E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday May 18th

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We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.


Wednesday May 18, 2011

Q:   Have the dimensions of Citi Field been to the detriment of the Mets franchise?  From Yair, Bat Yam, Israel

MLB reports:   Great question Yair and shalom (hell0) to you in Israel!  With the lacklustre play of the Mets the last few seasons, its great to see that they still have so many fans, even internationally.  Getting to your question, the topic of Citi Field has been a continuous one since its opening back in 2009.  The $850 million structure replaced Shea Stadium and has not played out in the same way that new Yankee Stadium has to say the least.  At a capacity of 41,800, the stadium holds 15,000 fewer fans than Shea and was meant to be more intimate.  Citi Field has some interesting features in its design. Citi Field’s fences are not the same size, ranging in height from being 15 feet in left field and 18 feet in right.  Shea Stadium had outfield fences that were all 8 feet in comparison.  The dimensions overall are not far different from Shea, with approximately 335 feet to the field lines and 408 feet to center.  Shea was never a great hitters ballpark to begin with and Citi Field is no better.  I would attribute the height of the fences as being a major issue for the team in terms of hurting the amount of home runs in the park.  As well, the shortage of quality hitters on the current Mets squad is the main reason for any offensive issues.  As a ball park, Citi Field ranks 11th currently in terms of home runs but 27th last year.  It will be interesting to see how the field plays out this season.  But the bottom line, is that the Mets have the same advantages and disadvantages at Citi Field as all opposing teams.  As a pitcher’s park, the team needs strong pitching and defense to remain competitive on its home turf, with good timely hitting.  This may sound obvious, but team talent and not the stadium will decide the team’s fate at the end of the day. 

Q: Ok how about this?  I am not yet dropping Derek Jeter from fantasy team.  Can I drop Brett Wallace or Mark Trumbo for Yunel Escobar as insurance for Jeter?  From Maury, Boston

MLB reports: Hell0 Maury and no, you cannot make this move.  As much as Jeter is struggling, dropping talents like Wallace and Trumbo do not make sense at this point.  Wallace is hitting .321 in 2011 with 3 home runs and .869 OPS.  Trumbo, while starting to struggle somewhat with a .244 AVG has 6 home runs and 18 RBIs.  If you must make this move, then drop Trumbo and grab Escobar, who is hitting .295, with 3 home runs and .775 OPS.  Quality numbers for a shortstop.  But Jeter is still Jeter and will rebound in my estimation.  Keep plugging the Yankees captain in your lineup and expect a rebound soon.

Q:  Can the Cubs please just leave Starlin Castro  in a fixed spot in the lineup? Like, say, leadoff?  Hitting him 3rd is (^*&&*%$!  From Reuben, parts unknown

MLB reports: I can’t argue with Castro’s numbers to start the season.  .327 AVG, .789 OPS, 23 runs scored, 18 runs driven in, 4 stolen bases and 6/14 BB/K ratio.  As a leadoff hitter or hitting in the second slot, Castro has strong abilities to get timely hits and create runs.  I couldn’t agree with you more that batting Castro in the third slot does not make sense.  With one home run this year and three all of last year, the power is not there for the Cubs shortstop.  The move to hit him third would be out of desperation than anything else.  It is a relection on the Cubs for a lack of other options, than Castro as a new power guy.  As the Cubs continue to gel through the season, expect Castro to have a permanent lineup slot soon.  Leadoff appears to be most likely his destination.

Q:    Do you think Aaron Hill might be enough to protect Bautista in the Jays lineup?  I obviously don’t mean full protection, but maybe just enough for the Blue Jays to be a force.  Another great article by the way, I enjoyed reading your feature on Jose Bautista!  From Nolan, parts unknown

MLB reports:  Thank you for reading the reports, I always appreciate the feedback.  The Bautista article was a lot of fun to write and I enjoyed giving the readers a look into the Jays home run king (You can click to read our piece on Bautista).  As far as AaRon Hill coming back and providing good protection in the lineup, I will admit that I have my doubts to say the least.  Hill has missed several games this year due to injury and when he has been able to play, has hit to the tune of a .237 AVG, no home runs and .573 OPS.  If you take aside 2009, Hill has never shown to be a really good hitter and in my opinion, that season has been an outlier rather than the standard.  Aaron was actually the subject of the first ever article on MLB reports.  If you would like to read more about Aaron and his future on the Jays, please click here.  But if you want the brief synopsis:  Hill is more likely a candidate for a trade/release over the next year than any guarantee of production.  I do not have very much faith in him and neither should you.


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Posted on May 18, 2011, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey reports. Thanks for taking my email. Love the site! Keep it up and will keep watching from overseas. Now, that said….I was interested to hear your take on Citi and am surprised you didn’t lay into the design of the park being more of a detriment to the franchise.
    When it comes to ballpark design, though you are going to have different types of players through the years and star players will change, it doesn’t make sense to build a park the destroys the strengths of your current star players, or a park that is weighted so far to the disadvantage of power hitting. I would love to see a mathematical analysis of park design vs. player stats in terms of where players hit over the field etc (as i wonder if these metrics factor in when firms design parks – can you really build a park around the strengths of stars and pick up huge advantages in the win column right away?). You however don’t really have to look further then David Wright and Bay, and the fact that every hitter from Chipper Jones to Francouer has mentioned how difficult it is to get the ball out of that Citi (despite where it might be in overall hr’s so far this season), to get at least an anecdotal understanding the park is death on power hitters.
    The overall gripe i have as a mets fan is that i wish they had built a park that plays more ‘fair’. In other words, not a park that is a bandbox like yankee or citizens, but not a huge park either in which the hitters feel like they can’t get the ball out of the place. Unfortunately there is no real metric to see how much this plays into the psychology of a hitter, but the alarming rate at which power numbers have gone down for hitters like wright and bay, as well as strikeouts going up is indicative.
    Yes, at the end of the day, both home and away play at the same park on any given day, pitching eventually is the tale of the tape when it comes to baseball, and your team will win based on how strong your players are overall………but the park could have been built more to the favor of some of its current stars. For instance Wright who is an opposite field power hitter is at a huge disadvantage because of the mo zone which they have, distancing the right field area even further. Bay seems to have become a nothing hitter since moving to Citi. Yes, both home and away play at citi on any day, but home plays there 81 times over a season. The fact they play there can often make hitters make adjustments and tinker with stances and swings, and this carries over to how they play away from Citi (yes a theory, but one you hear talked about a lot). Yes, the mets were a team that won at home last year more then on the road, but overall i feel the park has become a burden on the power potential of the club.
    Citi field was designed to allow for adjustment by the way, and it seems they might eventually change it with so much griping about the size, but perhaps too late to be an advantage to a club that could use it right now. They could easily have moved home plate up 5-10 feet allowing more room behind home (which is sort of necessary anyway with so little foul territory) and also eliminating or changing the mo zone. Just making the park play more ‘fair’. Also there are photos which show the foul poles can be moved over if necessary (they left room for all these adjustments – thank god). The park was in theory designed for pitching and speed, but they should not have made it so hard to hit the ball out of the place. Shea, though quite a bit of a trashy park (though i loved it), played pretty fair overall.
    Now the other biggest reason which isn’t mentioned a ton, but perhaps should be #1 for making a park play fair, is that you don’t want to scare off other players from wanting to play for the mets in future, in fear that their offensive numbers are going to disappear, and that this park could be a career killer for them.
    My 2 cents, and here’s to hoping they at least do something simple like moving the plate up soon.
    Yair – Bat Yam, Israel

    • Wow Yair, you take the prize for longest comment in the history of MLB reports! Your comment is an article in itself, great job and really appreciate reading your thoughts. I hear what you are saying about the effect of the stadium and I agree to a certain extent, Citi Field looks like Petco Park in the making. But that being said, this year the park has been middle of the road in terms of runs and long balls and overall, the bottom line it is a pitchers park. The teams woes cannot be blamed on the park, as the the Mets failures can be attributed to injuries and lack of young talent. Jason Bay has been riddled by injuries and failed expectations to live up to a big contract. Beltran has been on the rebound while Wright has been a mystery. To adjust an entire park for one player I believe is unnecessary, especially considering that Wright may only be a Met for another season possibly. The team can be built on pitching and speed, with Citi Field providing an excellent venue for a young and exciting team. As we have ended the steroid era, home runs will slowly become harder commodities to come by and we will continue to move to the pitching era. Rather than blame the park, I would embrace what your team has. The quirks of the dimensions can make baseball fun and different and perhaps Citi could turn into the next Fenway, only bigger. The focus needs to be on getting younger and improving the team talent. Thank you for reading and appreciate your excellent response. We should discuss having you write a Mets feature for the reports, you clearly know your stuff and we would love to provide you a forum to get your voice heard. Let me know if you are interested.

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