Blog: April 2009

April 6, 2009. The best day of the year is here at last! A couple uniform number changes to note. Joe Thurston traded his #65 spring training jersey for #22, while David Freese moved from #66 to #12... As expected, the 2009 All-Star Game patch is sewn to the players' left sleeves... Molina is wearing a Cool-Flo batting helmet. I think that could be a first for a Cardinals player during the regular season... Most returning players were using their regular brand of bats except for Duncan, who is using Rawlings instead of Carolina Clubs... Of the new guys, Khalil Greene is using Old Hickory and Freese is using Marucci... Albert is applying more pine tar on his upper handle this year... If Cool Base jerseys are being mandated this season, the Cards must not have received the memo. Most players were wearing knits on this cold day.

April 7, 2009. Molina is the first player to switch bat brands this season, going from Sam to X-Bat... Rasmus swung a black ash LS in his MLB debut... Thurston used a Gwynn-finished Sam while Lohse used a Gwynn Marucci... Here's a better shot of the heavy tar Pujols has been applying to his bats... You'll see more Gwynn-finished bats this season since maple bats no longer are allowed to be painted solid colors. If a player is using a black bat, you can bet it's ash... After Rasmus got his first hit, the first base umpire tossed the ball to the dugout where it was snagged by Joel Piñeiro. Joel deftly put it in his left pocket, turned and, with his right hand, tossed another ball into the seats. The prank was played at Colby's expense, but the fan who caught it also surely was tricked. So, if you see Colby's first hit ball show up on eBay, pass.

April 8, 2009. Duncan was using a natural Rawlings instead of a black one. Khalil Green also was using a natural Rawlings... Both Rawlings and Louisville Slugger have new branding this year. Rawlings' center brand is similar to the old one, but a banner with text has been added to the bottom. I haven't seen one close up yet, so I'm not sure what it says. Louisville Sluggers made in 2008 will have H&B's 125th anniversary logo on the sweet spot. Here's a press release with more information. There's also a new M9 logo, but I haven't seen that yet.

April 9, 2009. Carpenter was using a natural LS M9... Ludwick used an all-black Rawlings in his last AB, but it had the old center brand, which is curious. Here's why. There are many new regulations this season regarding maple bats. One rule is that they can't be all black -- at least the handle has to be natural so the grain is visible. Until this AB, Ludwick had been using bats with natural handles (and the new logo). So, was Luddy breaking the rules by using an all-black maple bat? Or was it ash? The general rule of thumb this year -- if the bat is solid black, it should be ash... Several Cards players are using Louisville Sluggers, but so far, I haven't noticed that any of them have the new anniversary logo on the barrel.

April 10, 2009. Piñeiro was using a Gwynn-finished Marucci maple bat when he was swinging for hits, but switched to a natural ash Rawlings when called up to lay down a bunt. That's not the first time I've noticed a player trading hard maple for softer ash when the situation called for a sacrifice... Freese used a natural-finished B45 birch bat tonight. He might be the first Redbird to ever swing that brand. He also used a Gwynn Marucci and it looked like "DF" was stamped into the knob. Marucci typically stamps the player's uniform number. Maybe they use initials for young guys whose numbers aren't necessarily known until opening day.

April 11, 2009. I could see the Louisville Slugger 125th anniversary logo on Wainwright's, Rasmus' and LaRue's bats today, but it wasn't on Barden's bat... Thompson used a natural LS M9 for his first plate appearance, but broke it on a foul ball. He replaced it with an unfinished ash LS -- Wainwright's bat -- and stroked a single.

April 12, 2009. Lohse used his maple Marucci today and didn't switch to ash when called upon to bunt... Brian Hillerich of H&B says that the first run of 125th anniversary logos were larger than the ones now being stamped onto bats. Apparently, the larger logos looked fine on longer bats, but stood out too much on shorter bats. All bats now have a smaller logo. He also says not all LS bats will have the logo because some players have requested it not be used on their bats.

April 13, 2009. Glad to see the All-Star Game patch is also on the road uniforms. The white background really pops against the gray jersey... Got a good look tonight at Wellemeyer's bat. It's a Gwynn-finished LS M9 maple. He laid down two perfect bunts with it... Freese is the first Cardinals player to use three different bat brands this season. He swung an unfinished LS ash bat in his first plate appearance.

April 14, 2009. Photos of new bat labeling are beginning to leak out. On the new Rawlings center brand, the words in the banner say "Adirondack Pro"... Louisville Slugger has started laser etching manufacturing information into bat knobs, including the date the bat was made, the length and weight... On 4/10, I noticed Freese's Marucci bat had his initials stamped into the knob. Here's a better look... I can't tell for sure, but Khalil Greene's Old Hickory bat might have his signature etched on the barrel. It's a 33.5" EY1 model.. Tomorrow is Jackie Robinson Day in MLB. All Cardinals players will be wearing #42 for the third year in a row.

April 15, 2009. As anticipated, all Cardinals players and coaches wore #42 today in honor of Jackie Robinson. It's the first time the team has worn #42 shirts on the road. It's also the first time someone other than Braden Looper started a Jackie Robinson Day game for the Cards. Last year's jerseys were raffled off through tickets sold by a local convenience store. No word yet on what will happen to this season's shirts... Mitchell Boggs and Chris Perez were recalled today; Carpenter was DL'ed and Thompson was sent to AAA. Perez will wear #34 (he was #63 last season); Boggs will wear Looper's former #41 ... This could be the worst fake McGwire bat ever offered on eBay.

April 16, 2009. I recently saw a Cardinals jersey at auction that had raglan sleeves. A raglan sleeve is one where the sleeve stretches all the way to the neckline. This differs from the typical jersey sleeve, which attaches to the jersey shell and has an obvious hem line along the shoulder from the collar to the sleeve. To my knowledge, the Cardinals had never worn this style. But, the jersey was tagged Set 1 1976, so I pulled out a 1977 team yearbook and, lo and behold, some of the players were wearing raglan sleeves. Apparently, players wore both styles that season because there are shots of the same players wearing both styles (the NL 100th anniversary patch distinguishes jerseys from 1976). I haven't seen enough photos yet to determine if the home jerseys were exclusively raglan while the road blues were normal. You learn something new every day.

April 17, 2009. P.J. Walters made his MLB debut today wearing #62. He used an unfinished LS ash bat... Yadi is wearing a Cool-Flo road batting helmet... I spotted Ludwick using his all-black 2008 maple bat again today. It's not clear whether that's illegal. The rules govern all new bats that are made; don't know if it addresses which bats are used... I'm selling (on consignment) a game-used baseball from the "Minute Maid Miracle" playoff game played 10/17/05. That, of course, is the game where Pujols hit the home run off Lidge that, some say, is still orbiting Earth. This ball is from that game. It was purchased from LaRussa's ARF at this year's Winter Warm Up and has an ARF letter. It came signed and dated by LaRussa, then Pujols added his signature the next day. The ball shows obvious use and has a large black mark on one panel, likely from contact with a black bat. The seller is asking $500 OBO. Contact me if you're interested.

April 18, 2009. When Ankiel's shattered bat barrel flew into the stands late in the game, Fox analyst Mark Grace jumped on his soapbox to rail about the dangers of maple bats. Only one problem -- Rick's natural Rawlings bat was ash with a flame finish from the ring up. Oops... The "Minute Maid Miracle" ball is sold, pending payment and delivery.

April 19, 2009. Rain out.

April 21, 2009. Ankiel switched to a black Rawlings ash bat with criss-crossed handle tape. Must have worked -- he got three hits... Pujols made his first bat change of the season, going with a natural Marucci for his middle three plate appearances. The second time he used it, the natural bat shattered and the barrel went into the seats -- yet the ball two-hopped the left field wall for a double.

April 22, 2009. Here's an interesting auction that just popped up on eBay. The bat is advertised as a 2006 Pujols gamer with MLB holograms (on both pieces of the bat) that date the bat to a series in Cincinnati. I went to my records to confirm he used that model, and guess what -- he didn't. I found out Albert used a two-tone Sam Bat in just 27 plate appearances in 2006, mostly during the first week of the season. During the team's games in Cincy, Albert used natural Sam, LS and Old Hickory bats, plus one black bat (brand unknown). He did use the two-tone Sam briefly just before his second trip to Cincinnati, so it's possible this is the same bat. Maybe he broke it in BP, or maybe a teammate was responsible. One thing I know for sure, though -- Albert didn't break it during a game and the authentication is not accurate.

April 23, 2009. I had a chance to view today's game from five rows behind the Cardinals' on-deck circle. Yes, that's me on television. I was so close that I could tell that some players were using other players' bats (including P.J. Walters using Adam Wainwright's lumber). What I found most interesting was how the players prep their bats. Jason LaRue, for example, applied brown pine tar near the center brand, put rosen over that, then added Mota stick further up the handle -- and his bat already had tape on the handle. His bat even had a chip out of the knob, which you don't expect to see with bats that are still in use.

April 24, 2009. For the second game in a row, I had the opportunity to get close to the field. This time, though, I brought my camera. Just a few observations... Even rookie pitchers like Mitchell Boggs get their own bats... Albert used a natural Marucci for BP. It was an AP5-M Custom Cut model... Yadi's X-Bat is a 16YM model... Red still suits up and hits fungoes before games... I'll post more photos later when I have time... Blaine Boyer apparently has been assigned Brian Barton's old #54.

April 25, 2009. Mitchell Boggs used a black ash LS bat, likely the same stick he was swinging in BP yesterday... Blaine Boyer made his Cardinals debut wearing #54. The 2009 uniform number list has been updated, but I haven't had the opportunity yet to update the alphabetical and numberical lists... The 2009 bat use list also is up to date.

April 26, 2009. Nothing new today, so I thought I'd share a few more photos from Friday... Who has the bigger bling, Pujols or Ryan?... Will Tony's hair ever turn gray? Or is he "juicing?"... Ryan prepping his bat... Wellemeyer works on his short game... Oquendo has really nice teeth... Random shots of Rasmus, Thurston, Ludwick, Molina, LaRue, Greene and Barden... Here are Ludwick, Ankiel and Duncan stretching... Finally, it was interesting how the Cubs decided to emerge from their dugout just in time to watch Albert's BP session. At one point, Albert showed Carlos Marmol the bruise that remains from Marmol's pitch hitting him a week earlier.

April 27, 2009. Three days ago, I posted a photo of Molina's bat that showed it was a model 16YM. What wasn't visible in that photo -- but was very visible in a shot during tonight's game -- is that Yadi's X-Bat is a Cesar Izturis model... A couple weeks ago, I noticed some Cardinals spring training bats on eBay. One was a Khalil Greene Old Hickory, and I thought it may have had his signature on the barrel. Well, a friend of mine won it, and it does, indeed, have Greene's signature etched into it... Here's a close-up look at Rawlings' new center brand.

April 28, 2009. I received a catalog from Baseball Express yesterday and was stunned to see the retail prices for some professional model wood bats. The most expensive is the X-Bat maple model 73 at $140. Mizuno's top maple bat is $125. Sam Bat comes in at $120. Marucci is $105 while one SSK model sells for $100. The most affordable maple pro bats are Louisville Slugger, Max Bat and Nokona ($80) and Old Hickory $85). The one Rawlings maple bat is just $49, which makes me wonder if it truly is pro quality. Among ash bats, Louisville Slugger and Rawlings are $50, Verdero (CTG) is $55 and Mizuno is $45. It's safe to assume MLB teams don't pay full retail for bats. Still, the pricing differences are interesting... I think it's now possible for a used bat to be worth less than a new one.

April 29, 2009. Just as I was about to complain about how nobody switches bats anymore, Schumaker led off tonight's game using a flame-finished ash Louisville Slugger. It's the first time since he's been with the team that I've noticed Skip using an ash bat, a natural-colored bat or a Louisville Slugger. Hat trick!... Rasmus was swinging an unfinished LS ash bat, a change from his typical black bat.

April 30, 2009. One of the reasons I refer to our shortstop by his full name is because the Cards have another Greene on the 40-man roster. Tonight, Tyler Greene was called up to replace the injured Brendan Ryan. I believe it's the first time the team has had two players with the same last name since Anthony and Al Reyes in 2005. Of course, that excludes Chris and Dave Duncan since dad is a coach... Tyler Greene is wearing #27 and used a natural Marucci.