking those questions in such a clubhouse?

Adam Rubin: There were different things that came up each day, so the questions weren’t too repetitive. Day 1 was Pedro’s debut and Braden Looper blowing the save; Day 2 was Tom Glavine not getting those called third strikes; Day 3 was Ishii’s debut … then Heilman, etc. As the loss total grew, the players and Willie Randolph understood the questions about a potential 0-6 start and the reception at Shea that might ensue.

MetsGeek.com: The Mets were obviously surprised at the extent of Kris Benson’s injury since they never would have traded [Ginter] if they had known. But even so, were you surprised to see him go over Roberto Hernandez or Manny Aybar?

Adam Rubin: I had a sense that Ginter was in jeopardy, but thought it was a poor decision, even if Benson weren’t hurt. You could see from Aaron Heilman’s first start in Atlanta (five runs in five innings) that the Mets don’t have a serviceable option if somebody in the rotation gets injured or even simply gets scratched. Ginter could have served in that capacity. The decision to keep Hernandez looks good now (no runs or hits in 3.1 innings). Aybar would have reported to Triple-A Norfolk, I’m confident, so losing Ginter wasn’t necessary.

MetsGeek.com: Were you surprised in general at how the bullpen rounded out to start the season?

Adam Rubin: Other than Aybar rather than Ginter, no. Heath Bell earned a bullpen spot, but showed his propensity to allow homers in his final outings and is a phone call away anyway. There were strong signals that Felix Heredia would be released, but apparently the front office didn’t want to his salary ($1.85 million plus the $975,000 going to the Yankees for Mike Stanton), or they thought they would have egg on their face for making a bad deal. You can see by Willie Randolph’s bullpen usage that he has little faith in Heredia.

MetsGeek.com: Given Aybar’s recent preformance, how short of a leash is he on?

Adam Rubin: Scott Strickland made the point in deciding to remain with the organization that bullpens are generally very different on May 1 when compared with Opening Day. He’s obviously one of the relievers who may be the first shipped to Norfolk.

MetsGeek.com: With the poor start, are there any indications Omar Minaya will get trigger happy in trading for a reliever? I’m especially referring to the rumor that Tampa Bay asked for Yusmeiro Petit in return for Danys Baez.

Adam Rubin: The fact is Danys Baez, like Ugueth Urbina, just wasn’t available at the end of spring training. Devil Rays insiders say the team wasn’t even interested in Alfonso Soriano for Baez. Baez is the Rays’ closer, and he’s not going to be traded — if he is at all — until it’s established that Tampa Bay is out of the race. Urbina, a $4 million set-up man, is much more likely to be dealt if and when the Tigers fade. The Mets like both those guys, but I’m betting Octavio Dotel winds up a Met before the trading deadline. The A’s won’t be able to re-sign him and will be prepared by then to turn the closing over to rookie Huston Street. The Mets are probably stuck with the players in their organization for now, since trades rarely happen at this point. Regardless, the Mets love Yusmeiro Petit. I would be surprised if he were dealt.

MetsGeek.com: When are we going to see Heath Bell and Orber Moreno?

Adam Rubin: Heath Bell could be the first call-up. You may never see Orber Moreno in Flushing again. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum, at least his third major surgery, and won’t be ready to pitch in the minors until after the All-Star break.

MetsGeek.com
: Petit and Philip Humber both had great spring trainings and impressed in their first minor league starts. Was there any discussion on giving one of those two a start in Benson’s absence?

Adam Rubin
: No way Humber is going to bypass the minors. I asked a front-office official the day Benson had to abort his bullpen in Washingon whether they would consider using Petit. They immediately said, ‘No.’ They’re being overly protective of him, perhaps justifiably so since he’s only had three starts at the Double-A level. He got hit a little bit in Jupiter in a spring-training start for Benson and was on a 50-pitch limit in his first outing at Binghamton.

MetsGeek.com: How bad would Zambrano and/or Ishii have to be for us to see Petit this year?

Adam Rubin: Those guy will be in the rotation unless they’re injured. I don’t think we’ll see Petit until September, unless Benson’s injury is a prolonged one and Aaron Heilman and Jae Seo are complete busts.

MetsGeek.com: Omar also tried to DL Felix Heredia to start the season and he refused. After seeing first hand what he did with the Yankees last year, does Willie Randolph have any confidence in him?

Adam Rubin: He was the last person Willie Randolph used in his bullpen and the first two games the Mets were trailing by several runs. That should answer it.

MetsGeek.com
: Miguel Cairo and Kaz Matsui came through in back-to-back days for the Mets. How do you think Willie’s going to divide up the playing time during the season, especially given his affection for Cairo?

Adam Rubin: Matsui will be the starter for now and it will remain that way as long as he uses his speed and bunting ability. He’s only in Year 2 of a three-year, $7-million-a-season deal, so there will be pressure for him to remain the starter. Willie Randolph mentioned that Cairo has been injury-prone in his career and is ideally used in his current role, though that may be a justification for the status quo and change later this season.

MetsGeek.com: Mike Cameron’s injury seems to have forced Willie Randolph to abandon his plan to bat David Wright eighth. With a .379 OBP, is there any chance he’ll keep Wright in the six hole once Cammy returns? Any chance he’ll move him or Minky (who’s also sporting a .370 OBP) up in the order?

Adam Rubin: Wright was told to be prepared to bat second, fifth or eighth. I could see Matsui dropped in the order if he has difficulty with OBP and strikes out too much and I can see Wright hitting fifth when Piazza rests. Cameron won’t bat eighth and Willie seems to like separating his righties and lefties, making Mientkiewicz the No. 7 hitter. Plus, Randolph keeps suggesting his “babies” need to start low in the order and work their way up.

MetsGeek.com: Obviously the Mets have to tread carefully with their new network coming next year, but are the Mets putting any pressure on Elliot Spitzer or Mayor Bloomberg to negotiate a deal with Time-Warner and Cablevision?

Adam Rubin
: I’m no expert on this topic. Bob Raissman at the Daily News has suggested the Mets are frustrated by their inability to have any meaningful impact on the situaiton.

MetsGeek.com: So who did you root for growing up?

Adam Rubin: I was born in the Bronx but moved to Long Island in the third grade. Early on I was more of a Yankee fan, then drifted toward the Mets, especially after the World Series in ’86. I was one of those fans who wanted to see both do well, though definitely from high school on I would root for the Mets in a head-to-head matchup. It’s definitely not like hockey. I grew up with season tickets to the Islanders (section 210, row E, seats 7&8). 1994 broke my heart.

MetsGeek.com: Finally, what was your favorite moment covering the Mets so far?

Adam Rubin: The first game back after Sept. 11, when Mike Piazza homered.


52 Responses to “Interview: Adam Rubin”

  1. Comment posted by Steve S. on April 13, 2005 at 10:44 am (#865)

    Adam Rubin is one of the best Mets’ reporters. Very good interview! Thanks!

  2. Comment posted by Michael Oliver on April 13, 2005 at 10:58 am (#867)

    Good stuff Jay.

  3. Comment posted by Randy on April 13, 2005 at 11:52 am (#875)

    Octavio friggin’ Dotel??? I live in CA, and get to watch lots of A’s games; this guy is worse than Looper. That would be an awful trade, especially if they give up Petit.

  4. Comment posted by Alex on April 13, 2005 at 12:39 pm (#881)

    Adam Rubin is a great baseball writer. Thanks Matt, nicely done.

    I was at that post-9/11 game. What a memory! The first time Chipper came to bat, we were still in a somber, respectful tone so no one said “Larry.” The second time, they started a very low chant with some grins breaking out. Then a little more the 3rd time. Finally, in his last at bat, “LARRY, LARRY, LARRY!” New York lives, always.

  5. Comment posted by Alex on April 13, 2005 at 12:40 pm (#882)

    Whoops, that should say, thanks JASON.

  6. Comment posted by Michael Oliver on April 13, 2005 at 3:00 pm (#889)

    Dotel is nasty…maybe he does not close to well, but I’d love him setting up for Loops.

  7. Comment posted by Kanehl on April 13, 2005 at 3:12 pm (#892)

    Trade with Billy Beane??? No, No a thousand times No!!! Haven’t we learned our lesson over and over? And Dotel seems to be the classic case of “great stuff, but can’t get the job done…”

    The hard truth is this: (a) Through the end of July, there will be too many contenders (and wannabes) chasing too few quality relievers, driving the bidding (i.e, giving up quality prospects) beyond true value, and (b) with 3 other playoff contenders in our division (each of whom has questions but, let’s be honest with ourselves, fewer than the Mets), everything would have to go very right for the Mets and much would have to go wrong for at least 2 of the others, for us to contend this year. We’re on a good path, building around a star and 2 potential stars who are 27,23 & 21, and with Humber & Petit due in 2006 or 2007. We’ll have $25 million available for free qagents next year just from Piazza, Traschel & Cedeno (yeah, we’re still paying him $7 million or so this year). So, let’s be a little patient and not repeat the mistakes of July’s past…

  8. Comment posted by Dan in Gettysburg on April 13, 2005 at 6:31 pm (#901)

    I was at that post-9/11 game. What a memory! The first time Chipper came to bat, we were still in a somber, respectful tone so no one said “Larry.” The second time, they started a very low chant with some grins breaking out. Then a little more the 3rd time. Finally, in his last at bat, “LARRY, LARRY, LARRY!” New York lives, always.

    I was there too….I remember it well. The place was absolutely rocking when Piazza went yard. I doubt that’ll ever be topped in my mind.

  9. Comment posted by Dan in Gettysburg on April 13, 2005 at 6:35 pm (#902)

    Octavio friggin’ Dotel??? I live in CA, and get to watch lots of A’s games; this guy is worse than Looper. That would be an awful trade, especially if they give up Petit.

    I wouldn’t give up Petit, but Dotel struck out like 13 per 9 in 2004….that’s higher than Gagne last year.

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