Today's goal: stopping the "Free agent hitters won't come to the Giants because of the huge ballpark" myth. I don't know for certain it's a myth, mind you, but I have a pretty good idea. I'm not out there, talking to free agent hitters, hearing them laugh off suggestions that AT&T Park will depress their numbers. But here's my logic:
AT&T Park isn't a pitcher's park any more. It was a few years ago. Now it's not. Ballparks are funny like that. Last year, AT&T Park was actually more favorable to hitters. To simplify park factors to an embarrassing degree: take the runs scored by the Giants at home and on the road, take the runs scored by their opponents during the same games, and figure out how all of the runs were distributed*. It's more complicated than that, but the important point to note is that park factors have nothing to do with how good or bad a particular offense is in a given season.
Agents know things that will make them more money. Their hearts pump not blood, but a viscous, green sludge that is made from liquified hundred dollar bills and the tears of children who were just told their favorite player signed with the Yankees. This change doesn't just occur in nature; they have to work toward it. And if the Giants are offering $1M more to the client of an agent, which would mean that the agent's cut would be substantially more if the player would sign with the Giants, the agent needs to have information at his disposal that might ease the concerns of his client. So agents all know about park factors. They're intimately aware of them because not being familiar with them could cost them millions of dollars.
If a player has to choose between a couple of teams, it's not the agent who has to find parking in the Haight on a Saturday night. He doesn't care where the player ends up, apart from the standard close-working-relationship platitudes that can disappear quickly over a million dollar difference. So the agent needs to be able to say, "Look, that place gets a bad rap, but it's really not a pitcher's park anymore. People think of it like the Astrodome or Petco Park, but it's just not like that."
That's the bulk of the argument, but I don't really see how it's refutable with anything other than the idea that some agents might have been locked in a closet as kids by a bunch of numbers and facts, like Brian Sabean was, but that's a stretch. Good agents and even mediocre agents would know this; it would take an especially bad agent to tell Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, gee, maybe that scary park does gobble up home runs, so take less money elsewhere.
Comparatively high state taxes? Cost of living? Home runs disappearing for one-dimensional, left-handed power hitters? Those are legitimate reasons why free agent hitters might not want to come to San Francisco when they could go somewhere else for the same money. AT&T Park as an offense-suppressing bogeyman? Get outta here. And agents know it.
* For example: The Giants scored two of their three runs this season at home, therefore AT&T Park was a "hitter's park."