When it comes to moving the fences in at Citi Field, Terry Collins can see both sides of the debate.
“It’s difficult for me to have an opinion on it,” the Mets manager said on Wednesday. “As much as home runs are important, so is good pitching.”
The argument over Citi Field’s fences is a heated one among Mets fans, particularly on talk radio.
New York Mets
There’s little doubt spacious Citi Field has robbed Mets’ hitters of more than a few home runs. Just look at some of the numbers: David Wright had just five home runs at Citi Field in 2009. He hit 12 at home in 2010. For comparison’s sake, the third baseman hit 21 long balls at Shea Stadium in 2008.
How about Jason Bay?
Bay has just eight home runs in 128 games as a Met after hitting 36 with the Red Sox in 2009. Bay has been hampered by injuries, most recently a strained oblique that has kept him sidelined earlier this season. Bay has four homers in 215 career at-bats at Citi Field. Entering play on Wednesday, he had one in 56 at-bats in 2011.
The Mets also haven’t homered at home in the last 10 games. It’s their longest home-run drought in Queens since the 1979 season. Jason Pridie hit the last Mets home run at home on May 6 against Los Angeles.
Earlier this season, former Met Jeff Francoeur said Wright and Bay had to be ‘frustrated’ by the dimension at their home park.
New York Mets
“They’ve got to shorten the park a little bit. It’s huge,” Francoeur said in early May when the Royals were in town to play the Yankees. “I’m not saying to make a bandbox like Philadelphia. But, I mean, poor David hits the ball to right-center so well. And there it’s an out or it’s deep, and to me, that’s when you start trying to pull the ball. You start getting in habits. And I know it’s been frustrating for David playing in that park.”
Collins called the argument over Citi’s dimensions ‘a battle that’s going to rage on’ – and the manager sees both sides of the coin.
Echoing GM Sandy Alderson’s thoughts on the subject, Collins pointed out that the large dimensions should help the Mets attract free-agent pitchers in the future.
“Hey look, (pitcher’s) numbers are going to be pretty good in the ball park,” Collins said.
He used Chris Young, who is lost for the season due to a shoulder injury, as a prime example. Young, who signed a free-agent deal with the Mets in offseason, pitched to a 1.29 ERA in seven innings at Citi Field in 2011.
He also noted that the length of the fences helps the Mets in certain instances. One example? Angel Pagan, who made a running catch in the ninth inning against the Pirates on Monday a fly ball near the wall in right-center, a ball that would have been a home run in 75% of the parks in the big leagues, Collins said.
In practically the same breath, Collins talked about three balls that Wright hit to the cavernous “Modell’s Zone” in right field that would have been home runs in most other ballparks.
“There are pros and cons,” Collins surmised. He added: “It’s a difficult question. It will be a constant battle of should it be smaller where our players can hit homers?”
The manager pointed out that there was a similar debate among players and coaches about the length of grass.
“Should it be 1 1/4 inches, should it be 7/8 of an inch? The hitters want it 7/8 (of an inch), the pitchers want it a foot and a half,” Collins said to laughs.
For the record, Collins believes the organization settled on the grass being an inch high.