Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Mets focus on home improvement
By Matt Ehalt
Just moments after Sandy Alderson announced the Mets were bringing back manager Terry Collins on Monday, the New York Mets GM turned his attention to a not-so-pleasing topic: The Mets' play at Citi Field.
"Particularly unhappy with the home record, which was significantly below .500," Alderson said.
One of the biggest issues the Mets will try to solve this offseason is how they can improve their play in Queens, where they went 33-48, the fourth-worst home winning percentage in baseball. The Mets were eight games better on the road and the only NL East team to be above. 500 away from home.
"That’s going to be our number one priority in spring training, to make sure we do the things right that are going to help us win some games at home," Collins said.
In each of Alderson's three years as the team's GM, the Mets have not been able to enjoy a home-field advantage at Citi Field. They went 36-45 at home in 2012, and were 34-47 in 2011, giving them a three-year winning percentage of .424. The Mets last had a winning record at home in 2010.
"There are a variety of factors that we’re going to have to look at hard because we can’t allow this to continue," Alderson said. "We’re going to start with the player mix and look at all the other potential factors."
One facet of the game Alderson believes could help the team improve at home is putting the ball in play more often. The Mets were tied for third in baseball with 1,384 strikeouts, and second in home strikeouts as they whiffed 707 times at Citi Field. They also batted an MLB-worst .219 in Flushing.
"One of the things you’ve got to do here is you’ve got to use the field to hit. You cannot be a one-dimensional player," Alderson said. "We cannot put guys in our park that got good power, but not necessarily great power and expect them to hit homers. They’ve got to be better hitters."
Alderson further explained that the team doesn't need to be full of .300 hitters, but he pointed to second baseman Daniel Murphy as a good example of a player who gets it done at Citi Field. He said Murphy hits from line to line, taking advantage of the spacious outfield. Murphy hit .263 at Citi Field in 2013, but for his career is a .294 hitter in Flushing.
"That's what we’ve got to start doing," Alderson said. "And we have the players to do, but they’ve got to start buying into it."