Sandy on why the Mets are making changes to OF wall

Yesterday, after the team’s Holiday Party for kids at Citi Field, Sandy Alderson talked to team bloggers and said the Mets will also be making corresponding changes to the back field in Port St. Lucie, as well as their field in the Dominican Republic, which were originally designed to replicate the dimensions of Citi Field.

In regards to why the team chose to make changes to Citi Field’s outfied wall, after three seasons, Alderson explained:

“I don’t think there was any one event. I think it was just getting to know the ballpark, getting to know the players on the team and listening to their conversation, the debate, the consternation and the criticism. … There was always a recognition that we could do something if we chose to. And having been in San Diego with that ballpark and knowing that when a park is originally conceived and constructed sometimes assumptions are made about how it will play and sometimes they don’t work out. So, I was happy that there was some openness here … I don’t think you want to oppress any one part of your roster, whether it’s the offense or the pitching. … The main thing is more scoring makes more sense because it’s more entertaining. The average person who comes to the ballpark is not the purist who loves a 1-0 game, and even a purist wouldn’t want 1-0 games every night. So, a little more offense will be a plus for not only the players, but also the fans. But, we’ll see how it plays out. It’s a relevant change. Will it hurt or help us more than the opposition? I don’t think we know that yet. But, I do think it will help our frame of mind and the attitude of some of our hitters and maybe change their styles.”

Though people keep suggesting these changes could be a negative for the team’s pitchers, Jon Niese later explained that balls that might have dropped in for hits may now end up being caught for outs (because there is less ground for the outfielders to cover). In either case, he does not expect to change anything about how he has pitched in the past.

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Brian Erni: Niese’s point is right on the money. I expect these changes will help both the fielders and the pitchers more than it hurts them. Having less ground to cover in the outfield should ultimately allow the defense to play close to a standard positioning. That should limit the amount of space between Jason Bay and Andres Torres in left center and still allow for less of a strain on an inexperienced outfielder such as Lucas Duda. Of course, there will be times that we say, “Well, that wouldn’t have been a home run last year.” But I expect that the amount of hits that dunk in at the feet of the outfielders should more than make up for a well-struck ball that might not have left the yard in 2011.

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To see Michael Baron’s latest photos of construction on the wall, check out this post.