The Seattle Mariners have decided it's time to bring in the fences at historically pitcher-friendly Safeco Field next season after yet another season that saw them again near the bottom of the league in Home Runs and Runs Scored. The biggest difference will come from the left-center field wall as it will come in nearly where the warning track begins now. The right field wall will stay exactly where it is now.
I believe that the move to bring in the fences is long overdue and that it is the right move for a team that has failed to put up big fly's in front of it's home fans for consecutive seasons. In addition, the move will make Seattle a more attractive destination to hitters this offseason.
The Mariners pitching staff will likely be effected the most by these smaller dimensions, however, I believe the team is in greater need of an offense that can hit the ball out of the park rather than a pitching staff that has more room to allow deep fly balls. Since the days of the Kingdome, the Mariners have been a base-to-base style offense, playing more as a National League small ball team than as an American League home-run hitting team (see NY Yankees, a.k.a. "Bronx Bombers"). This offseason was poised to be an interesting one to follow for the M's before this decision, now the decision to bring the fences in will surely attract more free agents to ponder Seattle as their final destination for the 2013 season and that should send excitement to Mariners fans as they have been hungry for a home offense that can compete with Beasts in the East.
This season, Seattle had one of the best road offenses in the American League, but were dead last in Runs Scored at home. This surely played in to the decision to bring in the fences. Something's gotta give, right? How can a team that plays so well in other ballparks around the league in front of hostile crowds, play so poorly at home in front of their own home fans? The answer lies in the spacious confines they call home.
Next season will be a new chapter for the Seattle Mariners and changes to the fence will not necessarily mean more runs, a makeover of the offense will probably be in the makings as well. And the smaller field will help in the efforts to attract a free agent to the lineup. There is hope for an outbreak next season from the Seattle Mariners as now Manager Eric Wedge has been with the team for a couple seasons and knows the players and the system, and vice versa, and trust and belief will go a long ways in getting these young studs the opportunity they need to succeed.
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