In a surprising move, Mets vice president of player development and amateur scouting Paul DePodesta left the team for a position with the NFL's Cleveland Browns on Tuesday. Both the Mets and Browns have announced the news. DePodesta's official title with Cleveland is Chief Strategy Officer.
"Paul completely reorganized the Mets scouting and player development functions and had extraordinary impact on both areas, but he was also very directly involved in our trade and free agent acquisitions," said Mets GM Sandy Alderson in a statement. "His commitment to excellence and his passion for innovation will be missed by the Mets and all of baseball. I wish him well with the Browns."
DePodesta, 43, played both baseball and football at Harvard before graduating with a degree in economics in 1995. He's very bright and has long been considered among the most innovative execuives in baseball. Here is a timeline of DePodesta's career.
Cleveland Indians: Advance scout (1996-97) and assistant GM (1998)
DePodesta began his baseball career in Cleveland, the same city where he will begin his football career. He is a football guy at heart too. In fact, DePodesta admitted he joined the Indians in 1996 only after failing to get a job with an NFL team out of college.
"Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart,” said DePodesta in a statement Tuesday. "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."
Oakland Athletics: Assistant GM (1999-2004)
DePodesta worked under GM Billy Beane in Oakland, which earned him a prominent place in Michael Lewis' landmark book Moneyball. The character Peter Brand, portrayed by Jonah Hill, was based mostly on DePodesta in the film adaptation of the book.
For all intents and purposes, DePodesta was Beane's right hand man from 1999-04. The A's won three AL West titles and went to the postseason four times in those five seasons, though they never did advance beyond the ALDS.
Los Angeles Dodgers: GM (2004-05)
DePodesta was named GM of the Dodgers at age 31, which made him the fifth youngest GM in baseball history. Due to Moneyball, DePodesta was portrayed as a stats heavy executive and was routinely mocked in the media when the team struggled. He was nicknamed "Google Boy" by local columnists.
Under DePodesta the Dodgers went 93-69 in 2004 before losing the NLDS. They went 71-91 in 2005 and DePodesta was fired after the season. Many of his pickups went on to help the team after he was fired, most notably Brady Penny and Derek Lowe. DePodesta also acquired Steve Finley, Milton Bradley, and Dioner Navarro, among others.
It was reported at the time that team owner Frank McCourt fired DePodesta because he was unable to find a suitable replacement for manager Jim Tracy, who left the team following the 2005 season due to "philosophical differences."
San Diego Padres: Special assistant for baseball operations (2006-08) and executive vice president (2008-10)
DePodesta's and Alderson's time with the A's didn't overlap -- Alderson was in Oakland from 1981-98 -- but they did work together with the Padres. Alderson was the team's CEO at the time. For all intents and purposes, DePodesta was an advisor to GMs Kevin Towers (2008-09) and Jed Hoyer (2009-10), though it didn't appear he had the same pull as he did with the Athletics.
New York Mets: Vice president of player development and amateur scouting (2010-15)
DePodesta joined Alderson with the Mets, where he was not only responsible for the farm system, but also had input into major league acquisitions. Although DePodesta did not draft Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom -- they were drafted by the previous front office regime -- he did run the farm system when they developed into the aces they are today.
Also, DePodesta had input into the acquisitions of Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, as well as the decision to trade Ike Davis and stick with Lucas Duda as the primary first baseman. The Mets went to the World Series in 2015 and DePodesta's fingerprints are all over their roster.
It's unclear how DePodesta's baseball acumen will translate over to football. He is passionate about the game however, and he is incredibly smart and creative. Despite the "Google Boy" moniker and perhaps not getting a fair shake in Moneyball, DePodesta is an incredibly well-regarded executive and one of the brightest baseball minds of his generation.