2009 Recap: Bobby Scales
Pretty much everybody loves the Crash Davis story - the tale of the aging baseball veteran who, after years of flailing around in the minor leagues, finally hangs 'em up in low A Ball after watching a player with ten times the talent and one quarter the brain make the majors with nearly no effort.
Wait -- that's not right.
We like it when Crash Davis defies the odds and receives that promotion, long after his prospect status has faded into journeyman mediocrity. Every spring we look at the players invited to Spring Training, we notice the guys who are probably sporting more than a few gray whiskers in their beards, the ones who have never so much as tasted the major leagues, and we root for them. In 2009, that guy was Bobby Scales.
Scales, aged 31, started his career in the Padres system way back when AOL was the cool way to get online and the tech bubble had yet to burst. But despite never really struggling -- except perhaps in 2004, the first year he tasted Triple A -- Scales just never really put up the kind of numbers to justify a September promotion.
Then in March of '09, in his second year with his fourth organization, Scales set Arizona on fire with his bat and still managed to get cut. Then Aramis Ramirez sneezed and blew out his shoulder* and, on May 5th, the 31-year-old Scales received his first-ever promotion to the Major Leagues. He responded by getting a hit and scoring a run and, over the next 11 days he played as if he was making up for lost time -- at one point elevating his AVG to .444 thanks in part to a 2-double, 4-RBI day on May 14th.
(*or something equally ridiculous)
Of course, he'd eventually come back to earth. He was, after all, a 31-year-old rookie. By June 12th he was batting .241 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 homeruns and the Cubs sent Scales back to Iowa where he'd remain until September 4th. At that point Scales was recalled, played 26 games -- starting 15 of them -- and, while only batting .242, managed to collect 6 more doubles, 1 more triple, and 8 more RBI.
Chances are that Scales will never get another sip. Although he's versatile, and can play four-or-more positions, Scales will be 32 next year and he didn't exactly deliver with a ton of big hits in his first shot in the majors. Still, for a year he was our Crash Davis, our middle-aged rookie, who played in 51 games -- starting 30 of them -- for a team that was better merely because of his presence.
Bobby Scales! We'll miss you if you're gone.