9/26/14

COME TO YOUR SENSES! MOVE IN THOSE FENCES!

17 comments

COME TO YOUR SENSES! MOVE IN THOSE FENCES! By Tom Brennan

Hello to those who care greatly about our Mets!  Well, they're really Wilpons' Mets, but let's not quibble over minor details.

Several days ago, I emphatically stated my case for significantly shortened Citi fences.  Why was I emphatic?  Because I don't trust ownership to get it right, again.  Two tries so far, two failures.  
Here are a few of my key reasons for significant fence shortening:

1. Drastically fewer runs at home than on the road (almost 1 per game) since the fences were sort of, kind of moved in back in 2011.  Moved in a little bit. A tad. A smidgeon.  A self-induced run-scoring deficit that, unlike the one in Washington, must be solved!

2. Players frustrated, confounded, and yes, even tortured, by overly spacious, out-generating dimensions.

3. Fans longing for a few drops of water on a parched tongue, otherwise known as more long balls being deposited on the fans' side of the outfield walls, making the Apple rise along with the deliriously happy fans themselves (from their seats).  Even Sandy said as much, in Sandy-speak, the other day.

4. Deliriously happy fans become repeat attenders at Citi ball games.  Repeat spenders spend $$ that makes the Wilpons richer...and more likely to write big checks.

5. The wind blows in off the bay across the currently spacious expanses, and that and the heavy close-to-water air slows the flight of baseballs almost as if little disk brakes were attached to them.

6.  Think big. When, with shortened fences, Duda hits 45, Wright, Grandy and d'Arnaud hit 30 each, Dilson and Wilmer drop 20 apiece, and even Juan Lagares hits double digits, THEY will be happy.  We want them to be happy.  And Conforto and Nimmo, too, once they get here.

7. The pitchers will pout a bit - but will adjust, as superior pitchers do, and smile when they win more games due to support from their happy hitters.

So last week, I proposed fence dimension changes as follows below:

Field size
Current
Brennan Proposal
Shorter By
Left field
Left center
Deep left center
Center field
Deep right center
Right center
Right field
335 feet
358 feet
385 feet
408 feet
398 feet
375 feet
330 feet
325 feet
358 feet
378 feet
400 feet
398 feet
358 feet
325 feet
10 feet
0 feet
7 feet
8 feet
20 feet
17 feet
5 feet

But very few readers chimed in - I know there are those among you who love those close 2-1 losses, and doubles up the gap as your excitement for the day, but not me.  And not many others either. 

I think this is a unique opportunity to urge management to do it right the third time, after ridiculous dimensions when the stadium was built only being partially fixed in 2011. 

So I am urging you to take the opportunity to weigh in. The happiness of future Met fan generations may be in your hands today. You don't need to register to vote, nor show your voter ID, but on this great issue of our time, border security, this is the time to make your voices heard!  We need to let more baseballs escape past our outfield borders and into the seats!

Whaddya think?  Mets management reads Macks’ blog, no doubt, as it is a serious man’s blog (except for my one-liners).  So chime in please.

And for the heck of it (except for the chart I already included above), here is last week’s article, if you missed it and should you care to read on for more particulars.

 (Prior article) Lets REALLY Bring Those Fences In by Tom Brennan

Are the field dimensions at Citifield too deep?  Sarah Palin was asked and answered with a resounding “YOU BETCHA!”

As noted in Wikipedia:

During its first three seasons, the large field dimensions caused Citi Field to play as an extreme "pitcher's park", and home-runs at the stadium were among the fewest in the Major Leagues. Mets' general manager Sandy Alderson changed Citi Field's dimensions in time for the 2012 MLB season in order to make it more friendly to hitters.[20] Changes include building an 8 feet (2.4 m) wall in front of the high 16 feet (4.9 m) wall in left field that many had dubbed the "Great Wall of Flushing", removing the nook in the "Mo's Zone" in right field, and reducing the distance in right center field from (a ridiculous) 415 feet from home plate to (a still too deep) 398 feet.  (Brennan commentary)

So, all in all, the first cut of dimensions for this park was simply poor decision making, for two reasons. First, the sheer depth damaged the hitters.  Don’t believe me, just as Jeff Francoeur or Jason Bay.  One of my favorite recollections back then was in a subway series game, A Rod crushed a ball to the left of dead center.  It caught the top end of the Great Wall of Flushing and ricocheted into play for a ground double.  The camera panned to A Rod who was laughing and shaking his head in disbelief, surely thinking “I hit the ball THAT hard and THAT far and it was just a double.  Thank God I don’t play here!”  Murphy led the team that year with 12 homers in 508 at bats, and Wright had 10 in 535 at bats.  Excruciating.  Fans stayed home and played tiddlywinks for fun.

I finally got fed up wrote a letter to Met ownership (I think late in 2010) indicating that if Jimmy McMillan (who ran for Governor in 2010 indicating the “rent is too d--n high”) were to be asked his opinion about the original Citi fence dimensions, he’d have said they were “too d—n high and too d—n deep.”  I strongly urged changes as a REVENUE INCREASING common sense move.  I also said that they were killing any chances a hometown hero with a real shot at the Hall of Fame being denied that shot by their moving from pitcher-friendly Shea to ridiculously hitter-unfriendly Citi.  Did they read it?  Dunno.  But they did change them. 

When I heard, after the 2011 season, that they were bringing the fences in, I was elated.  When I heard what they were bringing them in to, I was deflated.  They just did not get it!  I wrote them again.  But 2012, 2013, and 2014 had to be suffered through to get them to again realize it is not smart to neutralize the hero’s power (Wright) or to invest 4 years and $60MM in power hitters and have them hit long fly ball outs (Bay, Granderson).

So now they get another chance.  Before making that decision to again move the fences in, one must realize that THIS is the time to get it right – move them in for good, so do it right.

So how are the shorter dimensions of 2012, 2013, and 2014 treating our boys? Do they, like the rest of baseball, hit somewhat better at home than on the road.  NO!!!!!  In fact, the home results, as compared to the road results, are miserable, as seen in the table below, which shows their rank amongst the majors’ 30 teams. 

Obvious solution conclusions?  1) Move the fences in again. 2) Move them in a LOT!

YEAR
PLACE
RUNS
RANK
HR’S
RANK
AVG.
RANK
2012
HOME
287
29
67
21
.242
25
2012
AWAY
363
9
72
20
.256
9
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2013
HOME
268
30
59
26
.219
30
2013
AWAY
351
12
71
19
.254
14
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2014
HOME
249
29
51
23
.223
30
2014
AWAY
315
8
62
15
.250
12

 

Note: 2014 thru September 10, 2014.

Those are staggering differentials.  They have scored 225 less runs at home over the past 3 years (almost a run per game!), while the league on average scores more at home.  They hit on average 25 points lower…and average about 10 less homers per year at home than on the road.

I attribute 3 reasons: a) depth of fences b) ball does not carry well many games during the year c) field dimensions and poor ball carry gets in the hitters’ heads.

Solution?  Move the fences in – a lot – more doubles, more homers, more hitting confidence, more fan fun.

Here are my suggestions to do it right.  Met management, please read!

(SEE PROPOSED DIMENSIONS CHART IN ARTICLE ABOVE)

I think, because of the fact that the ball does not carry well, that these are not “bandbox” dimensions, but merely slightly hitter friendly ones.  Be fair to your hitters.

And…the pitchers will be hurt by this, but they will 1) adjust and 2) win more games, so why complain?

MANAGEMENT….PLEASE….DO….IT….RIGHT….THIS….TIME!!!!

I have to add this – I seems to be more exorcised over this than David Wright.  David, please be the Captain and speak up.  It’s your career, and these dimensions have hurt you and the team.   We want the team to hit, including you, and hope you’ll get the Hall of Fame.  We want the team to win and this will help.

If you speak up loudly, assuming you have not done so previously, it years late in coming, but there may still be time to boost your #’s.

I speak as a life-long since 1962 Met fan who is sick and tired of seeing the Yanks hit so many more homers than the Mets almost every year, and who is sick of anemic club hitting records like 41 homers in a season.  Bring the fences in RIGHT and let Duda take a crack at that record next year!

Any out there agree?

17 comments:

Charles said...

Keep'em right where they are. I don't need to see the Mets finally able to hit 2 homers over the fence I'm the same game that the Nats hit 7. Cause if they move them in, that's what'll happen.

bob gregory said...

Charles
you can not say that as fact.

Plenty of teams in ballparks that are not as ridiculously spacious as Citifield have had strong pitching staffs and dominating pitchers.

Moving in the fences only in right center field is not enough.

Mack Ade said...

I go back and forth on this one.

I would love both David Wright and Curtis Granderson to hit more home runs, but I don't want to see Bryce Harper hit more either.

Would we be a better team if we played in the bandbox called Yankee Stadium?

I always think that pitching will drive this team under Alderson and I can't see a huge increase of payroll over the next couple of years.

Right now, I'd like to leave the fences alone and let the pitches control the game next season.

I'll probably change my mind after the first lost series.

Thomas Brennan said...

I hear the concern re: the competition possibly taking more advantage of it than our hitters. However, then we will never get good free agent power hitters here in the years to come, and when we're ranked an average of 10th best in combined hitting and runs on the road, but 30th in combined hitting and runs at home, we could move them in 5 feet and we'd end up 20th at home rather than 30th - still bad.

If I am putting out an entertainment product, which is what attending Mets games ultimately is, it is a poor product indeed if hitting is SO bad at home for our hometown heroes.

Here is the clincher, which I should have put in my article. The old adage is win your division by winning 2/3 of home games and going .500 on the road. Well, the past 4 years, the Mets have gone .500 on the road, but are 39 games UNDER .500 at home!!! The ultimate stat - wins and losses. Case closed.

But one more point: on average, in the largest city in America (or at least in the top 2), we've averaged 12th best in attendance in the National League. How many millions in revenue never made it to Citi? Many, many millions.

Gotta do it.

Steve from Norfolk said...

The dimensions Thomas is talking about for Citi Field are roughly equivalent to Shea's dimensions. Shea was always considered a pitcher's park. Pitchers like Sid Fernandez, Rick Aguilera, Gary gentry - 2,3,and 4 places in their various rotations - managed to win with those dimensions. If our pitchers are as good as we think they are (and the vast majority of writers and baseball people think they are!), they should have very little trouble winning in a park with the dimensions Thomas proposes. take the still pitcher-friendly dimensions and combine them with the prevailing inward-blowing wind(bad orientation of the ballpark), and you still have a park that a decent pitcher can play in and have a winning record.

Thomas Brennan said...

Pretty much Steve.

In simplest terms:

This park has been brutal to our hitters, resulting in way lower runs, and way lower wins.

If the fences were moved in to roughly what I suggest, I believe it would alleviate most, if not all, of the run scoring deficit. But not turn it into a bandbox.

And as far as the impact of shorter fences on our pitchers, I think we've got superior dudes on our staff in 2015 who would minimize any such impact.

Our hitters would relax and love it, and being relaxed they'll not press, and just produce better.

Pitchers will be happy because even if ERAs uptick slightly, they'll win more games. Maybe a lot more. If they can go .500 on the road, why not .600 at home and not .400?

Management should be thrilled because a lot more people will show up and spend for a winning, non-impotent team.

Even Sandy noted fans love HRs.

Bill Metsiac said...

I'm with you, Tom. I'm totally against "cookie-cutter" (totally symmetrical) parks, but Citi is just too spacious. My wish would be for a larger version of Ebbets, sans the RF screen, but anything somewhere between Ebbets and the current Citi would be fine.

BTW---No one else has commented on it, but your chart shows the current Deep RF as 398 and your recommended one as 398.

Typo?

Thomas Brennan said...

Yes, a typo. Thought I fixed it, but maybe the fix did not take. I meant 378. Big change, but necessary for our lefties (Duda and Grandy now, Conforto, Nimmo and possibly Dekker and Murphy)

Charles said...

I think pitching wins championships. The Mets are NOT going to have a supreme offense next year, but their pitching will be.

So why do anything to take away from that?

Mack Ade said...

Charles -

+1

Steve from Norfolk said...

Thomas,

Don't forget the Captain on that list of hitters. Right-center was one of Wright's favorite places to go deep at Shea.

Richard Jones said...

If your just considering wins make your home field as pitcher friendly as possible.
High scoring games have long lasting, negative impacts on pitching staffs.
Keep the runs down and keep your pitching staff fresh. The Rockies will never win a World Series. No matter how good a staff they get it will not be able to endure a full season at Coor's.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Richard Jones, the debate will go on until the new fence lines are drawn. But again, I am not suggesting changing it to be a bandbox. It is imperfect as is.

Richard Jones said...

Thomas
It is only my opinion and I'm sure that no one in charge cares about it. I would actually move the fences deeper. Parks that deviate the most from the normal parks allow teams to build a team around their park and dominate at home. The Mets have the best center fielder in the game. The larger the outfield the larger the advantage he gives us. Get strong defensive outfielders with gap power and don't worry about the homeruns. Let the opposing teams, would be, home runs die in Lagares glove. Any reduction of pitch count Citi Field gives us decreases the chance of injury to our young pitching staff, which is the hope of any future success.

The down fall to what I would do is it would keep players like Stanton from ever wanting to play for the Mets.

For now thick infield grass and deep fences.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hi Adam

For whatever reasons, the Mets home offense and lack of winning has been a huge problem since moving in the fences for the past 4 seasons. At the same time, baseball in general has lost offense (PEDs, too many high 90s pitchers). Mets move fences in, boost offense, great young pitching, winning formula to draw fans.

jshapps77 said...

There are info-graphs available showing the location of every deep fly ball hit by every player who played in CitiField. I'd like to know how many extra homers the Mets would have hit at home with your proposed dimensions as opposed to the visitors. My guess is the difference is close enough, that bringing in better hitters, who can also hit on the road, is a better strategy.

Thomas Brennan said...

Thanks for that, JSHapps 77
I am sure the chart you mention would be at least neutral, more likely showing Mets disadvantage. But also, lost homerrs are draining psychologically. Everyone also needs to remember that 2 more hits every 100 at bats is the difference between .230 and .250 - significant

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