It appears as though the Browns want to play Moneyball.
Former New York Mets Vice President of Player Development and Scouting and General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Paul DePodesta, is coming to Cleveland to be the Chief Strategy Officer of the Browns, the team confirmed on Tuesday morning.
In said role as Chief Strategy Officer, "DePodesta will be responsible for assessing and implementing best practices and strategies that will provide the organization with the comprehensive resources needed to make optimal decisions," according to a team press release.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam welcomed DePodesta aboard with the following statement in the release.
“We are fortunate to bring in Paul, an extremely talented, highly respected sports executive who will add a critical dimension to our front office,” said Haslam. “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.
“While we are excited about what Paul will provide our organization, we remain fully focused on the critical task of identifying the right head coach and a top talent evaluator who will provide the football expertise needed to be successful.”
Sashi Brown, Cleveland's newly appointed Executive VP of Football Operations will work with DePodesta and is looking forward to that experience, according to the release.
“Paul has invaluable experience in management and leadership with a number of highly successful sports teams,” said Brown. “His ability to create better processes and systems throughout organizations, his use of data as a tool to produce better outcomes, and his relentless focus on looking for innovative ways to create more success will be a strong asset as we look to be as comprehensive as possible in our decision making.
“Additionally, Paul will help members of our player development, high performance and analytics departments maximize their efforts. There are many areas that we have not fully capitalized on that will enhance the growth and performance of our players over time.”
DePodesta said in the release that he is looking forward to his return to Cleveland, where his career in professional sports began.
“Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart,” said DePodesta. “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.”
While DePodesta played baseball and football at Harvard, he has spent nearly 20 years in Major League Baseball, making this his first job in the NFL.
As he stated previously, DePodesta, 43, started his career in professional sports with the Cleveland Indians in 1996 as an advance scout, before joining Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics as an assistant to the general manager in 1999.
It was when DePodesta joined the A's that the "Moneyball" movement started in Oakland, as DePodesta used a new and analytical approached, based on numbers and statistics, to shape the A's roster.
DePodesta was featured in Michael Lewis' world-renown book, "Moneyball", and his character was later portrayed by actor Jonah Hill in the film adaptation with the same title.
In the film, DePodesta's name was not used, per his request. Instead, the character went by the name of "Peter Brand."
Following his time in Oakland, DePodesta, a hot commodity in the baseball world, was named the GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 at just 31-years old.
His stint in L.A. lasted only until 2005, before he moved on to the San Diego Padres in 2006 as the Special Assistant for Baseball Operations before he was promoted to the team's Executive Vice President position in 2008.
In 2010, DePodesta was hired to his role with the Mets, which he had until this recent move.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam announced the firings of GM Ray Farmer and HC Mike Pettine on Sunday night, at which time he also appointed Brown as its new Executive Vice President of Football Operations.
Haslam indicated that Brown would have control of the team's 53-man roster and would have final say in any NFL Draft selection.
Following the news of Brown's promotion, Haslam said the team would hire a head coach before naming the new general manager, using consultant Jed Hughes of the international search firm, Korn Ferry, to help make that decision.
While DePodesta is well known for his analytical approach to the game of baseball-- and approach which quickly caught on and turned into the "sabermetrics" phenomenon-- Brown too is known for his analytical approach to the game of football.
Each of these Harvard graduates will play an important role in the team's upcoming "several-year rebuild" that Haslam presented on Sunday evening.
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.