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Thursday, December 13, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Grip on Sports: The M’s that were will not be the M’s of next year

Seattle Mariners’ Jean Segura points skyward as he crosses home on his home run against the Houston Astros in the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Seattle. According to sources, Segura is headed to the Philadelphia Phillies in a five-player trade. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
Seattle Mariners’ Jean Segura points skyward as he crosses home on his home run against the Houston Astros in the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Seattle. According to sources, Segura is headed to the Philadelphia Phillies in a five-player trade. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Nothing is final until it’s final. Didn’t Yogi Berra say that? Well, he should have. I do know one thing. If Yogi had been a Mariner this season, Jerry Dipoto would have traded him and his malapropisms to the Nationals or someone. And thrown in money to help cover his contract. Read on.

••••••••••

• If you are a Mariner fan, you might want to pull out a legal pad and start making notes. The roster the franchise has today looks nothing like the one it had on opening day last season. And probably doesn’t resemble the one it will have on opening day next year.

The Robinson Cano Epoch is over. So is the Jean Segura Era. And the eras of Mike Zunino, Edwin Diaz and almost any other recognizable player you can name.

Dipoto blew it all up. To quote an old TV show, he blew it up real good.

James Paxton? Gone. James Pazos? Gone. Juan Nicasio? Gone.

It’s Dec. 4, the Winter Meetings aren’t even here yet and Dipoto has shed most of the M’s biggest contracts, most-veteran players and even a couple of youngish, under-control guys. In return he’s picked up a few overpaid vets – and a bunch of prospects, a couple of which cause some baseball people to drool uncontrollably. In other words, Dipoto is rebuilding the roster, the farm system and the fans’ expectations.

Will any of those things bounce back? Not this season. It’s going to be a get-folks-experience year.

Oh sure, Kyle Seager will still man third base. We think. It seems, considering how he’s fallen off the planet the past two year, it would be hard to get anyone to take his contract. So he's the starting third baseman.

Dee Gordon will be at second. Mitch Haniger should be in right field, though he’s a tradeable asset and Dipoto seems to be like a guy in Vegas on a hot streak right now. He is in such a zone he may throw Haniger into a trade without even knowing it.

If Haniger survives, we know he’ll be backing up Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake and Wade LeBlanc as they make starts. Maybe even Felix Hernandez, the franchise’s senior member, will bounce back. There is no chance he will be traded, but the other three guys could be.

You just never know with Jerry and this franchise-changing spree. Stay tuned. There is probably more to come.

•••

Gonzaga: The No. 1 team in the country strengthened its hold on the top spot in this week’s Associated Press basketball poll. Jim Meehan has all the numbers. … Josh Perkins is this week’s WCC Player of the Week. … So is Chandler Smith. Jim Allen has that news within a second look at the Bulldogs’ win over Stanford, which propelled the women into the Associated Press Top 25. … The men have a rivalry game coming up this week. Well, sort of. Washington has been so inept in the series its not much of a rivalry. … Around the WCC, despite some visible votes of confidence recently, BYU’s Dave Rose may need to win some games to stay in his position.

WSU: No, Gardner Minshew is not headed to New York as a Heisman finalist. He didn’t make the cut for the final three, this year’s number of invitees. But he did win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, an award for the best upperclassmen quarterback. Theo Lawson has stories on both. … The Pac-12 announced its all-academic teams and the Cougars were well represented. Theo runs down those selections. … Theo also explains his AP basketball poll picks. He should. UCLA? C’mon man. (Actually, I agree with his picks but I had to give him a hard time about at least one of them.) … Finally, Theo spoke with Larry Weir about a lot of subjects for the latest Press Box pod.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, we start with football, a sport in which the conference’s reputation is in tatters, so to speak. It cost WSU and it showed in the attendance and ratings in the title game. … It also showed in how the public reacted to Larry Scott. … The conference announces its awards today. Gardner Minshew seems like a lock as offensive player of the year, but will Kyle Whittingham outpoint Mike Leach as coach of the year? … Colorado is still looking for a coach. … Arizona State will play its bowl game without its best player. … Arizona didn’t make a bowl. That is no surprise. … Ohio State is announcing today former Utah coach Urban Meyer is retiring (again). … Utah faces a familiar-looking foe in the Holiday Bowl. … In basketball, California is helping out the other Bay Area colleges by playing, and in most cases, losing to them.

Seahawks: The Hawks’ playoff chances have improved, but they need to keep winning of course. Yes, there are games with Arizona and the 49ers, but this week’s home battle with Minnesota is important as well, what with the Vikings also vying for a wild-card spot. … The Hawks will be without D.J. Fluker, but get Mychal Kendricks back. … A lot went right against the 49ers.

Mariners: The roster has undergone such a makeover, if I were a free agent, I wouldn’t sign unless I got a percentage of the program sales for the first homestand next season.

•••       

• OK, winter isn’t officially here. But the ice on the deck this morning tells me it is unofficially here. Maybe it’s time to pick up the leaves? (Just kidding. Got them last week. Just in the nick of time.) Until later …


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