By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper
If you listened to our (crazy and chaotic) podcast last week, we had quite a (lively) discussion regarding the walls at CitiField.
Since the stadium’s inception in 2009, we’ve heard it all, with loudest voices possibly being led by Howie Rose, calling the walls at CitiField the “Great Wall of Flushing.” David Wright had to adjust his swing at CitiField and has possibly accounted for a possible power loss. The crew supporting not letting Jose Reyes walk after this year say that CitiField dimensions are supportive for a player like him who is built on speed and hits to the gaps.
But when we see 400 foot outs by the likes of Jason Bay or the Modell’s Zone’s quirky dimensions taking away home runs more often than giving us triples in the gap.
Is it the team? Or is the park?
Let’s take a look at some issues with CitiField. Yes, the walls are too damn high, and there is no reason why “hitting the orange line” means “home run.” I mean, how many parks are like that? The idea would be to move down the walls so we could see the ball go OVER the wall!
Then we hear about parks like Yankee Stadium or Citizens Bank Park, where home runs are as easily attained as beer in the first seven innings. Yet, whenever the Mets play at those parks, we always discount home runs hit by the other team, even home runs by the Mets, because they are “little league parks.”
Yet, we have see no other teams having problems hitting home runs at CitiField. Troy Tulowitzki may need to name his first child “Citi.” Jody Gerut hit a leadoff home run at the very first Mets Opening Day game in 2009. And he didn’t even hit the first home run there (that was in the exhibition games versus the Red Sox prior to the season). Larry Jones may need to have another child, just to name him or her Citi.
You ask 10 different Mets fans this question, and you get 10 different answers, or maybe modifications of the same answer in different ways (huh?).
Matt Falkenbury from the Daily Stache says that CitiField is a joke (no seriously – listen to our podcast from last Thursday, you can hear it yourself!) and that if the infield gets “rejiggered” and move home plate up by 10 feet. The walls won’t have to change, and everyone is happy and people start hitting home runs again.
Then we start to discuss pitching. And Falkenbury argued passionately about the fact that the pitching sucks and THAT’S why other teams are hitting home runs. So the Mets have not the best pitching in recent years. Johan Santana is not his old self (plus he’s not even pitching now). Mike Pelfrey is the most senior Met on the staff, and he’s hot and cold. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee seem to “get it,” Chris Capuano has been a lovely surprise and RA Dickey, is well, RA Dickey.
But there are no Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee or at the very least Cole Hamels on the team. There are no sluggers on the team since Carlos Delgado. Ike Davis is close, but he’s very young and still needs to grow into his role. Jason Bay’s baseball card suggests he’s that type of player, at the very least he used to be. Carlos Beltran is close, but he wasn’t brought here to be a centerpiece slugger. He just ended up that way, for better or for worse.
I guess the point is…it’s the players and pitchers, and not the park. Sandy Alderson was brought here to build a team from within and amend the years of abuse and the crashing-and-burning philosophy that has put the Mets in these precarious situations.
Add in the stadium change in the last three years and they are shellshocked. They are a shadow of being a former contender, to being a weak hitting hard luck franchise.
Early Monday evening, the Mets drafted Brandon Nimmo, a slugger who has speed and can drive in lots of runs, who may seem to fit into the dimensions at CitiField. So perhaps we are starting to see a shift in that philosophy, finally.
It’s the players silly. Instead of changing the dimensions, let’s get some dimensional players on this team to change the dynamic and have the players fit CitiField, instead of fitting CitiField to the players they have now.