November 5, 2012
Art Howe wants to manage the Blue Jays
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
DENVER - Maybe you’ve heard of Art Howe?
He managed Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s in the Moneyball era.
Art Howe in person is not the same guy portrayed in the movie, that rolly polly, grumpy guy.
“In the movie I never smiled once,” a smiling Howe, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 185 pounds, said the other day at the Denver airport.
Of course, Howe had an immediate reason to smile, a day after watching his Wyoming Cowboys beat the Colorado State Rams 45-31 to win the Bronze Boot for the fourth straight year in the 104th edition of the football border war between Wyoming and Colorado universities.
Since being Ron Washington’s bench coach with the Texas Rangers in 2007-08, Howe has been a Houston Astros broadcaster.
“In the movie I was always grumpy, me against Billy,” said Howe. “It was like the team won despite me in the movie.”
Every movie needs a villain.
“Physically the actor didn’t resemble me,” Howe said. “He was a little on the heavy side. The way he portrayed me was very disappointing, probably 180 degrees from what I really am.”
Howe, 65, played 11 years in the majors, managing 14 years in the majors, first with the Astros, then the A’s and finally the New York Mets.
“I got along with players, they loved me,” Howe said. “Our guys liked being at the park, our travelling secretary, Mickey Morabito, used to ask. ‘Why are we paying for the team bus?’ Everyone came to the park early on their own, ahead of the bus.”
Art Howe wants to be the next manager of your Toronto Blue Jays.
• • •
From Esquire’s Q and A interview with actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who portrayed Howe in the movie.
Interviewer Scott Raab: “Are you aware of Howe’s reaction to your portrayal of him in Moneyball?”
Hoffman: “Yeah. He’s not very happy. I kind of hope I get to meet Art Howe one day and tell him, ‘Listen, Art. I actively did not play you, okay? You should’ve taken your name off it.’
“This wasn’t enough of a part that it was gonna represent Art Howe at all. So I had to do a job. I was a tool. I had to play him a certain way to create a problem. But I knew there’s no way I could fill out who Art Howe was with what was written there. And so he has every right. He needs to know. ‘Art, I know that was not a fair representation of you as a person whatsoever.’ The story was about something else.”
• • •
“I want to manage again, the best thing I have going for me is my experience — seven years in the NL, seven in the AL,” said Howe, 65. “Toronto has always been an interesting team, they have some nice talent and were very competitive until they fell off with those injuries to their position players.
“The New York Yankees are a little long in the tooth, with 13 free agents. Toronto plays in the toughest division in baseball, but they are only a few pieces away from doing something.”
One piece is the vacant manager’s office.
And clues for any job hunt can usually be traced to past connections ... general manager Alex Anthopoulos hiring talented scouting director Dana Brown away from his job as scouting director of the Nationals to be his special assistant, after they were together with the Montreal Expos ... J.P. Ricciardi hiring John Gibbons, his former teammate at class-A Shelby in 1981 in the New York Mets system.
Howe has a connection to the front office: Jays director of pro scouting Perry Minasian, who used to be the Rangers advance scout.
“I know Perry from Texas. We’d sit and discuss the Rangers needs,” said Howe, who wrote out the lineups each night for manager Washington. “Perry was pretty much spot on, we needed pitching at the time.
“Perry was heavily involved, a bright young guy. Perry went to Toronto, I went to Houston. I had a wonderful relationship with Washington, we’re still best of friends.”
• • •
The first game Howe managed for the A’s was 1996 opener against the Jays at Cashman Field in Las Vegas , since the Oakland Coliseum was under construction. His five busiest starters began the season with a grand total of 10 wins in the majors: Doug Johns (five), Ariel Prieto (two), Steve Wojciechowski (two), Don Wengert (one), John Wasdin (zero).
They won 78 games to finish 12 games behind the Texas Rangers.
The next season, his top starters had a combined 29 wins entering the year: Dave Telgheder (11), Prieto (eight), Mike Oquist (five), Steve Karsay (four) and Brad Rigby (zero).
The A’s won 65 times to finish 25 games back.
“My second year we lost 97 games, Mark McGwire was traded to St. Louis, Terry Steinbach, who had 35 homers the year before, left as a free agent,” Howe said. “We were rebuilding. When I first got there we were the worst team in the league.
“You had a feeling, we could do could everything perfectly and still might not win. We took it on the chin.”
The next June scouting director, Grady Fuson, drafted right-hander Mark Mulder from Michigan State University with the second pick in North America. Lefty Barry Zito was a first-rounder (ninth over-all) in 1999 from USC and third baseman Eric Chavez was the 10th pick in 1996. Right-hander Tim Hudson was a sixth-rounder from Auburn in 1997.
The A’s won 91 games to win the AL West in 2000 under Howe, 102 the next year to win the wild card and 103 in 2002 to win the division.
“Those back-to-back 100-win seasons were special, especially the 20-game win streak in 2002, seeing everyone contribute, every day it was a different guy.”
The A’s won 20 straight from Aug. 13 to Sept. 4 with Hudson winning four games, Zito and Mulder three each, as Chavez hit .338 with six homers, 28 RBIs and a 1.010 OPS.
“The 20th game was remarkable, I remember saying to our pitching coach Rick Peterson, ‘Finally a laugher,’ (bench coach) Ken Macha saying, ‘Don’t say that.’ We’re up 11-0 after three, with Hudson our best guy on the mound, it was money in the bank.”
After the Kansas City Royals tied the score in the top of the ninth, Howe pinch hit Scott Hatteberg for Eric Byrnes.
Hatteberg hit a walk-off homer.
• • •
Howe was impressed with the way Edwin Encarnacion “came into his own,” this season with the Jays, saying, “Sometimes it takes players a while to get their feet on the ground.”
He points out that Jose Bautista remains “a premier power-hitter.”
Asked about ace Ricky Romero, who struggled this season he qualifies his answer.
“I’m not comparing him to guys I played with, like Nolan Ryan or J.R. Richard, but when I see young pitchers struggle with their command, you have to remember, with some guys it takes a while,” said Howe. “You have to have patience.
“I don’t want my players having additional pressure from me. I want what’s best for them and the team.”
Art Howe wants to manage the Jays.
“Yes,” Howe says, “someone showed me the apology in Esquire.”