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

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.

Local sports predictions for 2011

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: December 31, 2010 - 6:46 AM

 To suggest that 2010 was an interesting sports year -- at least locally -- is like calling Milwaukee the drunkest city in America, saying that Hugh Hefner needs to take Viagra, or that Doc Brown never ages in the Back to the Future movies.

In other words, it would be stating the obvious. 

Brett Favre broke hearts. There were coaching changes, postseason failings, and regular-season ineptitude. We saw a beautiful new baseball ballpark open, and the can-do-no-wrong hometown hero sign the fourth-largest contract in baseball history. We even experienced Wolves VP of basketball operations David Kahn get fined $50,000 for talking about Michael Beasley's former love of the wacky tobacco.

With 2010 drawing to a close, I wonder what might 2011 bring.

In no particular order, here are some guesses:

• Bert Blyleven will finally (and rightfully) enter the Hall of Fame. Foolishly, Jack Morris will not.

• The Gophers football team will score a meaningful victory. The more people I talk to, the more I hear about what a great hire Jerry Kill was. With Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium, Kill will find a way to win one of those three true rivalry games.

• After saving a ton of money by hiring Kill, Maturi finds a way to get basketball coach Tubby Smith the practice facility he was promised years ago.

• Smith, in his fourth year with the Gophers, finally will win an NCAA tournament game.

• Smith will be wooed by a couple of ACC schools, and at least one NBA team (Charlotte?).

• Former Gophers recruiting coordinator Dan Berezowitz will somehow continue to berate local reporters.

• The Gophers hockey team will unfathomably miss the NCAA tournament for a third consecutive year.

• Leslie Frazier will be named Vikings head coach.

• Ray Edwards, among others, will be a former Viking.

• The Vikings draft a quarterback in the first round -- either Arkansas' Ryan Mallet, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, or Washington's Jake Locker.

• The VIkings play the 2011 home season -- because there will be no lockout -- at TCF Bank Stadium.

• The Legislature will reach agreement on a new Vikings stadium bill.

• The Twins will not be as bad as many fans think -- still lots of time to make moves this offseason -- but won't win the A.L. Central.

• Wild TV analyst Mike Greenlay will blame the officials for at least one loss.

• Wild coach Todd Richards, whether deserving or not, will be the scapegoat for a non-playoff season.

• Forward Andrew Brunette, among others, will leave during free agency.

• Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, and Sebastian Telfair all become ex-Wolves.

• Ricky Rubio won't be with the Wolves -- yet.

• Ted Robinson and Bob Kurtz will do a great job on the Twins radio broadcasts.

• JJ Hardy will have significantly better numbers than Alexi Casilla.

• Pam Borton will struggle mightily, but Maturi won't cut the chord.

• In spite of a horrific performance on Thursday night vs. Stanford, UCONN's Maya Moore will be the Lynx top pick in the WNBA draft.

• A prominent local sports anchor will plagiarize verbatim Jon Krawczynski's work again.

We can look back on these predictions a year from now -- I promise to not hop into Jake Nyberg's DeLorean and travel back in time to ensure 100% accuracy -- so list your local sports prognostications for 2011 below.

 

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.

Delmon Young: The Biggest Loser Tantalizes

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: March 3, 2010 - 9:34 AM

Twins left fielder Delmon Young no longer needs the Perfect Fit Button (my new favorite infomercial after the doggy potty patch).

Center fielder Denard Span joked with host Patrick Reusse on "AM-1500 the SportsTalk Station" the other day that fans are starting to mistake him for Young.

After losing 32 pounds -- that takes true dedication over a long period -- Young more than any other player intrigues me the most this season.

Let's look back at parts of a blog I penned on Young in June of '09:

Is this the real Delmon Young? Did he really have 93 RBI's, while hitting .288 in 2007?

Back then, his mother, Bonnie Young, was presumably in good health. It was a bit over three months ago that it was discovered that she had pancreatic and liver cancer.

She passed away recently.

No one can pretend to know the emotional swings that Delmon is dealing with. Since rejoining the team on May 24, he has hit .118/.143/.118 in 35 at-bats, with 19 strikeouts.
Those numbers can be excused. But what can't is a blurb from a Lavelle E. Neal III story in Friday's paper: (Ron) Gardenhire said Young has been pleasant to deal with, but he still doesn't like getting advice about his swing.

Further troubling information was provided by the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Saturday's edition: Last season the Twins had similar trouble communicating with Young on his hitting. Asked if that's gotten better this year, Gardenhire said, "He's really easy to talk to, but then when you get in a conversation about hitting and stuff, he doesn't like to hear that."

How, at 23-years-old, can Young be so stubborn? If hitting coach Joe Vavra or Gardenhire offer up advice, you take it, especially when what you're doing isn't performing the trick. We can argue the merits of the Twins' hitting philosophies, how David Ortiz  went on to unreal highs after getting out of the Twins' system, and whether their thoughts match Young's talent, but at this point, he needs to listen.

But, Young is simply not capable. Case in point: Last year a former successful big league hitter, while out with a group of friends, ran into Young in a restaurant. He offered Delmon a tip about his wrists. Delmon's response - "Thanks ____________, but my wrists are faster than yours ever were!"
That anecdote is not meant to suggest that Delmon is a bad guy. I've heard he's likable, but just very stuck in his own ways.

An underappreciated baseball website, fangraphs.com, tossed out a good solution to the Young kerfuffle.
At this point, the Twins would probably be best served if Young went on the DL with Dontrelle Willis disease, and they used some kind of mental anguish issue to get him off the roster and let him “rehab” down in the minors.

Young, like many can do, made me look foolish with his play in the second-half of last year. He hit .300 with nine home runs after the All-Star break, .340 in September as the Twins made a memorable comeback to force the one-game division tiebreaker with Detroit.

Now, let's fast-forward to this week. Young to MLB.com's Peter Gammons: "When have you ever seen me smiling this much? ... I think I'm finally where I thought I should be five years ago."

Gardenhire to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier: "He went through an awful lot last year. There was a lot on that young man's mind. But I think he's grown as a person and as a player. He's become a fantastic teammate and he's worked really hard this winter to get himself in great shape and put together a good year for himself and our ballclub. I'm really happy for him and proud of him."

Because Young is still only 24-years-old and has teased us enough, even more than Francisco Liriano or JJ Hardy, he is the player I'll be monitoring the closest come the start of the season.

Delmon Young: The Biggest Loser Tantalizes

Posted by: Darren "Doogie" Wolfson Updated: March 3, 2010 - 9:34 AM

Twins left fielder Delmon Young no longer needs the Perfect Fit Button (my new favorite infomercial after the doggy potty patch).

Center fielder Denard Span joked with host Patrick Reusse on "AM-1500 the SportsTalk Station" the other day that fans are starting to mistake him for Young.

After losing 32 pounds -- that takes true dedication over a long period -- Young more than any other player intrigues me the most this season.

Let's look back at parts of a blog I penned on Young in June of '09:

Is this the real Delmon Young? Did he really have 93 RBI's, while hitting .288 in 2007?

Back then, his mother, Bonnie Young, was presumably in good health. It was a bit over three months ago that it was discovered that she had pancreatic and liver cancer.

She passed away recently.

No one can pretend to know the emotional swings that Delmon is dealing with. Since rejoining the team on May 24, he has hit .118/.143/.118 in 35 at-bats, with 19 strikeouts.
Those numbers can be excused. But what can't is a blurb from a Lavelle E. Neal III story in Friday's paper: (Ron) Gardenhire said Young has been pleasant to deal with, but he still doesn't like getting advice about his swing.

Further troubling information was provided by the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Saturday's edition: Last season the Twins had similar trouble communicating with Young on his hitting. Asked if that's gotten better this year, Gardenhire said, "He's really easy to talk to, but then when you get in a conversation about hitting and stuff, he doesn't like to hear that."

How, at 23-years-old, can Young be so stubborn? If hitting coach Joe Vavra or Gardenhire offer up advice, you take it, especially when what you're doing isn't performing the trick. We can argue the merits of the Twins' hitting philosophies, how David Ortiz  went on to unreal highs after getting out of the Twins' system, and whether their thoughts match Young's talent, but at this point, he needs to listen.

But, Young is simply not capable. Case in point: Last year a former successful big league hitter, while out with a group of friends, ran into Young in a restaurant. He offered Delmon a tip about his wrists. Delmon's response - "Thanks ____________, but my wrists are faster than yours ever were!"
That anecdote is not meant to suggest that Delmon is a bad guy. I've heard he's likable, but just very stuck in his own ways.

An underappreciated baseball website, fangraphs.com, tossed out a good solution to the Young kerfuffle.
At this point, the Twins would probably be best served if Young went on the DL with Dontrelle Willis disease, and they used some kind of mental anguish issue to get him off the roster and let him “rehab” down in the minors.

Young, like many can do, made me look foolish with his play in the second-half of last year. He hit .300 with nine home runs after the All-Star break, .340 in September as the Twins made a memorable comeback to force the one-game division tiebreaker with Detroit.

Now, let's fast-forward to this week. Young to MLB.com's Peter Gammons: "When have you ever seen me smiling this much? ... I think I'm finally where I thought I should be five years ago."

Gardenhire to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier: "He went through an awful lot last year. There was a lot on that young man's mind. But I think he's grown as a person and as a player. He's become a fantastic teammate and he's worked really hard this winter to get himself in great shape and put together a good year for himself and our ballclub. I'm really happy for him and proud of him."

Because Young is still only 24-years-old and has teased us enough, even more than Francisco Liriano or JJ Hardy, he is the player I'll be monitoring the closest come the start of the season.

      

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