Bringing in fences at Citi Field could go a long way to improving current Mets roster's production
When Sandy Alderson mentioned the possibility of bringing in Citi Field's fences for the second time in four years, he played down the potential benefit for specific players already on the roster.
"It's not about tailoring the ballpark to a particular player or a particular composition of team," Alderson told reporters. "It's about making Citi Field as fan-friendly and as exciting as we can make it."
Yet the changes being discussed appear to be a perfect fit for some of the Mets' better hitters, who have been tormented by the deepest part of Citi Field. And Alderson himself mentioned that Curtis Granderson could have hit seven more homers had the Mets played this season with the revamped dimensions.
Despite his struggles in the first season of a four-year, $60-million deal, Granderson played down the impact of possible changes.
"You can't play the would've, could've game," said Granderson, who has half the homers at Citi Field (six) as he has on the road (12). "There's balls that did go out and balls that didn't go out."
Talks to shorten the dimensions have been ongoing for some time, according to a team insider. And though the potential adjustments don't seem to be as sweeping as the ones made after the 2011 season, one area targeted for change is the right-centerfield fence, which is roughly 390 feet from home plate.
The Mets believe that wining the home run battle -- hitting more than their opponents -- often means the difference between victory and defeat. And as they enter the offseason hoping to make their roster better at closing what has been a constant disparity, bringing in the fences may hint at what's to come.
Though the Mets hope to boost their lagging offense in the winter, there has been no indication that their payroll will deviate far from the $86-million range. Nor has there been any reason to believe that Alderson is willing to trade from the team's base of talented young arms.
Without a war chest to lure free agents, and without their most attractive trade chips in play, the Mets' most significant upgrades might come from simply getting more production from the bats already in the lineup.
That means bounce-back seasons from Granderson and David Wright, a command performance after a breakout year by Lucas Duda, and a full season of production from catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
Each would likely benefit from taking aim at a cozier right-centerfield, a fact not lost upon manager Terry Collins.
"We've got guys that hit the ball in that area," Collins said. "That's a big area for Curtis. David made a career of hitting the ball in that area. I think it would help Lucas. Travis, one of the things people talk about is his power to the opposite field. So it may help him. You walk in and say, 'Hey, it's reachable.' "
Of course, that means the fences would be more reachable for opponents, as well, unless the Mets' high-octane pitching staff comes together as expected. Consider what the rotation could look like next year if they don't trade away any of their up-and-coming young arms.
Before undergoing Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey ranked second among National League starters last season by allowing only 0.35 homers per nine innings. This season, Jacob deGrom (0.53) and Zack Wheeler (0.69) rank sixth and 17th, respectively.
In Triple-A Las Vegas, Rafael Montero (0.40 home runs per nine innings) ranked 11th best in the Pacific Coast League and Noah Syndergaard (0.7) ranked 45th, or in the middle of the pack despite playing in the homer-happy circuit.
Indeed, the Mets may be well-armed enough to cede some territory, especially if it helps the hitters.
"With our staff," veteran righthander Dillon Gee said, "I don't think it's going to make that big of a difference."
With Greg Logan