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Browns hire 'Moneyball' executive Paul DePodesta to run their football team

The guy who Jonah Hill played in "Moneyball" is now calling the shots in Cleveland.

Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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The Cleveland Browns have hired New York Mets vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta as their new Chief Strategy Officer. The news was first reported by New York Post's Joel Sherman and ESPN's Chris Mortensen and the Browns have since confirmed the hiring.

DePodesta, according to Sherman, will answer only to team owner Jimmy Haslam and president Alec Scheiner.

"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. "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, who is known as an analytics expert, played both baseball and football in Harvard. He got his started in MLB with the Cleveland Indians in 1996. He worked his way up, eventually becoming the special assistant to the general manager, and was then hired by Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics in 1999 (he was featured in the Michael Lewis book Moneyball and was portrayed by Jonah Hill in the movie).


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In 2004, the Dodgers hired him to be their general manager and after being fired in 2005 took a job with the San Diego Padres. His most recent position was an executive with the New York Mets.

"Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart," DePodesta said in that statement. "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."

This hire is the latest shakeup in Cleveland after a disappointing 3-13 season. Earlier this week the Browns fired head coach Mike Pettine -- the third head coach the team has fired in four years -- and general manager Ray Farmer. Farmer was replaced by general counsel Sashi Brown, who was reportedly given final say of the 53-man roster. Brown, who has no scouting experience, was the general counsel to the Jacksonville Jaguars before joining the Browns in 2013 and worked as an attorney before that.

But Brown, like DePodesta, is "analytics driven," according to Vic Carucci of Buffalo News, which appears to be the direction the Browns are going in.

"Paul has invaluable experience in management and leadership with a number of highly successful sports teams," said Brown said in the team statement. "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."

According to ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi, last year Haslam tried to hire former Indians general manager Mark Shapiro.

Cleveland hasn't made the playoff since 2002 and hasn't had a winning season since 2007.

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SB Nation presents: A timeline of the Browns' dysfunctional Week 17