Pitcher-Slugger Micah Owings Signs With Padres

According to Dan Hayes, who covers the Padres for the North County Times, that club has signed pitcher Micah Owings to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.

Jeez, one would hope so.

Owings went 8-0 last season with the Diamondbacks. Sure, he didn't actually pitch as well as his record. But a 3.91 ERA in that ballpark and nearly twice as many strikeouts as walks is highly creditable.

Granted, he probably benefited from shifting to the bullpen after spending most of his professional career as a starter. But then, most relief pitchers are failed starters so there's little shame in that. And this seems like a great fit, as Owings is a fairly extreme fly-ball pitcher and his new home ballpark -- assuming he earns a spot on the squad -- is where fly balls go to die terrible deaths.

Of course, Owings remains best-known not for his pitching, but for his hitting. Career line:

.286/.313/.507

That's only 217 plate appearances and we have to regress his performance because we're big nerds but he's still probably a better hitter than a bunch of every-day shortstops and Chone Figgins. Owings spent a little more than four months with the Diamondbacks last season, and Kirk Gibson deployed him as a pinch-hitter exactly once.

Of course, if you're going to deploy a pitcher as a pinch-hitter -- even a pitcher like Owings -- you're probably going to do it relatively early in a game that you're losing ... and if you're losing a game relatively early, you probably don't want to use one of your relief pitchers who might be needed later. Still, it doesn't seem to me that Gibson used Owings nearly as much as he should have.

We've been blessed with Micah Owings. Now we just need the blessing of a manager who can get the most of this unique-in-the-21st-Century talent.

Update: According to Ken Rosenthal, Owings is actually getting a major-league deal, $1 million for one year. Which obviously gives him a better shot at making the 25-man roster this spring.

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