10/29/2003 6:53 PM ET
Spiezio files for free agency
Agent: Angels 'have to figure it out'
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Scott Spiezio played in a career-high 158 games in 2003. (Matt Sayles/AP)
The long-anticipated time for decision-making has arrived for Scott Spiezio and the Anaheim Angels.
On Tuesday, the Angels' popular first baseman filed for free agency and can begin discussing money with clubs other than the Angels on Nov. 10.
Spiezio's agent, Barry Meister, said Wednesday that he already had been contacted by 11 teams.
"I've heard from almost a dozen clubs in less than two days," Meister said. "And I don't get the sense that very many clubs see Scott Spiezio as a utility player."
Scott Spiezio / 1B
Spiezio, 31, emerged as the Angels' starting first baseman in 2002 when Shawn Wooten was hurt in Spring Training. He responded with a career year, batting .285 with 12 home runs and 82 RBIs.
He also was one of the team's best players during their memorable World Series championship. Spiezio batted .327 in the postseason and tied the record for postseason RBIs with 19.
Three of those RBIs came on the biggest home run in franchise history -- a seventh-inning shot off Giants reliever Felix Rodriguez that got the Angels back in the game in Game 6 of the World Series.
After signing a one-year, $4.25 million deal for 2003, Spiezio played in a career-high 158 games -- 90 starts at first base, 43 at third -- and batted .265 with 16 home runs and a career-high 83 RBIs.
His RBIs ranked second on Angels to Garret Anderson, who drove in 117 runs.
Regarding Spiezio's chances of remaining in Anaheim next year and beyond, Meister said his client loved his time as an Angel but wasn't sure in which direction the club was headed.
"We don't have enough information from the Angels to really help Scott formulate an opinion," Meister said. "We need an opinion of Scott's role, the length of a contract and the dollar amount. When Scott has all the information, he can fully evaluate it.
"He's really enjoyed being an Angel and he'd be very interested in continuing, but we need more information. That's the bottom line. It seems to me the Angels would want to put their best team on the field, and they need a guy who has driven in 80 runs in back-to-back seasons, hit more than 15 runs, and been a good defender.
"Everybody who calls feels that year in and year out, Scott is a really clutch player. We all saw what he did when he got into the postseason. Lots and lots of people value those skills."
"The Angels paid him a significant salary this season, and they got just what they expected, I think. Based on that, he needs to be able to evaluate what their plans are. They just have to figure it out."
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman indicated that the team isn't quite ready to do that yet.
"He was a great guy to have here for four years and it would be great to have him continue here," Stoneman said.
"It's just that with our planning for '04, I'm not sure how it's all going to sort itself out and depending on who plays where, right now it would be hard to say that he has an everyday job at first base when what we end up doing may change it."
What Stoneman is referring to is the possibility that hobbled center fielder Darin Erstad might be forced to move to first base because of lingering effects from hamstring tendinitis that kept him out of 95 games last year.
If Erstad plays first base, Spiezio would likely be relegated to a backup role, something he seemingly does not want to pursue with the Angels.
"He's a popular player with the fans and a popular player with the GM, no question," Stoneman said. "In the end, what we've got to do is put together a club that's going to give us the best chance to get back into the World Series and win.
"What we did do in 2003 was pretty much keep everything the same as it was at the end of '02, and we did that very intentionally, but as everybody knows, '03 didn't turn out like '02, and it looks like we'll be making some adjustments."
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