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Murph: After losing the press conference, Giants must prove they can win the offseason

Well, the Giants didn’t win the press conference.

Now, let’s see if they can win the offseason.

Which is, of course, a tad more important.

The “Four Horsemen of the ’98 Loss Apocalypse” — Larry Baer, Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy — sat in front of a black backdrop and black tablecloth Tuesday at AT&T Park to preside over a funeral, it seemed. The key question will be: Was it a service for a championship run now dead, or just, as they labored to convince us, a rotten season that needed an unceremonious burial at sea?

Nothing they said inspired us. The closest anything to inspiration came from Sabean’s gruff and somewhat defiant “We had a last-place season. That can happen in sports. It’s like you had a lost year in life. But we’re not last-place people and we’re not a last-place organization. We’re the furthest thing from that.”

As Sabean manifestoes go, it’s not as pithy as: “I am not an idiot”, his famous line after the trading of Matt Williams after the 1996 season — not coincidentally the last offseason that was this important to the club.

But it was the closest thing to a pulse the organization showed.

So here’s the only possible positive spin: The Giants don’t need to win press conferences. They need to win the winter trade market, and they need to win it in bold fashion.

By way of comparison, 49ers’ coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch unquestionably won the offseason press conference competition. They gave off a sheen of competence, and inspired 49ers fans enough to think that the team is headed in the right direction.

That said, the team is 0-4.

So what the Giants have handed us is a 98-loss season, a cringe-inducing lineup card night after night, and then a press conference in which they basically doubled down on the organization’s “pitching and defense” credo.

I like pitching and defense as much as the next guy, as I was just saying on the KNBR float down Market Street in 2010, 2012 and 2014. But pitching and defense as a be-all strategy worked a lot better when you had prime-career Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner on the bump, backed up by the bullpen crew that looks increasingly better with each passing year: Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt. When you don’t have those guys, you need to hit the ball more. The Giants, last in the National League in home runs and OPS, did not hit the ball.

So while banking on comeback years from Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore (who’s a whole ‘nother story), and comeback years from Mark Melancon and lefty Will Smith in the bullpen has a little bit of merit, the more important agenda item is for Evans to flex some creativity and find that right-handed power that the Giants so desperately need.

The offseason is out there, gents. Go win it, or face the wrath of KNBR callers.


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