All year long, Sandy Alderson heard the fans crying for the fences to be moved in to allow for more home runs by David Wright, Jason Bay, et al. In fact, If I had a dollar for every time an announcer said "that would have been a home run at any other ballpark" after every long fly ball crashed into the Great Wall of Flushing, I'd be able to afford seats at Yankee Stadium (which I would sell on StubHub, naturally).
So what did Alderson say after witnessing his first season of Mets baseball, a season in which Carlos Beltran's 15 homers led the team in that category, despite playing the last two months of the season as a San Francisco Giant?
"Gentlemen, move in this wall!"
According to Adam Rubin at ESPNNewYork, Citi Field's dimensions will indeed change in time for the 2012 season, with some changes being significant.
The aforementioned Great Wall of Flushing, the 16 foot monstrosity in left field that has seen more dings than dingers, will not be lowered because it is a structural part of the ballpark. However, a wall half its height (8 feet) will be erected in front of it, with all balls clearing it now being home runs instead of doubles or long outs. That will cause for a modest reduction in distance down the left field foul line and a more significant reduction in distance in the power alley.
In addition, the MoZone area in right field will be no mo', as that area will be filled in, thus eliminating the overhang of the Pepsi Porch and allowing for more balls to leave the yard in right field.
The most significant change will be in right-center, where the deepest part of the ballpark once stood. That area, which had been 415 feet from home plate since 2009, will now be moved in to 390 feet, a 6% decrease in depth. The change will allow for more home runs by David Wright, who prior to 2009, was an excellent opposite field home run hitter, and will give Ike Davis the opportunity to hit balls 60 feet over the wall instead of just 35 feet past it.
Of course, the changes in Citi Field's dimensions will also mean that Mets pitchers will have to pitch differently, as the luxury of throwing a pitch where the hitter could hit a deep, but playable, fly ball will no longer be an option. (Are you listening to me, Mike Pelfrey?) But this change will clearly make Mets hitters breathe a sigh of relief, as they will no longer be frustrated by home run trots that turn into slow walks back to the dugout after the ball is caught near the wall. It will also allow for free agent hitters to not automatically say "thanks, but no thanks" when the option of playing 81 games a year at Citi Field as a Met comes up.
The fans have spoken and the Mets have answered. Citi Field will now be a "fair" ballpark (a la Shea Stadium) as opposed to being a pitcher's park. Let's just hope the cosmetic change to the ballpark does more good for the players dressed in the home whites than the ones in the road greys.