Darren "Doogie" Wolfson

Darren "Doogie" Wolfson has a passion for sports, but not a consistent forum in which he's allowed to spew his thoughts. Well, now he has one. Darren spent 12-plus years with KFAN Radio, wearing multiple hats - from producing and technically directing, to reporting and hosting. He spent a majority of his time working with Sid Hartman's son, Chad on the 'Chad Hartman Show.' Read more about Darren Wolfson.

Posts about Twins Players

Time for Twins to think about 2012

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: August 9, 2011 - 2:23 PM

It's time for 1500-ESPN, the Twins' flagship radio station, to put their "#itshappening" t-shirts on clearance, or they could do a massive reprint with the Twitter hashtag, "#**itshappening."

Outfielder Delmon Young quit on a play against Toronto in May, and gave minimal effort on a home run by Chicago's Brent Lillibridge on Saturday, yet those two moments are easily forgotten when looking at his offensive statistics. Through arbitration, is he really worth $7.5 million next year? But can the Twins just non-tender him? It's one of many layered decisions for the front office.

Pitcher Nick Blackburn was mistakenly given a long-term contract when the team could have gone year-to-year and, predictably, he has struggled.

Catcher Joe Mauer has about the same slugging percentage as White Sox speedster Juan Pierre, and is lower than Texas' Elvis Andrus. However, if you are clamoring for a Mauer trade, he has a full no-trade clause. He still is a great player having a not-so-great year.

Danny Valencia comes at a very reasonable cost, but still has us wondering if he's the long-term answer at third base.

There is no wondering if Tsuyoshi Nishioka is the long-term answer at shortstop. He's not.

We have no idea if first baseman Justin Morneau will ever mash like he did in 2006, or the first three months of last season.

Outfielder/infielder Michael Cuddyer, the team's MVP this year, will command an eight-figure-per-year salary in free agency, making his return, and rightfully so, doubtful.

Soon-to-be free agent outfielder Jason Kubel should have no problem getting an offer that will trump anything the Twins present.

Except for lefty Glen Perkins, the bullpen has to be rebuilt. That could include current starter Brian Duensing, who has struggled mightily to contain right-handed hitters.

A shrewd move by the front office was not signing Francisco Liriano to a long-term deal. But for $5 million, he should be tendered this off-season and given one more chance in 2012. If he disappoints again, he'll still have trade value next July.

Another shrewd move will be to explore if a No. 1 bulldog-esque ace is available. The issue: do the Twins have enough ammo to pull off such a move?

This is a monstrous off-season for the Twins' front office. They can't botch it like they did the non-waiver trade deadline. It was a seller's market, and they didn't sell.

A lot will be forgiven if the right moves are made this winter. But the convenient excuse of injuries this year shouldn't be accepted. It partially explains this year's downfall, but not nearly all of it. What this year mostly has become is a reminder about how many guys had career years in 2010: Morneau pre-injury, Valencia, Young, Carl Pavano, Liriano, and Duensing, and a dominating bullpen.

An infusion of talent is necessary on many fronts.

No longer Central Parked: Winning division not enough this year for the Twins

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: August 18, 2010 - 11:20 AM

The goal is to make this blog a combination of sports and entertainment. In other words, to quote a recent Seth Meyers joke, it'll be like a Kardashians' bedroom. 

The goal is to also make this entry better than either: a) the David Hasselhoff Comedy Central Roast, or b) this recent argument as to why Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was wrong in removing Kevin Slowey from a no-hitter on Sunday (scroll down one story).

Jason Whitlock I'm not, but I'm sure I can top one.

In recent postseasons, the Twins have been more Slowey article-like than Hasselhoff Roast-like. They are 3-16 in their last 19 playoff games; 0-3 in playoff series vs. New York, having been outscored 52-29. Overall, they have a nine-game playoff losing streak. All of those ugly numbers aside, this is the year for the Twins to win a postseason series for the first time since 2002. If they do, this season can be deemed a success. If not, this season should be considered a failure. Yes, it's that simple. It would be foolish to expect the Twins to win the World Series, or even the American League pennant, but expecting a series win is reasonable. Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, and Brian Duensing are different enough to form a lethal enough 1-2-3 punch. With the way the Twins are playing, setting up their postseason roster should be an attainable goal.

In many ways, the Twins are "all-in" for this season. Next year's team may be without many of this years' significant contributors, including soon-to-be free agents Pavano, Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, and Jesse Crain. And while Joe Nathan will be on the roster, it is hard to predict what he will be able to provide coming off Tommy John surgery.  

That's why this year is the Twins' best chance to win in October. First, in spite of Justin Morneau's absence, the Twins have the best record in baseball since the All-Star break at 22-8. The behind-the-scenes word is Morneau is NOT expected to miss the rest of the season. Second, let's be realistic: with the easier remaining schedule, and their dominance in the head-to-head matchups, the Twins will win the division over Chicago. In fact, the White Sox shouldn't even be the Twins' first concern. That distinction should go to the Texas Rangers. With the wild-card winner undoubtedly coming from the East, if the Central division winner finishes with a better record than Texas, they will have home-field advantage in the divisional series. 

Forget the hype about Gophers coach Tim Brewster trying to beat Wisconsin for the first time, or Brett Favre playing another former team (the Jets), or Mike Russo blogging 27 times per day from Finland. This is the year for the Twins to dominate the local sports landscape for a couple of weeks, not a couple of days, in October.

Mauer power outage should continue through Tuesday

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: July 11, 2010 - 1:52 PM

It took some time this Sunday morning, but I have now found something more foolish than a positive review of "Knight & Day," or the notion that Nick Blackburn should remain in the starting rotation. It is the idea that because Joe Mauer is the leading vote-getter, he must play in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

On his Sunday morning radio show on 1500-ESPN, manager Ron Gardenhire suggested that Mauer is "mentally exhausted" and "(physically) beat-up." It would be moronic to question how Mauer is feeling when he plays the most physically-demanding position on the field.

But if he was too banged up to play Sunday, then why should he play in the All-Star game? So, he couldn't play Sunday, but can play in an exhibition 48-hours later?

Even though it's sacrilegious to attack Mauer, he is under-achieving this year. Maybe the bar was raised too high after his historic run last year, but he needs to contribute more. He needs to have more Target Field home runs than Matt Tolbert. Mini-rant over because obviously the Twins best chance to win is with Mauer in the lineup. In other words, Mauer must be hurt enough. Gardenhire understood the magnitude of Sunday's game  and still rested Mauer.

Missing Sunday's game is understandable, but only if he also isn't squatted behind the plate on Tuesday night. 

As my wife would say, "You ramble on too much!" So, we'll make this a short-and-sweet entry. Comment away.

Trade talk: Twins should go after Cliff Lee

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: June 13, 2010 - 11:22 PM

In 2004, hours before baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, the Twins sent first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to the Boston Red Sox for minor-leaguer Justin Jones. With the Red Sox in town at the time, all Mientkiewicz had to do was walk down the hallway at the Metrodome to join his new teammates. Six years later, here's hoping a comparable scenario takes place at Target Field when Seattle is in town July 30 - August 1.

Here's the deal Twins general manager Bill Smith should propose to Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik: Wilson Ramos, Kevin Slowey, and a "C" level prospect for starter Cliff Lee and reliever David Aardsma. Such a deal would only increase the payroll by approximately three million dollars - not much for a team with a new ballpark and money still coming in from revenue-sharing.

The Twins will win their division. Smith's sole focus should be on winning in October. It's hard to believe that the team, as currently constructed, is good enough to win the World Series. Three wins in their last 19 playoff games is no longer just a coincidence. As nice as home-field advantage against the wild-card entrant would be; if it were the Yankees, facing C.C. Sabathia and then Phil Hughes or A.J. Burnett in back-to-back games would offset that in a hurry. But not if Lee is your Game 1 starter. Lee is one of the top five starters in all of major-league baseball, and also happens to have have playoff experience.

The Twins are 29-1 when leading entering the seventh inning. In other words, the bullpen has been very good. But Aardsma brings the threat of a strikeout (18 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings; 80 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings last year) and would be under team control through 2012. Aardsma's fastball would become the most reliable on the team. Would Seattle deal Aardsma? That's where Slowey comes in. They need a starter to replace Lee, and the Twins have minor-leaguer Kyle Gibson to take his spot next year. Sure, Carl Pavano is a free-agent, but he genuinely likes it here. I could see a two-year deal being worked out.

Offensively, the Twins are challenged a bit more than I would have guessed. But with closer Joe Nathan's contract partially insured, and extra money coming in via standing-room only tickets, adding a right-handed bat can be done through the waiver process in August. Guys like Kansas City's Jose Guillen, Seattle's Jose Lopez, and Baltimore's Miguel Tejada should be available, or making a separate deal in July for someone like Cleveland's Austin Kearns or Baltimore's Ty Wigginton would make sense. Also, if the Twins can get a look at Boston's Mike Lowell for virtually nothing, they should.

In 2006, the Twins made a competitive offer for Alfonso Soriano (Slowey, et al.), so it is not unheard of for this regime to try something drastic. Minnesota is starving for a champion. The Twins offer hope, maybe even more so than the Vikings this year. But the team needs to be tweaked. It would be a shame to have two MVPs in the prime of their careers -- Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau -- and not win at least one World Series. The time is now for Smith to give those guys the best possible chance to win.

Trade talk: Twins should go after Cliff Lee

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: June 13, 2010 - 11:22 PM

In 2004, hours before baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, the Twins sent first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to the Boston Red Sox for minor-leaguer Justin Jones. With the Red Sox in town at the time, all Mientkiewicz had to do was walk down the hallway at the Metrodome to join his new teammates. Six years later, here's hoping a comparable scenario takes place at Target Field when Seattle is in town July 30 - August 1.

Here's the deal Twins general manager Bill Smith should propose to Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik: Wilson Ramos, Kevin Slowey, and a "C" level prospect for starter Cliff Lee and reliever David Aardsma. Such a deal would only increase the payroll by approximately three million dollars - not much for a team with a new ballpark and money still coming in from revenue-sharing.

The Twins will win their division. Smith's sole focus should be on winning in October. It's hard to believe that the team, as currently constructed, is good enough to win the World Series. Three wins in their last 19 playoff games is no longer just a coincidence. As nice as home-field advantage against the wild-card entrant would be; if it were the Yankees, facing C.C. Sabathia and then Phil Hughes or A.J. Burnett in back-to-back games would offset that in a hurry. But not if Lee is your Game 1 starter. Lee is one of the top five starters in all of major-league baseball, and also happens to have have playoff experience.

The Twins are 29-1 when leading entering the seventh inning. In other words, the bullpen has been very good. But Aardsma brings the threat of a strikeout (18 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings; 80 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings last year) and would be under team control through 2012. Aardsma's fastball would become the most reliable on the team. Would Seattle deal Aardsma? That's where Slowey comes in. They need a starter to replace Lee, and the Twins have minor-leaguer Kyle Gibson to take his spot next year. Sure, Carl Pavano is a free-agent, but he genuinely likes it here. I could see a two-year deal being worked out.

Offensively, the Twins are challenged a bit more than I would have guessed. But with closer Joe Nathan's contract partially insured, and extra money coming in via standing-room only tickets, adding a right-handed bat can be done through the waiver process in August. Guys like Kansas City's Jose Guillen, Seattle's Jose Lopez, and Baltimore's Miguel Tejada should be available, or making a separate deal in July for someone like Cleveland's Austin Kearns or Baltimore's Ty Wigginton would make sense. Also, if the Twins can get a look at Boston's Mike Lowell for virtually nothing, they should.

In 2006, the Twins made a competitive offer for Alfonso Soriano (Slowey, et al.), so it is not unheard of for this regime to try something drastic. Minnesota is starving for a champion. The Twins offer hope, maybe even more so than the Vikings this year. But the team needs to be tweaked. It would be a shame to have two MVPs in the prime of their careers -- Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau -- and not win at least one World Series. The time is now for Smith to give those guys the best possible chance to win.

      

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