Browns go 'Moneyball' with hire of MLB executive DePodesta


The Cleveland Browns have hired a notable name from the world of baseball in a bid to help their flagging fortunes in the NFL.

Paul DePodesta has been named the Browns chief strategy officer after a dismal 2015 season that resulted in a 3-13 record, as well as the firing of coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.

DePodesta gained fame as the right-hand man to innovative Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane 15 years ago, whose success was immortalized in Michael Lewis' best-seller "Moneyball" and the subsequent movie.

He has spent the past five years working as the New York Mets' vice president of player development and amateur scouting, but will switch sports - although he did play wide receiver at Harvard - and return to Cleveland, where he held his first job in baseball as an advance scout for the Indians in the mid-1990s.

"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.

"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's arrival comes on the heels of the outside-the-box promotion of 39-year-old Sashi Brown to executive vice president of football operations and would appear to signal a strong shift toward analytics in the front office of a franchise that continues to flail for stability.

"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 calibre football back to Cleveland and Browns fans and I look forward to starting right away."