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Paul DePodesta reverses field, leaves Mets to run NFL’s Browns

New York Mets manager Terry Collins talks

New York Mets manager Terry Collins talks with Mets vice president of player development Paul DePodesta in the dugout before a game against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Photo Credit: AP / Paul Bereswill

The Cleveland Browns on Tuesday announced the hiring of Mets executive Paul DePodesta as the team’s Chief Strategy Officer.

The stunning announcement by the longtime laughingstock NFL franchise means the Mets are losing one of general manager Sandy Alderson’s key lieutenants — but not to another baseball franchise.

DePodesta, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, had been in charge of the Mets’ farm system as their vice president of player development and scouting. The former Harvard wide receiver is expected to bring his analytical background to the Browns, who are still looking to hire a new coach and general manager after going 3-13 in their latest embarrassing season.

“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,” the team said in a news release posted on its official website.

The Browns are remaking their front office and coaching staff after general manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine were fired on Sunday following a dreadful season that featured a sideshow involving former No. 1 pick Johnny Manziel.

DePodesta, in a statement, said: “Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart. 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.”

As Mets farm director, DePodesta’s first-round picks included budding star Michael Conforto, who will be the team’s leftfielder this season, plus still-developing prospects Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini and Dominic Smith.

The Mets did not comment on their plans to replace DePodesta. Alderson and COO Jeff Wilpon issued statements praising DePodesta.

“Working with Sandy, Paul put into process a new approach into player development throughout our organization,” Wilpon said. “Ownership and all of us at the Mets thank Paul for his tireless efforts. We look forward to seeing Paul’s continued success with the Browns.”

Said Alderson: “Paul completely reorganized the Mets scouting and player development functions and had an extraordinary impact in both areas, but he was also very directly involved in our trade and free agent acquisitions. 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.”

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