Fences Come In, Reyes Goes Out?

You may already have heard that the Citi Field fences are moving in — significantly. There are many reasons behind this decision, and I wonder if one of them is a preemptive strike guarding against the departure of Jose Reyes?

The left-center gap is moving in by 13 feet — from 371 to 358. Right-center, previously the deepest part of the park, is moving in 17 feet — from 415 to 398.

Said David Wright:

Any time you talk to a hitter about making a park more hitter-friendly, it’s a thing that we’re all for. I very briefly looked at the pictures and those dimensions and everything. It just looks, obviously, fair.

You’d be lying if you said you enjoyed hitting at Citi Field. I don’t think anybody would say they enjoyed hitting in such a pitchers’ ballpark. I don’t think we ever looked at the field and it intimidated us. But obviously it’s frustrating at times when you hit a ball good and you don’t see the results that you want to see.

WELL, David, WELL! You hit a ball WELL, not “good”. Anyway, I digress …

Hmm … a player says he didn’t enjoy hitting at his home park … that explains quite a bit, no?

Personally, I’m not necessarily in support of bringing the fences in. To me, the vast expanse of Citi Field was a unique factor that the Mets could have leveraged against their opponents, by building a team based on pitching, defense, and speed. But they never really put all that together. They had some speed, not much defense, and so-so pitching. Therefore, instead of building a team to match the park, Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons chose to change the park to fit the type of team Alderson has experience building. Interesting. I’d love to hear Whitey Herzog‘s take on this decision.

OK, I get it — it’s easier to find sluggers who can put the ball over reasonable walls than it is to find speedsters, defensive specialists, and great pitching (with the last piece the hardest part to locate). And in the end, more homeruns equal more interest in the ballgame equal more ticket sales. Unfortunately, the way I’m seeing it, the visiting ballplayers will be the ones benefiting from this alteration more than the hometown boys. I sincerely believe that this change might help David Wright, Jason Bay, Ike Davis, and other batters on the Mets, but it won’t be enough to offset the negative impact it will make on pitchers such as Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese, etc. Hopefully I’m wrong — only time will tell.

Those are long-term issues. The more immediate issue is whether or not Jose Reyes will be re-signed by the Mets. More than anyone else, Reyes’ game was enhanced by Citi Field’s previous dimensions — much to the pleasure of Mets fans. Call me crazy, but I’ve always been more excited by watching a potential triple play out than a homerun — even if a homer is more valuable. While Citi Field will still play “big” compared to most MLB parks, it won’t play “as big” as it did originally, which means that Reyes’ value drops just a bit, and his game gets slightly less exciting. In addition to Reyes, constricted dimensions cut down Angel Pagan‘s offensive value (while simultaneously increasing his defensive value). Is it a coincidence that both players could leave Flushing during the same offseason that their offensive values are degraded by moving the fences of their home park in?

Almost immediately after Sandy Alderson became the Mets GM, he made it clear that Jose Reyes was not his kind of player. Alderson is from the steroid-enhanced days of baseball, when small-market teams could win if they stockpiled lead-footed sluggers with an aptitude to get on base. Take walks, don’t move from your base unless pushed, and wait for the homerun to send you home. That worked well from the age of Jose Canseco through Barry Bonds. Now, though, with PEDs testing, the game is moving back toward where it was before Canseco began injecting teammates — when pitching, defense, and speed had value. Thanks to Bud Selig’s ban of inside pitches and his ridiculous strike zone changes, the game will never truly get back to where it was in the 1970s — the time that Bill James described as “a wonderful brand of baseball” for the balance of hitting vs. pitching and the rewarding of overall athleticism. But, the game is creeping back toward there, and here are the Mets, throwing away the one potential advantage they would have in this recent evolution. With it, they’ll likely also allow Jose Reyes to walk away — because after all, Citi Field is “more fair” now, and therefore any player of ordinary skills will be able to flourish there.

What do you think? Are you happy to see the fences move in? (Gary S., I already know you’re ecstatic.) Do you think the change in dimensions will help or hurt the Mets in 2012? Finally, how do you think this change will affect the Mets’ decisions regarding Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan this offseason — as well as the type of players they’ll be going after on the open market?

Post your thoughts in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. mic November 1, 2011 at 6:42 am
    That was a great.

    1. You have unveiled the Mets attitude to Reyes…which is basically been ‘SEE YOU LATER!!”

    2. You take the first layer off Selig and his negative role on the GAME of baseball. I’d love to see you talk about the changes you allude to and how they have affected the game over the last 25-30 yrs.

    • JoeBourgeois November 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm
      I second #2 — love to see you unpack this more.

      Not so much #1 — does anybody really believe that Jose (or any player) chooses a team on the basis of how the park plays as opposed to, say, money?

  2. Tommy2cat November 1, 2011 at 7:30 am
    I think Met brass & a large contingent of the fan base underestimate Jose Reyes’ desire to remain a Met. I also think that segment doesn’t understand the absolute frustration he experienced when he was told to play 2nd base and allow Matsui to take shortstop or to alter his running stride. He’s been a much better soldier than most people think.

    His FA period reminds me of a time when Strawberry wanted to renegotiate his contract and receive a whopping 3m/annum. I believe Straw wanted to know that he was valued by his team. Cashen turned his back on him and Straw left for LA. Hurt both parties.

    I am concerned that the same result may be ins store for Reyes. I hope that I am wrong. Jose Reyes is a very, very important player for the Met organization for many, many reasons.

    As for the CitiField adjustments, they were necessary. I stood on the field in 2010 and found the dimensions to be downright intimidating. It must have been quite dispiriting to crush a ball and to discover that you’re heading back to the dugout with a lower batting average. The entire team will benefit from the changes being made.

    • izzy November 1, 2011 at 8:47 am
      Nice memory on the Straw man free agency Tommy. Its really sad. This franchise has had so few home grown stars over the years and look at the sad Met endings. First Seaver kicked out of town and then Straw and now seemingly Jose. And I’m sick of the injury line from all the Sandy loyalists. The Mets have an adequate backup now in Tejada who can spell Jose to save those legs and play a couple weeks without being an embarrassment on the field. And if you are old enough to remember pre-Met times, there was an outfielder in NY in the 50’s who seemingly got hurt all the time and was never traded. Lucky for him there was no Met or Mickey Mantle never would have spent his entire career in NY. Too many ijries for Met fans. They wouldn’t care he was a HOFer. I don’t agree the dimensions will help all. The pitchers like Mike Pelfrey and Niese and Gee with little confidence or not much talent will get bombed in a smaller park. You break even
  3. Mike B November 1, 2011 at 8:59 am
    This is awesome!! David Wright will hit at least 18-20 hrs next year and Jason Bay should be good for at least 15. Just cant wait to see how many long outs met pichers got the last couple of years especially RP now go for HR’s.
    • Vance November 2, 2011 at 12:40 am
      Mike B = win!!
  4. Steve S. November 1, 2011 at 9:06 am
    I still remember when Jackie Robinson was traded to the NY Giants and promptly retired. He was a Brooklyn Dodger his entire career, and so should Reyes remain a Met. I’m hopeful that the two sides can work something out—perhaps five years for $90 million + options based on games played.

    As for the dimensions, I’m for them. I think we’ll be surprised by Bay and Wright this coming year. 415 to right-center is ridiculous. But the starting pitching is mediocre, and Alderson needs to upgrade it for next year.

  5. MikeT November 1, 2011 at 9:11 am
    Couple of things:

    Izzy- think about what you are saying. Tejada playing 30 games a year at shortstop will fix Jose Reyes’ injuries? That implies fatigue is his problem, which is clearly not the case. This is a case of limiting opportunity. The more you expose Reyes to playing, the more likely he is to get injured. Lets say he has a 5% chance of pulling something while running. If he plays in 160 games that is 8 games where he could potentially get hurt, but if he plays 130 games then that is 6.5 (7) where he could potentially get hurt. What have you done, really? You have only reduced his likelihood of injury by less than a percent, and you get 30 games less production from Reyes. The point is with the random nature of his injuries, sitting him for any reason other than fatigue is diminishing his value.

    Tommy- I agree.

    Joe- I do not think moving in the fences is at all related to Reyes. What was Jose’s most valuable season? 2006? Where did he play? Shae. A place that was much more hitter friendly and neutral. the new dimensions only reduce the total playing field by 2%, and the outfield by 5%. Is that really all that SIGNIFICANT(sic)? I really don’t believe so. 81 more HRs over three years, 70 for road teams. So an average of 17 and 13 per season. Enough to make Jason Bay and David Wright smile, but not enough to make Mike Pelfrey all that much worse than he is already.

    I just don’t believe that this has anything to do with the Mets moving on without Reyes. He is just as valuable to the team with the old dimensions as the new. In fact he’d probably score more runs with these dimensions, and that over anything else is his most valuable asset. Triples are worthless if you are stranded on third base.

    • izzy November 1, 2011 at 9:47 am
      Hey Mike, you enjoy telling others how to think. WELL THINK ABOUT THIS> YOUR STATS ARE GARBAGE.
      • MikeT November 1, 2011 at 10:03 am
        Izzy, then isn’t every comment made by any commenter telling everyone how to think? I really don’t know what you are talking about, it’s called a counter argument, and yours to mine was TROLLING. I don’t play that.
  6. Mike B November 1, 2011 at 9:22 am
    The guys that figured the mets would have hit 81 Hr’s with these dimensions. Are they the some guys who told us Jason Bay was a better fit for Citi Field then Matt Holiday?
    • MikeT November 1, 2011 at 10:01 am
      Alderson said it, and that’s over three years. I think they have more data than you.
      • Mike B November 1, 2011 at 11:21 am
        Oh so Alderson does that kind of research, that explains a lot. Some one should tell the mets that most teams have assistants that do that kind of work.
        • MikeT November 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm
          That is why I took the necessary energy to type the word THEY. They, as in the Mets. What exactly are you complaining about?
        • Mike B November 2, 2011 at 9:16 am
          I guess I am complaining about “They” … I hate it but I am def a bitter mets fan
    • Vance November 2, 2011 at 12:29 am
      “They” took a chart of where all balls were caught, then over layed that graphic on top of the new dimensions.

      “The left-center gap is moving in by 13 feet — from 371 to 358.” — If an out was caught 368 feet from home plate, it will be a HR with the new dimensions.

      Do the math on all recorded outs and their distance/locations from the plate.

      • Mike B November 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm
        I was making more fun of the Jason Bay theroy then anything. I actually think the ball carries a lot less then it did shea and thats what really bothers players but if everyone seems to believe wright getting 3 or 4 more HRs at home a season is going to give him confidence to hit 300-325 again I am all for it.
  7. Walnutz15 November 1, 2011 at 10:23 am
    The other good thing, which no one has mentioned (except “Teflon Dan”) – is that with the alterations, our pitchers will be cured of the laziness they’ve suffered from through the years under Warthen’s expertise tutelage and guidance.

    From The Journal’s blog:

    It’s hardly a surprise that Mets hitters are in favor of the new dimensions. More striking is the fact that Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen strongly endorsed the changes when Alderson asked him for his input.

    Despite the cavernous field, Mets pitchers have allowed nearly as many home runs at home (162) as they have on the road (169) in the last three years. Warthen said the dimensions have allowed Mets pitchers to become too comfortable for their own good.

    “We got into being a little bit mentally lazy and overly secure,” Warthen said. “I think that caused a lot of the homers this year. I really do.” The new dimensions, Warthen added, “will help us focus and concentrate and not be so ready to go out there and throw a fastball away and hope they hit it to center field.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204528204577010390680502110.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    I just pray to the baseball gods that he continues to use his “scare tactics” – which wills his staff to throw more strikes. This guy’s a clown.

    • MikeT November 1, 2011 at 10:28 am
      Damn, that is scary. I’m not sure why this organization loves him so much. Teflon Dan is probably the most fitting nickname for a coach I’ve heard since Sexy Rexy.
  8. Walnutz15 November 1, 2011 at 10:35 am
    Thank you. It’s just been a natural fit, for me…..sadly, for years now.

    Guy’s done nothing to develop any arms; nor has he said anything credible in the press.

    …..except that John Maine was a “habitual liar”. About the only thing I believed from him in the 4+ seasons he’ll have coached here.

    Amazing.

  9. gary s. November 1, 2011 at 10:53 am
    Congratulations guys.You never have to hear me complaining about “citicavern” anymore.No more 400 plus foot drives to the power alleys that get caught.No more watching Met highlights on SNY and realizing almost every historic home run in Met history would have been outs at citicavern.Forget about moneyball, we were playing snoozeball the last 3 years with all the 0-0 games in the fifth inning at most home games.The constant refrain to “build the team around the park” nonsense will be put to rest.The jackrabbits of whitey herzog days are as dead as the dinosaurs.The cardinals won the world series with no speed, so so pitching and a bunch of big boppers this year.The field dimensions are still big ,but fair.Hitters will no longer hate hitting in their own ballpark.As far as Jose Reyes, it looks like he is leaving and even if he stays, he will hit a bunch of triples no matter where he plays because of his speed and exttra base mentality as soon as he leaves the batters box.Now it’s time to get some talent.New owners wouldn’t hurt either.
  10. NormE November 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm
    I agree with Gary S. I just want a field that is fair. Citifield
    hasn’t been. But then, right field in Yankee Stadium is a
    joke as is the little league field in Philly.
  11. wohjr November 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm
    Yet another chapter in Mets media mismanagement.

    First, I generally agree with you Joe– they are making the park fit the team rather than the other way around. Except, oh yeah, the team completely sucks. DWright’s problem last year wasnt not hitting 28 homers… but the fact that he hit an abysmal .254 with a huge (and climbing every year) number of k’s and shakier defense. And of course, his grit and determination really kept the Metsies playing hard up to the final game. lol.

    They have also made a HUGE deal about this… articles about the upcoming changes in the paper for weeks, all over metsblog, etc. So what happens when next year starts and DW still isn’t cranking the homers? If anything, there is now MORE pressure on him to hit the long ball than there was before… and that was originally the problem supposedly– that he was putting too much pressure on himself to hit homers. And this was supposed to help how exactly?

    Also just have to point out the vintage Fred quote in the NYT basically blaming Omar Minaya for the original dimensions. Honestly, has Fred ever been wrong about anything??? Why would you ever want to work for this guy…

  12. gary s. November 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm
    This is one of the few intelligent things ownership has done since leaving shea stadium.Does it translate to more wins, more beers sold, more home runs for d wright and Bay?That’s why they play the games.Btw, all u wright haters (it’s a free country after a all) i will predict if wright plays a full season he will hit 30 plus homeruns next year.Let’s make 32 the over /under number and if he exceeds it you all have to find someone else to hate and shut up.I’m waiting…………..
  13. wohjr November 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm
    OK gary, its a deal– 33 HR or more and I’ll stop pointing out his other obvious shortcomings, 31 or below and you agree to properly punctuate your posts. Everybody wins!
    • MikeT November 2, 2011 at 9:06 am
      Wow, I might actually root for Wright to hit exactly 31 HRs.

      I also think it is highly unlikely this will result in Wright hitting 32+ HRs. If he played all season he would have hit 22 HRs if he maintained his pace through the 102 games he did play. That is including the time he played while hurt. If the new dimensions would have added less than five, but definitely more than zero (unlike Reyes who would not have hit a single extra HR at home). Based on this graph http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/773403/Wrightspraying2.jpg, it is reasonable to predict what Wright’s numbers would look like in 162 games at the new Citifield. If he had the (lets say) four extra HRs in his 102 games, that’s 18 on the year. Extrapolate that out to 162 and we’re talking 28. Still shy of 32, gary. However no player plays all 162 games, so ABs would have been a better predictor. Given a better Mets offense in 2012, and given a healthy David all year, 32 is not impossible. This might actually be a good bet. But if I were gary I would be studying my grammar and syntax just in case.

      Now if Wright could just relearn to play defense….

  14. gary s. November 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm
    Cool.At least now i will have a reason to pay attention all year.
  15. Rick Santuzzi November 4, 2011 at 9:08 am
    We should start accepting that Reyes is not coming back. That became obvious when Alderson discussed the budget the other day. The Mets have 85 million already committed to 2012. Alderson hasn’t denied that the budget ceiling is around $110 (and it might not be that high). When reporters speculated what that meant for free agent signings, Alderson reminded them that some of that money has to be earmarked for the players the Mets claim in next year’s amateur draft. That drastically reduces their spending power. There’s no room in the budget for Reyes, unless he grants a hometown discount, which is highly unlikely.

    As for the fences, just look at the road e.r.a. for last year’s rotation. Even with a healthy Santana back–no sure thing–this team could have the worst e.r.a. in baseball if it moves in the fences.

    With Washington and Florida ready to spend big and with all the good young talent both teams have, I think we’re looking at 62 wins next year. Well, I sat through the ’62 Mets as a kid and had a good time, so I guess I can endure that.