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Grip on Sports: Mariners are once again saying goodbye to the old guy’s players

The Mariners are hoping that former first-round pick Alex Jackson can rediscover his swing. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
The Mariners are hoping that former first-round pick Alex Jackson can rediscover his swing. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Ever stare at a blank computer screen and wonder what you’re going to fill it with? Me neither. Except about every other day. Luckily for me – and you – today isn’t one of those days. Today is about baseball. Read on.

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• Yes, really. There may be ice everywhere, basketball on every other TV channel and college football playoff shows to look forward to, but, thanks to Trader Jerry (Dipoto), today is about baseball.

And the cleaning out of your predecessors “mistakes.”

We’ve seen this in Seattle before, right? When Bill Bavasi was fired as the Mariners’ general manager, Jack Zduriencik came in and declared the cupboard bare. He then began getting rid of Bavasi’s draft choices and free agent signings.

Guys like J.J. Putz and Jeff Clement – the third player taken in the 2005 draft – were jettisoned. Z had to get rid of them. He had to make room for his own mistakes.

Dustin Ackley. Chone Figgins. Eric Byrnes. Justin Smoak. Jesus Montero.

It’s a long list folks.

Anyhow, Zduriencik was fired last year and Dipoto hired.

So what has Dipoto done the past 15 months? Get rid of a good portion of the roster. Throughout the organization.

Last year Dipoto went slowly – for him – and just made tweaks here and there. This year he seems to be hell bent on excising many of the players Zduriencik was stockpiling for the future.

Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte went earlier this month in a trade with the Diamondbacks.

Yesterday, outfielder Alex Jackson, the M’s first pick in the 2014 draft (and Zduriencik’s final first-round selection), was sent to the Atlanta Braves as part of a deal for two 23-year-old starting pitchers.

Now I’m not saying what Dipoto is doing is unnecessary. With Zduriencik’s track record, and the Mariners’ record during his tenure, Dipoto is doing the right thing.

It’s just funny, that’s all.

Zduriencik looked at what Bavasi left him, shrugged, and began getting his type of guys. That didn’t work.

Now Dipoto is looking at what Zduriencik left him, shrugging, and using them to get his type of guys. Only the next few years will tell us if it will work.

If I were one of Zduriencik’s first round picks, I would be worried. Walker (2010) and Jackson are already gone. Mike Zunino (2012) and D.J. Peterson (2013) are still on the 40-man roster but, if past is prologue to the future, probably should rent, not buy.

After all, Dipoto is trying to get his guys. And I’m sure Dipoto has a database of every player in the Mariners’ organization. If there is a “Z” next to a name, that player probably shouldn’t be too comfortable.

• By the way, Zunino, Peterson and Kyle Lewis, last year’s first pick recuperating from a bad knee injury, are the only Mariner first-round picks still in the organization. Before he was fired, Zduriencik pulled the trigger and got rid of his 2009 picks (Ackley and Nick Franklin).

The last Mariner first-round pick to have a solid-to-good major league career? Either Brandon Morrow, the 2006 pick, Matt Thornton (1998) or Jose Cruz, Jr. (1995). And it depends on your definition of solid-to-good. You might have to go back to 1994 pick Jason Varitek if your standards are high.

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WSU: Jen Greeny was named Pac-12 coach of the year in volleyball yesterday and three of her players were honored by the conference as well.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12 in football, we find out tonight if Washington will be among the top four in the playoff rankings. Not that it matters much. All that matters is next week’s rankings. Chris Peterson is confident if the Huskies can get past Colorado in Friday’s Pac-12 title game, they will be in the playoffs. … Speaking of the Buffs, a couple players got into trouble over the weekend and won’t be playing. That’s not good news for a program that has made such huge strides. …  Mark Helfrich continues to dangle as his athletic director makes sure he has a replacement lined up before he cuts the cord. At least that’s how it seems. … It sure looks as if the Cougars are headed to the Holiday Bowl and Stanford to the Sun. Utah may be on its way to the Foster Farms. … No matter where USC plays, it will have more practices this season. The Trojans want to keep the momentum from a strong second half. … UCLA is losing another front-line defender. … In Pac-12 basketball, Oregon State won a game yesterday despite its two best players being out. … Oregon had to rally to get past visiting Boise State. … Utah found out its not as good as it might have thought, as Butler came into Salt Lake City and left with a 68-59 victory. … Top-ranked Kentucky crushed Arizona State, 115-69, in the Bahamas.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs moved up to No. 8 in the AP poll yesterday and Nigel Williams-Goss was the WCC player of the week. … The volleyball team’s Emmy Allen was honored by the WCC.

EWU: Around the Big Sky in football, North Dakota has a lot less playoff experience than its FCS opponent, Richmond. … UC Davis picked former Boise State and Colorado coach – and Aggie alum – Dan Hawkins as its head football coach. … In basketball, Montana State grabbed a win at home.

Preps: It’s time to start thinking about high school basketball. Greg Lee is. He has previews of the local leagues, with the boys featuring a story about two Shadle Park seniors and the girls highlighted by this story on defending 4A State champion Central Valley.

Seahawks: So Pete Carroll clammed up. Mr. Positive couldn’t think of anything positive to say about the offensive line’s performance in Tampa so he just said nothing. OK, he said a little. … The Hawks were beat up going into Sunday. They should be much healthier this week against Carolina. And they are at home. … Jermaine Kearse is stumped by the flags.

Mariners: John McGrath takes a last look at the Walker trade.

Sounders: Nelson Valdez may be on his way out, but he’s going out in style.

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• Yes, today was a baseball day. There will be another baseball day soon, when the Hall of Fame election results are announced. I will probably have to lament Edgar Martinez’s exclusion once again. Until later …

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