|Hitter or pitcher? How about both?
Talk of the Reds converting Micah Owings into a full-time hitter is gaining momentum in Cincinnati after his first start of the season went poorly last week and he delivered a key two-run double as a pinch-hitter Sunday. Owings now sports a .322/.357/.562 hitting line in 131 career plate appearances, which certainly looks a whole lot better than his 5.01 ERA in 262 career innings when trying to determine his long-term role.
With that said, 131 trips to the plate spread over three seasons is an awfully small sample of data from which to make decisions about his future as a hitter and Owings' terrible 40/7 K/BB ratio makes maintaining his current .919 OPS highly unlikely. On the other hand, he also went 23-for-65 (.354) in the minors despite an even worse 19/0 K/BB ratio and hit .365 with 18 homers in 64 games during his final season at Tulane.
Oh, and there's also the matter of his pitching ability. Owings struggled mightily in 2008 and took the loss in his first start this year, but he's hardly a bum on the mound. He was 6-2 with a 3.73 ERA and 55/20 K/BB ratio through 10 starts last year before injuries struck and went 8-8 with a 4.30 ERA for the Diamondbacks as a rookie in 2007. If healthy he's capable of being a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
The Reds certainly need pitching enough to keep trotting him out there every fifth day, but why not also give him, say, one start per week in the outfield? That way he keeps developing primarily as a pitcher, but also gets exposed a bit more offensively to show whether or not he's truly an option as an everyday player. He thrived in the dual role in college and with their left fielders hitting .195 the Reds could use the help there as well.