With numerous holes to fill, the Mets have decided to address their bullpen first. However, they're not talking about adding another lefty to assist Perpetual Pedro Feliciano or a set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez. Instead, the issues with the bullpen being addressed are where each bullpen will be located at Citi Field in 2010.
In his blog for the Star-Ledger today, Brian Costa reported that the bullpens at Citi Field are being restructured so that each team can have a non-obstructed view of the playing field. When the bullpens were originally constructed, the Mets claimed the bullpen adjacent to the field while the visiting team was given the dungeon. In all honesty, those players had a better view of the auto body shops on 126th Street than they had of the events taking place on the field.
It was always difficult for TV cameras to focus on which relievers were warming up in the opponents' bullpen because those pitchers were invisible to mostly everyone. The people who had the best view of those relievers were the fans posing for pictures by the old Shea Stadium Home Run Apple near the bullpen gate entrance to Citi Field.
What I'm curious to know is what this will do to the configurations of Citi Field. Consider the picture of the Citi Field bullpens shown below as they appeared during the 2009 season:
The Mets are planning on positioning the bullpens side-to-side, where the relief pitcher warming up will be throwing towards the outfield fence. Looking at the current dimensions of the bullpen, it doesn't appear to be feasible to position the home and away bullpens in this new way without moving the fences in front of the bullpen or behind it, although Costa's blog states that the bullpens can be positioned in this fashion.
The Mets have already said that they will not be altering the dimensions of Citi Field for the 2010 season. So what's going on here? Personally, I wouldn't mind the right field fences being moved in a few feet. It actually has nothing to do with the potential for more home runs being hit into the bullpen area.
Remember how Carlos Beltran used to glide towards the fence at Shea Stadium before timing his leap perfectly to rob an opposing player of a home run? I can't recall Beltran or any other player this past season robbing a hitter of a potential home run. The only places where the fence is short enough for this to happen is at the bullpen wall or down the right field line. Unfortunately, given the deep dimensions of Citi Field, by the time the centerfielder gets to the wall, the ball has already gone over it.
Another thing that bugs me about this move is that the Mets are doing this to accommodate the visiting teams. At Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the visiting team's bullpen is located above the Phillies bullpen, placing oppposing pitchers directly underneath the highly opinionated Phillies fans who are not shy to express their feelings about those pitchers from close range. The Phillies have not realigned their bullpens to make their opponents more comfortable, so why should the Mets do so?
It just seems like an unnecessary move to me. It makes it appear as if the Mets are more concerned for the teams we root against rather than the team we root for. Of course, if they're doing this because John Lackey or Roy Halladay prefers the bullpen to be facing in the new direction, then I'm all for it!