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2007 MLB Free Agents: Justin Speier

After wrongly leaving Justin Speier off my Top 50 Free Agents list, I felt the need to make it up to him by giving him his very own post.

Speier was drafted by the Cubs back in '95, buried in the 55th round.  He was a reliever from Day 1.  The Cubs made a pretty poor trade for bullpen help at the trading deadline in '98, sending Speier, Kevin Orie, and Todd Noel to the Marlins for Felix Heredia.

Things didn't go well for him in Florida, leading to a trade to Atlanta for a no-namer. Speier was placed on waivers at year's end and the Indians claimed him.  He pitched well for the Tribe in 2000 but was sent to the Mets for a no-namer the next year.  The Mets designated him for assignment after ten days, but Speier was out of options and didn't make it through waivers.  He became a Rockie.

After two solid seasons in Colorado (including some closer duty), the Blue Jays rescued him in the winter of '03 in the Joe Kennedy/Mark Hendrickson trade.  Speier got some saves in '04 under Carlos Tosca, though a sore elbow sidelined him in May.

He was to begin '05 as the Jays' closer, but Miguel Batista got the gig instead.  Ligament damage in the middle finger of his pitching hand popped up in September to end a fine season (Speier allowed fewer than one baserunner per inning).

The finger injury recurred in spring of 2006, but he was fine to start the season as B.J. Ryan's setup man.  Forearm issues came about this August, causing Speier to post his smallest inning total in a long time.

Speier has solid command, with a career K/BB of 2.5.  Scouting report from Keith Law:

"Speier is a three-pitch reliever with good command of all three. He has a low-90s fastball with a little run but no sink; a tight slider with good tilt; and a splitter that he has improved to the point that it's a very effective weapon against left-handed hitters. When he's on, he keeps everything at or just above hitters' knees, garnering strikes and some bad swings. His fastball is flat, however, and he'll give up a lot of home runs if he has to pitch in the upper half of the zone."

According to ESPN, Speier throws about 64% fastballs, 29% sliders, and 7% other stuff.

I could see Speier commanding a deal similar to Kyle Farnsworth's - three years, $17MM with incentives and a signing bonus.  The closer market is terrible, and Speier is one of the better choices.


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wow!!! I thought he was gone. Now lets get some good pitching

wow!!! I thought he was gone. Now lets get some good pitching

he is a good pitcher from what ive seen on tv. he should get a good deal

He never impressed me in Cleveland, but maybe it's time for a return gig.

Anyone else expect Boston to throw money at him? Because I do. Or at least, that's what I'd like to see.

Speier is a little overrated. He only had like 4 blown saves last years, which isn't great...but his inherited runners stranded percentage was one of the worst on the team (though he got the most workload too)...he let something like 40-45 percent of the 50 or so baserunners he inherited score...obviously this doesn't go to his ERA. He seems unclutch sometimes, but overall I guess he's pretty solid. I'd like the Jays to keep him but not pay him that much, so even though he likes it here then he'll probably go for more then a 2 year 6 million contract...He's also something like 33, so....Will miss him.

I'm curious...what's considered a "good" percentage in allowing inherited runners to score? I feel like 40% may not be that bad...given that I'm sure many of these runs tend to score on sac flies, groundouts, etc; things that really aren't a pitcher's fault. I can't find these stats anywhere, though, so I don't have anything to compare Speier to.

i see the redsox really purusing speier. He pitched very well agianst the sox and has impressed. The redsox need two arms in the bullpen and hes a perfect fit. He could set up and close games.

i see the redsox really purusing speier. He pitched very well agianst the sox and has impressed. The redsox need two arms in the bullpen and hes a perfect fit. He could set up and close games.

RE: Inheritred runners, its a good question and important to look at for bullpen guys cause its not in their ERA...like all good stats, they are buried somewhere on espn. There's no sortable version I think; so good to a pitcher...then go to "stats", and the third and bottom box says "miscellaneous pitching." You will see IR, which means inherited runners, and IS, which mean inherited runners scored, as the ESPN glossary says....So, Speier actually let up 17 runners score out of 36. Lets compare to other SETUP MEN in the AL(since they will face similar situations)....Juan Rincon of the Twins. He had similar-ish stats, a 2.91 ERA, etc etc....but he let up 9 out of 29. Now Joel Zumaya: 14 runners out of 40. Interesting. He also had 5 blown saves to Speier's 3, which is the other important thing to look at that most conventional stat holders don't show. Subjectively, Zumaya probably had slightly higher leverage situations thhough.

That Keith Law Scouting Report is off when it comes to Speier's stuff. Speier throws in the mid-90s and will touch 97 with the 4-seamer. His delivery is long but he hides the ball well. When he's on, his slider is filthy but like mentioned in the article, when he's up in the zone he gets hit hard.

desturbd just to give you and idea, Chad Bradford stranded 43 out of 53 runners he inherited this year. I'm not sure if that lead the bigs, but i think it did

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