Why the Proposed Changes to Citi Field Should be Made

Sandy Alderson recently outlined potential changes to Citi Field for the 2012 season, which are: Moving in the wall by a few feet near the left field line; lowering the left field wall; moving in the wall in the 415-foot area in right-center; and putting a fence in front of the “Mo Zone” in right.  Here’s why Alderson should — and I believe will — go through with the changes.

1. It would make Citi Field a better place to play and watch baseball

Without even considering what effects the changes would have on the success of the team, this is the right move.  A ballpark that makes life especially hard on hitters takes something away from the quality of the game, as does a park where it is especially easy for hitters to succeed (like that thing in the Bronx).  Citi Field, quite simply, should be the best ballpark it can be, and that doesn’t just mean it should have the most luxury boxes.  While the idea of our home field having its quirks is nice, when those quirks are just making fans and players frustrated, it’s not worth it.

2. For Jason Bay and David Wright

Both Bay and Wright reject the notion that Citi Field is the source of their power struggles, and rightfully so — that can’t possibly be the only cause.  However, they have also expressed some frustration about it, and just the fact that it’s on their minds is a bad thing.  There is no clear answer to Bay’s problems, but anything to improve his mindset couldn’t hurt.  And as for Wright, I truly believe the dimensional changes would help him.  When he is at his best, his opposite field power stroke is a thing of beauty.  It is absolutely plausible that Citi Field’s Death Valley in right-center has affected that stroke.  I have also seen Wright crush balls to left field that have hit high off the wall for doubles. Whether we like it or not, Jason Bay is here to stay for a few years, and if the Mets’ front office has any sense, Wright will be here for the long haul.  Both have endured a lot mentally over the last couple years, and these changes could help bring back their mental strength as well as their power bats of old.

3. For future Mets power hitters

This move wouldn’t just be for Bay, Wright, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, but also for any power hitter the Mets want to sign in the future.  Hitters are likely to see what has happened to Bay, and to some extent Wright, and assume they got psyched out by Citi Field.  Whether or not this is an accurate assessment, it could affect Alderson’s ability to sign and keep power hitters.  If the Mets had a loaded pitching staff and were in playoff contention, it would be a different story — hitters would probably want to come to Queens regardless of the height of the left field wall.  In their current state, however, the Mets shouldn’t be doing anything to detract any players.

My one concern here is Jose Reyes, who has used the right-center gap to make him a triples machine.  However, Reyes should be mature enough to understand that the Mets can’t structure their field just to suit his needs.  Alderson should make every possible effort to re-sign him, and part of that effort can be an explanation of why, in the long term, adjusting the outfield walls will be good for the organization.  (That being said, if, completely hypothetically, Jose said he wouldn’t re-sign unless the dimensions stayed as they are, I’d probably give him his way.)

3. It wouldn’t make it any harder to get good pitching

From what I’ve seen, pitchers don’t care too much about where they pitch as long as they are making money or are on a winning team, at least not since Coors Field lost its reputation as a hitter’s paradise.  Besides, if these changes are made, Citi Field would be a far cry from a bandbox.  And even if it were a bandbox, consider that two of the best pitching staffs in baseball call bandoxes their home: Yankee Stadium and Citizens Bank Park.

4. The outfielders wouldn’t have to cover as much ground

The Mets lost Carlos Beltran this year, and in a sense they lost Angel Pagan, whose offense has been disappointing and whose glove-work has been shoddy.  Still, Pagan covers a lot of ground, and the trio of Pagan, Beltran and Bay was equipped to handle the cavernous Citi Field pastures.  Now, Lucas Duda is a serious candidate to start in right field in 2012, and Pagan is a serious candidate to be non-tendered.  For next year and for every year after, the Mets should not feel forced to find three excellent defensive outfielders.  In fact, they shouldn’t feel forced to find anything in particular just because the ballpark demands it.

5. To make the fans happy

Lastly, I think there is something to be said for Alderson heeding the cries of Met fans, whose general consensus has been that the walls should be moved in.  It would also be a great move to make the outfield walls blue instead of black, which some fans have called for.  Of course, fans won’t truly be happy until the Mets start winning, but Alderson would be wise to listen to those who for years have been watching baseball ranging from heartbreaking to flat out awful — not to mention the financial demise (or maybe not) of their team’s owners.

In the end, the changes would do nothing but good.

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  • rwdavis22461

    Well the over riding thing is look at Detroit they made it a bit better for hitters there and their great pitchers can pitch great anywhere. So if we got talented pitchers it would not matter if they pitched at current Citifield or the bandbox in Philly.

  • dfhdez

    The changes to Citifield are being made because the Mets as a team underperform on the field. Ownership designed the stadium, and don’t get me started on what other permanent flaws the place has, but management hasn’t built the team to take advantage of the structure. Yes the wall should come down, but to say that Jose Reyes needs to be mature enough to know the park can’t be built for him, while saying that the dimensions should be changed to help David Wright means Wright is really a big baby? and your statement about pitchers just going where the money is a little narrow. Jason Bay signed onto a team that was not a winner because they offered him the most money, as did Jayson Werth, Lyle Overbay, and other position players. The elite pitchers sign with teams that can win, because when it comes down to it, on a multi-million dollar contract a few hundred thousand is not the deal maker. And to say you shouldn’t have to go after the best fielding outfielder is kind of silly. The game consists of offense and defense. A routine fly should not turn into an adventure just because the right fielder hits 30 home runs a year. The real issue is that the concept of one swing and we win is what is driving these alterations. The Mets had a very good OBP but not such good RBI numbers because rather than try and drive in runs with singles and doubles, everyone wanted to hit a grand slam. Perhaps if the Mets could lay down a sac bunt once in awhile or a two out single when there’s a guy on 2nd no one would be talking about the outfield fences.

  • rwdavis22461

    dfhdez. Nothing you said i can disagree with what so ever. Just a little spin. Say you built it the way it is now. Then why not get pitchers who are good enough to take advanage sure Johan was suppose to be healthy but we needed more then Johan. Did Philly stop after Doc Holliday no thats the problem why build a pitchers ballpark unless you had pitchers who could use it. R A Dickey had success. The stadium for looks wise is a beautiful park. But I am glad its not a bandbox but it needs to be updated like Detroit did. . But nothing you said i disagree with . I am in total agreement with you.

  • Kiners Korner

    Only two things I take issue with-”and if the Mets front office has any sense, Wright will be here for the long haul”. Please, in the right deal I trade him in heartbeat. We are not winning for the next 3 years anyway, so build. Key is the right deal. Along the same lines- I am not even close to convinced they should sign Jose to any long term deal. That’s is a lot of limited resources for a guy who spends time on the DL and depends on speed. Bottom line- we are not wining soon so let’s maximize our value. Don’t care who is here when we win, I just wanna win.

  • rwdavis22461

    i am a realist but lets say the league puts another wild card team. and we get lucky as far as health is concerned we maybe on the fringe of that second wild card. remember the Diamondbacks and last year the Padres had good seasons who knows if things broke right we could not contend. but honestly thats really a pipe dream but too say we are years away I don’t know how many years away or how this team will be constructed from the next few years. But i think the Mets only hope would be the second wild card not the first. wild card. I do not know if i will like a wild card team that would be under .500 being a playoff team even if its us. Not say it will be this is in general. I think the wild card as is . I do not want to be like the NHL and NBA that has every team in the playoffs kind of cheapens the championship. You want ellite teams i can see one wild card but not two.

  • Kiners Korner

    I think one is plenty. BTW, we should not be aiming for Wild Card contention, we should be aimimg for the elusive championship.

  • rwdavis22461

    Kinner i want to see it in my life time so that i can still remember it afterwards. I can understand the Cubs just wanting to get into a playoff race. but i am gready i want to win i can’t believe in NY a owner is satisfied with not losing x so he won’t loose more . I want to win every year not break even thats Fred’s battle cry to break even at least.