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

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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.

Dodgers upset with Héctor Neris after Thursday’s game

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July hasn’t treated Phillies closer Héctor Neris well. Entering Thursday, he had allowed runs in three of his last four appearances, blowing two saves in the process. His struggles continued as he allowed a two-out solo home run to Alex Verdugo in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon, closing the deficit to 7-6. Thankfully for the Phillies, he was able to get the final out, getting Justin Turner to fly out to right field. An excited Neris looked into the Dodgers’ dugout and yelled an expletive.

The four-game series between the Dodgers and Phillies had quite some drama. After Matt Beaty hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Neris threw a pitch at the next batter, David Freese, seemingly in frustration. Neris was suspended three games. He appealed his punishment, which is why he’s been allowed to pitch. In the fourth inning of Thursday’s game, Max Muncy and Beaty stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle on consecutive plays. That, along with his own struggles, explains why Neris might’ve been amped up after closing out the ballgame.

The Dodgers were, understandably, not happy about Neris yelling at them. Several players shouted back, including Clayton Kershaw and Russell Martin. An unamused Muncy glared at Neris. Martin suggested to Neris that they meet in the hallway.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game, “I think we played this series the right way, played it straight. To look in our dugout and to taunt in any way, I think it’s unacceptable. Look in your own dugout.”

Muncy said, “He’s blown about eight saves against us over the last two years. I guess he was finally excited he got one. Whatever.”

Neris attributed his outburst to emotions, saying, “It’s a great win for my team and just I let my emotion get out.”

In baseball, everyone is pro-showing-emotion when it’s himself and his teammates, and against when it’s players on the other team. Muncy got into a back-and-forth with Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after flipping his bat and watching his long home run at Oracle Park last month. Bumgarner jawed at him and Muncy said, “I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”

Neris, however, is the last guy on the Phillies who should be antagonizing the Dodgers after his terrible decision to throw at Freese, not to mention his overall poor performance against them. The Phillies were pigs in mud who wanted to wrestle and the Dodgers jumped in with them for some reason. Thankfully, the two teams are done playing each other for the rest of the regular season.