As news was breaking late yesterday afternoon that the Toronto Blue Jays had inked left-handed reliever J.P. Howell to a one-year pact, former Jays General Manager and current Los Angeles Dodgers VP of Operations Alex Anthopoulos was settling in for an appearance on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown as luck would have it.
Anthopoulos who just completed his first season as a member of the Dodgers front office had the privilege of seeing Howell first hand during the 2016 season. The Jays former brain-trust had nothing but praise for Howell and quipped about his moral fiber and that he was a manager’s dream.
“He’s a great guy, the first thing that comes to mind is outstanding guy in the clubhouse. Great influence to the guys in the bullpen. One day whenever he’s done playing–which is hopefully a long time–I could see him being a coach and doing some things in the game but great competitor, not afraid at all. I remember seeing him out of the draft [in 2004], so I’ve been familiar with him for quite some time.”
Anthopoulos didn’t stop there: “It’s not big stuff but if you look at the results each year he gets very good results out of the bullpen even though there’s not a lot of power to his stuff, he can really pitch and he’s not afraid and he brings great experience to the bullpen…It seems like a great move [for the Blue Jays].”
“The thing with J.P. is he’ll take the ball, you ask him to go three innings he’ll go three innings,” Anthopoulos said. “You ask him one [he’ll go one], so he really can do anything at any time and he won’t say no to anything. He’s a manager’s dream in that respect.”
When you consider the current market this offseason for relievers, the Jays may have found a diamond in the rough with Howell not only on the field but off as well. You have to figure Howell combined with Jason Grilli should keep it light in the bullpen and be a positive influence on the youngsters honing their craft.
A look into Howell’s Twitter profile portrays a man obviously guided by his faith but also a team-first guy with numerous posts and pictures about his Dodgers teammates including a photo of Rich Hill being awarded the “Player of the Game” Championship belt from Josh Reddick.
Oh, and he already has a red “maple leaf” as his display photo. Welcome to Canada J.P.