Blog: May 2008

May 1, 2008. With one month in the books, I can officially say I've never known Pujols to be so consistent with his bat use. In 128 plate appearances, he used the Gwynn-finished Marucci bat in 123 of them. He used a black Marucci four times (0-2, 2 walks) and a black Sam Bat once (0-1). He hit .376 with the Gwynn Marucci.

May 2, 2008. Brendan Ryan began using a natural Marucci bat late in the game... Looks like some players will be armed with pink bats again this Mother's Day. Will have to stay tuned to see which Cardinals players use them. Last year, not a single pink bat used by a Cardinals player ended up at auction on MLB.com, which defeats the purpose of raising funds for breast cancer research.

May 3, 2008. Brian Barton was using a natural LS M9, a change from his typical ash bat... A rare site in the second inning as all three batters (Ludwick, Glaus and Ankiel) used the same brand, Rawlings... Caught an interesting bit of video during Fox Sports' lead into the game. It showed Albert Pujols and Derrick Lee meeting behind the batting cage during BP and exchanging bats. Here are screen captures taken before, during and after the trade.

May 4, 2008. Last November 16, I wrote about the difficulty of estimating the value of bats, using Curt Flood bats as an example. One particular bat I mentioned was listed for sale with an asking price of $3,000. Well, that exact bat just sold at auction -- final price, $1,200... A few days earlier, November 12, I'd written about the value of McGwire bats and suggested a 1998 bat could still fetch up to $2,500. Seems I was off just a bit. An almost perfect '98 Mac bat sold in the Huggins & Scott April auction for $1,900... Ryan Franklin had an odd Sunday cap today. It looked like the part of the bat to the right of the Cardinal was not yellow, as though it was outlined and not filled in. Hello, quality control?

May 5, 2008. Mike Parisi made his MLB debut wearing #65. He's just the third Redbird to don those digits... Pujols used his black Marucci for his first three ABs tonight. After a K and two groundouts, he went back to his Gwynn finish and used it for the double that set up the game-winning run... The 11U team I coach won it's opening game tonight. The boys think they won because of the way they played, but I know it's because they're wearing real stirrups.

May 6, 2008. Hal McRae was spotted wearing his correct number, 15, on the bench tonight... Larry Walker has been in uniform on the bench in Colorado the past couple of nights, wearing his old number 33... Man, weren't those throws by Ankiel unbelievable?... Happy 11th birthday, Michael!

May 7, 2008. Troy Glaus used a Gwynn-finished Marucci tonight, and I'm pretty sure it was Albert's bat. Albert started with that bat, but after two groundouts, he switched to the black Marucci... Next time around, Albert was back to the Gwynn finish (he singled) and Glaus followed by using an unfinished ash LS, possibly an Adam Kennedy or Aaron Miles model. Anything to bust a slump, I guess... Jason LaRue was using a black LS ash bat.

May 8, 2008. Mike Parisi got his first at-bat today; pretty sure he was swinging one of Braden Looper's natural Marucci bats as the 41 on the knob was fairly clear.

May 9, 2008. The Post Dispatch reports the following players received pink bats to use on Mother's Day: Duncan (Carolina Clubs), Ankiel, Izturis, Kennedy, LaRue, Miles and Schumaker.

May 10, 2008. Thanks to the miracle of HDTV, I can tell that Troy Glaus is using a Jason LaRue model of unfinished ash Louisville Slugger.

May 11, 2008. Here's a run down of who used pink bats today: Schumaker (X-Bat, 1st and 4th plate appearances), Kennedy (LS ash, every PA but his last), LaRue (LS ash, 1st PA), Izturis (X-Bat 1st and 2nd PAs), Barton (A-bat), Miles (LS M9) and Ryan (A-bat)... Ankiel did not get a plate appearance... Players all had pink ribbons on their jerseys... Molina pinch hit in the 9th inning using one of Albert's Gwynn-finished Marucci bats.

May 12, 2008. Kennedy switched to a black Rawlings with white handle tape... Yadi's striptease at home plate deserved some background music. Boom chicka bow wow... Brendan Ryan's road helmet is just as dirty as his home helmet... My 11U boys won again last night. I'm tellin' you, it's the stirrups!

May 13, 2008. Brendan Ryan's home helmet was not cleaned while he was on the road. The STL logo is almost unreadable. The clubbies must have instructions to leave it alone... Ankiel switched from Rawlings back to his unfinished LS ash bat, while Glaus switched from LaRue's LS bat back to Rawlings... Barton was using a flame treated ash LS... My friend Curt Biehn pointed out that the Cards' recent skid began when Barton started wearing pajama pants. Coincidence?

May 14, 2008. Nothing noteworthy today, so I thought I'd note what fielding gloves I've noticed the players wearing this season. Guys using black Rawlings gloves include Glaus, Duncan, Lohse, Molina, Miles and, I believe, Ankiel (though I don't have a good photo). Pujols and Izturis also wear Rawlings, but their gloves are brown and have gold labels.

May 15, 2008. Aside from Lohse, most Cardinals pitchers seem to prefer gloves made by companies other than Rawlings. Izzy, Piniero and Wellemeyer use TPX (Louisville Slugger), Wainwright uses Mizuno, Looper and Reyes use Nike and Franklin uses Nokona.

May 16, 2008. Chris Perez wore #63 for his Cardinals debut. Back in 1990, the first Redbird to wear that number was Mike Perez. Andy Cavazos and Brendan Ryan both wore #63 in 2007.

May 17, 2008. Was Skip Schumaker wearing Brendan Ryan's pants and stirrups today? Skip was looking sharp with the short pants and striped socks showing, and he went 2-5 to boot. Ryan, on the other hand, was wearing pajama pants. When guys on the Yankees share a gold thong, I guess it's not out of the question for two Redbirds to swap pants.

May 18, 2008. It was Stan Musial day at Busch. Unfortunately, the team was unable to wear #6 jerseys. But, the bases noted the event. The side panels said, "May 18, 2008, Stan Musial Day." The text was sandwiched between Stan's #6 on the left and the STL logo on the right... Lohse used a natural Marucci bat.

May 19, 2008. You know the planets must be aligned in your favor when Izturis homers, Wellemeyer beats out an infield hit and the other team's left fielder lets a ball bounce off his glove over the wall for a home run... Ryan was back in his pajama pants, while Barton sported a mid-sock look... The stadium Authentics Store had a new batch of bats over the weekend. Some of the more interesting notes: Brendan Ryan's A-Bat did not have his name on the barrel; Lohse's bat was a pro-stock; Wellemeyer uses a U37 model (don't see many of those, especially belonging to pitchers); there was an Izturis model X-Bat used by Molina and a Jim Edmonds model Louisville Slugger used by Miles.

May 20, 2008. Barton was back to his high cuffs tonight. Sadly, it didn't help... Pujols was a rare 0-4, even though he hit the ball hard and sprayed it around -- a scorching grounder to third, a pop to short, a bouncer to second and a rope to first that doubled off Duncan. He's staying consistent with Marucci -- it's all he's used in May.

May 21, 2008. For old-school fans (and certain bat makers in northern Kentucky), the night was shaping up as a worst-case scenario. It looked as if not one Cardinals player was going to use a Louisville Slugger during the entire game. Three starters used Marucci, two used X-Bat, two used Rawlings, but there wasn't an H&B stick in sight until Barton pinch hit with two outs in the sixth inning. The second-to-last batter, Mike Parisi, also used a LS. In all, 49 Redbirds went to the dish; just two had a Louisville Slugger in his hands. The game has changed.

May 23, 2008. Kennedy led off with his Louisville Slugger, and suddenly, all seems right with the world again... Izturis' X-Bat has a new finish. He's gone to the darker (Hornsby) handle, like Yadi... A few of the guys' road jerseys are having issues with flimsy plackets. Instead of a nice, sharp look to the birds on bat, the material running down the front of the jersey is folding back. This was a big problem for Majestic when they started making jerseys back in 2003. The Cards answered then by placing Velcro inside the placket to hold it closed. Maybe it's time to revisit that fix... Ever wonder if Ludwick used an unfinished bat instead of a black one whether you could see actual scorch marks on the wood? Man, he's en fuego!

May 24, 2008. On further review (and thanks to tonight's game being broadcase in hi-def), it seems the placket problem with the road jerseys is confined to the new gray Cool Base shirts. CB wearers like Duncan and Kennedy have obvious problems keeping the placket laying flat, while players in regular knit shirts still look good. I went back and found a photo of Kennedy from almost two weeks ago and the problem was just as clear then. Often, the placket is so flimsy that you can see the white backing material behind the birds on bat logo... Lohse used a natural Rawlings bat.

May 25, 2008. I have to give Majestic credit for one feature of the Cool Base road jerseys -- it's much more difficult to discern a gray CB shirt than a white one. On white jerseys, the armpit vent is obvious, likely because the undershirt or skin color beneath contrasts with the white. That doesn't happen with the road shirts. The best I could tell, Cool Base wearers today included Schumaker, Ludwick, Glaus, Ryan, LaRue, Ankiel and Duncan.

May 27, 2008. Ankiel used a new bat for him tonight, a natural LS M9. Oddly, I couldn't see logos on the back of the bat, which means either the foil stamping has flaked off almost completely or the bat wasn't stamped at all. He switched back to ash later in the game... Pujols had his first four-hit night of the season... Duncan, LaRue, Ludwig and Schumaker are the only position players who have stuck with the same brand of bat all season. If you don't count the pink Mother's Day bats, Duncan (black), Ludwig (black) and Skip (Gwynn) have stayed with the same finish, too.

May 28, 2008. Brendan Ryan swung a black LS M9 tonight for the first time this season. That's a bat he used often in 2007... During one stretch, four straight batters were using Louisville Slugger -- Wainwright, Izturis, Ryan and Ankiel. If Barton had been using LS as he does normally (and did in the 8th inning), it would have been five straight, but Brian was using his A-Bat... In his last AB, Barton made an interesting fashion statement -- pajama pants on his right leg, high cuff and stirrup on his left leg... Yadi was back to using his Sam Bat during part of the game.

May 29, 2008. Only observation of note tonight is that Ankiel used a black Max Bat for the first time this season. That was his bat of choice last season after he made his debut as an outfielder. Like those bats, this one has white handle tape in a criss-cross pattern.

May 30, 2008. Chris Duncan was optioned to Memphis and Joe Mather was called up today. Mather wore #62. Ironically, that's the same number worn by Duncan when he debuted in 2005. It was last donned in 2007 by Brian Barden... Mather used a Zinger bat, which could be a first for the Cardinals. It had what I call a "reverse Gwynn" finish -- black handle, natural barrel. It's the same model he used in spring training... Mather shattered his bat in his second plate appearance... The #62 on the front of Mather's jersey looks a bit lower than normal. It's supposed to be 1" below the birds on bat logo, but the gap just looks wider than that.

May 31, 2008. Kelvin Jimenez came to the plate twice tonight. He used a natural ash Louisville Slugger both times... Yesterday's annual Ritenour High School charity show and auction was disappointing from a memorabilia perspective. In years past, Ritenour was the place to find game-used bats, cleats, caps, jerseys and other items. But, yesterday, there was just one GU bat (a 2007 Rolen) and two GU jerseys (a Wainwright jersey that was worn on 5/28 and a 2007 Gary Bennett shirt); no cleats; two caps (Looper Sunday and McClellan BP); and a few batting gloves (Rolen, Ankiel and Molina).