Blog: August 2007

August 1, 2007. Percival batted with an Edmonds bat, complete with Jim's tape job. Couldn't see what was on the knob, though... A shot of Pineiro in the dugout showed he is, indeed, wearing #35. He'll be the third player this season to be assigned that number. I believe the last time the Cardinals had three players share a number during one season was 2003. Kiko Calero, Sterling Hitchcock and Mitchell Page all wore #40; and Kevin Ohme, Page and Estaban Yan all wore #43.

August 2, 2007. Pujols used just two kinds of bats in July -- the black Sam Bat and the natural Marucci. He was 19-47 (.404) with Marucci and 15-48 (.313) with Sam. However, six of his seven HRs were hit with the Sam Bat. On the season, he's hitting .379 with Marucci (1 HR), .336 with his black Sam Bat (19 HRs), .271 with the natural Sam (3 HRs) and .136 with Max Bat. He's hitless in five plate appearances with Louisville Slugger and Old Hickory.

August 3, 2007. Another TBTC game, another uninspired effort. As I feared, the Cards wore the same ill-fitting jersey they wore in Pittsburgh last season. I'm not sure that any player could button the top button and several left the top two buttons undone. I do like this design, but it's getting old. I really was hoping for some variety, some other version of the Stars uniform. I wonder if this replica is even patterned after an actual jersey. Most available photos of the Stars show them in pinstripes, but I don't know if those are home or road jerseys. Whatever the case, I hope the next Negro Leagues tribute yields a jersey that is both historically accurate and visually pleasing... It also would be nice if the TBTC uniforms included matching helmets, as they did in the August 1998 game... Interesting how the socks weren't consistent. Most players wore solid red hose, but some -- including Encarnacion and Flores -- wore their regular striped socks. It appeared Spiezio may even have been wearing stirrups, but he didn't get much camera time as a pinch hitter... After striking out in his first two at-bats, were you shocked that Albert switched bats? Me neither.

August 4, 2007. Seems Ryan Ludwick's shipment of Carolina Clubs bats arrived with his name spelled "Brian Ludwig." Here's a link to the story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch... Pineiro made his Cardinals debut tonight. He brought his red TPX glove over from Boston and used a natural Marucci bat (possibly Braden Looper's model). The uniform number database has been updated to include his wearing #35.

August 5, 2007. It had been a while since Eckstein was spotted wearing the road jersey missing the Majestic sleeve logo, but it resurfaced today in Washington... TV cameras showed a closeup of Ludwick's "Brian Ludwig" bats... Was at a show today and saw two bats of interest -- a 2005 Pujols model used by Molina, and a 2004 Luna model used by Pujols. Both had LOAs from the Cardinals and both were priced less than $700. If you're interested in either bat, you can contact me and I'll put you in touch with the seller.

August 6, 2007. On the first trip through the lineup, one-third of the batters (Pujols, Molina and Looper) used Marucci. I'm sure that will make my readers in Baton Rouge happy... Pujols also used a two-toned Sam Bat for the first time this season. Wonder if that was some kind of tribute to Barry Bonds, who often uses the same kind of bat... I'll be away from the television for the next few days and will not update the blog until Sunday 8/12 at the earliest. Here's hoping the DVR works the way it's supposed to so I can catch up when I return.

August 7, 2007. Nothing new in terms of bats or uniforms... Pujols was still using the two-toned "Bonds" finish Sam Bat... I've been told a Scott Rolen replica 2006 World Series bat was stolen from its display at the Louisville Slugger Museum. The bat is identical to bats made for Scott last October. If you happen to see a Rolen '06 WS bat being offered anywhere, please let me know.

August 8, 2007. Gary Bennett went back to using his black ash LS bats instead of the Galen finished ones... Pujols stopped using the "Bonds" finished Sam Bat and is using black bats again.

August 9, 2007. Rick Ankiel is back with the team and wearing a new number, #24. That was his number at AAA Memphis. Rick wore #66 originally and #49 during his stint in 2004. Coach Joe Pettini, who had wore #24 since 2002, gave up his number for Ankiel and now is wearing Rick's old #49... Ankiel used a black Max Bat with criss-crossed white handle tape. He also is fielding with a black Rawlings glove... Molina used a black Sam Bat for the first time this season... Piñeiro was using a Walker-finished bat, but I couldn't determine the manufacturer.

August 10, 2007. I had the opportunity to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and factory yesterday. Saw some cool Cardinals-related items and even ran into former catcher Tom Pagnozzi. I'll post an article with my observations in the next few days... My favorite matchup happened again today -- #99 So Taguchi batting against #97 Joe Beimel.

August 11,2007. Ankiel is still using a black Max Bat. Seems to be working for him... Pujols wielded his Marucci in his first two ABs, but went back to the black Sam.

August 12, 2007. Brendan Ryan was recalled to replace Kennedy on the roster. He homered with a natural Marucci. This was the first game he used that model... Thompson used an ash LS, a change from his typical M9... UPDATE: I've received a couple e-mails about a Scott Rolen 2006 WS bat that just sold on eBay. It's possible this is the bat that was stolen from the Louisville Slugger Museum (see 8/7 blog entry). I've notified the museum curator so he can pursue the lead. Thanks the the tips!

August 14, 2007. I'm going to try really hard to say something nice about the Cardinals TBTC uniforms from tonight's game in Milwaukee. Let me think a minute. Hmm. OK, here goes: Three cheers to Rip Rowan for packing the team's red batting helmets for the road trip. Thanks to Rip, at least one element of the uniform was consistent with the 1982 World Series uniforms. I'm not sure whether to blame Majestic or the Brewers, but these throwbacks may have been even worse than the retro shirts worn earlier this season in San Diego. Again, Majestic used a current logo patch on the jersey instead of embroidering the vintage birds on bat. Cheap. And what was with the cartoonishly large sleeve banding? It wasn't even close to the actual jerseys being copied. And why does TBTC equal baggy clothes with pajama pants? In 1982, uniforms were tight and even long pants pioneer George Hendrick showed a little stirrup. The jerseys had the wrong NOB font, the wrong number size and may even have been the wrong color (tough to tell given the lighting conditions). And on top of everything else, the Ken Boyer memorial band was missing from the sleeve. C'mon, they couldn't spend another buck per jersey to add a simple black band? Another horrible effort by Majestic.

August 15, 2007. Rolen has gone back to Mizuno bats the past couple of games. The past three seasons, Rolen used Mizuno often. But this season, he's relied mostly on his LS ash bats... Piñeiro is using the same Walker-finished bat. The centerbrand is printed in black on brown, so it's difficult to see. Could be a Nokona bat... The Cardinals played in three throwback uniforms this season, and Kip Wells started all three games.

August 16, 2007. Nothing new on the bat or uni fronts from today's game... I've noticed (and received several e-mails about) a few Pujols bats currently for sale on eBay. If you're in the market for a Pujols bat and haven't read my Pujols bat buyer's guide, I encourage you to do so. Some general rules of thumb: avoid Mizuno; be very wary of X-Bats made before 2006 (the public could buy the same model made for Albert); be careful with any Rawlings made after 2002; and don't bite on any bat that has excessive pine tar, handle tape (or signs of removed tape) or ball marks in odd places (like on the left-hand hitter's side). And please understand if you send me an e-mail asking whether a particular bat is legit, you'll probably get one of two replies -- "this bat has red flags" (which I'll spell out), or "this bat has no obvious red flags based on the photos and description." I'm rarely willing to say I'm certain a bat is good without being able to examine it in person. There are times when I might say, "there are no red flags, but Albert used this model for only X number of plate appearances." I've tracked every Pujols at-bat since the start of the 2005 season, so if you find a 2005 Rawlings that looks good, I'll remind you that he used that model in just 5 of 700 plate appearances and let you decide whether to buy it.

August 17, 2007. Again, no new bats or uniform notes. Seemed the bats were brittle today. The first two Cardinals had their bats sawed off in two pieces, and I heard several others that sounded like they cracked... Albert grounded out with his black Sam Bat, then switched back to his Marucci. He proceded to drive a hard single and a home run... Looper and Ryan also were using Marucci... Ludwick has abandoned his "Brian Ludwig" Carolina Clubs bats recently in favor of his black Rawlings bats... Encarnacion has been using black X-Bats for a while... Rolen is still swinging Mizuno.

August 18, 2007. It seems Pujols switched Marucci bats between his single and his HR. The bat he used to hit the HR looked to have almost no signs of pine tar; the previous bat did... On August 9, I had the opportunity to visit the Hillerich & Bradsby museum and factory. Not only did I run into a former Cards player, but I got to see one of the rarest Musial bats ever made. A short article about my visit is available here.

August 20, 2007. When it's the dog days of August, nobody is using any new equipment (the case today) and the most interesting thing is that Eckstein's jersey was again missing the Majestic logo on the sleeve, it's good to find something unusual where you least expect it. Today, it happened during a rain delay video segment that featured an interview with Mike Shannon and Bob Gibson. While answering a question about Red Schoendienst, a photo popped up showing Shannon and Schoendienst from behind (it's a screen grab... sorry for the low quality). Both guys were wearing knits, which means it was taken after Shannon was forced to retire in 1970. I'm assuming (based on their hair color and other surrounding elements) the shot was taken in the early '70s. The interesting thing was that Red's NOB was attached to a name plate. Shannon's was not. Remember that Cardinals knits didn't used name plates until 1989. It's possible this photo predated that by 15 years or more. Or, maybe it's not as old as I believe it is. If anybody can shed light on this photo or the use of name plates prior to 1989, I'd love to hear from you.

August 21, 2007. There are less than two weeks until the September call-ups begin crowding the dugout. I can't wait to see who is recalled and what numbers they are assigned. We learned this week that Miguel Cairo was signed to a minor league contract and Kelly Stinnett was reinstated from the restricted list. The Cards also claimed former Arizona 3B Brian Barden off waivers last week. Cairo's old numbers with the Cardinals, 41 and 12, currently are being used by Looper and Miles. Stinnett's #35 was given to Piñeiro. And Barden's #14 is retired for Ken Boyer. When the time comes, I look for Cairo to be given #3, officially marking the end of the Preston Wilson era in St. Louis. Cairo is a veteran who wouldn't look right wearing a number in the sixties. It's equally possible that Miles could surrender #12 and adopt #3. Miles was a single-digit guy in Colorado (#6). Stinnett also is a vet, but unless a coach gives up his number or a guy like Cavazos (#33) isn't recalled, Kelly is looking at #62 or higher. Same for Barden. Other than retired and semi-retired numbers (McGwire, McGee and Kile), the only digits that haven't been employed this season are #30 (Mulder), #52 (Kinney), #53 (Rodriguez), #62 and numbers 64-98. We could be seeing a few offensive/ defensive lineman numbers on the bench soon.

August 22, 2007. It appears that Albert's streak of five HR in five games has been accomplished using the same natural Marucci bat. A TV closeup confirms it's his personal model... Molina's black Sam Bat doesn't have a knob sticker and appears to have Pujols' #5 written in silver. Seems he's used that same bat since his first career 2-HR game in Chicago... Ryan apparently broke his bat during his first plate appearance; his bats later in the game didn't have his signature heavy band of pine tar around the centerbrand.

August 23, 2007. Duncan was using a natural, flame treated Carolina Clubs bat, not his typical black bat... On the flip side, Wainwright pinch hit with a black bat, not his normal LS natural ash. Because he hit the first pitch, I couldn't see the brand... An article from yesterday's Post-Dispatch has some interesting uniform-related tidbits about Brendan Ryan. For example, we all know he likes to wear his pants hicked up and show the stirrups, but did you know his game socks have individual toes? Apparently, he got them from So Taguchi, a long-time fan of toe socks. And even though he confesses to be superstitious, he agreed to wear #13 at the suggestion of Jim Edmonds, who told him, "I think 13 suits your personality." Ryan, who wore 75 in spring training and 63 after his initial callup, says, "It's the last number I'd see myself wearing."

August 24, 2007. Looks like Pujols is swinging a new Marucci bat and apparently "retired" the one he used to hit five HR in five games. Tonight's bat doesn't have any ball marks on it... Duncan went back to his usual black Carolina Clubs bat.

August 25, 2007. Franklin got his first plate appearance of the season. He used a natural LS M9 bat and wore Ryan Ludwick's batting helmet. Franklin joins a list that includes Carpenter, Cate, Falkenborg, Flores, Hancock, Jiminez, Johnson and Springer -- all have a single plate appearance this season. Izzy is still seeking his first trip to the dish... The first two batters of the night, Eckstein and Ankiel, both broke their bats... Rolen is still using Mizuno bats... Piñeiro was using a black bat tonight, possibly a LS ash bat, though it was tough to tell.

August 26, 2007. Wainwright's black bat is a LS ash, so he hasn't changed bats, just finishes... Encarnacion was back to his black LS M9 after a long stretch using a black X-Bat, then switched back to the X-Bat and blasted a monster HR... Juan was having problems keeping his shirt tucked in today, but at least he didn't look as dorky as Braves pitcher Jose Ascanio. Nice tag... Duncan was using his natural Carolina Clubs bat again... Ankiel was on deck in the 8th inning swinging a black Rawlings (possibly Ludwick's bat). He didn't make it to the plate, though. Ankiel has used only Max Bats since his return. He did use a black Rawlings way back when he was a rookie.

August 28, 2007. Ankiel indeed made the switch to Rawlings, using a black bat that didn't appear to have the same handle tape he'd used on his Max Bat. I'm also fairly certain the bat had Ludwick's #47 on the knob... The team bat use list for this season has been updated... Brendan Ryan was wearing pajama pants tonight, hiding his socks. Why, Brendan? Why?

August 29, 2007. Ankiel's Rawlings bat does have a bit of tape on the handle, just like Ludwick's bats... Ryan went back to the high cuffs. All is right with the world... A bat currently on eBay illustrates the frustrations of being a bat collector. It's advertised as a rookie-era Willie McGee bat, and at first glance, everything appears to be in order -- '80-'83 model, non-contract last name only, etc. But, when I checked Willie's records for a natural M110, I couldn't find any. In fact, in six pages of bat shipments, there is only one M110 order -- one bat to "Baseball Miscellaneous" on 11/12/85, hickory (brown), no weight specified. Was the bat on eBay made for Willie and not recorded in his records? Was it made for another player named McGee? There's almost no way of knowing. What's a collector to do?

August 30, 2007. The label of Piñeiro's unidentified black bat was visible briefly during his second at-bat -- it's a LS ash bat... Eckstein's jersey with the missing Majestic logo was back again today.

August 31, 2007. Wellemeyer was using a black LS M9 bat, a change from his natural M9 earlier this season... Franklin used a natural Marucci with a spiral of white tape on the handle. Couldn't tell if it was his personal model, but he did have his own batting helmet for this at-bat (he used Ludwick's helmet on 8/25)... Russell Branyan apparently joined the team mid-game and was wearing #33. Not a good sign for Andy Cavazos, who wore that number earlier this season... Get well soon, Juan E.