Blog: March/April 2011

March 31, 2011. Opening day! Let's start with bats. Marucci was swung by Pujols, Freese and Carpenter. Sam Bat was the choice of Holliday and Rasmus. Berkman, Schumaker and Jay used ash Louisville Sluggers while Theriot and Molina used LS M9 bats. Descalso used a Max Bat and Craig swung an A-Bat. Most interesting to me is how two X-Bat regulars -- Yadi and Skip -- used LS bats. Of course, I'll be keeping track of bat use all season here... I also found it interesting that most guys opted for the CoolFlo helmet. Last season, only Pujols, Molina and Holliday wore the vented lids. Today, they were joined by Theriot, Rasmus, Freese, Schumaker, Descalso, Jay and Craig. Only Berkman and Carpenter wore traditional helmets... It was a very cool day in St. Louis, but of the 17 players who saw action, only Theriot, Pujols and Molina wore knit jerseys; everyone else chose a Cool Base jersey... Here are the uniform numbers of players who appeared in today's game. The only "upgrade" from spring training seems to be Bryan Augenstein, who is wearing #22. He wore #65 in Florida. Descalso's #33 is a switch from last season's #63.

April 2, 2011. Five players made their season debut today (Westbrook, Motte, Boggs, Laird and Greene), but only Westbrook wore a regular knit; the rest wore Cool Base jerseys... The position players wore CoolFlo helmets, but Westbrook and Boggs wore regular helmets during their plate appearances... Westbrook and Boggs also used the same model bat, the black ash LS. Greene used a black LS M9, while Laird used a natural LS M9.

April 3, 2011. Jaime Garcia was the only "new" Cardinals player today since there were no pinch hitters or relief pitchers. He wore a Cool Base jersey, a regular batting helmet, and swung a black ash LS.

April 4, 2011. If you had David Freese in your pool as the first player to switch bat brands this season, congratulations. He used a black maple Rawlings bat during one plate appearance... Kyle Lohse wore a Cool Base jersey for his start on a very cold night at Busch. He wore a regular batting helmet and swung a black Marucci... Pujols had a bat sawn off in his hands; the barrel flew past the third baseman... The first fan to get a Cardinals-era Berkman bat got it the hard way -- Lance let go of it, if flew through the netting and hit a young boy in the head. He apparently was OK.

April 5, 2011. Freese took a commanding lead in the competition to use the most types of bats. Tonight, he swung a black Sam Bat... Kyle McClellan made his first start as a Redbird. He wore a Cool Base jersey, wore a regular batting helmet and used a black ash Louisville Slugger.

April 6, 2011. Went to the game today and made my first visit to the Authentics Store. Unfortunately, the inventory has not changed since the Winter Warm Up ended -- same bats and jerseys, same prices. They did, however, have bases from the first week, including opening day. Hoping the spring training bats and jerseys are there for the next home stand... The Authentics Store will not sell the St. Patrick's Day jerseys; instead, they will auction them through MLB.com and the team's website. The first auction -- which has jerseys from Pujols, La Russa and 10 others -- begins April 7. Another 13 jerseys will be auctioned the following week, while the remaining shirts will hit the block in May.

April 8, 2011. The St. Patrick's Day jersey auction has begun on the team's website. Pujols' jersey was nearing $3,000 less than 24 hours after the auction began... The Pujols Family Foundation will be auctioning several milestone items from Albert's career during the summer. The first item available is first base from the 2009 game in which Albert tied the MLB record for assists by a first baseman. Bidding starts April 20... The Cards wore their road grays and navy lids for the first time today. Looks like all the guys who wore CoolFlo helmets at home are doing the same in Frisco.

April 9, 2011. There's a 2001 Pujols jersey in the current Heritage auction, but I'm convinced it's a faked retail jersey. First, the embroidery is decidedly retail quality. Compare the birds in these photos of the Heritage shirt next to both a retail jersey from the era and a legit gamer. Pay particular attention to the bird's mask and head feathers, as well as the border around the letters. Also, in these photos, compare the thickness and inconsistency of the navy border around the numbers and letters. Don't waste your hard-earned money on this one.

April 10, 2011. The St. Patrick's Day jersey auction ended tonight with some surprising results. Pujols' jersey, which shot up to $2,910 on its first day, ended at that same amount. Next highest was LaRussa at $780. For some reason, Lohse's jersey fetched more than $400, even though he didn't play. Four shirts closed at or near their opening bids of $150, and only one jersey, Bryan Augenstein's, ended with no bid.

April 11, 2011. Well, 10 games into the season and David Freese is the only player to use more than one kind of bat. And no roster moves, either. Makes it tough to come up with blog material. At least they're starting to win... The next round of St. Patrick's Day jerseys will be auctioned this coming weekend. Highlights include Molina (didn't play), Freese and Westbrook (starting pitcher). Noticed jerseys worn by Rasmus, Carpenter and Schumaker are not being auctioned, nor is the one Lou Brock wore as he watched from the bench.

April 12, 2011. Bryan Augenstein got a hit in his first AB using a Gwynn-finished Marucci. The single digit on the knob suggests it might have been a Pujols model... Theriot has switched to an LS ash bat from his LS M9... Another likely bad Pujols jersey on this block; this one offered by Grey Flannel. To my eye, the 5 on front looks farther right than in any photo of Pujols from 2009. Also, the NOB seems to have too much of an arch and too much space between it and the 5 on back. Remember, Pujols keeps most of his jerseys. So, if you see one without airtight provenance, assume it's bad unless the seller can prove it's legit.

April 13, 2011. Pujols used a different bat during his first three plate appearances tonight; still a Marucci, but the handle was Hornsby (dark cherry), not natural... Eduardo Sanchez made his MLB debut tonight, wearing #52 for the Cards. Because the game was a blowout, he also got to bat. For some reason, his CoolFlo batting helmet didn't have a logo on it; it was a blank navy lid. He swung a black LS ash bat, and I'm pretty sure McClellan's name was on the barrel.

April 14, 2011. Perhaps in search of a slump-buster, Molina used a Marucci bat tonight with a black handle and natural barrel. If my eyes don't deceive me, I'm pretty sure that's Pujols' name on the barrel... Matt Holliday was swinging a black Rawlings... Fernando Salas made his 2011 debut wearing #59... I understand the Cardinals will not be selling spring training jerseys at the Authentics Store this year. Apparently, Majestic made a manufacturing error on the shirts and took them back during the spring. The team finished Grapefruit League play wearing their regular-season jerseys. I'm trying to find out more about the error in question... Tomorrow is Jackie Robinson Day. I assume the entire team will don #42 jerseys.

April 15, 2011. As expected, the team wore #42 jerseys today in honor of Jackie Robinson. It was nice that the team was in L.A. so we could see #42 on the Dodgers jerseys, too. A handful of guys on the bench were not wearing the commemorative jerseys, including Carpenter and McGwire... Perhaps next year, for the 65th anniversary of Robinson's debut, instead of wearing their normal red with navy trim numbers, the Cardinals should wear Dodger blue numbers on the back. That way, not only would it look like they're honoring Robinson -- instead of Bruce Sutter -- but it also might help refresh fan interest in the event (and collector interest in the jerseys)... The problem with the team's spring training jerseys was with the alignment of the birds-on-bat logo. One look at the players' photo day mug shots (from 2/24) and it's pretty obvious that Majestic goofed. My question is, how does this happen after nine seasons of making Cardinals jerseys?... Freese used a natural LS M9 tonight while Schumaker switched to a Gwynn-finished M9... Here's a look at Pujols' new bat with the cherry handle; he used it for both HRs tonight. There was an interesting exchange in the third inning when Albert broke his Gwynn-finished Marucci on a foul ball. The batboy gave him a model with a black handle and natural barrel, but Albert walked to the bench, pointed to the bat he wanted and tossed the black-handled bat to Chris Carpenter.

April 16, 2011. Albert was swinging a natural Marucci bat tonight. That makes three different finishes in the past two games -- and it would have been four if the batboy had his way yesterday.

April 17, 2011. The second batch of St. Patrick's Day jerseys were hammered down on the team's website tonight. The high bid went to David Freese's shirt, which pulled $520. Molina's jersey attracted a single $500 bid, which surprised me since he didn't play in the game. Dave Duncan's shirt fetched $290. Other than Molina, four shirts were won with single bids -- Batista, Salas, Robinson and Chambers. Half a dozen jerseys didn't receive a bid. They included starting pitcher Westbrook ($300 min. bid), Motte ($200), Stavinoha, Vazquez, Pettini and Gast (all $150). The next round of St. Pat's shirts will go on the block May 12. Holliday and Garcia headline that group.

April 19, 2011. Rain out tonight; will be made up tomorrow as part of a day/night doubleheader... ESPN's E:60 program ran a short (2:10) segment this evening featuring Albert Pujols touring the Marucci factory to see how his bats are made. View the video here... Asked the folks at the Cardinals Authentics store whether the pregame jerseys from spring training also were returned to Majestic because of a manufacturing error. They're checking into it. As we noted back in February when the new BP shirts were unveiled, the birds-on-bat logo is a patch, not embroidered. So, I'm guessing the red jerseys survived the recall.

April 20, 2011. Both Nick Punto and Mark Hamilton made their 2011 debuts for the Cards in game one of today's day/night doubleheader. New Redbird Punto is wearing #8, as he did in the spring, and swung a natural ash LS. Hamilton is wearing #38, an upgrade from the #64 he wore last season and this spring. He used a Gwynn-finished Marucci... Pitcher Fernando Salas got to swing the bat today when the game looked like a runaway for the Nats. He used a black ash LS.

April 21, 2011. Noticed Jon Jay swinging a natural Rawlings bat today, a departure from his normal Louisville Slugger. Also, David Freese used a Marucci with a Gwynn finish... I've been told that St. Patrick's Day jerseys that don't get bids will be held until the last auction is completed on May 22. At that point, the team will decide whether to auction them again or to sell them at the ballpark.

April 22, 2011. Molina started using a natural Marucci tonight, and it appears to be his personal model, not one of Pujols' bats.

April 23, 2011. Carpenter is still using Marucci, but now is rocking the black handle/natural barrel finish. Couldn't tell if it's one of his bats or another of Albert's rejects.

April 24, 2011. Punto was using a black LS ash bat.

April 26, 2011. A quick follow up on two Pujols jerseys I've been following at auction. The 2001 road featured in Heritage's auction ended at $4,182.50 with buyer's premium. As discussed in my 4/9 blog entry, it has all the characteristics of a cheap, retail shirt. And the 2009 road shirt in Grey Flannel's auction currently is at $666. As discussed on 4/12, certain elements of that shirt are not consistent with photos of Pujols during the 2009 season.

April 27, 2011. Sorry I've been MIA. Haven't had time to empty the DVR until tonight. The entries from 4/22 through tonight are short and sweet... Freese used a natural ash Louisville Slugger tonight, adding a new entry to his bat use list.

April 29, 2011. Ryan Theriot abandoned his Louisville Slugger tonight in favor of a natural Marucci... In turn, Colby Rasmus started using a black Louisville Slugger M9 instead of the Sam Bat he has used all season.