I just started grad school and was doing some introductory reading for a class on politics and administration. I was reading the chapter on models of policy analysis and something, perhaps the use of the word 'process' about eight times in a paragraph, made me think that it would be fun to attempt to utilize these models developed for analyzing/understanding public policy to instead analyze/understand GM policy/front office policy/team policy.
Models typically aren't used to evaluate the effectiveness of policy, but instead to attempt to understand it. So have no fear Tim Lacy, this is not a bashing GM's results post, but a 'here's a different way to attempt to understand why the GM did what he did' post.
Process Model - "One of the main purposes has been to discover patterns of activities-or 'processes.' Political scientists with an interest in policy have grouped barious activities according to their relationship with public policy. The result is a set of policy processes. In short, one can view the policy process as a series of political activities-problem identification, agenda setting, formulation, legitimation, implementation, and evaluation. The process model is useful in helping us to understand the various activities involved in policymaking. We want to keep in mind that policymaking involves agenda setting, formulating proposals, legitimating policy, implementing policy, and evaluating policy."
Obviously, Dayton Moore prefers to use the Process Model of studying GM policy.
Problem identification: we need a speedy center fielder to hit leadoff
Agenda Setting: let's look at the in house options, the free agent market, trade possibilities
Formulation: let's offer podsednik 1.5 million for one year with a quirky option
Legitimation: dude, arbuckle, piccolo, we should totally sign Pods
Implementation: Does Pods play left or center? Does he hit first or ninth? Do we platoon him?
Evaluation: ...we'll have to wait until the season plays out for that one.
Rationalism Model - "A rational policy is one that achieves 'maximum social gain': that is, governments should choose policies resulting in gains to society that exceed costs by the greatest amount, and governments should refrain from policies if costs exceed gains.
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"To select a rational policy, policymakers must (1) know all the society's value preferences and their relative weights, (2) know all the policy alternatives available, (3) know all the consequences of each policy alternative, (4) calculate the ratio of benefits to costs for each policy alternative, and (5) select the most efficient policy alternative. This rationality assumes that the value preferences...can be known and weighted."
For this one, replace "society's value preferences" with "baseball production."
This model of behavior does not really seem to fit how DM operates as a GM. This type of model describes the behavior of GMs with a focus on undervalued assets, milking players that receive the minimum salary, relying heavily on statistical descriptions of value/projected value and playing the strengths/weaknesses of the market at any given time.
The Florida Marlins, Moneyball A's, Jack Z's Seattle Mariners all seem to be teams that this model can describe the behavior of. The emphasis on efficiency with regards to cost and benefits is something that succesful small market teams do. Anyone who pays particular attention to that fangraphs' monetary value of production type stats would use this model to analyze behavior.
Incrementalism Model: "Incrementalism views public policy as a continuation of past government activities with only incremental modifications...Incrementalism is conservative in that existing programs, policies, and expenditures are considered as a base, and attention is concentrated on increases, decreases, or modifications of current programs."
I think that this model of GM behavior would apply to the Astros, Giants and the pre-MacPhail Orioles. Teams that refuse to enter into a true rebuild, don't make a lot of trades, don't dump their sunk costs. Not a lot of roster turnover on these teams.
Group Theory: "Group theory begins with the proposition that interaction among groups is the central fact of politics...Acording to group theorists, public policy at any given time is the equilibrium reached in the group struggle. This equilibrium is determined by the relative influence of various interest groups."
This model effectively describes the free agent market, and the behavior of certain GMs in certain situation. I would contend that the Red Sox/Yankees dynamic can be better understood through the lens of group theory - both teams often have the same targets (trading for A. Rod, signing Teixeira, bidding on Daisuke Matsuzaka, etc.). Both teams seem to view the success of their actions in direct relation to the other.
Elite Theory: "Public policy may also be viewed as the preferences and values of a governing elite...Elite theory suggests that the people are apathetic and ill-informed about public policy, that elites actually shape mass opinion on policy questions more than masses shape elite opinion. Thus, publi policy really turns out to be the preferences of elites."
Moore's condescendion with regards to the process, not having time to educate the public, our instant gratification society, etc. makes this model describe certain aspects of Moore's behavior. The fact that he seems to simply acquire the players/player types that he prefers also applies here. In other markets where the fans are rabid and vocal, perhaps again with Yankees/Red Sox, the demands of the public may drive team policy more. Although it is important to note that DM does attempt to gain the approval of the public by campaigning for himself.
I may have butchered the application of these various models. Afterall, this comes from an hour of pre-class reading of an introductory chapter. I just thought it was interesting to analyze baseball operations not simply through the lense of player performance, but of the 'public policy' of the front office. I don't know if the application of these behavioral models will tell us anything that we don't already know...mainly I just wanted to paste the paragraph about the process.