The Twins will unveil their official plans for the new stadium soon, and I've been thinking a lot about what it should be like. I'm sure it will end up being a hitter's park, but is that wise from an organizational standpoint? I am inclined to say no.
Minnesota is a small market. Even after the boost in revenue that the new stadium will bring, for the balance of the 30 year lease the Twins are signing, revenue and payroll will be lower then most Major League Teams. They rely on scouting and player development to compete. This is something that the Twins have been able to do over the past 6 years, but you have to consider that there will be seasons where the Twins will lose players or have to make a shrewd free agent signing to stay competitive.
So, if a small market team is forced to choose between Position Player/Hitter A and Pitcher B, which is usually the best choice? The answer is the pitcher. A team can still compete with a stellar pitching staff and a terrible lineup. The reverse is not true, or at least not as true. Let's say you, as a GM, have $40 mil to spend on 4 players to build a team around ($10 mil each). In a perfect world, you'd probably pick 2 starters, 1 closer, and 1 power hitter.
A pitcher's park would make it easier to lure pitchers to your organization. It also would diminish the stats of your hitters, making their salaries less expensive. So it would be easier to retain hitters and easier to bring in pitchers. A hitter's park would do the opposite, but that would handcuff a GM a little more. The Rockies are a perfect example of how a hitter's park can keep good pitching away. A pitcher's park doesn't really keep hitters away.
The best reason to favor a pitcher's park, however, is defense. Fielding is by far the most underrated aspect of the game. A pitcher's park would allow a good defensive to shine that much brighter. Extra foul territory would allow infielders and corner outfielders with good range to effect the game more in the field. Deep walls would make outfielders' range and throwing arms more important. It would allow a GM the option of leaning more towards the least expensive commodity in baseball: fielding. This could save you a precious few mil from time to time.
Beyond the dimensions of the field, I do have some other wants for the new ballpark, but they are just personal preferences. I would like to see 10 foot walls in the outfield instead of the 7 foot wall in left in the Metrodome (better for robbing home runs). I would like to see the bullpen in the outfield, but I also want as much outfield seating along the wall as possible (nothing like catching a home run ball). I would also like to have some seating above the hitter's backdrop in dead center (I really enjoy the view from directly behind the pitcher). The last thing I would want is field level seating behind the plate, but I'm sure they are already planning on that.
All that being said, I'm sure I'll love the new park even if not a single one of my preferences are met.