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Murph: Say what you will about the future, but Giants are a significantly better club in 2018



If you’re still going to be mad about the Giants plans for 2018, you may be falling into the trap of the old saying about the cynic: He knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Now, Giants fans, is not the time to worry about price, or 2019 payrolls or 2020 payrolls or 2021 payrolls.

Now is the time to enjoy value.

I was dubious of Bobby Evans’ ability to navigate this offseason. I was dubious about the back end of Evan Longoria’s contract. I was dubious about saying goodbye to my prospect crush, Christian Arroyo.

But even I have to admit that after the latest acquisition — the 28-HR hitting, power-from-the-right-side, positive life force that is Andrew McCutchen — the Giants are a significantly better club then they were at the close of shop, 2017.

Duane Kuiper kept telling us all offseason: The Giants are going to have to be creative. The Giants are going to have to be creative. The Giants are going to have to be creative.

Well, after keeping Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede in their farm system, after adding two right-handed power bats in Longoria and McCutchen (who already become the team’s two most decorated home run hitters), after staying below that $197 million luxury tax and after not surrendering a draft pick, it appears they were creative.

I’ll be a gosh darn monkey’s uncle.

Of course, it’s more primally fun to be angry in sports talk radio, to channel your inner Salty and rage about the lack of a center fielder, a question mark at leadoff, a group of players whose advanced age bring long-term health into question. But with Scottsdale calling us just next month, primal rage is tending to give way to flowery odes to Arizona sunrises, and dreamy thoughts about the return of the even-year competitive Giants.

Can they compete with the Dodgers now? Well, considering they finished a tidy 40 games behind young and talented L.A., who takes the field in 2018 with millennials like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, who could laughingly ask if guys like Longoria and McCutchen and Hunter Pence still use Facebook, it’s a tall order.

But you don’t really think the Giants were the essence of a 98-loss team, did you? 2017 was a catastrophe in every respect. The Bumgarner dirt bike. The Melancon injuries. Will Smith’s elbow. Cueto’s blisters. Matt Moore’s … well, Matt Moore’s Matt Moore-ness. Brandon Belt’s concussions. The total disappearance of the home run ball in San Francisco, while the rest of the league was playing wiffle ball.

That can’t happen again, can it?

Don’t answer that.

Let’s instead realize that Longoria and McCutchen hit more home runs than any Giant all of last year. I know they didn’t play 81 at AT&T Park. But I do know that right handers hit more home runs at AT&T Park, and both McCutchen and Longoria fill that side of the box.

The Giants are more powerful now and can definitely legitimately aim at an NL wild card spot, which last year required 87 wins by the Colorado Rockies. That would be a 14-win turnaround, to get to 88 wins. I think they can be 14 games better.

Sure, there are problems: Will center field be relegated to Gorkys Hernandez and the kid, Steven Duggar? Does the bullpen still nag at you? Will Johnny Cueto be back? Will Belt stay healthy and finally crest 20 HRs? How will the new coaching staff arrangements jell with the players?

All valid queries. What we do have an answer for, thankfully, is this: Are the Giants better? Yes. Did they get creative? Looks that way. Are we ready for baseball next month? Bring it on.