Moving fences in a good move

People have been writing about and talking about moving the fences in at Safeco Field since the field opened, but it came to a crescendo this year.

It was inevitable that it was going to happen so when the Mariners announced that they were going to make Safeco more hitter friendly on Tuesday, it was hardly shocking.

I can’t really think of any negatives. It doesn’t mean the Mariners are going to win more games, but maybe the games will be more exciting.

I like a pitcher’s duel as much as the next guy — probably more —  but the games have become a little boring in recent years. How many 1-0, 2-1, 2-0 games can someone sit through? If the shorter fences produce some more runs, I’m all for it. The ball doesn’t carry very well to the gaps so shorter fences should help.

Jason John Jaso was hitting .275 going into Tuesday’s game, and that was the best average on the team. Seattle didn’t have a player with 20 home runs. It was averaging 3.02 runs a game and hitting .218 as a team. It’s starting shortstop, Brendan Ryan, was at .195.

People have celebrated the years that Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders are having. Seager’s hitting .256 with 19 homers; Saunders .246 with 19 homers. As promising as Seager and Saunders are, they would be hitting No. 8 and 9 in the order on most teams.

Opponents aren’t hitting much better. Seattle’s foes are hitting .229 and scoring 3.4 runs per game at Safeco.

Other than spicing up the offense, the best argument for moving the fences in is that now the Mariners, if they open their wallets, might have a better shot at luring free-agent hitters to Seattle. Adrian Beltre is the one exception in recent years, and you all know how his numbers at Seattle compare to the numbers he put up in Los Angeles, and later at Boston and Texas.

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the argument that Seattle’s current hitters will have a better psyche when they step into the batter’s box. Professional hitters don’t let things like that get in their heads. If the Mariners produce more offense in 2013, and they should, don’t give the shorter fences all of the credit. Young hitters like Seager, Saunders, Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley should be better, with or without shorter fences.



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