The basic role of sports general managers is one that is widely misunderstood. Essentially, a sports general manager must learn how to do more with less. The goal of a general manager is simple — to build a team that is consistently competitive, while at the same time, he or she must avoid depleting the future of the team as a whole.
Generally speaking, being a sports general manager is far easier when the individual has money as opposed to when they are poor. For instance, over the last decade, 75 percent of Major League Baseball teams who ended up winning the World Series had large enough budgets that were greater than the league average, which amounts $98 million.
However, the challenge of a general manager in sports is typically on a budget. Because a sports general manager has so many important decisions to make that have a direct effect on the team's future, they are often faced with the challenge of whether to follow their heads or their hearts. An interesting documentation of such a situation is Michael Lewis' 2003 book "Moneyball," which was considered a general manager game changer.
Whereas most people associate a sports general manager with an older, grey haired man who was once an athlete himself but is past his prime, general managers of today are different. The newer general managers tend to be younger as well as highly educated in the area of statistical analysis.
It is interesting to take a look at the Major League Baseball general managers and their stats as of the year 2012. The Oakland A's got the least expensive wins as they raked in $590,000 per win. Conversely, the most expensive wins came from the New York Yankees at $2.08 million per win. However, the average cost of a win in Major League Baseball in 2012 came to $1.22 million.
In terms of cost effective general manager winners, it is worth noting further statistics of baseball teams. The Oakland A's, who are headed by general manager Billy Beane, rank as the third poorest team in the Major League regarding value and revenue, yet at the same time, using MoneyBall strategies, the A's have made it to the post-season on six different occasions since 2000. On the flip side, the Tampa Bay Rays, led by general manager Andrew Friedman, have made a complete 180 in the league. They went from having no winning seasons in their first decade of existence (1998-2007) to going 97-65 in 2008 to go on to the World Series.
In 2013, the draft took new steps that were meant to increase parity in the MLB. A good example of why such measures were taken is that Alex Rodriguez, third baseman for the New York Yankees, earns $29 million per year, which is more than the entire roster of the Houston Astros earns at $24.3 million. The Yankees as a team earns $228.9 million.