The Mariners announced today that they will move in the fences at Safeco Field. There were rumblings about it during the season, and it became more and more clear that it was going to happen. You can see the changes in the picture above.
Jack Zdurencik said this about the change:
“Our goal was to create an environment that is fair for both hitters and pitchers. Considering the current field dimensions, as well as the climate in and around Safeco Field, we feel this will be accomplished with this new layout.”
The details of the changes are as follows:
- The distance from home plate to the wall down the left-field line will stay at 331 feet.
- The distance in left-center will go from 390 feet to 378 feet.
- The deepest point will decrease from 409 feet to 405 feet.
- Straightaway center will be moved in from 405 feet to 401 feet.
- The right-center field fence will go from 385 feet to 381 feet.
- The right-field fence down the foul line also stays put at 326 feet.
On top of that, the manual scoreboard in left field will be moved, possibly above its current location. This will make the fence 8 feet around the whole park. The scoreboard will now be out of play as well, meaning if it gets hit, its a home run.
Personally, I like this move. Nothing too drastic, other than the biggest problem, left-center field, being moved in as much as 17 feet. Though the dimensions above say 12 feet, the fence will jet out in a straight line to center field, rather than the current gradual curve. While the real problem is the marine layer, that’s something we can’t change. We can however change the fences, which were a little too far also. It’s redundant to have the fences out so far when the air provides a safety net for the pitchers already.
People opposed to the change tend to bring up the fact that we have built this team around pitching, which I agree with. However, it is also redundant to build a team around pitching in a park that gives Jason Vargas a 2.74 ERA. When any pitcher can find success there, you don’t NEED to build a team around pitching. In fact, I would say it makes more sense to build a team around big hitters that can find success there.
But in the end, you need a balance. You can’t win with just pitching, or just hitting. Even the 2010 Giants had Posey, Sandoval and Huff in the middle of their lineup. And even the offensive-mined Yankees have C.C. and Kuroda. Its very rare to be able to win with just one component.
Also, it’s not like Safeco is becoming a hitters park. I would be willing to bet that it will still be much closer to a pitchers park than a hitters park. This year, Safeco was the most pitcher-friendly park in the league. My guess is that we are around 22-25 next year, which is only a 8 spot jump at most. So guys like Vargas and Iwakuma will still find success, perhaps more than they should, in Safeco.
Plus, with guys like Hultzen, Walker and Paxton on their way, having the fences in a little bit will not have as much affect as it would/will on our current staff. While the park will also make it easier for our opponents to hit home runs, we will have the advantage of having three #2-3 caliber starters to throw at them. Oh yeah, there’s that Felix guy too.
Oh, and we will hit more homers. Who doesn’t like that?
So what do you guys think? Was this is a good move? Feel free to vote, and explain yourself in the comments.