In an effort to boost scoring at the pitcher-friendly ballpark, the Mets announced Monday they are cutting the field dimensions by as much as 12 feet next season, lowering the fence height to 8 feet all around and changing the fence color to blue with an orange line at the top.
During their first offseason comments, the Mets said it was too soon to tell whether they would be competitive to re-sign free agent Jose Reyes. General manager Sandy Alderson said he expected David Wright will remain with the Mets next season.
The new fence will be erected in front of the ballpark’s daunting 16-foot black fence, which became known as “The Great Wall of Flushing.”
“You just keep looking at that thing, and that left-field wall kept getting higher and higher,” Alderson said.
According to STATS LLC, Citi Field was last in the major leagues in home runs during its first three seasons with an average of 1.43 per game. The ballpark’s 3.78 ERA was the sixth-lowest in the major leagues.
“Was Citi Field my favorite park to hit in? I’d be lying to you if I said it was,” Wright said in comments made through the Mets. “Sure it was frustrating when you hit a ball good and you didn’t get the results.”
Right-center field is being brought in from 415 feet to 398, although the new sign doesn’t match up with the same angle as the old one. Left field comes in from 371 to 358 _ with about 100 seats being added behind the new fence in left.
The “Mo’s Zone” fence in right field is being pulled in, but still leaving an overhang from the second deck. About 40 additional seats will be in that area.
“I think it’s going to be good for everybody,” outfielder Jason Bay said through the Mets. “I think cutting down on the space in the outfield will help improve the defense which in turn should help the pitching.”
Alderson, hired a year ago, revised the dimensions recommended by his predecessor, Omar Minaya.
“We didn’t want to completely alter the ballpark and make it into the proverbial bandbox,” Alderson said. “So that required looking at various dimensions and coming up with something based on home-run rates and park factors and so forth that was more or less neutral as between pitching and hitting, somewhere in the middle of all the ballparks.”
Wright hit .279 at home with 22 homers, 103 RBIs and 179 strikeouts in the first three seasons at Citi Field, down from a .335 average at home with 37 homers, 118 RBIs and 105 strikeouts in the final three years at Shea Stadium.
“I don’t want to give you the impression that we’ve done this for David or we’ve done this for Ike (Davis) or we’ve done this for anybody in particular,” Alderson said. “It’s really about having a more neutral ballpark and maybe to even some extent, given that I think offense is exciting for many fans, maybe it will be slightly more entertaining.”