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“Moneyball” comes to Cleveland – kinda…

After sweeping away the regime that got the Browns to another awful record and high draft pick owner Jimmy Haslam had a lot of hiring to do.


After sweeping away the regime that got the Browns to another awful record and high draft pick owner Jimmy Haslam had a lot of hiring to do. One place no one expected him to look was Baseball. Haslam decided to hire New York Mets vice president of player development and scouting Paul Depodesta – A man whose last job in football was as an intern with the CFL’s Baltimore Stallions in 1995 – to be his new “chief strategy officer”. Whatever that is. Unsurprisingly this move has been met with laughter and “Only the Browns” comments from many circles of both the media and fans, but it’s not as wildly crazy as it sounds. Depodesta came to prominence as Assistant General Manager with the Oakland Athletics, hired by Billy Beane and was a key part of the team’s success in the last 90’s and early 2000’s thanks to some of his unique methods of blending advanced statistics (or Sabremetrics) into his scouting. He was a key figure in Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game, which chronicled how he and Beane found ways to keep the the A’s competitive despite a huge disadvantage in budget (for those who’ve seen the film version starring Brad Pitt, Depodesta was the inspiration for Jonah Hill’s character). If any team could use some out of the box thinking and fresh eyes to their scouting and game strategies it’s Cleveland. Without a General Manager or Head Coach in the building yet, and new vice president of football operations Sashi Brown – another with minimal experience in a football team – having final say on the roster it’s totally unclear where Depodesta will slide in with this new group as they try and steer the Browns out of the mess they’ve been in for so long. It’s possible he could simply be running numbers on play tendencies and giving projected points outcomes to coaches for 4th down decisions. He may bring about a Pulaski Academy-esque change as Cleveland eschew punting, or he might just be looking for a way to link college production to NFL production like he did with baseball. Either way, the risk is minimal and it’s one I think the Browns should be taking. And let’s not forget, if the Patriots, Steelers or Packers came out and said they had hired someone from a baseball team for the back room staff they would be lauded as forwards thinkers, not derided as hopeless or insane.  

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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

“Moneyball” comes to Cleveland – kinda…

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