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Cowherd: Phil Hughes is key, Jose Reyes is tradeable

COLIN COWHERD, Eastern Washington Colin Cowherd has his

COLIN COWHERD, Eastern Washington
Colin Cowherd has his own sports show "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio and ESPNU, after hosting SportsNation. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Free-speaking radio personality Colin Cowherd’s opinions are broadcast each weekday on ESPN Radio from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on his syndicated show, “The Herd.” During breaks from his live broadcast from Mickey Mantle’s restaurant on Central Park South last week, the West Hartford, Conn., resident shared some of his opinions with amNewYork exclusively.

What do you do to find your comfort zone at a remote location?

Shows tend to be better in studio. I don't think I've ever done a remote show that's as good as a great radio show, in a studio. But it's part of the game. Advertisers spend a lot of money to be on the show. It's also a way to "touch" fans — you can talk to them and sign autographs, have a beer with them. I just think that's immeasurably important when they can get a piece of you and talk to you. I do about 15 per year. My favorite location is L.A. or New York; I love New York because New Yorkers know B.S. They feed you a lot, they like to drink and eat and so do I. It works.

Do they call you out if you say something they don't agree with?

Most people are not confrontational — even New Yorkers. They're nonconfrontational. And I don't take myself as seriously as a lot of people think I take myself. On the air, you have to have some dogma and some real strong opinions. But in person, I'm not that way. So, I think once you meet me in person, I'm a little more disarming, there's not as much hubris. In radio, being a swell guy doesn't move the meter. You got to have super-strong opinions.

Do you have a game plan for how much you interact with fans?

I try to talk to people in between breaks. You never want to play to the crowd because I'm on 400 radio stations. You don't want to play to 19 people. But I like to take questions during the break — ask me about my divorce, ask me about my life, I don't care. Make it personal.

Anything memorable that New York sports fans have said to you?

I think what New Yorkers have ... they're competitive, ambitious people. You can't afford to live in this city if you're not competitive. You can afford to live in Minneapolis and not be. But New York is a city where people strive to be really great. I don't care if it's a doorman or Trump. People want to be the best at what they do in this city. I can relate to that — I work really hard. It's a city of passionate, driven, hard-working people, and I tend to be a driven, hard-working guy.

Let's talk baseball. What's one thing Mets fans and Yankees fans can be optimistic about regarding their team?

The Mets have talent; just none in their starting pitching. They've got five or six really elite position players. Your hope is [Mike] Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey again are better than you'd think, and that the Phillies deal with injuries and overconfidence. I don't think it's gonna be a great year for the Mets – not enough starting pitching. I think five of the eight position players for the Yankees will be better than last year, although I do think A-Rod and Jeter are past their prime. Phil Hughes, I think, is ready to win 20 games, or close to that. I think the idea that the Yankees' best years are over — they can still make deals at the trading deadline that virtually nobody else can make. The Red Sox can't anymore because they have too much money in payroll. The Yankees will be a big player at the trading deadline.

Should the Mets trade Jose Reyes and/or David Wright, if given the opportunity?

For pitching, I would trade Reyes. You cannot win in the National League — Milwaukee's pitching, Atlanta's pitching, the Dodgers' pitching — you got to have arms. Reyes is enigmatic, so I'd move him.

Can the Yankees be a World Series contender if Robinson Cano is The Man and not A-Rod?

I think Cano is The Man now. I think Jeter has to just hit .295. He can't hit .270. A-Rod is a .280 hitter. Granderson has to have a better year. Gardner continues to grow. The key is Phil Hughes. CC [Sabathia] wins 19, Hughes wins 18, A.J. [Burnett] can scrap together 13, 14. This team will hit their way to 90 wins.

Which fan base emails/tweets you more often about problems with their club — Yankes or Mets fans?

Yankees. They've had so much success, they're spoiled. The Mets are just happy to be viable. When the Yankees aren't in first, the world is collapsing.

Which team made the better trade — the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony or the Nets for Deron Williams?

I would always rather have a bigger player. If you give me a bigger guard and a bigger forward, historically in the NBA, bigger guys win. I thought the Melo trade was more important because New York is more important than New Jersey to the NBA. The Knicks have been virtually dead for a decade. So, even if the Knicks are just a playoff team for five years, even if they never get past the second round, I thought it was huge for the league.

From a marketing perspective, as well?

Absolutely. Melo is a star. New York likes its stars.

What must the Knicks do in the future to have postseason success?

We have a tendency to never allow things to bake. A new radio show comes on and two months into it, it's a failure. Chris Rock was on Saturday Night Live for two years ... invisible. Brad Pitt was around for a long time ... invisible. If they added a very tough forward or center to defend the low post, they can be the second or third-best team in the East next year. They need a [Marcin] Gortat, they need a big that can defend.

What about this postseason?

If they can take a series to six or seven games against a superior team, that's a success. If they go six against Boston, make the Celtics uncomfortable, win a home game or two, add a player in the offseason, that's a big success to me.

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