PHILADELPHIA -- Though he didn't list specifics, Phillies team president David Montgomery confirmed on Friday that he intends to move the fences back at Citizens Bank Park.
At least in left-center field.
In addition to finding a general manager to replace Ed Wade and pushing to re-sign Billy Wagner, this could rank a solid third on the Phillies' extensive
list of offseason discussion agenda items. It has been widely speculated over the past few days, and an official announcement should come sometime next week.
"We have indeed decided that there's some action that can make the park
play better," Montgomery said. "It's adjusting fences. We hope to end up with a
Montgomery said he wanted to take a second year to see how the ballpark
played before making a final determination, so here are some numbers: Citizens Bank Park surrendered 201 homers in 2005, the fifth-most in the Majors, and it was down 17 from 2004, when the park allowed the third-most.
According to ESPN, Citizens Bank Park had a "park factor" of 1.289. The
stat compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road, and a
rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter.
Philadelphia's 1.289 ranked them sixth in the Majors. The Phillies' home
turf has been one of the friendliest places for hitters since opening in 2004.
The club has weathered criticism from pitchers around the league, including
Atlanta's John Smoltz has been one of the more vocal critics, and
suggested that free-agent pitchers wouldn't want to come to the Phillies because of the
dimensions of their home park. Things are particularly tight in the power alleys, which are about
350 feet from home plate.
The change will mostly affect left-center field. Of the 201 homers hit in 2005, 109 were hit to left, 14 to center and 78 to right.
"We think there are ways to improve," Montgomery said. "It's not
targeted for a specific player or the overall feeling that it will make us more
or less attractive [for free-agent pitchers]. It might make us less attractive
to right-handed hitters.
"We feel there are some things we can do on the left-field side that
will help. We haven't made specific decisions, but hope to before we open next
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.