In case you missed it, I had a piece in the Sunday New York Times discussing the myth of Citi Field hurting the New York Met hitters. But in a must-read Q & A GM Sandy Alderson did with Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, Alderson raised a different issue.
“As [Mets pitching coach] Dan Warthen has said, a park like this is not even in the best interest of the pitchers. You can develop a habit or a tendency that can impact you on the road at parks that aren’t forgiving to pitchers,” Alderson said.
Let’s take a closer look at just that possibility. In three years of pitching at Citi Field, the Mets’ pitchers have ranked 11th in the NL (2009), 14th in the NL (2010), and 16th in the NL (2011) in road OPS allowed. One can compare that to the home rankings of seventh, sixth and ninth, but that doesn’t provide a ton of clarity, since the home park doesn’t offer the presumably neutral environment that the road does (all teams are playing road games in roughly the same environments- home parks vary widely). What we do know is that Met pitchers aren’t succeeding on the road. That’s more evidence of a need for a change than what exists for Met hitters at home, whose success is in line with the typical home field advantage.
Alderson has also raised the issue of more offense leading to more ticket sales, and while that can be read as an altruistic way of pleasing fans, it is worth remembering that his or any GM’s job is easier with each additional dollar that comes in. Put another way: a better offensive environment won’t lead to a better net offensive gain-the opponents get to hit at new Citi Field, too. But if 10 percent more fans come to see the action, the Mets have 10 percent more to spend on players- and that could lead to a net offensive gain.
Consider me skeptical that more offense can do anything against the fierce headwinds Met attendance is facing heading into 2012. I’m not high on the slogan, “The 2012 Mets: Come Watch Us Lose, 8-6!”
But Alderson’s comments suggest that while the public sentiment for changing the dimensions of Citi Field comes from trying to improve the offensive production of current Mets, the actual rationale is about nearly everything else.