From Left Field: Is Citi Field The Problem?
Yesterday, former Met right fielder Jeff Francouer released statements saying that the Mets should consider lowering the left field fence and bringing in the deep gaps of Citi Field.
Of course, earlier in the offseason, Francouer, who is currently mashing with the Kansas City Royals, called Citi Field a “damn joke.”
Internally, the Mets have discussed the idea of making the dimensions more hitter friendly in the ballpark.
However, are the dimensions at Citi Field the problem, or is it the personnel that is manning the field?
The Mets haven’t been a power hitting team over the last few seasons. In fact, they haven’t been much of a hitting team at all.
David Wright, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, etc. are not exactly the epitome of power hitters.
The true power hitters, like Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds and Ryan Howard, had no problem turning Citi Field into their own personal playground. Dunn drove a ball onto the Shea Bridge, while Reynolds hit the second deck in center field.
Now, I am fully aware that home runs are not the only means to score runs. While they certainly help, teams can score runs in numerous ways.
The idea of having a ballpark like Citi Field is to use it for what it is: a pitcher’s ballpark that has big gaps which are great for doubles and triples.
When fully healthy (which is basically never), the Mets have a ton of speed. Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay all have good speed and should be benefiting from the large gaps.
On the pitcher’s side, fly-ball pitchers can thrive at Citi Field. A full season of Chris Young at Citi Field could have easily yielded 15-20 wins. But due to his recent injury, Young will likely miss the remainder of the season.
In the scheme of things, the Mets attempted to build their roster to fit their ballpark. Unfortunately, injuries and underperforming players have been the reason for poor play, not the ballpark.
If the decision is made to bring in the fences, the Mets may look to sign a power hitting free agent this offseason. I have no idea who or if the team can afford one, but there’s no point in bringing in the fences if only the visiting team is going to benefit.
To be honest, I’d like to see Citi Field remain exactly as it is. The Mets don’t have to be a power hitting team to score runs. Extra-base hits and stolen bases, coupled with solid pitching, will win games.
Look at Jose Reyes. Normally a player with a little bit of power, Reyes has traded his one home run for 18 other extra-base hits, including six triples. While he has the speed to leg out triples in any ballpark, Citi Field has definitely contributed to this total.
So to answer the title question, Citi Field is NOT the problem. The real problem is the fans and media that think that home runs are the only way to score runs.
Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.
About the Author: Jim Mancari
Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He recently earned a Master's degree in Journalism at Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Click my name to view my personal website.
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