Speier gets 'dream job' with Angels

November 22nd, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Speier gets 'dream job' with Angels


Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Justin Speier thinks general managers around the majors realize more than ever the importance of a strong bullpen. That concept landed the 33-year-old right-hander a four-year, $18 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
"This is a dream job with a team that's going places, a team that's definitely in championship contention," Speier said Tuesday on a conference call. "It was an opportunity I could not pass up. It was intriguing to me when they came calling."
Speier will earn $3.75 million next season, $4.25 million in 2008, $4.75 million in 2009 and $5.25 million in 2001.
Speier, who agreed to terms on Sunday, joins a bullpen that ranks among the AL's best.
"I think a lot of general managers are watching the playoffs these days and realizing a strong bullpen is essential," he said. "You started seeing setup guys getting paid more than in years past. I think general managers have realized they're an integral part of the game.
"I've been watching the Angels' organization and had my eye on them for 10 years because it is a dream job. They've always had good pitching and a good bullpen."
The Angels already have one of baseball's best closers in Francisco Rodriguez, and an outstanding setup man in Scot Shields, although it's been speculated Shields might be used as trade bait.
"They're both quality relievers," Speier said. "I'm just going to do what I can to fit into this mix. There was some other teams offering me chances to close and definitely set up. That's never been an issue for me.
"I love pitching with the game on the line, whether that's the sixth, seventh, eighth inning. I don't have an ego on that. The more quality arms you have on a team, the better chance you have to win. I'm just excited about being a part of a good bullpen."
Speier recalled the depth and quality of the Angels' bullpen in 2002, a key factor in the team's only World Series championship.
"It's just exactly like Justin said - the '02 playoffs and World Series and everything that led up to do with the strength of the bullpen on that ballclub," general manager Bill Stoneman said. "That really explains why we wanted Justin here. He was the best guy out there and the guy we wanted."
Speier was 2-0 with a 2.98 ERA in 58 appearances for Toronto last season, mostly in a setup role. He walked 21 and struck out 55 in 51 1-3 innings and held opposing batters to a .235 average.
"I enjoyed my time out there. I'm going to miss everybody in Toronto," he said.
Speier's father, Chris, was an infielder in the majors from 1971-1989.
Stoneman wouldn't talk about specifics when asked about other possible moves.
"We're still having some conversations with free agents," he said, adding there had been discussions with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, who both signed with the Chicago Cubs. "The conversations continue. There are guys out there who we think can help us, free agents. We're having conversations with other clubs, too."
Stoneman refused to be specific concerning trade talk.
"Ideally, you'd like to acquire something without giving up something other than money. The two big guys (Soriano and Ramirez) are gone now. I guess you'd say it was more likely but not 100 percent that it's going to come from a trade."
Stoneman said the Angels entered the offseason looking to find help at first base, third base and center field.

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