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Designated for assignment by Reds, should Micah Owings try hitting full time?

Aug 17, 2010, 3:46 PM EDT

Last night the Reds signed first-round pick Yasmani Grandal by giving him a $3 million bonus and a major-league contract, which includes a spot on the 40-man roster. Today that spot was cleared by designating Micah Owings for assignment.
Normally it isn’t news when a team cuts a 27-year-old pitcher with a 5.11 career ERA, but Cincinnati dropping Owings is noteworthy for a couple reasons. First, he once looked capable of being a solid mid-rotation starter and was arguably the centerpiece of the package the Reds received from the Diamondbacks for Adam Dunn.
Beyond that, Owings has made more headlines for his hitting than his pitching over the years, batting .293 with nine homers and a .538 slugging percentage in 198 career plate appearances. Despite that the Reds found just 14 at-bats for him this season while he appeared in 22 games as a pitcher.
Owings is 16-23 with a 5.59 ERA in 258 innings since a promising rookie season in 2007, so I wonder if he’ll decide to give up on pitching to focus on hitting. It couldn’t hurt, right? He’s posted an .861 OPS in what is admittedly limited and sporadic action as a hitter, which is good enough production to be a solid corner outfielder or first baseman, and he was a fantastic hitter in college.
And what is there to lose at this point? He’s proven to be a pretty marginal big-league pitcher and might have to put together a strong run at Triple-A just to resurface as a long reliever or fifth starter. At the very least Owings’ next team should give serious consideration to using him in a true hybrid role, like the Brewers did with Brooks Kieschnick not so long ago.

  1. Doracle - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    I’ve always thought that it would be really cool for an AL club to put a pitcher such as Micah Owings in its lineup every five days and use the DH to hit for a defensive specialist — maybe some kid from AA who is a brilliant fielder but can’t hit at all, as I doubt that any manager would try anything with an established position player.
    Of course, Micah Owings might not be enough of a pitcher for such a strategy to be feasible, and I doubt that the small value gained would be worth it for a manager to take such a chance. I’d still love to see it, just as I’d love to see a relief specialist move to left field for a batter or two before coming back in to pitch.

  2. murd - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    Cox did this a couple years ago. Could be wrong, but I think it was Reitsma that went to right for a batter while a lefty came in to face a lefty.

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