The New York Mets choked away a sure division title in 2007 -- they had a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining. They did it again in 2008 -- in first place with nine games left and a nearly-certain wild-card berth even if they didn't finish first, they blew both of those. (And thanks for nothing, Mets; the Cubs would certainly have matched up much better with them in the first round in the playoffs.)
Since then, their win totals have been 70, 79, 77, 74, 74 and 79, pretty much the definition of mediocrity. They've had money problems due to ownership's peripheral involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal, they're hemorrhaging fans (3.1 million in the first year at Citi Field in 2009, down to 2.1 million last year) and their best pitcher is hoping to make a return from Tommy John surgery.
Oh, and did I mention the Cubs are going to trade them a shortstop?
They are if you believe the New York media, which has been incessantly harping on this for almost a year. In reality, the Cubs are likely going to bide their time for a while to see how things shake out with guys like Javier Baez and Addison Russell before they start trading people away.
The Mets do need a shortstop. Last year they trotted out there Ruben Tejada (mediocre), Wilmer Flores (meh), Eric Campbell (who?), Omar Quintanilla (awful) and Wilfredo Tovar (three games, no bad words).
Flores, or possibly Tejada, will be the starter this year, but that's the least of the Mets' problems. They are hoping Matt Harvey returns strong from TJS. He had the surgery in October 2013 so he's just about at the usual 18-month recovery period, and didn't hold back when facing hitters in live BP the other day. If Harvey comes back strong, the Mets rotation could be quite good. Jacob deGrom was a revelation as a rookie last year, Zack Wheeler is very good and Bartolo Colon is back. Yes, Colon, who had a decent enough year for the Mets in 2014 and probably should have been dealt at the trading deadline. It's also worth noting that among Colon's teammates his rookie year was Orel Hershiser. (Yes, seriously. Go look.)
Jenrry Mejia returns as closer; he was also decent last year, although he could cut down on the walks. Bobby Parnell, who missed all of 2014, returns as setup man.
The Mets scored only 15 more runs than the Cubs did in 2014 and that isn't likely to change. Curtis Granderson, in the second year of a four-year contract (what were they thinking?) was mediocre last year and the Mets' "big" offensive acquisition was Michael Cuddyer, who spent much of 2014 injured and isn't likely to hit as well in the big yard at Citi Field as he did in his three years in Denver. Lucas Duda, finally with a full-time position at first base, had a strong year with the bat (30 homers, .830 OPS, 3.7 bWAR), though now he's dealing with a ribcage injury, but what's happened to David Wright? It seems as if Wright might never get back to his mid-2000s All-Star level.
I'm pretty safe, I think, in predicting the Mets will again win between 70 and 79 games.
The Mets will visit Wrigley Field for a four-game set starting May 11 -- that's the day the bleachers are scheduled to reopen, incidentally -- and the Cubs travel to New York for a three-game series that will begin June 30.