Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why
a right-handed power hitter like the Mets covet — i.e., Jason Bay or
Matt Holliday — would want to play in Citi Field, calling it a “death
valley for righthanded hitters.”
Cafardo is surely using David Wright
as his case-and-point, which is just lazy journalism when you realize
that he hit just as many home runs at Citi Field (five) as he did on
the road (five). It’s throwaway lines like Cafardo’s that have
perpetuated Citi Field’s reputation as a park where home runs go to
die, which really couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Consider for a moment that according to homerun park factor
Citi Field was actually 12th in majors in 2009 at 1.057, higher than
even Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. This means that 5.7% more home
runs were in games at Citi Field than in games played on the road.
Only 81 regular season games have
been played at Citi Field thus far, and for the great majority of them,
the Mets were a poor hitting team, especially when it came to power (last in the majors with 95 home runs).
The dip in team home runs isn’t much of a surprise when you remember that Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran were sidelined for most of the season.
The truth is that nobody can be certain of how Citi Field will play, as these park factors can fluctuate from year-to-year. However, what is certain is that the Mets are among a select
few teams who can afford to give Bay or Holliday the money they want.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.