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Sears adds baseball's DePodesta to board

Sarah Skidmore, AP Business Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Sears Holdings Corp. is reaching into world of "Moneyball" for guidance as the retailer tries to turn around its struggling business.

The operator of Sears and Kmart stores said Thursday that Paul DePodesta, vice president of player development and amateur scouting for the New York Mets, has been elected to its board.

DePodesta is best-known for his work as an assistant general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team in the years featured in the Michael Lewis book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning in an Unfair Game" and a subsequent movie based on the book. He worked closely with Billy Beane, who helped turn around the A's during his time as general manager.

DePodesta's analytics-based approach in assembling Major League Baseball teams helped transform how teams evaluate, measure and value talent.

He has also worked as the executive vice president of the San Diego Padres, and the executive vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he became the third-youngest person to be named general manager in Major League history. He began his baseball career with the Cleveland Indians.

"DePodesta's ability to scrutinize data and use it to assess talent and drive execution makes him ideally suited to join our board," Sears Holdings Chairman Edward Lampert said in a statement.

DePodesta graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in economics. The election of DePodesta increases the number of directors on its board to eight.

Sears operates more than 2,600 stores in the U.S. and Canada. The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based company is trying to restore profitability after struggling with tough competition and weak sales. The company is in the midst of a plan to cut costs and reduce inventory. It also has invested heavily in improving the customer experience in its stores and merchandise to help improve sales.

Shares of Sears gained 40 cents to $42.78 by midday. Its shares have lost roughly half their value since their 52-week peak in March at $83.43.