Owings: pitcher or batter?

I will go ahead and take an unpopular dissenting opinion. I’m not in favor of turning pitcher Micah Owings into a left fielder. I know he can hit and it isn’t a fluke. In 121 at-bats, he’s batting .322 with five homers, 11 doubles and 21 RBIs. That’s including his huge pinch-hit double that drove in two runs in the seventh inning for a 4-2 Reds win over the Astros on Sunday.

I know the Reds are hitting a MLB-worst .210 right now. With pitching being such a premium in the long run, are you really willing to trash a healthy arm for the extra bat in the short term? Owings has had the benefit of hitting pretty much every five days as a starting pitcher and once in a while as a pinch-hitter. He’s rarely had to grind through every day feeling less than 100 percent. He’s never been mired in a prolonged slump that comes with regular play over 162 games. And he’s never played left field in the Majors. You had zero tolerance for Adam Dunn’s less than stellar defense in left field. What would you do if Owings took a bad route on a fly ball at Great American Ball Park? The answer is you’d jump all over him.

A few years from now when Owings can no longer successfully pitch, whether it’s because of age or injury, then that’s an easy move to groom him for an every day spot at first base or the outfield. But for now, he’s just 26 and I’m still high on his potential as a pitcher. He’s had one start for the Reds. Let him pitch before we change his career for him.

“I just like the opportunity. I enjoy it,” Owings said of hitting. “I had opportunities in high school and college and I can’t say enough about the opportunities I’ve gotten in my pro career so far. Every time I get in there, I’m just going to enjoy it and do the best that I can.”

And of course, Owings knew the question was coming about becoming an every day player.

“I don’t want to go there. I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “I will work on getting ready for Tuesday. I feel like I’ve worked hard and made a lot of strides. The outcome was what any of us wanted the other night. It’s a long season and I have to focus on the next time I get out there and each pitch.”

11 Comments

I might be wrong – but isn’t it easier to find quality hitting then quality pitching? It seems short sighted to want to turn him into an outfielder.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Dickerson is on track to be our everyday LF as soon as he gets a little more experience with lefties. Shaking up our lineup/giving guys a day off seems a better answer to the Reds poor hitting than changing a good 5th starter to an inexperienced LF.
-Dave in Indy
http://bigdavemachine.mlblogs.com

I agree. It doesn’t make sense to discard Owings’ training/experience as a pitcher just because he’s had one mediocre outing and because the Reds need another bat. I’m all for pinch hitting him on his off days (as long as it doesn’t adversely affect his pitching), but let the pitcher pitch. Besides, neither Masset nor Bailey seems ready to step up and take his spot in the rotation.

Totally agree Mr Sheldon. The guy is a pitcher first and could be a very good one at that. He’s pretty good at hitting but it almost seems like a talented rookie on his first callup. No one knows him and think he’s just another pitcher with a bat. Through the course of a full season I’m doubtful he can keep up this pace, and in the end how much better is he going to hit than the LF’s the Reds already have? Definitely not worth losing one of your best young SP’s for.

Agreed. I think it would be a big mistake to turn Micah Owings into a left fielder. It is a problem that would have worried me 3-4 years ago. But I don’t think that Walt Jocketty would allow such a decision to be made.Russhttp://wight4256.mlblogs.com

Okay, so we leave Owings as a pitcher, but somebody’s got to hit on this team. We were built for speed, but have only 4 stolen bases. I’m thnking a depressing % of our runs have come on HR’s. Brandon’s not hitting, Edwin’s not hitting, the bottom third of the order is missing in action, and our best PH is a pitcher. We need three things more than Micah in LF: we need our hitters to hit, we need a bopper in the order (Jay Bruce, perhaps) and another off the bench. And when will we beat a left-handed SP? And while I’m at it, how many games has it been since we started a LHP? Can we really compete without a LH starter? Don’t want to sound ungrateful for 6-5, but watching the Reds and Astros flail away at each other is Benagls-Lions redux.

Owings is a pitcher who can hit. Not a LF who can also pitch. If the Reds had 2-3 other guys pitching lights out in AAA who could fill the #5 spot, then you consider it.

The team is in a hitting slump. These things fix themselves. If this happened in the middle of the season this would be just a slump and everyone would be happy to be 6-5 over such a stretch.

The Reds are beating who they should to be a top tier team. They could have won 2 out of 3 against the Mets, can they do so against the division favorites? I would be happy with 1 out of 3 in Chicago.

Agree with you 100%.
But because the Reds have but only one decent hitter (VOTTO) on their line-up, people starts to think that way.

The Reds NEEDS badly a #4 hitter that at least can make contact with the ball with regularity. Not to mention a power hitter. Phillips could be ok to be a # 6 or 7 hitter.

And I keep saying that Jay Bruce is well over-rated. He will give you a homer here and there but he is not what people expect. He is another Kearns.

Agree with you 100%.
But because the Reds have but only one decent hitter (VOTTO) on their line-up, people starts to think that way.

The Reds NEEDS badly a #4 hitter that at least can make contact with the ball with regularity. Not to mention a power hitter. Phillips could be ok to be a # 6 or 7 hitter.

And I keep saying that Jay Bruce is well over-rated. He will give you a homer here and there but he is not what people expect. He is another Kearns.

Agree with you 100%.
But because the Reds have but only one decent hitter (VOTTO) on their line-up, people starts to think that way.

The Reds NEEDS badly a #4 hitter that at least can make contact with the ball with regularity. Not to mention a power hitter. Phillips could be ok to be a # 6 or 7 hitter.

And I keep saying that Jay Bruce is well over-rated. He will give you a homer here and there but he is not what people expect. He is another Kearns.

MO played some left field at Tulane, but he was really much better at first base, which he played every day that he wasn’t pitching. So if you’re looking forward to a post-pitching career field position, think first base. But also fyi, the more he played, the better he played – so don’t think he couldn’t handle a more frequent presence on the playing field.

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