The Cleveland Browns are reaching into the baseball world in an attempt to fix their football operation.
The Browns officially hired New York Mets executive Paul DePodesta as the team’s new chief strategy officer.
“We are fortunate to bring in Paul, an extremely talented, highly respected sports executive who will add a critical dimension to our front office,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “His approach and ambition to find the best pathways for organizational success transcend one specific sport and his experience as a high level sports executive make him a terrific addition to the Cleveland Browns.”
DePodesta, 43, has some experience with football, having played wide reciever at Harvard University and worked for the now-defunct Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League in the 1990s.
However, the veteran executive has spent the majority of his professional career in baseball, working in various front office jobs with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and Mets. The Mets' NL East title in 2015 made him the only MLB executive to win division titles with five different organizations.
DePodesta, who graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics, is best known for his role in the growth of analytics in baseball and is expected to oversee the analytics department in Cleveland.
“Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart,” DePodesta said in a statement. “It was 20 years ago this month, after pursing my first love of football and looking at every possible job in the NFL, that I got the biggest break I could imagine – a job offer from the American League Champion Cleveland Indians. As excited as I was then, I am even more excited now to return to Cleveland and to try to help the Browns.
“My focus is to bring whatever experience and perspective I can to collaborate with the team, with the intent of helping us make more informed and successful decisions. Admittedly, there will be an awful lot for me to learn, but I want nothing more than to help bring consistent, championship caliber football back to Cleveland and Browns fans and I look forward to starting right away.”
DePodesta was one of Billy Beane's primary assistants when the Athletics adpoted the "Moneyball" philosophy. He was also a key figure in Michael Lewis' book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.
DePodesta's character was played by Jonah Hill in the movie, Moneyball, but was named "Peter Brand" because DePodesta did not want his name used. He was reportedly unhappy with how his character was portrayed.
The former Athletics executive was offered the general manager position with the Toronto Blue Jays before the club hired J.P Ricciardi in 2001 and in 2004 became the fifth-youngest general manager in MLB history when the Dodgers hired him at 31 years old.
The Browns are in the early stages of reshaping their front office on the heels of a 3-13 season. The club has already parted ways with former general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine and will have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.