20 Questions with Baby Bird Joe Donofrio

Righty reliever Joe Donofrio pitched in 40 games for the Peoria Chiefs in 2013. He posted a 2.63 ERA in 68.1 innings of work — holding right handed hitters to a .194 average. He earned six wins and 5 saves on the year.

20 Questions – Joe Donofrio (@bagofritos)

Donofrio headshot_100208 (2)1. How did you get started in baseball?

My dad and I use to go to a lot of Orioles games when I was younger and that really got  me into the game of baseball.

2. Who was your biggest influence growing up?

My dad; we’d go out and play catch all the time.

3. When/how did you decide you wanted to pursue this career?

I had a breakout season my junior year in high school which gave me the opportunity to  play college baseball.

4. How did you react when your dream of playing pro baseball was first achieved?

I was in disbelief, I was an amazing feeling and also eye opening

5. What do you remember from your first professional game?   

I remember coming in and having the early game jitters, but once the pitching coach came out I settled down and just pitched. Continue reading

My Cardinals 2014 Wish List

As most everyone else does between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I’ve been thinking much about what I want to see in 2014. As the snow falls and the temps waver from low to high single digits, it’s only natural to think about spring … and baseball … and what I want to see from the Cardinals as the weather warms (both the temperature and my spirits!).

2014Taking a look back at last year’s New Year Wish List makes me wonder how much will change between now and October, but it’s fun to look ahead and wish, nonetheless.

So, as I watch the end of the college football season and look ahead to 365 days of new opportunities, here are 14 things I’m hoping to see from the 2014 Cardinals.

14. Visits to Busch, complete with a tour of Ballpark Village

We’ve been hearing about BPV for so long. This winter, watching the progress as it becomes a reality, has me yearning for the first opportunity to see it in person. (Like I need another excuse to visit the happiest place on earth!) The legacy that is St. Louis Cardinals baseball deserves a showplace worthy of its history, and here’s hoping the city does it up just right!

13. Chris Carpenter’s developing role

I know “front office guys” don’t usually show up in game recaps or headlines. But, I hope to hear what Carp is up to throughout the year. I mean, don’t you? Continue reading

20 Questions With Baby Bird Kyle Helisek

Kyle Helisek, selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 30th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Villanova University, started 23 games for the Chiefs in 2013. He finished the year with a 3.13 ERA in 129.1 innings pitched with a 2.92 Strikeout-to-walk ration, and a 70.7 Left on Base Percentage. …it appears he enjoys those strikeouts! Let’s find out what else he enjoys.

20 Questions: Kyle Helisek (@KTH_23)

kyle helisek1. How did you get started in baseball?

When I was five or six I just signed up for T-Ball and it turned out to be my favorite sport.

2. Who was your biggest influence growing up?

My dad. Even now he still throws with me.

3. When/how did you decide you wanted to pursue this career?

In high school I decided to try to get a scholarship to play baseball and continued to progress from there.

4. How did you react when your dream of playing pro ball was first achieved?

It was an unbelievable experience. Very memorable. I’ll never forget it. Continue reading

20 Questions With Baby Bird Jeremy Schaffer

This week’s 20 questions is with Chiefs’ 1st baseman Jeremy Schaffer. Jeremy played 75 games for the Chiefs in 2013.

Jeremy Schaffer (@jschaff8)

schaffer (2)1. How did you get started in baseball?

I always loved baseball since I was a kid a played a lot of it with encouragement from my parents.

2. Who was your biggest influence growing up?

Both of my parents, they have always been there for me.

3. When/how did you decide you wanted to pursue this career?

I realized in high school that it was a possibility so I just went for it from there.

4. How did you react when your dream of playing pro baseball was first achieved?

Excited and overwhelmed because it’s something you work so hard for.

5. What do you remember from your first professional game?

I started off 0-2 and then got my first base hit against the Greenville Astros in Johnson City. Continue reading

20 Questions With A Baby Bird

It’s no secret that Cardinals’ success has come in large part to the development of the minor league system. Near the end of the regular season, Tara Wellman (with the help of the Peoria Chiefs’ staff) had a chance to get to know some of those minor league players, Q & A style. We’ll be posting those interviews over the next several weeks.

20 Questions with CF Charlie Tilson (@tilson4)

  1. How did you get started in baseball?Tilson

    1. Playing wiffle ball in the backyard with my brother and friends

  2. Who was your biggest influence growing up?

    1. My older brother. He was into baseball and we are around the same age so we spent a lot of time together as kids and still are very close.

  3. When/how did you decide you wanted to pursue this career?

    1. I knew as a little kid that I wanted to play baseball.

  4. How did you react when your dream of playing pro baseball was first achieved?

    1. There were a lot of hugs; it was a great family moment and celebration.

  5. What do you remember from your first professional game?

    1. It was a very eye-opening experience

  6. What has been your favorite moment in baseball (professional or otherwise)?

    1. Winning the State Championship with my high school team in 2009.

  7. Who is your biggest fan?

    1. My father Continue reading

Catching Up With The Cardinals: December Edition

If you’re like me, the quietness of the Cardinals’ offseason combined with the business of the holiday season lends itself to feeling out of the loop.

No worries! Let’s catch up on the latest news together, shall we?

saint_louis_cardinals_logoThe biggest story this week is one that ended without actually ending. The Cardinals appeared to be all set to finalize the purchase of the Memphis Redbirds, as announced in mid-November. With John Mozeliak in attendance at last night’s City Council meeting, the plan was to finish up the details and obtain the council’s approval.

That plan hit a snag when the council members began arguing they hadn’t had sufficient time to review the changes to the plan or the Xs and Os of how it would/could all work.

With a Dec. 31 deadline to complete the purchase, the timeline grows tighter and tighter with each delay, this time until the council reconvenes on Monday. Continue reading

Cardinals Love Letter: Joe Kelly

Dear Joe,

First off, many congrats to you and your new bride! Seeing how this is a “love letter” and all, I felt that an appropriate way to begin.

A month removed from the end of the season, I can’t help but look back at some of the moments that made 2013 such a great ride … and many of those moments wouldn’t have happened without you! Following the Cardinals this season was great fun, due in large part to the big personalities the year’s squad featured. You, dearest Joe, certainly led the

From handshakes to dance moves ... Joe has it all.

From handshakes to dance moves … Joe has it all.


The friendship between you and fellow pitcher Shelby Miller was no secret. Interviews with one (or both) of you brought out the wackiest in you. And Cardinal Nation loved it. This video might be my favorite Kelly/Miller moment — the peanuts, the worm, the photo bombing. Poor Shelby didn’t stand a chance in that interview!

On second thought, THIS was pretty hilarious (and slightly gross!) as well. Ahh, the beauty of a good bromance.

But there was oh-so-much more to enjoy this season, like completely confused look on Nelly’s face when some weird old guy showed up in the dugout. Continue reading

A New Deal: Matheny Earns 3 More Years

As usual, when the Cardinals announce a “baseball operations” press conference, the rumor mill starts churning.

Chris Carpenter’s retiring? Matt Carpenter’s extension? The finalization of the purchase of the triple A team? The first off season trade?

Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Well, sort of.

Chris Carpenter is retiring. But, that was the secondary announcement of the presser.

photoThe spotlight story was Mike Matheny, not Matt Carpenter, getting a three-year extension.

Bill DeWitt Jr. introduced the new deal by reiterating his belief that the best way to operate and maintain a franchise is to retain the “core pieces” of its success. Matheny, both he and John Mozeliak said, is an integral part of that success.

“Why now?” Mo said, anticipating the question before it was asked. The answer was simple: the organization knows now that they want Matheny for the long haul. There’s no sense in dragging out the inevitable or – more importantly – letting it be a distraction during the 2014 season. Continue reading

MVP: Making The Case For Molina

Tonight and tomorrow, the Baseball Writers Association of America will be able to announce the winners of the two most prestigious post-season awards, and the Cardinals are well represented in both categories. Though Adam Wainwright is not expected to win the Cy Young Award (Clayton Kershaw seems to have it all but locked up), the battle for MVP is developing into quite the hot topic.

DSC_0332Most “experts” seem to believe Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, who led his team to its first winning season in over 20 years, will land at the top of the ballots. An award that generally follows the path the numbers create favors the center fielder whose .317 average in 583 at bats, complete with 97 runs, 21 homers, 84 RBI, 27 stolen bases, an 8.2 WAR (not to mention his fielding percentage, runs saved, etc.) — especially as a center fielder — make him an easy favorite.

Now, I know my perspective is dripping in bias, but I don’t think it has to be in order to make a convincing argument in favor of Yadier Molina. It does, though, require a willingness to look beyond just the numbers to what “value” really means. Continue reading

One Week Later – Time To Reflect

A week ago this morning, the butterflies were already building. I was nervous. The reality of winning two games in Boston with the Red Sox on the verge of a history-making win seemed slim. But hoping beyond reasonable hope is what sports fans do. Michael Wacha gave the Cardinals as good a chance as any, and the law of averages seemed to imply that the offense was “due,” as they say.

It could happen. Crazier things had.

That was then.

looking backNow, I’m finding it gradually easier to look back. Just as fans hold out hope until the bitter end, they also feel the hurt when the fairytale ends. It’s not technically our loss, but it stings like it is. Our summer is invested in the success or failure of our team; we inhale and exhale — quite literally! —  based on what our players do; attitudes and emotions can be swayed because our team is up … or down.

As I watched Game 6, as our team’s World Series hopes slipped further and further out of reach, I said aloud to my dad, “Sometimes I wish I didn’t care so much.”

Admittedly, I have a tendency to care too deeply about pretty much everything. Cardinals baseball is no exception. When they’re up, I’m up. When they’re down, I’m down. When they are confident (a la Adam Wainwright’s comments before heading back to Boston), I can be confident. When they’re disappointed, I’m devastated.  Continue reading