Mark Melancon. (Courtesy photo)

Giants find their Mark, ’Cutch should be next

Rejoice, all ye Giants fans. Your long bullpen nightmare appears to be over.

Multiple outlets reported that veteran closer Mark Melancon and the Giants have agreed to a four-year deal in the $60 million neighborhood. Balls’ world-wide network confirmed the reports.

While among the three best free agent options available, Melancon wasn’t the chic pick. He was the wisest one. Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen throw harder, but Melancon closes games better and does it cheaper. His 131 saves in the last three seasons are the most in the big leagues.

As we know, relief pitchers are a fickle lot. But at 31, and with no history of health problems, there’s reason to believe Melancon will remain effective for another couple or three seasons, at least.

Now, operations chief Brian Sabean and his trusty sidekick Bobby Evans can address the other soft spot, the one in left field.

For now, the hope is that Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson will fill the void. Maybe, but based on what we’ve seen lately, probably not.

So come on down, Andrew McCutchen. And bring your four Silver Sluggers and one Most Valuable Player award with you.

According to one longtime Pirates source, McCutchen could be had for first baseman Chris Shaw and pitchers Kyle Crick and Derek Law. Shaw is widely considered to be the No. 3 prospect in the organization.

If that’s accurate, McCutchen and his $14 million salary for next season could be worth it and then some. For a franchise that’s worth $2 billion at last report, that’s pocket change.

McCutchen comes off the worst season of his career. It has nothing to do with health and everything to do with the baggage he carries on a mid-market team. Even in a crummy year, he hit .256 with 24 home runs and 79 RBI. This is an ideal time to buy low.

What’s more, McCutchen also can play center field, although metrics suggest that he’s better suited in the corner spot.

McCutchen has two years left on his contract, which includes a team option for the 2018 season. Both sides could agree to extend the deal. Otherwise, if the marriage didn’t work out — however unlikely that might be — the organization could exercise a $1 million buyout option.

Added perk: Giants pitchers wouldn’t have to be abused by this guy any more. McCutchen has a career .309/.376/.510 slash line against them.

Just do it.

TIME FOR A CHANGE: For some reason, Santa Clara coach Chip Kelly won’t listen to Balls. But let’s try this one more time.

Hand the ball to veteran quarterback Christian Ponder and see what he can do in the final four games of the season.

Ponder can’t be much worse that we’ve seen thus far. In 2012, his only full season as a starter, Ponder had a 10-6 win-loss record, .621 completion percentage and 81.2 rating. By comparison, Colin Kaepernick checks in at 0-6, .545 and 85.5, respectively, while Blame Gabbert has marks of 1-5, .569 and 68.4 this season.

Given a chance, maybe Ponder shows potential as a backup. Or maybe he proves to be as crummy as the other guys. One way or the other, that’s better than to have him rot on the inactive list.

HE SAID WHAT? Even more telling than the 26-6 debacle against the Bears in Chicago on Sunday was what came after it.

In the postgame news conference, not once did Kaepernick say, “Boy, was a I lousy or what?” Instead, he made a point to repeatedly use the word “we” in his game analysis. This from the biggest Mr. Me in the league.

Oh, and get a load of this: Kaepernick had the nerve to say he was “surprised” to be benched in the fourth quarter.

Earth to Kaeperspace: You completed one pass. For four yards. In three quarters. You are not entitled to suck forever.

REST OF THE STORY: League-wide, Kaepernick ranks 27th in yards per pass attempt, 32nd (last) in completion percentage and 33rd in sack percentage.

So much for the Make Kap Great Again campaign, huh?

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

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