Diamondbacks consider ballpark changes

August, 27, 2010
8/27/10
1:33
PM ET
Are the Diamondbacks going to do something about all those home runs? Nick Piecoro:
Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said the club is "looking at everything" in hopes of creating a neutral playing environment - or at least one that doesn't skew so heavily toward hitters.

Among the ideas: Changing the dimensions, raising fences and even borrowing a page from Colorado's Coors Field by storing baseballs in a climate-controlled humidor.

"We do know that it's an issue," Hall said. "The offense is unreal at Chase Field. We have a launching pad now. We have a team that's hopefully going to be built around young pitching. We should look at ways to reduce offense, especially from an opponents' standpoint."

--snip--

The Rockies began using a humidor at Coors Field in 2002, a room housing hundreds of baseballs cooled to 70 degrees with 50 percent humidity, the same specifications Rawlings uses when making the balls. It remains a hitter's park, but offensive numbers have plummeted after 2001.

"It's made a huge difference," Rockies General Manager Dan O'Dowd said. "I don't think it's made a bad pitcher a good pitcher, but I think it's created a better mind-set more than anything as it relates to our ballpark."

--snip--

Dipoto likes the idea of a humidor at Chase Field. But, he wonders, why stop there?

"I don't know why every team wouldn't have some type of climate-controlled baseball storage," he said.

I sort of thought every team did. According to this piece more than three years ago, "The Colorado Rockies' method of storing baseballs is fast growing from a curiosity to standard operating procedure in the Majors. "

Or not.

If you're not going to emulate the Rockies in Phoenix, then where? It's warm there and it's dry, which is a wonderful recipe for energetic baseballs.

Installing a climate-controlled space for the baseball's is a lot cheaper and easier than tearing out seats and moving fences, and I don't understand why the Diamondbacks haven't done it already.

Anyway, I love this bit from Derrick Hall, who "also sees how spacious Petco Park has helped the San Diego Padres develop young pitchers, believing pitchers gain confidence with success at home and take it with them on the road."

"We have very young pitching and it looks like that's our future," Hall said. "So why wouldn't we tailor our ballpark to be an advantage there?"

Wasn't it just a year or two ago that people were saying the Padres should make their ballpark easier for the hitters? Because their hitters were getting demoralized, and that it would be impossible for the Padres to attract top hitters from outside the organization, or keep their own?

I happen to agree with Hall's essential point, which is that Chase Field is a tough place for young pitchers. I just wouldn't hold up Petco Park as a paragon worthy of emulation. When it comes to player development and decision-making, I think the great majority of franchises are best served by ballparks that don't stray far from the middle.

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