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Remember The Name Justin Miller


That handsome son of a bitch over there is Justin Miller. Miller, it turns out, is the other minor league free agent the Mariners signed today, in addition to Sean Kazmar. The move hasn't drawn much attention, and Miller isn't exactly a special player, but unlike Kazmar, Miller is at least moderately interesting.

I first learned Miller's name back after the 2000 season, when Baseball America ranked him the 84th-best prospect in the league. Things didn't really go his way for a while, and he wasn't able to establish himself as an effective arm in the bigs until 2007, when he worked out of the Florida bullpen. But for a few years, the righty reliever has done some good work.

In 2007, Miller struck out 74 batters in 61.2 innings. In 2008, he struck out 43 in 46.2. In 2009, he was miserable, but in 2010, over 24.1 innings with the Dodgers, he whiffed 30 guys. This after pitching pretty well in AAA Albuquerque.

In three of the last four years, Miller's been a fairly decent bullpen arm. And in the other year, he wound up having surgery for bone spurs, which could explain his lousy command. It's something. Just this morning, I was looking over the Mariners' pitching staff and seeing that there are probably openings in the bullpen - especially if David Aardsma and/or Josh Lueke get traded. Miller's an option.

The righty isn't a grounderballer, but he isn't an extreme flyballer, either, staying around neutral. He works almost exclusively off of a high-80s fastball and a high-70s slider in a 50/50 mix. Given that mix, it should come as little surprise that Miller can struggle against left-handed hitters - there's a reason he was a minor league free agent, after all - but he's really quite good against righties, which makes him useful against the right lineups. The man did just last year have 30 strikeouts and six unintentional walks.

Miller's no savior. He's a middle reliever who's had some success in the National League. The reason I ask that you remember his name is because the M's look like they'll have some openings, and Miller could and should have a pretty good chance of making the team. You can't give every spot to a prospect. Especially when you don't have that many prospects.

As a fun fact, Miller was once involved in a three-way trade that included both Jeff Cirillo and Jamey Wright, so if he makes the team and ends up sucking, we'll have a good idea why.