NILES - One of the main tasks minor league managers face is how to balance winning and player development.
For Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak, the approach to this challenge is simple: Win games and create an atmosphere conducive to developing talent.
"It's always nice at this level - or any level - if you win," Kubiak said. "That teaches them so much that they don't even realize it. They won't know that until next year, or even two or three years down the road. So we try and present that winning atmosphere to them - try to get them in that frame of mind - because it makes everything a lot simpler for them. Hopefully they mature and learn, and things work out better in the long run."
The philosophy has worked for Kubiak, who has led teams to the playoffs seven times in his 18 years in the Indians organization.
Now in his third stint and fourth season as manager of the Scrappers, he has the endorsement of infielder Evan Frazar, who played with the Scrappers last season.
"Ted is a very old-school manager, and the guys really respond to that," he said. "I love the way he emphasizes winning as a path to developing as a player, because it makes so much sense. I don't understand how you think you're developing if you're losing - that doesn't make much sense."
Kubiak last managed the Scrappers in 2003, so he knows there will be an adjustment to Class A short season.
"I have to get myself ready to instruct again, because we're back with first-year guys, so I had to change my thinking a bit from where I'd been the last few years," he said. "I think the group of players we brought up here are some of the best that I've seen in my 20 years as far as the talent goes."
With a solid roster in place, Kubiak will try and engage his counterparts in the game of baseball as much as he can.
"I like managing - I like what I call the puzzle of the game," he said. "Not only what I have to do, but also what the other manager is doing. At this level it's a little different, because you have guys that have to play so many innings, but there's still things I can do as far as managing the game and doing things, so I really enjoy that."